Your Greatest Enemies In Poker

What are your greatest enemies in poker?

Go ahead. Try to think of them.

Okay, you got yours? Here are mine.

One, your greatest enemy is yourself. It’s you who can behave like a damn child who doesn’t know they’re playing a game of chance.

It’s on you to not fling your chips in without a damn good reason why. For the record, "all my friends would have made fun of me for folding" is not a good reason. Furthermore, "what was I supposed to do with 35 big blinds and nines/top pair/a xylophone" is an awful reason to move all-in.

Your inability to have fun with the game and take calculated risks is what will sink you the most.

Your insistence on playing games beyond your bankroll will destroy you faster than anything. I don’t care how good you are. If you lengthen any distribution long enough, financial ruin is certain.

Your second enemy? The field.

You might think that you don’t have a game designed for field tendencies, but you do.
98% of your opponents will play less than 40 hands with you, assuming you play medium to low stakes cash or tournaments.

How you play against them is exactly how you play against the field.

What does the general population do when they play poker?

Understanding how humans as animals approach this risk experiment called No Limit Hold’em will ensure your success.

Start opening your mind to this thought experiment, and you will find greater success.

I will get you started. The vast majority of homo sapiens fold their high cards, call/bet their pairs, and raise their two pair or better hands.

Turn bet bluffing is often futile, because homo sapiens hate folding pairs, and most of them only get to the turn with pairs.

However, many of them underestimate what a huge edge they are giving away when they are out of position.

If you raise and no one threebets you, generally speaking, you are making money. Open in spots or versus players where threebets are unlikely. Feel free to adjust your open sizes up and down if you think that will dissuade their reraising.

If you threebet in position, and no one fourbets against you, almost always you are making money. Homo sapiens are awful at realizing what kind of edge they’ve given away when they flat out of position. They have entered an inverse freeroll: The potential money they can earn is little, but their potential losses are endless.

Homo sapiens are also garbage at folding rivers. No human being wants to accept a loss, when they can gamble to possibly save what they have invested. This makes homo sapiens incredible parental stewards of their genetic material, but awful gamblers.

Learn to value bet frequently on the river with one pair. You will have one pair more often than any other value hand.

Anyone can make money with two pair or greater. The person who makes the most money with top pair is the person who will win out on the end.

There. There’s a bunch of strategy I shouldn’t have taught you.

Your third enemy? Time.

I have seen databases representing 800+ years at the WSOP where the player has run bad.

Variance simulations have shown +EV players losing money for decades in Sunday majors before making a profit.

You can master yourself. You can master the field. You will never master time. Learn to play cash or enjoy the variance train in tournaments. There is no third option.

Your fourth enemy? Your cell phone.

Every single live poker player could raise their ROI by 10% to 20% if they put their cell phone down between hands, turned off the music, and watched the action.

The idiocy behind this is staggering. Could you imagine a professional sports bettor not watching the NBA basketball game he bet on? Of course not. He’s trying to catch details which could help him in the next game of the series.

Yet, he can’t influence the outcome of the game. You can influence the poker game. You are an active participant.

Master the above demons and this game is yours. Good luck to all of you. 

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