By Alex Fitzgerald, APT Featured Coach
I am currently creating a video series on a big tournament win. You will get to replay every hand in the tournament of any consequence. You will have to decide to play the hand preflop or fold it, and play every street on your own. If you can match me move for move, you will know you are ready for the big competition.
As I prepare the series, I thought I would discuss a few tips to help you run deep in your own tournaments. Every time I apply these lessons to tournament poker my results improve. Ignore them at your peril.
Practice Makes Perfect
It’s not the hours you put in. It’s what you put in the hours.
When I make poker quizzes I don’t just do it for you. I do it for me. When I present to an audience, I have to be right. People don’t pay good money to hear me fumble around. They want to know what they should do in a given situation. So I drill myself into oblivion. Every time we work together, my eyes are open wide. I see every stack and statistic that could cause an issue.
You know why poker players fail? They start thinking they’re too good. Then they half-ass their opens. They let hands go. A few big blinds here. A few big blinds there. There goes your win rate.
Never take a hand off. You have to hold yourself to the same standard I hold myself to. Pretend there is someone waiting to call you on your mistake. Make that person you.
Advanced Poker Training allows you to train yourself for pennies. If you want a poker coach to help you, I sell my poker quiz packages for pennies. I even bring in other coaches to do the quizzes with me on occasion. You have every opportunity to improve. So get out there and practice.
Drill the fundamentals until they are engraved in your mind. Work until you can hear your coaches in your head. You should feel physically ill if you do something that goes outside your playbook.
The addiction to the form is what makes poker great. I love competing at a high level. I love how in poker that competitive fire is available to anyone. The cards don’t care about your gender, race, ethnicity, politics, popularity, anything. They beat us all, whether we want them to or not. It’s on us to handle that and get better.
Value Bet Viciously
Several times in progress to my recent tournament win I value bet the second-best hand. I won this tournament because I am willing to value bet the second-best hand by accident.
Most poker players love to gamble. They do not play the game to fold. No one drives to the cardroom and says, “I can’t wait to fold tonight!” For this reason, most poker players call too much. Raising is expensive. If you don’t want to fold, then calling is the next cheapest option.
To exploit this vulnerability, you must value bet more than anyone else at the table.
If you think you have the best hand but you check for pot control I have to ask you why? Yes, on television and YouTube, players are good at bluffing. They can turn their weak pairs into check-raise bluffs. But the general public struggles with that. If you believe your hand is good, bet more.
Obliterate the Big Blind
The person you should value bet against the most is the big blind.
If you get the big blind to call then you’ve done your work. Heads-up pots with the big blind calling are going to go well for you. You will be playing a big pot in position with a generally superior hand. Your opponent will be fighting to not lose their big blind. You will be looking to increase your wins.
People get away with flatting the big blind with garbage because most people suck at value betting. If you raise A-Jo from the cutoff and the button cold calls you then he might have a calling range of 6% to 12%, if he’s a regular player. If that same person calls from the big blind, it’s as if all the shackles are off. 30% of hands? 40% of hands? Who cares? Call with what you want.
Let’s say you raise A-Jo and the button calls you. He’s a tough regular. The board comes K-J-4 rainbow. This is not a terrific board for you. Your opponent probably didn’t cold call you with J-To. You’re not getting value often when you bet here.
Now, let’s say you raise and that same player calls from the big blind. The board comes K-J-4 rainbow. You should be gunning for three streets here. Why? Because people play all kinds of garbage from the big blind. They may have J-2 off.
What most players do is flop a pair, call the flop continuation bet, and pray. If you bet small for three streets, many will call you down just because they hate folding to such small bets. It’s only on the river, after they’ve flicked in yet another call that they realize how much money they just threw away.
Coming Next Week: How To Make $50,000 in One Night – Part 2