A person does not necessarily need to know the theory behind a fundamental in order for it to help their game. One can reap the rewards by just adhering to its principles. And while most poker fundamentals are actually very elementary, they are largely ignored by the vast majority of players. Why is this?
My take on it is that almost all poker players are egotistical to some degree. Generally, everyone thinks they are the best poker player at the table when they sit down. They already know the “correct” way to play, and anything anyone else does that does not conform to their approach to the game is dismissed as bad play. It is my feeling that this general lack of awareness that their poker game even has leaks is the main reason many people fail to take the time to try to improve or learn new ideas. They are completely satisfied with their game, and simply see no need to waste their time improving upon “perfection.”
On the other hand, many people play for recreation only and might not even see poker as a game of skill. All they live for is the big all-in situations where they hope lady luck is on their side so they can take down that monster pot. To them, poker is one big lottery ticket and should be treated as any otherformofgambling. Theymayeventhinkanypoker“system”isjustascamandawasteoftime.
Even those actively seeking improvement can have a tough time of it. For ambitious players who desire to get better, the world can be a frustrating place. There is so much information out there now that even knowing where to start escapes many people. Much of the literature available to players tends to focus only on exciting big hands and large pots. Very little discusses what you do the other 95% of the time where the true profit is located.
The reality is, an average poker session for a professional can be truly boring. Winning poker is not exciting poker. This is not to say that poker cannot be fun when someone has an edge over his opponents. It just means that pleasure is generally not solely derived from those few and far between high points that come in the form of monster hands and big pots.
The best way to get started and begin building discipline into any poker game is to learn and adhere to a few fundamentals. Once mastered, one can have complete confidence that he or she is making sound basic decisions. This frees up thought to focus on more nuanced or advanced strategies which, in turn, increase profit.
Automatic Poker is designed around several core principles. As you continue through this book, you will begin to learn the theory behind the fundamentals, and your game will inevitably move to the next level. Before I go into detail on the fundamentals of what you should be doing, let me go through a few things that you should not be doing. Here is a list of leaks that a large percentage of all players exhibit:
Open limping to try to see a “cheap” flop
Calling pre-flop raises in the blinds because your hand is “too good to fold” Passive Play
Failure to try to build big pots with big hands
Playing level 1 poker (only thinking about your own hand)
I could probably name a hundred more leaks, but these are the most common ones I see. If you are guilty of any (or all) of these, here is the good news. You can stop doing them today and vastly improve your game. By using my strategies, your game will instantly shed all of these leaks. At the same time you will also begin adhering to many of the important fundamentals of poker. The major ones are:
Playing in position
Playing with initiative
Keeping pressure on your opponents
Playing big pots with big hands and small pots with small hands Thinking in ranges
Using my charts will have you implementing the first three fundamentals instantly while betting strategies and thinking in ranges will take a bit more work to incorporate, because, as previously stated, the charts can only take you so far. You cannot rely solely on them to become a complete poker player.
It is best to think of the charts only as training wheels. By using them initially, your game will be repeatable and automatic. They will allow you to play with strong fundamentals while you train your poker mind and learn more sophisticated concepts. Let’s take a closer look at the three most important fundamentals of all.
The Big Three
There are three key fundamentals exhibited by any strong overall strategy. They are position, initiative, and pressure. Every poker hand you will ever play will somehow be influenced by these key concepts. Failure to understand and implement any one of these ideas into your game will be at the peril of your bottom line.
Playing in position and with initiative are the most important strategical aspects of any poker game. In fact, building the foundation of your entire strategy around nothing else but these two fundamentals will give you an overwhelming advantage over anyone who does not. Hand planning changes significantly depending on whether you are in or out of position and whether or not you possess the initiative. When you have only one or the other or neither going for you, your game will be severely constricted. Butbyhavingbothworkingintandem,youhaveadditionalwaysofapplyingpressureto opponents and many more avenues to profit.
Theconsistentapplicationofpressureonopponentsisanimportantfacetofanywinningstrategy. In a game based on initiative, it is a fundamental aspect of just about everything you do. When you steal, youareapplyingpressure. Whenyou3-bet,youareapplyingpressure. Whenyoucontinuationbet, you are applying pressure.
If you want to think about it in a theoretical sense, playing the majority of your hands late begets position, position begets initiative, initiative begets pressure, pressure begets mistakes from opponents, and mistakes from opponents beget profit. By following these three principal fundamentals, you will consistently find yourself in many more profitable spots and many less marginal or unprofitable situations than your less technically correct opponents. Ultimately, winning the small battles over time is the key to a profitable poker game.