C8C #25 – Back To Basics

Good Evening! Welcome to the Cre8ive Coaching Newsletter. Here is a serving of poker related knowledge regarding on or off the table topics.

In this edition, we focus on getting back to the basics and what we should focus on when playing a hand of poker.

Tristan’s Topic Today:

A couple days ago I was engaged in a great conversation with a new friend and non-poker player. We were discussing gambling, poker, and what separates poker from the gambling sphere. This brought on a discussion about the basics, fundamentals, and information provided in the game of No Limit Holdem. Let’s dive into the basics today.

There are many variables to focus on which will help us make decisions in our assumptions when playing poker. The most important components to think about are:

1. Table Position
2. Stack Size
3. Number Of Players Involved In Hand
4. Board Texture
5. Player Types (helps define hand ranges and playing style)
6. History / Game flow
7. Intuition / Reads / Feel / Tells

Unless I’m forgetting something crucial, this list serves as an index of what we should pay attention to during a hand. It was arranged in order of importance. The first four categories are definite and should always be considered first and foremost. Once we get into player types, our assumptions will differ from our peers.

How closely have you been paying attention to what has been happening at the table? Did you join the game recently, in the last hour? Who are the people you are playing with? Have you seen any hands play out on the river? Maybe your opinion on a spot played until showdown is different than the person to your left. This could alter player tendencies when playing multiway pots. My point is: we all process information differently and view reality in our own way. Sure, there are some factual bits and pieces we digest, but others’ interpret these things or events differently. There is skill involved in making accurate assumptions and predictions, which largely comes from paying attention to the game and your own awareness.

The last tricky topic deals with our intuition, reads, and tells. These things can be deceiving. There are times when our feeling tells us to go against every piece of strategy we’ve studied. There have been moments when we were right, and instances when we were wrong. How do we know when to pull the trigger and listen to ourself?

The answer is that we don’t know! This is another skill (or aspect of variance in poker) where we accurately take the right side of a spot we are unsure of, which is always going to be 50/50. We either win the hand or lose it. We label this as “making the right read” or “following our intuition” or “knowing they were bluffing” and sometimes it is justified. In these cases, I tend to believe intuition and feel play a bigger role than tells. There is a reason why you “feel” something or are telling yourself a story about the hand and the player. When it comes to reading people, we don’t always have complete data to know if what someone is doing is constant. One person might get nervous with the nuts, rather than with a bluff. Being able to gather visual information on someone is huge, but a lot of the time this causes information overload. It shouldn’t be the only thing we rely on when making a big decision, unless you feel you have a confirmed tell. This is why these points appear last on the list. They aren’t always correct.

Poker is an incredibly complex game. There are countless situations that arise from the possibilities of your two cards and the five card community board. Add that with the uniqueness and absurdity of the human race, now we have some interesting circumstances we find ourselves involved in! As long as we focus on the constants, play a sound strategy catered to our worthwhile assumptions, and enjoy ourselves, we should come out on top more than not. Getting really good at the complex strategies is hard, focusing and following the fundamentals is much easier. Be careful and suspicious with interpretations and make sure to build from the ground up. Good luck!

“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.” – Johnny Cash