Thursday, May 31, 2007

Poker's Next Level

I’ve arrived at the next level in my poker apprenticeship. Last week I signed up with a poker training site, I’ve been aware of this site for about a year. I watched one of their free training videos at and was so impressed with it that I figured the $150 startup fee was worth it. In only a few days, my attitude toward playing poker hands has drastically changed, especially in cash games. Playing cash games online is completely different from cash games at Casino San Pablo. At FullTilt, everyone plays a very tight style. A few people limp, but usually someone raises the pot and everyone folds. There are few showdowns. I lost about $50 playing a $1-2 nl session last week, and felt discouraged because I never got any action on my good hands and had to fold the rest. I realize now just how weak I was with my play. Very weak. In watching just a few of the videos of the PokerXFactor’s resident cash pro Rizen, my cash game online has been completely transformed. I get this game now. It’s all about picking your spots and exploiting weakness. I’d heard these things before, but now it means something. Rizen talks about defending his button rather than defending his blind. In cash games, position is everything. I can see where position will be very powerful at Casino San Pablo. I can see where some of those games will be very juicy and exploitable. I have lots of work to do, however, but I’ll get there. Anyway, when players limp in and I’m on the button, I’ll sometimes stick in a nice raise and take the pot down right there or play heads up with position against someone. That’s powerful. It works. It doesn’t work all the time, but it works more than it doesn’t, which means in the end it makes me money. Through Rizen’s videos and articles in CardPlayer and his blog, I have entered the nerve center of the online poker community, and it is a community. Lots of young kids who do nothing but play poker day in, day out, sometimes playing 10 tournaments at one time. I can only concentrate on one table at a time. I actually prefer just one table, though I can see playing two when I get better (or get bigger computer screens). The game has gone from simply playing good hands to outthinking and understanding your opponent. Figuring out what your opponent has and what he thinks I have. I see now why disguised hands are so powerful when a board hits hard. This is what the top tier players do. They’re constantly disguising and changing tactics. The idea is to constantly change and modify one’s approach. Here is the silver lining: no limit cash games are very hard to play properly. There are so many variables that go into play, and those who have mastered the game and know the proper strategies have a great advantage over other players. Small pot poker makes so much more sense to me now.

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