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Seeing Poker for What it Really is to Finally Become a World Class Player

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I have been teaching a friend of mine some of the rudiments of poker of late and sitting and watching him play and listening to his thought processes has been instructive. He has a very defensive mind set which does help him to avoid big losses but it is stifling his ability to be able to make money.

To better explain what I mean we can look at the following example. It was folded around to a middle position player that made it 3.5bb to go with a 127bb stack.

The button called as did the small blind and our hero holding the Jc-10c calls making the pot 14bb with the effective stack sizes being 127bb as this was the smallest stack. The flop came 9d-8h-2c giving our hero the nut straight draw. The small blind checks as does our hero and the original raiser bets 10bb which is called by the small blind after the button folds.

The pot is now 34bb and it is only 10bb to call. So with six overcard outs and eight outs to the straight then he can call this. While the immediate pot odds are not great, the implied odds compensate for that and our hero calls.

The pot is now 44bb and the turn card is the 9c. The small blind checks and so does our hero and the original raiser bets 18bb. The small blind folds and with 62bb in the pot and even more equity our hero calls making a pot of 80bb.

The river card is the Ad and our hero checks and so does the villain who wins the pot with pocket tens. In this hand it is easy to think that we did nothing wrong. We had a decent combination of implied odds and effective odds and simply missed our hand.

However our hero missed a trick here because he had so much pot equity and fold equity on the turn that he should have check-raised. The arrival of the nine was a great opportunity to represent trip nines and his action was consistent with that type of holding.

It is not as easy for his opponent to put him on a draw when the top card pairs like this. The villain would be highly likely to fold pocket tens to such an aggressive line as he could easily be drawing to only two outs as the remaining nine would give you quads that beats his boat.

To progress as a poker player then you have to learn to identify situations like these because they form the foundation of your earn rate. A very good solid pro will probably steal something in the region of a couple of buy-ins per session when playing online.

When I say per session then I am referring to a session of around 3-4 hours or so and not some short sharp thirty minute session. If you play full time and you steal a two buys ever four hours then you have stolen a total of 20 buy-ins per week.

If you play say NL50 then this is $1000 in extra profit but imagine a lesser player that is not capable of making these plays that is depending on making big hands to form the basis of their earn rate. This player will find it much more difficult to get a meaningful earn rate. In fact it is hand reading that could and probably is the difference between a good solid reg and a player that merely recycles money.

Being able to hand read will also allow you to play higher levels as well and while being a good hand reader is not going to turn you into a world class player, it will certainly get you an edge at all levels up to and including NL50. I do find that NL100 is a big leap and is almost like an inflection point.

This is because of the extra digit involved in the buy-in. Now it is no longer a $20 buy-in or a $30 buy-in or a $50 buy-in but a $100 buy-in. There are more serious professionals at NL100 than NL50 and is a good reason to be playing NL50 and not NL100.

In some of the blogs to come then I will be delving into the inner workings of tracking software and how you can use it to gain an edge. I will also be looking at how your opponents use it as well and what exactly they can glean from it and how they use it against you. It is also important to see that tracking software is not the be all and end all and certainly when you play full ring games.

This is because identifying the broad nature of how your opponent plays is less effective simply because everybody plays to some variation of tight-aggressive and so tend to have broadly similar VPIP/PFR/AF stats.

Carl Sampson is a professional poker player who plays online at 888poker.

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