Poker Strategy Articles From the Thinking Poker Team

My latest for Two Plus Two Magazine is entitled “Hero Folding” and is about learning to feel good about folding:

Whereas big bluffs and hero calls offer the dual rewards of feeling like you made a great play and seeing a mountain of chips shipped your way, plus sometimes the oohs and aahs of your tablemates, the rewards of a heroic fold are mostly in your own head.

Yet these are some of the hardest plays to make in poker. Even great players commonly refer to themselves as “stations” and admit to paying off more than they should. If you’d had the discipline to fold every time you had that nagging feeling that you were beat, your bankroll would be a lot fatter than it is today.

Because you aren’t getting the external rewards that come with big bluffs and calls, the key to making better hero folds is to derive satisfaction from the feeling of knowing that you made a great play, which in the end counts for more than winning, losing or the respect of your peers anyway.

For more on folding, there’s my latest Learn.PokerNews article, “How to Make Money With the Worst Hands in Poker

Proper, winning poker involves a lot of folding. The big pots are few and far between. If the adrenaline spikes of winning and losing is what you’re really after, my honest advice is to head to the pit for some craps or blackjack. Of course the house has an edge in those games, but not as much of an edge as your opponents will have if you get bored and start calling raises with trashy hands in a no-limit hold’em game.

and also “You’re Supposed to Get Bluffed

There are lots of emasculating metaphors we use for getting bluffed, but the truth is that it’s supposed to happen. Somewhere out there is a poker player who has never folded to a bluff, but he’s probably among the biggest losers in the game. If you never fold to a bluff, then you’re going to end up paying off way too many value bets, and ultimately you’ll lose more money than if you just suck it up and let yourself fold a winner now and again.

Carlos Welch learned this lesson the hard way when he found himself “Hero-Calling Unexpected River Bets“:

When this guy comes out and leads the river, he means business. His range is incredibly strong at this point because the turn and river improved most of the hands I put him on after his flop call. The flush draws got there and the {K-} hands are now trips. Not to mention the fact that a $100 bet in this game is big in an absolute sense. And big bets on the river in small stakes games are usually the gospel.

Carlos also brings us “The Ten Commandments of Online Poker“, featuring gems like “Thou shalt have no other gods before math.”

Last but not least, Nate Meyvis writes about “Checking Flops From Out of Position”:

Sometimes you get called by someone who has position on you. When the stacks are short, moreover, it matters less whether you will occasionally make a great hand. Great hands are great because you will be comfortable taking them to battle in huge pots, but when you’re short-stacked — such as often happens in tournaments — there won’t be any huge pots. In these situations it’s more important who has the better chance of making something decent, and that’s often the caller, not the raiser.

7 thoughts on “Poker Strategy Articles From the Thinking Poker Team

  1. Some time ago I assigned terms for key difference behind hero calls and big bluffs vs hero folds.
    1.Instant Gratification Monkey -regarding an attribute of our “logical” decision maker.
    2.Ego confirmation sh.t.- no “hard” proof of our choice.

    • I used (borrowed) term “instant gratification monkey”.
      However this is not the best term.The ability to delay gratification is definitely within the capability of monkey.

      • This might be the most Andy reply ever in this space. Criteria number one being, of course, Andy replying to himself.

        Other criteria met
        – cognitive fallacies in action
        – disparagement of the ego
        – esoteric inferences as applied to poker
        – monkeys

        • Your comments indicate that my post was not esoteric for you.
          When we communicate we just assume.
          I assumed that Andrew Brokos belong to a very small group of those specially initiated to get my message.

  2. My 2+2 article this month was another rush job due to the hectic month I have had complete with a stolen phone and motorcycle crash.

    I was just talking to Gareth about how the articles I spend the least time on get the most attention. I kinda used a very very very old outline and just filled in the details. The original author’s pretty cool from what I hear tho.

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