Advancing in Texas Holdem is Hard
This is part 2 of the articles on why Texas Holdem is hard to master. Here we will introduce some ideas that many Holdem players, even veteran ones, are not enough aware of. One thing we hope you get out of this series is that becoming really good at Holdem is a methodical process.
Getting Great Emotional Satisfaction from Poker
Becoming very good at Texas Holdem gives players that Juicy Poker feeling. The game becomes so accessible that even a bad beat—something that is inevitable even if Phil Helmuth thinks that every bad beat he suffers is because his opponent was too stupid to play the hand correctly—doesn’t ruffle your feathers all that much.
The more you internalize the finer points of Holdem the better you will feel about your game which is simply another way of saying being content with your decisions.
Poker is Like a Silent Lecture
The first idea we would like to introduce has to do with your decisions. When you make good decisions based on every factor that you can see, observe, or think about, you should consider the hand to have been a victory of sorts even if you lost the hand.
Either your opponent simply got lucky—it happens quite often in Texas Holdem and in all poker variations—or he thought through all of the possibilities too and came out ahead.
Good decisions even in a losing hand translate into many more good decisions in winning hands.
However, there are visual indications that are independent of the decision making process. These visual indications are commonly known as tells. The way you look and act is what we mean when we say that poker is like a silent lecture.
Don’t Give away State Secrets
Your decisions might be perfectly well thought out but I you give away the store through tells, all of your hard mental work would have been for nothing. Even sadder would be to fold a hand because you feel that your actions or overall facial expression is giving away your hand.
So, one of the ideas we have to impart to you here is to practice poker by filming yourself or by looking in the mirror. People who are about to give a major speech or deliver an important lecture might also practice their delivery in the same way.
The time you spend “in front if the mirror” is good not only for dental hygiene but even more importantly for success in poker!
Pot Odds and Fold Equity
We will talk about pot odds in a different article on poker math. Pot odds is a well known concept. Fold equity is an idea that many poker players have not heard about or, if they have heard about it, haven’t studied the idea for ways it can help them make good decisions “over the cards”.
What is a Bet in Poker?
Before we get into the concept of fold equity we need to talk about what a bet actually is in poker. This may seem like an odd subject but a bet in poker is a very different animal than any other bet.
If you make a bet on a sporting event, your bet exists independently of what anyone else might do. Of course, if you bet that Tom Brady will win but millions bet that the other quarterback will win, the odds on a Tom Brady win will improve.
Ever since Brady won his first Super Bowl, most people vote that he will win and not the other quarterback.
A Poker Bet Requires a Response
A bet in blackjack is a stand alone affair. A bet on the state lottery is another example of a stand alone affair. A side bet in Caribbean Poker is a stand alone matter. No one has to do anything based upon our bets in slots, video poker, baccarat, roulette, craps, or any other casino game.
A bet in poker is a totally different organism. It requires a response by another player or other players. These responses are:
That these are your opponents’ options when you bet or that they are your options when another player has bet seems too obvious to talk about but it isn’t. Fold equity is a very important aspect of poker.
Fold equity refers to the percentage of times an opponent will fold to your bet. It can be reversed of course and refer to the percentage of times that you will fold in the face of a bet.
Fold equity requires that we take many parameters into account.
- 2. Hand ranges.
- The stakes you are playing.
- The betting opponent’s tendencies.
- Your tendencies.
A Bet that Keeps a Player in the Hand
Fold equity can be used to help you determine the size of a bet you want to make in a hand that you are fairly certain to be winning. Let’s say that you have a good hidden hand. Your opponent is likely to fold if you bet too much and based on her previous actions you feel that she will call if you bet less.
This is her Fold Equity in practice. If you bet too much, she will fold. If you bet too little, she will call but you would lose out on the amount that she would have called even if you had bet more.
Each Player Determines His Own Fold Equity
The idea of how likely is it that an opponent might fold works all ways. You might have one concept of your own fold equity but an opponent might have a decidedly different view of your fold equity on a specific hand based on the parameters listed above.
What you consider an opponent’s fold equity may be vastly different than how a different player at the table sees that opponent.
Observe How other Players See Everyone at the Table
This leads us to another very significant idea that gets too little attention. As important as it is for you to observe your opponents, it is also very important to see how other players—or even just one other player—sees the same opponents.
If you identify a player at the table as being superior in some ways to you and probably to the other players, take the time to observe how the superior player treats the others. We mean “treats” as in how she responds to bets.
By observing the actions of a superior player, you can learn a lot about poker that books cannot teach you!
Poker Excellence Takes Time
As you can see, it takes many thousands if hands to become so familiar with an average poker situation that you naturally and automatically and quickly go through all of the permutations you need to make a good decision “over the cards”.
This leads to the final observation for this article: when you can identify average situations in Texas Holdem, and when you can go through all of the analytical steps before you make your next decision, then you will be able to see a given situation as “not average”.
Buy quickly seeing a situation as being very unusual, you will be able to see more clearly in which way it is an odd situation and you can avoid costly mistakes.
Play Poker at Juicy Stakes
Juicy Stakes Poker offers poker around the clock in many poker variations and at many stakes levels. We also run poker tournaments. If you are determined to play those thousands of hands you will need to play to become a poker master, Juicy Stakes Poker is the best online poker room for you!