On this site and others, there has been a lot of talk about what style to play, what hands to play, what situations to play in, etc. All of this serves as a mock up of real play, similar to building a model suitable for admiring, but not functional in reality. The truth is, the best play at the moment is entirely determined by the table you are playing at, you have to play the table first.

So if your buddy, me or some book tells you, you absolutely have to do this or that to win, we are all collectively full of crap. How exactly can I describe the perfect play without knowing all the variables? I don’t know what you know about the other players at the table. I can’t accurately understand the overall level of aggression at the table. I don’t know if you are on the bubble, in the money, or at the first table and so on. Everything I write is artificial intelligence. It has no basis in your table situation.

So here is what is happening to some of you. You are getting whipped around by every whim that comes along. Your buddy is certain you have to be very aggressive in the mid rounds of a tourney to win. You watch me and seemingly see that I play tighter than an o-ring on uranium. Someone else is convinced you have to gamble up early to build a big stack (that by the way is a seriously big pile of horse pucky, but a different post). And lost in all of this, what is the correct play? All of it and none of it. When you are playing well, you will play the table first and your play at times will reflect all the above styles at times.

Another issue is that often times, trying to emulate a particular style of play, is unnatural to you. You don’t feel comfortable putting your chips at risk. You’re likely scarred to death because in the back of your mind that little voice is telling you, this is really stupid. You also have to play your personality. Each one of you knows what “style” of play is most successful for you. YOU KNOW HOW YOU PLAY WHEN YOU ARE PLAYING YOUR BEST. PLAY LIKE THAT. It’s not very complicated when you really think about it.

So here’s the rub: stop switching boats in mid stream, play great poker, don’t let the results of your last hand determine what overall correct play is, stick and stay with your best game and be very cautious when altering your strategy. There are no great secrets left to be revealed about poker. No one is going to suddenly give you the holy grail of winning poker. You already have the grail, you just have to use it.


I have left this little quote as my signature for a few days now.

“He carried a ladder with him everywhere he went and after a while they left all the high places to him.” Brian Adreas

I was hoping someone would reply to it, but no luck. So i guess i will write about it myself. The ladder represents constantly reaching for higher and lofty goals, perfectly appropriate for a poker player. Those high places are the people who get all the money, the goal of poker.

Practically this means to continue to look to improve your game. Eliminate mistakes that cost you chips, both in hands you lose (easy) and the hands you win (harder). Consistently playing both awake and interested. Focusing on the positives, ignoring the negative.

Some poker players don’t carry a ladder, they carry a shovel, others carry a whip, still others rent a well driller. They constantly are abusing themselves and digging large financial and emotional holes. Eventually they get too deep and those players disappear.

So are the tools in your box sufficient to do the job?


How do you play a hand such as AK or JJ with an unfavorable flop? I will restrict my comments to heads up situations with a raised pot because in multiway flops, you will fold a great majority of the time to a bet for obvious reasons.

First of all, on a busted flop, you know right away whether you playing cards or playing poker. If the first thought in your head is what are my odds of making a pair or a set on the turn and river you are playing cards. If your first thought is what do they have and can i outplay them here, you are playing poker.

Situation number 1. You are on the button and you get a strong bet into you. Easy, lay it down if you can. If you are not pot committed, find a better situation. Most big bets from all players are big hands in this situation, the pots been raised, they know you had something to call or raise, and big bet means “please give me the pot right now, i got some of that.”

Situation number 2. You are first to act heads up into a raised pot. You got to know your player here, put on your poker hat. Is he able to lay down a marginal hand in this situation or will he call you with any pair? Is he likely to raise you just to test you? What does he know about you and your play? Have you put a beat on him recently? If he is unbluffable, you are dead to this pot. Dont bluff, it is wasted chips. You can bet if you think you have the best hand, but i think you are better off with check call if you really think you have the best hand against a loose player. You need to bet here if the only time you will get called or raised is with a big hand. Restated, if you know this guys a tightwad like me bet into him, he is the easiest to steal from. I would bet about 50% of the pot size on this steal play.

Situation number 3 Heads up and they check to you. In a raised pot you are forced to bet something. Their check means i dont like my hand more often than not and this is a classic steal opportunity. Now i know this is a busted flop for you, but they dont know this. You could have the joint. How many times have you bet aces and the table just folds up like cardtable? Ok, how much to bet? Easy, against a strong player who knows your play, bet the minimum. Nothing like letting them think they smell a trap. Against an unknown or weak player, bet about 3X the BB. Thats enough to let them know they have to crap or get off the pot here. If you get called, you need to hit, obviously, but you have to take the shot to be successful in no limit poker.

The anxiety many of you have with the busted flops is your expectations of the hand. You expect to make big hands a lot with big starting cards. It is the exception not the rule to flop a pair with AK, it is the exception not the rule to flop a set with JJ. You have got to learn to play poker, not cards, you need to learn to play their hand not yours.

Every type of poker player can be exploited to your advantage, if you know their play. In many of the small tourneys, there is one predominate type of player, loose and active. How do you play them? Flop big rigs or catch big pairs and shove them down their throat. If you dont do that, you are SOL.


In Summary

Point 1: Tight is right in the first hour of a MTT.
Point 2: Shut your pie hole unless you are eating pie.
Point 3: Play where you belong.
Point 4: Stop telling bad beat stories.
Point 5: Specialize
Point 6 Be a Big Picture Person.
Point 7: Have Some Guts With the Nuts.
Point 8: Two Special Situations to Tighten Up.
Point 9: Thou Shalt Not Steal From the Wounded.
Point 10: Give Yourself 2 Ways to Win Every Hand You Play.
Point 11: Count to 10 Then Begin.
Point 12: Consider the Blinds.
Point 13: Consider the Implications of an All-in Bet.
Point 14: Analysis of the Weak Lead.
Point 15: Thoughts on the Rebuy/Addon Tournaments
Point 16: Analysis of the Strong Lead
Point 17: Let the Biggest Hands Bring Home the Bacon.
Point 18: Ace on the Turn and Chips to Burn.
Point 19: You Got to Know When to Fold ’em.
Point 20 :Use the Chat Box to Your Advantage.
Point 21: Remember to Remember What They Remember.
Point 22: Trip Talk, Trip Talk
Point 23: You’re Not Invincible, Stupid.
Point 24: Celebrate Your Bad Beats
Point 25: Bankroll Management 101
Point 26: Consider Draws Carefully.
Point 27: A Common Mistake – Overbetting a Good Hand
Point 28: Like Offering Candy to a Baby.
Point 29: “In Order to Live, You Must be Willing to Die.” -rilla
Point 30: Artificial Intelligence Can Be Deadly
Point 31: What’s in your toolbox?
Point 32: Busted Flops

Next chapter:


Find all the chapters by soupie here.


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Win MTT Poker 10 - Developing Skills
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