MY FUNDAMENTAL BELIEFS ON FOLDING & POSITION
I promised this blog would have plenty of strategy discussion, because ultimately, we all want to get better at the game. Since this is my first strategy post, I might as well “tell you what I’m going to tell you,” as the presentation experts teach. That is, give you a sense of how I view good poker strategy, and the base principles from which all of Situs Poker Online advice derives.
It all boils down to two key principles: folding and position.
FOLDING IN THE FIRST PLACE
To understand the importance of folding, we must go back to one of the key (and most glorious) features of poker: decisions. If you play craps or roulette, your decisions don’t matter much. If you bet red or black, odd or even, or individual numbers at the roulette table, you still give up the same edge to the house. Poker is completely different. You get to look at your cards before you decide whether, and how much to bet. So you decide if your cards justify playing (or continuing in) a hand.
Many poker players don’t fully understand this. In fact, you’ll see some poker veterans sincerely tell newbies, “It all comes down to the flop. You need to see the flop to know if your cards are any good.” Most poker players have some selection criteria about which hands to play. But the vast majority aren’t sufficiently selective about the hands with which they continue. They are playing what I call “flop lotto” – just play a bunch of hands hoping their cards will align with the flop. Certainly we’ve all seen pretty much every two-card combination smash the flop, so why shouldn’t my ten-four suited smash the flop this time?
Here’s the problem with that approach: none of us “smashes flops” any better than the rest of us. I mean, if you do smash flops more effectively than others, then there’s probably a place to take that trait and make a billion dollars. Please write and tell me what it’s like.
Assuming you’re not that person, playing flop lotto will lead to you having results identical to everybody else (you all lose the rake). But this is where folding can allow you to win long-term. If you fold more than the other people do – if you play a stronger starting range than everybody else – then you will, in fact, smash more flops than your opponents (ace-king suited smashes more flops than ten-four-suited). And you will not have wasted the extra chips calling bets with hands that you just hope will align with the flop.
Over the coming weeks and months, I’ll be more specific about preflop hand selection. In the meantime, consider this exercise for yourself: Figure out what percentage of hands you play preflop (your “VPIP”, which stands for “Voluntarily Put [Money] In Pot”). Now reduce that by 10%. Just snip off the worst 10% of the hands you were playing. See if your results don’t improve – I’m pretty sure they will. Stick around for more discussion and detail later.
FOLDING YOUR EGO
Many of us have a problem folding because, well, it’s surrendering. You are conceding the pot to your opponent. Either she has a better hand, or she has successfully persuaded you she has a better hand. Neither of these options is very comforting.
Furthermore, you don’t usually get to find out if you made a good fold. That’s not fair! You’re making a disciplined fold here – you should be rewarded for it by having your good decision confirmed. Nope – the reward for your disciplined fold is getting to keep the chips in your stack, not hers.
Finally, folding is not as much fun. At least, many people feel that way. They say, “I want to play. ” Well, according to the rules of the game, folding is one of the legal actions when you’re facing a bet or raise. So you really are playing poker. But I get that a lot of people enjoy the game more when their chips are in the pot, and they have cards in front of them. So folding feels like the “less fun” route.
I’ll have more to say about this in the future, but for now, let’s just agree that if you can get your ego out of your betting and folding decisions, your results will probably improve.