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

Parts Of A Poker Strategy

I got to play last weekend for the first time in a while, and got thinking about the old 'then vs now' debate as far as the skills of opponents and toughness of the games is concerned. Sure, you have to keep learning to stay ahead of online poker... However with so much information readily available I am starting to wonder if the biggest recent change in poker is that the bad players now have half and understanding of poker strategy.

What I mean by this is that so many snippets are available that isolated tips are picked up by even novice players – who sort of use them right, and sort of dont. One example would be raising the button. Every player and his dog raises the button when folded to these days, while it used to be 60% a few years back, it is now more like 90% button open raises.

This is fine as far as it goes, particularly if the blinds are passive. My point is that the people doing this are often very poor at the follow ups... what to do if one of the blinds 3 bets, how to react on different flops when flat called, their range against a resteal stack shove and so on. Sure, there are times when this does not matter and this is not meant as saying any one strategy is inherently bad. What I am saying is that a rule of thumb like ' it is good to raise the button a lot' without the deeper knowledge of how to react to the different scenarios that follow it can be downright dangerous. How many times have you seen a player raise the button, flat a 3-bet for 20% of their stack and then have no clue what to do then the big blind donks (or even checks) the flop... those players increase their volatility without increasing their edge. Some other examples: - Many new players now read that with a 10bb to 12bb stack they should be shoving instead of open raising... yet without the study of ranges / number of opponents and payout structure ($ev) considerations they simply make a mess of this, increasing volatility without increasing expectation. - 3 Bets are the same when deeper stacked, sure it is great to isolate or to build the pot for value... however balancing the ranges you do this with and avoiding giving a short-stack behind the opportunity to either squeeze or get their chips in with live cards and dead money are often forgotten.

Don't get me wrong, aggression is good, its just that repetition of a basic rule is dangerous. The games these days are more aggressive, looser and more volatile than ever – this can be a good thing for those who can adjust to react to it. What I'd like to suggest to the core audience of SNG Planet is to go one step further than learning that position raising, 3-betting or shoving is 'good strategy'. You need to look at the different scenarios that can develop, work out how opponents react and the ranges of hands they do it with, then figure how to adjust your own response to them... the 'rules of thumb' have changed the game – it is just that they are not enough on their own any more!

GL at the tables, Mark

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