Avoid playing against good players

For winning players poker is like an arbitrage of a financial situation. Warren buffet once said "Price is what you pay;...

Posted Oct 12, 2012


Bart Hanson

Bart Hanson

Owner and Lead Pro

For winning players poker is like an arbitrage of a financial situation. Warren buffet once said "Price is what you pay; value is what you get.”

I've written in previous articles how deep one needs to be to call with certain implied odds types of hands. Say for example we have $800 in a $5-$5 no limit game. An under the gun player raises to $25 and we have 5 7 on the button. Using my formula we need to make thirty times the raise size from the total pot to make this a profitable call. But is this always correct? Our price is right but what about the value? If we are up against a tight player who will routinely stack off with one pair hands than this is a very desirable situation. But what if we are playing against a good, winning player?

In poker, as long as you can beat your opponents by an amount that will also overcome the rake than you will end up ahead. But like any other set of short-term investments you need to be able to pick the best spots and have the ability to pass on bad ones. If you see another winning player at the table he has to be that much better than all of the weaker ones. You should try to find excuses not to play pots with him, especially from out of position, as there are much better situations that will cross your path. This is not to say that you cannot have profitable positions against good players but you have to realize that calling with implied odds types of hands against people who know where they are at and will not pay off is not a good investment.

I constantly see good young players going out of their way to mix it up with each other. I guess that it is a macho thing but there should not be ego in poker. It is as if they have forgotten the main reason why we play---to win money.

Now some players like the competitive nature of the game and could care less about their profits. I have no problem with this but for those who play to achieve the highest win rate you should try to get yourself into the best possible scenarios that will reap short-term gains. The easiest way to do this is not to call good players' raises preflop. If a tough opponent opens in late position who is capable of firing multiple barrels at the pot and will rarely pay you off when you hit big then you should routinely be folding hands like suited connectors or even small pocket pairs. The sheer fact of the matter is that in the long run if you run this situation a million times you will end up behind. Why would you want to put yourself in a long-term negative EV situation?

Now the exact opposite of this is true when playing bad players especially deep with position. In these types if scenarios you want to give yourself excuses to get involved. Don't take this advice to the extreme, however. You are never going to be in a long-term positive situation if you are calling with hands like 94 suited out of the blind. Remember we play poker to win money not to beat good players.

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