Poker: Help your game! Lesson 2(b)

Weeks 1 & 2 – Research & Training (Continued)

OK, so you’ve picked up a few books and may have gotten far enough into one of the titles to discover what makes a good starting hand, why it’s important to be able to act later in the betting, and if you’re an over-achiever then you may have a simple understanding of pot odds and outs. So, what’s next?

Observe your co-workers:

Again, the analogy we’re using here is that you treat the first few weeks as if you’d just started a new job. It’s bound to be boring. You’re plopped at a desk, shown the employee manual, given the phone system intro, and then you watch co-workers do their job in order to get a handle on how you should do yours. Before you get too deep into playing poker I suggest you do the same thing. Watch your co-workers.

Here’s how:

Visit one of the many websites that offer online poker experiences (it’s free, there’s no smoking, there’s a “hand history” button, and you’ll see many many more hands than at a live casino). You’ll get the best education by watching people who are playing for real money. The free games with play chips tend to be a bit caveman-esque. Login/sign-up. Whatever you do, keep your money in your bank account for now!

To start off, keep track of showdowns. Note which hole-cards are shown and note the player’s position in relation to the dealer button. Then, compare the hole cards shown to the starting hand requirements/suggestions that you read about in the books you bought from the bookstore earlier in the week.

When you’ve got the hang of that and feel like multi-tasking, pick a player or two and try to identify their playing style. Start by keeping it simple and trying to guage their pre-flop playing style by watching several hands. Generic attributes to look for are

1) loose (plays lots of hands)

2) tight (plays few hands)

3) aggressive (raises or re-raises a lot)

4) passive (calls or folds a lot)

You can combine attributes (loose-aggressive, loose-passive, tight-agressive, tight-passive) if you really want to get fancy. Once you think you have the hang of that, see if you can profile a player using the same attributes above, but now try categorizing their play in the following situations:

1) Pre-Flop (you’ve done this already)

2) Post-Flop

3) Early Position

4) Middle Position

5) Late Position

This should keep you busy for a while. Your goal should be to get used to profiling players early in the game in order understand their strengths and weaknesses for later exploitation.

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