Stealing Bigger Pots
"You're the f***ing worst Alex!"
Ever since I started in poker, people have been baffled that I could make money. My brain is notoriously slow. I seem checked out most of the time. If you hear me speak in my real brand of White Trash American English, you probably wouldn't think I was that bright either.
In all seriousness, however, I am not ashamed of any of this. Despite all the BS people say in a chat box, it doesn't change the fact I'm still here. It's 2018, and I went pro in 2006. Not many guys can say that.
I also think not being an academic wunderkind is good for you in poker. I can't tell you how many times my genius friends can't see the forest because the trees are in the way.
Look, there's three ways to play poker: Perfect, Primal, and Prayer.
(I have borrowed the above from Bob Tewksbury and co-opted it for poker. Buy his book Ninety Percent Mental. It's excellent).
Prayer means you're dead money. You're just praying things go well.
You might think the appropriate way to play is perfect, but that's incorrect. The best way to play is primal.
You can never play perfect poker. There's literally infinite data you could possibly account for. You will never be able to parse it all out.
Primal is where you want to be. That's why so many guys from meager beginnings do well in the game. When you have to succeed, you stop trying to be perfect all the time. You quit beating yourself up for each small mistake. You find what works, and you hammer it relentlessly. If you find a soft game, you stay in that game till the game is broken. You don't chase big live tournaments till it's time.
One way you can play primal poker is to focus on the right thing: Winning bigger pots.
I know you're reading this and going, "yeah, no s*** Alex."
But tell me, how do you win a big pot in a tournament?
How about a cash game?
They're not the same answer.
If you don't know both answers, then you don't know how to win bigger pots.
I can assure you, local card pros who are recent immigrants know this, because they're out for the money, and nothing but the money.
Many people ask me this, "how do you win in loose cash games?! I just raise preflop, and everybody calls me! My overpair gets sucked out on every time!"
Right there. You're playing tournament poker in a cash environment. Stop that.
If you make a 3.5X raise preflop in many tournaments you'll only get a couple of callers, especially if stacks are 30-50X. You'll often only get the big blind to call, which is excellent.
But in cash games, where people have 100+ big blinds and infinite reload power, it's in their best interest to try and gun down your big pairs. Especially if you're the type to commit too many chips with an overpair versus a raise.
In lower and mid-stakes cash games if someone raises you on the flop, especially multiway, nine times out of ten they have it. It's okay to bet your overpair for value, but at this point you have to accept it's probably not good anymore.
The way to win big pots in cash games is to play "two pair or better" poker. You call lots of small raises, or make a number of small raises, then try to get max value out of a hand postflop.
You can also threebet more than anybody. You can identify who opens and calls too much, and put a ton of pressure on them.
They're not respecting your raises? Raise bigger!
If a guy opens to 3X and he gets two callers, and you have KK, don't threebet to 12X like everyone does. That's a great way to get four callers. Say goodbye to your chips.
Make it 25X. Piss them off. If they all fold, you just made 10X+ from your hand. That's twice the average profit K-K normally makes!
If someone calls that raise, it's usually the worst player at the table, and you have him in a 50X pot. Boom!
And sometimes a guy goes, "I can't just call this, but I can't fold either with (QQ, JJ, AK). Alright, I'm all in." Boom!
Big pots my friends.
In tournaments, however, the game is different.
If you raise big preflop and everyone folds in a tournament, that's always huge! 2.5X in blinds and antes? That's more money than AKo makes on average. Pick those pots up.
In tournaments, you want to get heads-up with a guy. Because then if he folds to a c-bet, you've just made 5X or more.
They fold their high cards a lot in tournaments, especially if you bet a weird cash game C-bet, like 75%. The bet is almost always profitable, because people have missed the board on average 47.5% of the time, but even a 75% pot-sized C-bet only needs to work 42.8% of the time.
Then, if the guy calls you, he has a pair. It's always a pair.
And no tournament player on Earth can fold a pair heads-up.
They're investing Monopoly money. It doesn't feel real to them.
Walk the dog. Get them for three streets. Make them pay.
Good luck to all of you.
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