Beware Of The Speech

Here's a lesson I learned the easy way, as it turns out early in my tournament career. I raised before the flop with pocket kings, causing everybody to fold except the big blind, a loose player who re-raised me. Undaunted, I re-raised right back at him, committing about a third of my chips to the pot. The big blind rose from his chair, looked at no one in particular, and said something along the lines of, Well, I guess I gotta do what I gotta do. . . . It's alright, I've been wanting to see...

Aggression Is The Great Equalizer

When I find myself playing shorthanded against a better player, I remind myself that aggression is the great equalizer. It is very difficult in fact mathematically impossible for a player to beat a hyperaggressive opponent more than about two thirds of the time if each player starts with twenty-five big blinds or fewer. A classic example of this hyperaggressive approach was on display when Dewey Tomko began heads-up play against Paul Dot Com Phillips during the second season of the World Poker...

Preflop Domination

A hand is said to be dominant over another hand when the hands share the high card but one kicker is better than another. It's the Rockette versus the Riverdancer. Avoiding domination before the flop is critical to success at No Limit Hold'em. The cutoff is the seat immediately to the right of the dealer button. The A-K completely dominates the A-Q, winning 74 of the time. A K gt vs. 7 2 The A-K beats the absolute worst hand in Hold'em only 67 of the time. A Kivs. Q J4 The A-K will win 65 of...

Chopping The Blinds

Chopping the blinds is a fairly common practice in cash games. When everyone folds to them, the small and big blinds can mutually agree to take back their blind bets and move to the next hand. Why do people chop Because they don't want to play heads-up Because the pot is very likely going to be small To avoid having the hand raked by the house I never chop the blinds unless I can somehow arrange to chop when I'm the small blind out of position but not chop when I'm the big blind in position ....

Preflop Chances

If I have a pocket pair, I will flop . . . If I am unpaired in the hole, I will flop . . . When the flop comes down, it will be . . . a set seven outs 15 Full house after flopping two pair After the flop, if I go to the river, I'll make a . . . Full house or better after flopping a set 33 Full house or better after flopping two pair 17 Flush after flopping a four flush 35 Backdoor runner-runner flush 4-2 Straight after flopping two-way draw 32 Straight after...

Tournament Rules And Procedures

For a complete list of rules and procedures pertaining to tournaments, check out the Poker Tournament Directors Association Web site In the next few pages, I have provided some charts and tables I find useful. Your mileage may vary. I certainly don't believe that most of this information needs to be memorized, nor will I claim to know it all by heart. And remember that there are many factors other than numbers that go into creating a great poker player if you could win by looking poker up in a...

Preflop Matchups

While actually calculating the preflop percentages of two competing hands gets pretty complicated, I can approximate my chances of winning by memorizing just a few scenarios. Odds If the favorite is 82 to win, and the underdog is 18 to win, the better hand would be an 82-to-18, or 4-6-to-l favorite. This would mean that there would need to be 46 in the pot for each 1o I am being asked to call. In each situation the favorite is listed first. In each situation the favorite is listed first. Pair...

Chris Jesus Ferguson

The ultimate poker theoretician, Chris Ferguson virtually never makes the wrong math play. If the pot odds are there, Chris is there. If they aren't, he's out of the hand. Chris is willing to gamble with pocket pairs against A-K. Whereas players like Hellmuth despise the coin flip, Chris rightly points out that the odds are more like 55 45 in favor of the pair. He's willing to take that chance, even early in a tournament, because mathematics dictates that it's the right thing to do. Chris plays...

Consequences

While seated at the poker table, every action or inaction has consequences. My goal is to master my own behavior while manipulating the behavior of my opponents. With every check, bet, raise, or fold, I am trying to minimize the consequences of npi mistakes and maximize the consequences of their mistakes. All I can do is get my money in the pot with the best hand. No matter how hard I try, I can't control the cards after the money is in the pot. All I can do is get my i money as much money as...

Sobering Math And Bad Beats

While tournament poker is a pursuit that demands a lot of skill, there is no doubt in my mind that it requires an extraordinary amount of luck to win. Over the course of a tournament, I'm due to be dealt pocket aces about 1 out of 22l hands. At typical tournament dealing speeds I pick them up about once every five hours or so. For this thought experiment, I assume that for every 5 gt 2lst hand I play, I pick up A A4. I raise. Then a sucker at the table, who has exactly the same number of chips...

Caros Great Law Of Tells

In Caro's Book of Poker Tells The Psychology and Body Language of Poker, author Mike Caro writes Players are either acting or they aren t. If they are acting, then decide what they want you to do and disappoint them. Players who are acting weak are usually strong. They want me to put money into the pot. I disappoint them by checking or folding. Players who are acting strong are generally weak. They want me to fold or check. I disappoint them with a bet or a raise. Many, many tells are a...

Have A Reason To

When I m putting chips into the pot, I always have a good reason to do so. Here are some of the reasons I put chips into the pot before the flop 4 To steal the blinds. See Steal the Blinds page I50. 4 To isolate a player when I m in better position. See Re-raise to Isolate, page 52. Because I think I have the best hand. 4 To set up a delayed steal I call from position and after my opponent misses the flop, I intend to take the pot. 4 Because I think if I make a hand, my opponents will pay me...

Super Short Stack Strategy

More often than I d like, I find myself with a very short stack, say one to two-and-a-half big blinds. And while this is not a pleasant position to be in, all is not lost. Very early in my professional career I started the final table of a No Limit Hold em tournament with 100. The average stack was more than 6,000. Guess who won. In the I982 World Series of Poker championship event, Jack Treetop Straus had already risen to leave the table when he discovered a single 500 chip tucked under the...