The worst thing you can do in poker is try to get lucky.
Getting lucky is plan B. It’s the hope every degenerate has moments before destroying everything. Trying to get lucky is what funds poker. The alternative is to know and play your odds. This is a numbers game. If I bet on a coin-flip then my payout has to be better than one to one to be profitable. Two to one payout would double your money every four flips. The odds are immutable.
Power of position
If everyone plays optimally hand range should be progress best to worst.
This image demonstrates an example of ABC positional poker. These numbers are a little loose and of course vary some based on table. The point is though that you should play tight to loose based on position and assume your opponents are doing the same.
These numbers are based on random simulations and don’t take into account player tendencies.
Think about what you play from different positions. The strength of hands you are willing to play determines the percentage of pots you enter. Even if they don’t know it, every player has a range. We want to guess what kind of player they are and utilize a range that matches up against theirs. Which usually means being the one who plays just a hair tighter. So when the chips are down you have the best hand.
Bulls eat. Bears eat. Pigs get slaughtered.
The second after you get greedy, you will probably be in the parking lot frustrated with yourself. This game is won by probabilities and lost by passion. Once you know the fundamentals the mental part is keeping your composure and consistency. Being afraid to lose money or miss out on money are both handicaps to your game.
Voluntarily Put In Pot.
If you get dealt 100 hands not counting BB and SB what percentage of times did you put in money? We already know from the chart above you only get good hands about 5% of the time. A five percent VPIP is super-tight. That is your lowest gear that sometimes you have to drop it into.
My VPIP overall is in the low-twenties. Higher in cash games.
In tournaments where you are in the event become a big factor. If you are one person away from the money, after 10 hours, and someone raises you all in, it’s worth strongly considering folding aces.
On the other hand if you have 500 people to go and it’s the first hour, and someone offers you a 50/50 chance to double up with pocket twos or AK you have to take it and win some coin flips to stay in it.
The most important number in poker.
How many players are still in the hand.
You can bluff one player much easier than three. Since every player has 2 cards, 2 vs 2 is fair. Another opponent makes it 2 vs 4. If there are five players it is 2 vs 10 cards! You better hit good.
AA vs any two random cards is 85% to 15%.
AA vs any 6 random cards is 63% to 37%.
Facing three players pulls your odds close to 60/40. And against five players your equity drops below 50. Of course more players is more money in the pot. But you have to sneak into those multi-way pots and smash the nuts to continue. As people fold in front of you the more vulnerable the pot becomes and the better your cards get. This is especially true when considering short-handed and heads-up play.
The best advice in poker.
For example if you are in late position and everyone folds, then regardless of your cards you should bet with a higher frequency. If it checks to you then raise with a higher frequency. If an opponent makes a weak raise, you should re-raise with higher frequency. When you are in the hand you should either be raising, folding or trapping.
The 2% rule
In a 52 card deck there is a 2% probability of a card coming out. If you have one ace there are three left. Every card the dealer shows has a six percent chance of matching. Shows three cards on the flop, that’s 18%. And you have two cards which is a 36% percent chance of pairing one of them. The turn is combined another 12% chance of pairing one of them. And the river is combined another 12% chance of pairing one of them. So that’s it you get three shots to catch a pair. A 36% and two 12% chances.
Adding these three hands reduces your equity to 8%. In this case AK is stomping on your foot. If we removed AK your equity would improve to 25% because you get the aces back as outs. The strength of your hole cards is relative to your opponents cards. AK is such a favorite because it dominates Ace everything so well. And it holds its own with 50/50 odds against any pocket pair worse than kings.
Two over cards versus a pocket pair
This is the classic coin flip. You have to win some to advance in a tournament. But as few as possible. I would rather have the pair. But technically the two over cards are just as good. They have all the equity mentioned above minus the chances of your opponent improving.
Use opponents play against them.
What that means is when your table is tight you loosen up. When your table is loose, even with one loose player, then you tighten up. Most poker tables in the world are too loose. So take advantage of the edge they are giving up. So many donkeys will not be able to let go of anything and are just paying off all the elite hands.
Many players are more scared of being bluffed than of losing money. Use that against them.
On the flip side though you might find yourself at a table that’s in a mood or that just happened to fill with tight conservative players. The proper counter is to tax them for it. Steal their blinds and badger them. This will bring attention to you. Good. I want them to get steamed. The looser they think I am they more likely they are to stack off against me with second best. Obviously when they do push back you better have something strong.
Play within your limits.
Even playing perfectly, you will lose a lot more hands than win in this game. Ideally however you are getting out early and winning big when you do have it. The point is to stick around long enough to catch the big wins you must afford to lose for hours. And for the majority of people that could mean playing freerolls or 1-2 cent games online. Nothing wrong with that while you are learning. The cheapest live games are $1-$2 tables. And those pots can get up there. You have players sitting down with a thousand bucks at those tables. And a $100 dollar rack is standard minimum.
Do not play this game with money you can’t afford to lose.