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June 2016

I’ve Got to Get Even


That thought has been the death of many bankrolls. We all hate to lose. And it’s no fun to give up. That head-down walk away from the table can get mighty distasteful.

You see it all the time. Players barely able to keep their eyes open, playing in a desperate attempt to “get out,” often in games they wouldn’t be in if they weren’t stuck. Even with some extremely knowledgeable players, this is a fatal flaw, and turns an otherwise good player into a perennial loser. With poker, you have to learn to take your beating and return when you’re strong to fight another day.

I’ve heard all the money-management theories. Play until you win x amount of dollars. If stuck,  play until you get even. Some put a stop-loss on their losses. But “Father Time” has no bearing on how you do. He doesn’t know how you’re doing. He doesn’t know or care if you picked up your last hand one minute ago or two days ago.

The problem with the money-management model is that you tend to leave good games small winners when your image and play level are at their best. And stay and play in poor games when your image and playing ability are downgraded due to being stuck and tired. On top of that, your image is bad and your opponents are empowered by their success. Poker is one long war, a cumulative score game, one where the score of money adds up over time. Your win/loss record is meaningless. It’s better to be 1-9 and $1,000 ahead, than 9-1 and a $1,000 behind. While that may seem like an exaggeration, I’ve seen such cases.

Your lifetime poker record will be dictated by the edge you attain. Play when your edge is large and not when it is thin or non-existent. That equation isn’t a calculation of just the ability of your opponents, but also your own. Don’t play bad games or when your facilities have been weakened just to get even. And don’t quit good spots just to book a winner.

There is something about that cashing in moment when you’ve lost. Yeah, it totally sucks! But “swallowing that bitter pill” at the right time will transform in your long-term poker career.

Play with strong character. Identify when you’re tired, beaten, off your game or the game is deficient and get up. And when the game is good and you’re feeling strong, don’t quit to ensure a small win.

If you play well, you’ll find your bigger wins will more than make up for your smaller losses.

Defending Against Floating

You raise pre-flop with a moderately strong hand in middle position, say AJ. You’re called by the button, whose range is wide. The flop comes down Ts-7s-2h, and you continuation bet, hoping to end the hand right there. He calls, a play he is likely to make with a wide range of hands, many of which he doesn’t want to get a lot of chips in with.

A lot of the value of Mr. Button’s call, and the reason he often calls the flop, is that, if you check the turn, he will bet and pick up a lot of pots in which you whiffed and continuation bet. It’s called a “float” and is a good play on Mr. Button’s part, particularly if you are a common continuation better, which you should be. It’s important that you take the value of “float” plays away from your opponents. Do that successfully, and not only does it give your made flop hands greater value, but in future situations they will be less likely to mess with your aggressive plays both pre-flop and post-flop.

The key to defending your continuation bets against a habitual floater is to check your high equity hands on the turn. You can call or check-raise depending on the texture of the situation. Calling is better the less vulnerable your hand is, the smaller the pot, the lower any implied extra costs, and the greater your opponent’s propensity to bluff the river. The larger the pot, the more vulnerable your holding, the larger your implied loss if he draws out, the less likely you’ll be rerasied–bluffed, the less  you want your opponent to realize his equity, making raising a stronger play.

By charging him the extra bet(s) the times you hit the flop, you take away some or all of his value of making the play. Often those bets by your opponent are with very weak hands, and the equity you gain is considerable. But, only make this play only against opponents you know to be “floaters.”

Don’t let your opponents float you profitably; check the turn into them with your made hands and raise or call based on the current situation.

There’s a lot of value in this play!






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