Make time for performance reviews

Very few people can honestly say that they love their jobs and look forward to go to the office and start a new day of work. Successful poker players are among the lucky few who have something to look forward before each working day, and many can’t wait to sit down at the poker table. Whether it is a live or online one, the thrills are just as intense and the prospect of winning a lot of money is highly motivational. Few of them are just as enthusiastic about performance reviews, and the simple idea of compiling a lot of information and analyzing their results cause many to fret.

They have good reasons to spend a lot of time at the poker tables, because only by playing against good opponents one can hope to hone his skills. In theory it is possible to focus on the game only when you play poker and forget about it completely when you sit out, and still be successful. The problem is that if you don’t double your practical efforts with honing your skills away from the table, progress will be slow and downswings more harmful. Performance reviews have the benefit of being conducted with a cool head, therefore the stakes are much easier to identify so they won’t be repeated in the future.

In the heat of the action, many poker players are tempted to blame bad luck, instead of accepting the fact that they have played their hand poorly. Those who use poker tracking software are less likely to resort to performance reviews, because the application suggests the best course of action in most cases. While this kind of assistance is welcomed at the poker table, there is always the risk of basing your decisions entirely on an application.

How auto-leveling can cost you money

The very concept of auto-leveling needs to be well understood by players, if they are to avoid its perils. The notion defines those situations when a player thinks about his opponents response more than the opponent himself, and bases his actions on a false assumption. One of the basic types of auto-leveling is when you think that because the player is tight passive, he will simply fold his hand when you bet or raise. While such an error in judgment doesn’t necessarily have devastating effects, dwelling on the error will only amplify the damage.

Those players who refuse to let go, will most likely follow-up with another bet or even check raise the tight passive opponent. In doing so, they expect that the other player will assume that he was lured into a trap and eventually fold his hand, because his tight passive profile makes such a reaction predictable. What happens is that players who think that they have an accurate read on their opponents, only dig themselves deeper into a hole and risk losing a lot of cash in hands that they shouldn’t even participate in.

Another type of auto-leveling is playing weak hands aggressively out of position, because this is usually interpreted as a sign of strength. It is not necessarily a mistake to make such moves every now and then to test the waters especially if you have the right table image, but it is an error to persevere when the facts clearly point in the other direction. A poker tracking software is usually very helpful, but it can also deceive players into thinking that their opponents are weaker than they truly are. Make sure to visit http://www.pokerology.com/poker-articles/underestimating-your-opponents/ to learn more about the perils of underestimating players.

The one player you shouldn’t deceive

There is nothing wrong with lying at the poker table, in fact this is a valuable skill when playing against opponents that have thousands of hands under their belt. If you can make an accurate read on your opponent while deceiving him about the cards you are holding and your intentions, you are bound to make a lot of money while playing Texas hold ’em. If there is one player that you shouldn’t lie to at the poker table, then this is yourself and unfortunately there are many who do it without even knowing.

A person that can always find excuses for what happens to him and blamed the others, the game or the software for his mishaps is condemned to remain a week player. Justifying bed beats makes no difference and lamenting at the poker table will only make things worse because this is a clear sign of weakness. Each poker session should be followed by a wrap-up, during which the player thinks about the most important hands he played and their outcome. The idea is to find those mistakes that led to unpleasant results to make sure that the same errors will not be committed in the future.

The moment you start believing that the software is rigged, or that you are the unluckiest poker player, it is time to quit this game and find another hobby. Bad beats and downswings are a part of the game and surviving them requires not only proper bankroll management but also a strong morale. While playing, always make sure that your actions are based on facts and your readings are not influenced by the cards that you hope your opponents have to justify a call or raise.

Adjust the bet size on the go

A lot of information can be extracted from the amount players choose to bet or raise, and knowing how to interpret this kind of data is what makes a successful poker player. Over the Internet, the proverbial poker face is not something that players should be concerned of, because nobody sees their reactions. On the other hand, a bet or raise will reveal not only the intention but also the strength of one’s hand, and the sheer amount is the decisive factor. When trying to protect the hand you can’t afford to bet smaller amounts from late position, but you need to show a great deal of strength from early position.

The reason is that in addition to the actual odds of winning the hand, you must consider the implied always and the fold equity that you have. When your opponent knows that he will be the first to speak on the next street, he is more likely to be intimidated even by a relatively small bet. The same rule applies when drawing for a straight or flush, only in this case you need to determine whether the amount you are expected to call is justified. The only way of doing it is by calculating the number of outs that you have, and call only if the odds of making your hand exceed the percentage of the pots that you are asked to pay.

