Basic Strategy FAQ

Can I vary from the charts if I am sure what it suggests is not the correct play?

Unless you are already a winning poker player, I would be careful in making chart varying reads while learning the basic strategy. With 30 big blinds, any mistake you make is not going to be that severe, especially since you are playing at the micros. You will be employing the intermediate strategy soon enough, which allows for making player-based reads.

How many tables should I play?

As part of your education, I would strongly suggest playing no more than two tables while using the basic charts. This is not a race, and you will only be hurting your progress. Only after you master the intermediate strategy and are consistently beating the games should you deliberately start adding tables in order to increase your hourly rate.

I do not feel comfortable opening so many hands from the small blind; can I tighten up my range there?
I would strongly advise against it. The strategy is designed around having a looser than average image, and changing this in any way atrophies the effectiveness of the charts. Besides, you can confidentlyfaceanypost-flopdecisionwiththechartIhaveprovided. Youneedtolearnnottoshy away from marginal situations.

The early position ranges seem way too tight; why is this?

This was done on purpose to limit your exposure to playing out of position after the flop. Once you become a more skilled post-flop player, your ranges will naturally widen from all positions.

The chart only has me shoving all-in pre-flop and never 3-betting small. Why is this?

The main reason is that with a small stack, any 3-bet generally commits you to the pot, so folding to 4- bets is almost always -EV. Additionally, by exclusively shoving, you will have maximum fold equity pre-flop and will never have to play a 3-bet pot after the flop. Eventually, you will mix things up and add some small 3-bets to your game, but for now, I advise keeping things simple.

What games will I learn to play?

The strategies outlined in this book will all be for NL Hold’em short-handed play with six players or less on the table. If you are a full-ring player, you can easily adapt this knowledge to a 9- or 10- handed table with just a few adjustments, covered in Chapter 17. No matter what game you play, this book has relevance for you. Many of the concepts covered are fundamental to all poker games and can easily be translated to improve your play.

This seems way too simple to be for real. How do I know this works?
In these pages I have basically just provided you with the strategies that I have successfully employed to beat up to 50NL for 9bb/100 over the past several months. The charts in this book are based upon proven fundamentals and tried and true methodology. I have tested them for several thousand hands and tweaked them until I felt they were optimized within the scope of what a rudimentary chart can accomplish. You should not expect to go out and beat the best online players in the world with them, and they are not meant for that purpose. The charts should only be used as a stepping stone while you learn and apply advanced concepts to your game. See Chapter 17 for details about a challenge completed by myself in which I relied solely on the basic and intermediate charts.

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