Testing you opponents, the power of keen observation, project a strong table image--these areas have been discussed in other books, but rarely with such keen examples, in short powerful bursts of advice.
Poker is a fluid game meaning that constant adjustments are required. Things can change quickly with one turn of the card. Of course, you also need to adapt to the circumstances atDavid Apostolico is the author of 'Machiavellian Poker Strategy', and 'Tournament Poker and The Art of War,' and his latest title 'Poker Strategies for a Winning Edge in Business.' David's website is www.holdemradio.com/blog/ hand taking into account such factors as the skill level of your opponents, your relative chip stacks, the amount of the blinds, etc. It’s been said many times that they are few constants in poker.
While I try to keep an open mind about my game, there are a couple of maxims that I live by. One is that I try my hardest to keep mistakes to a minimum. That sure seems like sound advice applicable to any poker situation. Well, I’ve hit a bit of a rough patch lately that all poker players go through. It seems that no matter how I play a hand, I lose. I slow play the flopped nuts and someone hits runner runner to beat me. I play a set hard and I’m called by someone with top pair and a back door flush draw who makes his flush.
The bottom line is that I believe I have been playing well and have been losing hands where I am a substantial favorite while avoiding marginal situations. In fact, I’ve taken great pride that during this dry spell, I can’t think of any hands that I lost a lot of chips as an underdog. Then I came across the following quote from legendary basketball coach John Wooden: “If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.”
This hit me like flopping quads with three players all-in before the action gets to me. My recent pride was completely unfounded. My problem was that I wasn’t making enough mistakes. Sure, I stole my fair share of pots but the reason I wasn’t getting caught stealing was because I wasn’t stealing enough. I need to be more aggressive. My opponents will let me know when they’ve had enough. I should be stealing until I’ve made a few mistakes.
I made what I thought were some tough laydowns but in hindsight maybe I should be calling down a few losers. I don’t need to be a calling station, but a couple of loose calls may win me a few unexpected hands and send a message as well.
It also dawned on me that perhaps I should be willing to get involved in a few more coin flips a little earlier. I’ve held firm in my belief that when playing against weaker competition, I should try to take as much of the gamble element out of the equation as possible. That means avoiding 50/50 propositions and waiting for better opportunities to get my money. The problem with that scenario is the better opportunity doesn’t always come and often when it does, I’ll be called be a couple of players who have no business calling.
With so many people willing to gamble, I still think it’s best to pick your places when you have the best of it because you are likely to get paid off. A little more gamble in my game, though, may be liberating and give me a better opportunity to get to an early chip lead.
Finally, and most significantly, more mistakes on my part can be used to my advantage. What’s the worst thing that happens if I get caught stealing too much? I tighten up and get paid off with my strong hands. What’s the worst thing that happens if I call down a couple of losers? Opponents will bet into me when I’m strong. What’s the worst thing that can happen if I take a few more coin flips early on? I’ll either take a big chip lead or get to the cash games quicker.
At its core, poker is still a game about minimizing mistakes. If you’re not making enough, though, you’re probably not doing enough to win, either.
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