General Poker Strategy

Poker is a game of people. That’s the most important lesson you should learn from my book. I’ll be teaching you guidelines and concepts you’ll be able to use with great success, and you’ll quickly become a very good player. But, if your ambition is to become a great player, a top flight Pro, a superstar … you’ll need to really understand your opponents. You’ll need to get inside your opponent’s head and be able to estimate with a high degree of certainty what his check, bet or raise really means and what hand he’s likely to be playing.

Being able to do that accurately isn’t easy. But you can do it if you’re alert, observant, disciplined and if you concentrate whenever you play (whether or not you’re involved in the pot). Using my advice and the idnpoker advice of my expert collaborators, you’ll find that the “task” of unmasking your Poker faced opponents will become easier and easier.

When you’re able to put your opponent on exactly the hand he’s playing (because you know him almost as well as he knows himself) you can select the best strategy possible for that particular Poker situation. When you reach that level of skill, you’ll be a complete player.

That’s what Poker’s all about. People…and the strategy you use against them.

More than any other game, Poker depends on your understanding your opponent. You’ve got to know what makes him tick. More importantly, you’ve got to know what makes him tick at the moment you’re involved in a pot with him. What’s his mood … his feeling? What’s his apparent psychological frame of mind right now? Is he in the Mood to gamble … or is he just sitting there waiting for the nuts? Is he a loser and on tilt (playing far below his normal capability) … or has he screwed down (despite his being loser) and begun playing his best possible game? Is he a cocky winner who’s now playing carelessly and throwing off most of his winnings…or is he a winner who’s started to play very tight so he can protect his gains?

When you can accurately answer questions like those (and there are many more like them) … and employ the other ideas, principles, rules, techniques and strategies I’ll teach you in this book you’ll be one super tough Poker player.

Put all of it together and your playing ability will border on being World Class.

It takes a lot to play winning Poker at a World Class level because Poker is such a complex game more complex than any other game … or any other form of gambling.

For example, the difference between playing good Poker and playing good Blackjack is as vast as the difference between squad tactics and grand strategy in warfare. You can beat a Blackjack game by knowing exactly what to do in every situation…and doing it. That’s tactics. But in Poker you may face an identical situation twice against the same opponent, handle it two different ways, and be right both times. That’s strategy.

And that’s why there’s never going to be a computer that will play World Class Poker. It’s a people game.

A computer could be programmed to handle the extensive mathematics of a Poker game. But the psychological complexities are another matter. A system figured out by computer can beat Blackjack because there the dealer has no options. He has to stand on 17, he has to hit 16.

A computer could play fair to middling Poker. But no computer could ever stand face to face with a table full of people it had never met before, and make quality, high profit decisions based on psychology.

To do that requires perception and judgement. It requires a human mind.

The way I accumulate knowledge of a particular player is by listening to him, and looking at him, instead of talking.

PAY ATTENTION…and it will pay you

Concentrate on everything when you’re playing. Watch and listen … remember you have to do both, and relate the two. You listen to what your opponent says, but you watch what he’s doing independently of what he says because a lot of players talk loose and play tight, and a little later they’ll reverse it on you. So you look at a man every time he’s involved in a hand.

You judge him every time. That’s the way you get to know him and his moves.

If you aren’t learning what you want to know just by watching and listening, create your own opportunity. Try to bluff at him the first good opportunity, and see if he’ll call you or not what kind of hand he’ll call with, and what kind he’ll throw away. Of course, anybody with a lick of sense is trying to keep you from reading him. But you can still figure him because it is very, very difficult for any man to conceal his character.

A man’s true feelings come out in a Poker game You’ll see smart lawyers playing Poker and giggling and carrying on like school kids. And a man’s hostilities can boil over after a while, too.

Watch a ballgame with a man when he’s betting a lot of money on it. You’ll learn what kind of temperament he’s got, how well he can take disappointment. That’s the way it is with Poker.

If you wanted to use Poker just for a test of character, solely to learn about the men you’ll have to deal with away from the Poker table, it would be a telling test. As a matter of fact, isn’t that what a lot of Friday night Poker games between business acquaintances are really all about? Size them up at the Friday night Poker sessions … and then take advantage of them during the next business week.

This brings us to another subtlety of Poker: Not everybody you’re going to play against thinks the way you do. Almost everybody wants to win, but they

expect to win in different ways.

PLAY AGGRESSIVELY, it’s the winning way

There’s a very well known Poker player, a man who enters the World Series of Poker every year, who has a talent for figuring out exactly what your hand is. But when he decides that you’re holding a Pair of Jacks (in Hold ’em) and his own hand will not beat the Jacks, he’ll try to make you throw your hand away.

To me, that’s not being aggressive … that’s being stupid. It works sometimes, but should you jeopardize your money when you think your opponent’s got a good hand? Let him win the pot and wait till you think he doesn’t have much of anything. That’s when you can try to bluff him out of the pot. Or wait until you think you have him beat.

Everybody in Poker thinks he knows what a tight player is, but I’m going to define it again because so many people confuse the term “tight” with “solid”.

“Tight” means conservative. A tight player is a player that is tight pretty much all the time.

But a “solid” player is a player who’s tight about entering a pot in the first place … but after he enters the pot he becomes aggressive.

Most good players, by the way, are solid.

The opposite of the tight player, as you would imagine from the name, is the loose player. He’ll play most of the pots. Often he’ll be drunk. You need patience to play him, and you require a good hand to bet because he’ll call you with extremely weak hands.

The perfect opponent to face is the Calling Station. He’s similar to a loose drunk player, but he rarely bets. Most of the time, he just checks and calls.

And if you can’t beat a man who always checks to you … you can’t beat anyone.

Timid players don’t win in high stakes Poker.

As you’ll learn, I don’t fit into any of the classic categories. I have the reputation of being a very aggressive player with a definite tendency to be on the loose side. But, despite my aggressiveness and looseness, I exercise a considerable amount of judgement whenever I play.