Winning strategies for poker and other games of variance- part 3.
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The answers to moving past the micro stakes, low stakes, and on to higher stakes are normally right in front of us.
I am sure that sounds a little naive and too simple .To be honest I have spent a deal of time pondering this and deciding how I would explain it .
What I see is the way most of us learn these games and the community around them seem to lead us down the same path . Play ABC poker or whatever game you have chosen and reduce variance while grinding out a small profit. But if you go back and read some of the older books and lessons written by the professionals of that time you will catch glimpses the same answers in their words and interviews.I never noticed this until going back and looking for them specifically. Possibly they took them for granted at their level and the amount of time required it took to master them. Maybe the professionals assumed that everyone else must already know this. So why would they bother us with them? I think the real reason is that they knew most of us myself included were all too interested in the one trick or golden rule that would make us winning players over night. We would print money without putting any real work or thought into the game and probably bringing down the game that they love.
A personal story.
When I was started to get serious about poker years ago (mainly No limit hold’em) I joined Poker School Online back when Al Spath was coach, possibly the head coach if I remember correctly . Coach Spath taught the fundamentals which were enough for me to go from a losing to winning player. However I was still far far away from shooting up through the stakes. About a year later I read a small set of training lessons (also on PSO) on six max no limit strategy which I recently learned was written by my now friend and great coach Dave Roemer who is still a coach at Poker School Online and now streams live with myself and a great group of other talented players at TWITCH.TV/theoddsandouts . Dave also showcases his skills with Al Spath’s TWITCH.TV/positivepokerinsiders !. The lessons I learned from Dave were not the ABC game I had just learned and had burned into my brain for a year. They were more of an outside the box style for lack of better words .A style that was borderline insane to me (LAG) and from the fundamentals .This style of LAG play is probably old news and considered “nitty” now and I am sure is easily exploitable, but at the time it was new and my opponents seemed to have no defense against it. This set me on a winning path with of course some hiccups but more importantly gave me questions I still ask myself when stuck.
So what sort of information in these lessons would have had such an impact that I would be writing about it years later ?
The 6 handed playing style I found whether intentional or not exploited the player type that myself and most of the other players at the time were just learning how to be.
In those days Doyle Brunson and “T.J.” Cloutier were still the guides on Hold’em play. In their books they described a 3rd all-in re-raiser or what we now call a 4 bet shove as surely being AA Aces . This was the consensus in the poker communities where I read . By re-raising all in on the player who re-raised you were assumed to have AA 99% of the time. So if the re-raiser didn’t have AA or was just pot committed they would fold leaving you the all-in to take down a large pot without a show down.
Although Dave’s course didn’t specifically describe this exact play , it had situations like this. I would like to think I came up with this on my own but I was very new to the game (so was 6 handed play) and I am sure it had been written somewhere prior. So the play was to exploit the consensus . You raise from UTG 6 handed with TT (thinking back I would prefer connectors) and get re-raised from the button. At this time time nobody re-raised connectors from the button like today however AK,AQ, 88,99, JJ, KK,AA , are likely in this range .You then 4 bet shove . So the button is left with his training to fall back on which is telling him to fold all but the strongest of hands because you have AA. Button folds you take down a large pot without showdown. Sounds trivial now , but that play still works in tight games.
So back to some questions I would be asking.
- What is the standard play in a large % of spots for most players at your stake ?(C-bet %, C-bet sizing, my fav at the moment is check raise % on the river) ?
- When reading forums or watching training videos are these plays or %’s consistent with a certain line of thought ?
If the answers to these questions are YES. Start here and form your own strategy to exploit this line of play. If it doesn’t work try another. But most importantly don’t fall in line. You’ll be sure to know it is working when you are ridiculed and told that your play was definitely – EV this or -EV that as you rake in pots. I am sure there is a theory to back up their accusations but in my years of playing I have found little else that is more +EV than putting your opponents on tilt or making plays that put your opponents outside of their comfort zone and have nothing to fall back on but their standard lines.
Also published on Medium.