When bluffing or when you put your opponent on a rather narrow range of cards, the size of the bet is even more important. Your overbet needs to project strength if you want the other player to fold, without coming over the top with a bet that can be interpreted as an attempt to bluff. The rule of the thumb says that players who hold a strong hand will not make a bet that is smaller than the previous one. That would be an indicator of either extreme weakness or a bluff attempt.

Protect your hand or fold it

There is no such thing as a great hand that shouldn’t be folded no matter what, only hands that are strong on a particular street and depending on the board. Hands lose or gain strength depending on what the flop, turn and river brings so they must be played according to their potential. There is no reason to slow play a premium hand, because the odds of it gaining further strength are shadowed by the chance of it turning into a marginal hand. This kind of down to earth approach will save you from a lot of pain, while increasing your chances of taking down pots early in the game.

Beginners are more likely to take unnecessary chances and slow play a strong card, although their reasoning has nothing to do with the prospect of their hand to improve. They are simply terrified by the idea that their opponents will be intimidated by their bet and choose to stay out of that particular hand, hence there premium cards make no impact. http://www.pokerjunkie.com/playing-tightaggressive-poker and similar websites aimed at helping beginners strongly recommend them to embrace aggressive plays.

Until you have enough experience to read opponents like an open book, and have the strength to lay down Kings or aces, do yourself a favor and protect your hands. An expert who chooses to slow play high pocket pairs accepts the fact that if a hostile board appears, he will have to play these cards as a small pair. More precisely, when facing adversity and unreasonably large bets or raises, the one holding kings or aces will muck them with no hesitations. They take a calculated risk when slow playing top pairs but when the time comes to pay for taking chances, they don’t look back for a second.

Careful what you wish for

Some of the largest pots in poker are won with straights and flushes, because these hands are much easier to conceal. Players know that by limiting themselves to premium hands and betting aggressively pre-flop, will only help them that far and rocks are rarely very profitable at the poker table. This means that one should diversify his gameplay and try to extract the most from those opportunities of making a flush or straight. Naturally, in order to make such a hand you need to draw for it in the first place and this is the time when you are most vulnerable to aggression.

A dangerous board featuring two suited cards or connected ones, will in an overwhelming majority of cases trigger a series of bets or raises from your opponents. If they know how to calculate the odds, these players will make the kind of bets that are very difficult call for the ones waiting to be dealt suited or connected cards. Sometimes the size of the pot and the relative passivity of opponents would justify drawing, even if the chances of making the flush or straight are not spectacular.

Many beginners assume that the worst-case scenario is to call a bet or a string of raises until the river and be dealt no useful cards. Upsetting as this might be, it is even worse if you get the card that you are hoping for but this turns your opponent’s hand into a monster one. The situation is known as “drawing dead” and it occurs when the same card helps two players greatly improve their hand, but one of them benefits more from that certain card. As the player drawing for either a straight or flush, be careful what you’re wishing for and try to accurately calculate the chances of the same card helping your opponents.

Prepare to burst the bubble

If you chose to make a living by playing tournaments instead of regular cash games, you should be aware that a standard strategy will not deliver the best results. Tight aggressive poker might work like a charm in ring games, and with very little adjustments one can stay profitable session after session. In a tournament you need to be flexible enough and adjust to what kind of players you are facing, and rethink your tactics depending on each stage of the event. Being tight and playing only premium hands from position is the correct action in the first phase, but things change radically when the bubble approaches.

This is the moment when all the players are suddenly more concerned about the outcome of each hand, because they know that a single false step would lead them to disaster. Even those who wouldn’t normally mind if they were to get busted from a tournament, are more careful with the way they play their hands. In addition to the obvious reason of doing everything to end in the money, players don’t like the idea of being eliminated after spending a lot of time playing. Depending on the size of your stack and your expectations, you should employ one of the two popular strategies.

If you are a short stacker with no chance of making it into the money by simply playing a tight aggressive game, you would be wise to completely shut down. By folding every single hand and hoping that others will get bust, you might survive and cash in on the consolation prize. On the other hand, those who manage to earn enough chips by this stage, should shift into a more aggressive gear and punish short stackers. They will have an easy mission in stealing blinds, because their opponents are unlikely to call or raise with mediocre hands, regardless of position.