Hello all, welcome to my online poker blog.

I've been playing on and off for a decade after being introduced by a friend.

I played regularly for a few years during the poker boom and had a decent record at the micros, particularly Rush and Zoom No Limit Hold'em games (here's one of my graphs).

Around 2012 I began a new career which involved immersing myself completely in study in my spare time, so I had little to no time for poker. However recently this burden has eased and so I have been gradually dipping back in.

I'm an amateur player who still hopes to some day beat the rake.

Monday, 19 October 2009

My thoughts on how to win at poker

Last post I kind of said some things that were a bit hazy and general about this game; I'm going to post here some more thoughts. The more I play the more I feel that I'm thinking along the right lines, although obviously I expect many people to disagree. Anyway here goes.

Winning Poker
I have done a fair amount of analysis of poker and one concept that was introduced me by the Small Stakes NLHE e-book was that overall equity was the sum of steal equity and showdown equity. Steal equity is the money you make from getting your opponent to fold. Showdown equity is the money you make from getting your opponent to showdown with a weaker hand. In order for any particular play to be good we want to maximise equity. If we have aces our showdown equity makes this hand profitable on it's own. But playing suited connectors, for example, relies on significant steal equity to be profitable. In other words, we need our opponents to fold a large amount of the time to make them playable. This is the simple truth that the e-book taught me. But we can generalise this.

Table Strategy
One thing you often see players do is open suited connectors with players behind who rarely fold. It is my opinion that this is often a big mistake. Since you have little steal equity you must rely on showdown value to make the hands profitable to play. Now and then you'll flop a hidden monster but this is very rare. Unless the stacks are super deep and you really feel your opponents can fold at some point in the hand it is better to fold. Another situation it is bad to open suited connectors is when you are being reraised liberally. You'd be suprised at how much steal equity you lose overall if you are often reraised and have to fold (although you could always reraise again sometimes and regain the initiative). So when approaching a game, it is no good printing off hand charts and playing the same way as you are never getting the best of your equities by doing this. When you sit at a table the hands you play should be dependent on the table dynamics. This is the beauty of poker and what the very best players do. If they are raising K2o it is because they believe their opponent will fold a significant amount of the time. We can generalise again.

Table Selection
Doing some research at pokertableratings and looking at the big winners, often the message boxes are spammed with people who slate these players and call them derogatory things such as 'bumhunter' and the like. They see table selection as a weakness; think that these players are not good enough to mix with the best. The logic here is terrible. When sat at any table we try to make the best decision; the one that maximises our equity at the time. So why when making the decision to sit at a table in the first place are we not equally concerned about maximising our equity? If we sit at a table where our ability is equal to every other player, we have negative equity due to the rake. We must maximise our equity by choosing a table where we can overcome the opponents plus the rake. This is how we should approach table selection. Going back to the Steal + Showdown concept, often we can find a table where we can pound it to death giving us good enough steal equity to show a profit. Other times we might find a table with players willing to call down 3 bets with 33 and obv now our showdown equity is good. Whenever you are sat at a table, ask yourself where your equity is coming from. If you cannot answer, and the table is too tough, leave.

The overall point is that the Steal + Showdown concept has really opened my eyes as to the mechanics of poker. For some reason everything makes so much more sense since I learned this simple truth. Every single decision in the game can be analysed using it. I happen to believe rather pessimistically that the games are drying up and poker may not be a good investment in a year or twos time. So while we can still find tables where that steal plus showdown equity is good we should still play. When it is no longer possible to do this, our best equity decision will be the neutral one - stop playing altogether.

Low Stakes Advice
If you are just coming into cash I strongly advise that you find tables where both your equities are good. In other words try and sit with tight players to your left, and get the fishy players to your right. If you do this and play a solid game, you'll make shit loads of money. In other words, bumhunt. I am a bumhunter, make sure you are too.

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