Poker Calculators and the Art of Folding – Part 1
I was in 6, $10+$1 qualifier tournaments just this week at party poker determined to play in The Sunday Million for a shot at the 1st paid prize of $106,000. As it turned out I finished T26 out of 50 and got busted sending all but 4 dollars to the bank. Yes I am a trash hand! Nonetheless as stressed as I was I played perfectly fine throughout qualifying. So fine I actually won a couple of small stacks. Now lets cut to the good part.
As it turned out Sunday I won a couple of the $10 qualifier tournaments for free and was in 5th place as to whether I got to play in The Sunday Million I was in 2nd place as to whether I folded my A A 10 two cards T 3 4 . My opponent however called with a very stern re raise all the way in. Obviously I had to call with the worst hand in poker. Well I got to see his hand for a 30 card singe hand. Oh I am sure it was my hand he was finest but what did he make of it?
He turned over A A J Q Q giving him top pair and hopes toiah AT. There is a lot of straight and flush draws involving cards in this hand. I had to call and I was put squarely into difficult decisions. Oh well….go figure.
In the event all other players except me folded and I ended up in the money finishing just behind a German pro called Mr. Ali. Just as it did for me, the same thing happened in the $2k 9 seater. I ended up getting knocked out in 24th place. So the poker lesson here is if you make a big raise deuce it is better to give up your hand unless the player in front of you has the nuts or near nuts.
That got quite a reaction, wasn’t it? suggestions that your hand is no good, etc.
Ok, so lets get serious for a second. Yes, mental preparation is very important, but you need more than that if you are going to win big money in poker.
There is a big difference between, well mental preparation in cash games, and mental preparation in a tournament. In cash games you should focus on your opponents as much as your cards in each hand. That’s just human nature. You do not want your plug pull out before every single one you know how. That’s just dumb it doesn’t matter how much you concentrate on your opponents cards.
In a tournament you need to focus on your cards as well your opponents. The cards speak the language of the game. If you have no idea how to read your opponent you have no idea how to play your cards in the game. You are going to get as many reads on your opponents as possible. You can’t be afraid to take a gamble especially when you know you have the best hand. There is no other game that will allow you to do this.
The way to start this out by taking control of the pre-flop raise should be the same whether you are in the big blind or in the small blind. You are looking to put out a small raise pre-flop to get some information for your opponents as to what your hand is. If he re-raises and you have a set of measly hearts you may be willing to call. If he keeps raising the better. The reason you want to do this is because at this point you don’t want to lose a lot of your stack to a guy who is playing dumb.
Once you have scooted into the money (or lack thereof) you can start to combat your game. There is one and a million ways to do this. You can call some raises, you can re-raise others, you can fold if you feel you are beaten or you can call all regardless of what cards you have. The idea here is that most people who are used to seeing less people among the final table, will not take as many risks with their chips as the person who made one final table. You want this person to literally have nothing else in the pocket.
Now, after the money andances are taken care of, you want to start getting aggressive. Once again, this applies to tournament strategy. However, you don’t want to just lead your raise with a big hand pre-flop. You want to take control of the hand pre-flop, although you don’t want to recklessly risk a lot of your chips pre-flop because you have already committed your chips to the pot.
Once you have a fairly good hand, you want to bet small preferably three times the big blind or less. The reason for this is simple.