Planet Mark's Blog. Thoughts, News And Strategy For Poker Tournaments Of All Size

Beating 80% Of Poker Opponents By Not Doing ‘Stupid Shit’

Having a day off from the music festival in town today and in the mood for some blogging. I will attempt to join up a short playing anecdote with a little inspiration from a non-poker blog which I randomly came across following links from Hacker News… and then tie both into a light hearted look into not doing stupid shit for poker players.First up, my playing anecdote – a silly mistake I kicked myself hard for.

The scene was this, after several hours of play and several beers I found myself in the last 3 and 5 tables of 2 small buy-in tournaments at Party. One was a standard exit, trying to squeeze an aggressive player and running into a monster from the blinds. My other exit (the deeper one) was anything but standard. It folded round to a guy who was aggressive (aren’t they all these days!) in the small blind and he insta pushed his 15 big blinds all in. I knew, just knew knew knew that this was any 2 cards, since he had gone on similar shove sprees when short before… not sure what nash should say here, if shoving any 2 is a mistake it is probably only a small one with antes around.

Anyway, there was no excuse for calling with Q6 off, other than frustration and stubbornness. “how dare you just assume I’ll fold 85%, how dare you!!’. Anyway, my cards were live though behind and ‘poof’ that’s another deep run not converted! No sympathy for that one, I should (and do) know better. This incident reminded me of a blog post I had read recently titled ‘How To Seem Good At Everything: Stop Doing Stupid Shit’… it was one of many links from YCombinator’s ‘Hacker News’ which I spend more time than I should browsing!

Anyway, this post centered around chess, and in particular some advice from a great player on how to get better… you guessed it, by stopping doing stupid shit. The author Josh goes on to make the great point that simply by cutting out the stupid mistakes and errors in whatever field you are in… you can be better than 80% of people. Now (finally!) I’ll relate this idea back to the poker tables. ‘Stupid Shit’ does not have to be quite as stupid as my play from last week… there is plenty of other ways in which you can cut out the stupidity from the tables and improve to beat the majority. That extra 20% will involve study, talent and understanding…

I have a website or two which can help with just that! So, want to get a little better? A little more profitable? Then have a think about some of the following ‘Stupid Shit’ which can apply to poker!

- Surfing the net / chatting on IM / Watching TV while playing - Playing too many tables for your personal comfort because ‘that is what grinders do’

- Mixing up your game variations / structures

- Failing to take notes (or at least color code) on opponents

- Playing with too large a percentage of your bankroll on any one table (if you do not use bankroll management, you will almost certainly go broke!).

- Tilting off your money after a bad beat

- Giving up when you lose 80% of your chips in a tournament, rather than waiting for a spot to attempt a comeback

- Not reloading in a cash game when you lose a hand, you’ll be really annoyed you only have 30 blinds if you spike a set next hand.

- Starting online poker tournaments what would take you until 4am to complete when you know you have a busy schedule the next day.

- Drinking while playing (oops, that’s me!) - Calling too often, particularly out of position.

- Playing too many easily dominated hands.

- Making a call you know is –ev at the bubble of a SNG because you can not force yourself to fold a ‘great hand’.

- Failing to ever review your hand histories, or save hands which are tough spots to go through the math / situation later.

- Not knowing the basics, you should be able to quickly state the equity of a pair of 8’s against a typical 15% re-raising range (pokerstove is free!).

- Excessive limping / passive play - Trying to bluff a calling station (even when you know full well he will not fold!).

- Failing to leave a table even when you know that 4 of your 5 opponents are winning regs and the remaining player seems solid.

- Failing to take the time to select the softest games when you first log on (this only takes a few minutes, yet 95% of players simply join the first available seat!).

- Asking a question with a bet, receiving a clear answer (that your opponent is strong) and calling anyway, just in case.

- Failing to steal your fair share on blinds and antes from late position. - Doing something different with premium hands to others (for example mini raising aces when you usually 3x) tipping off opponents that you are strong.

- Donk betting small from the BB when you miss the flop. - Not switching from your favorite poker site to one with softer games.

- Playing at a poker site which charges a 20% fee for tournaments under a certain amount (for example the Party $6 SNGs).

- Moving up levels to take a shot before you are really capable of beating the lower levels.

I’m sure there are tons more… which is a good thing, there is a lot of ‘Stupid Shit’ in poker, and much of it is reasonably easy to cut out from your game. Just think, for each one of your own bad habits you eliminate, you will be that little bit further along the path to success!

GL at the tables, Mark

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