Friday, August 29, 2014

The Number One Secret to Winning Poker

Yes, there is a secret to winning at poker.

I'm serious.

If you want to truly master poker, you have to learn to do the following: Identify and exploit the tendencies and mistakes of your opponents.

Winning poker is not about playing LAG poker. It's not about playing TAG poker, either. It's not about 3-betting light, or barreling the turn, or bet-folding the river. It's not any specific technical thing. Instead, it's completely about "It Depends" followed by "Exploitation."

It depends on what traits your opponents have and the mistakes they tend to make. This in turn will dictate how you should be playing against them. Maybe it means you should play LAggy. Maybe TAggy. Or maybe you should try for a seat change to move to their left. Maybe you should be 3-betting light, or barelling the turn, or bet-folding the river against them. Whatever. The point is you need to figure out how a villain plays, and then adjust in such a way that you can exploit his or her traits and tendencies.

A simple example: You're up against an opponent who loves to steal from late position. He raises pretty much every single time the action folds to him on the button or cutoff seat. Then if called, he follows up with a c-bet almost 100% of the time. If he gets push back, he generally gives up.

If you're in the blinds facing this guy, your first job is to identify this mistake. Well, "mistake" is actually too strong of a word. In fact, this player might actually be playing perfectly if he's recognized that the players to his left are weak-tight, and will fold too often to steals and/or continuation bets on the flop. I.e., he's identified and then is exploiting the tendencies/mistakes of the players to his left.

Okay, what should you do when this guy raises your blind? A simple adjustment might be to simply call with any two cards, then check-raise his c-bet on the flop. Or if you're uncomfortable about calling with any two, then just loosen up a bit more than you normally would, but force yourself to check-raise any missed flop. Said another way, find a way to exploit this villain's tendency of stealing light from late position.

Poker is about adjustment. It's about identifying what your opponents are doing, right or wrong. And then capitalizing on these traits. Said simply, Poker is all about "It Depends" followed by "Exploitation."

This my friends is the one true secret to poker.

All-in for now...

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