Read an entertaining trip report from a poker forum regular who went very deep in a WSOP event this year. It was somewhat reassuring to listen to the semi-pro's thoughts and angst he experienced during the event; his worries were very similar to thoughts us lesser mortals have even in the low buy-in events in which we swim. Worries about getting blinded away, playing too tight, too loose, missing information, was he folding to 3bets too lightly, what's the player's image, was the goal to make the money or go deep, etc. It was also pretty interesting to see how tight the player was, especially in the early days. He folded in a lot of situations where I thought it was a no-brainer to at least call.... but that's probably just my own cash game biases speaking. I can't seem to even money in a SnG these days, let alone final table a big MTT event...
...but I digress. Anyway, one of the things that struck me reading his report was the player's internal check-list that he went through on each hand. His mantra was: Stacks, Position, Reads, Ranges, Hand, Decision.
Stacks. The first thing he consciously considered when deciding on how to act was the stack sizes (and, I presume, the blind and ante sizes). He was constantly calculating his M and how "desperate" he was getting. Just as important, however, he was also looking at the M's of his opponents, and trying to figure out how desperate they were, too. What stage was the tournament and how soon did he and the villains at the table have to start opening up their games.
Position. The second factor the player looked at was position. Again, it seemed that he was just as concerned about his opponents' positions as he was about his own. Why are they raising in EP? Is the LP raise a squeeze or a real value raise? Etcetera.
Reads. The third thing he considered were any reads he had on the opp. Was this player on tilt? Was this a new player at the table? Was that player trying to squeak into the money? Who was playing excessively tight? Who was lagging it up? Was the guy upstream of him raising his position or his cards?
Ranges. On its face, this one is fairly self-evident, but, again, it's more than just putting other players on ranges; i.e., it's also figuring out what ranges the opp is putting you on, too.
Hand. Like Harrington points out in his HoH series, your own hand is one of the last things to consider before entering a pot. Or, to paraphrase Annette O, "Cards Don't Matter."
Decision. The final thing is the decision you make regarding all the previous factors. It's where you actually decide to fold, or bet, or raise.... and how much to achieve the desired result.
Yikes, I just looked at the clock. I'm out of time, but figured I'd post this before I forgot it. I'll hopefully expand on it more later this week...
All-in for now...