Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Gonna dish out a little poker advice today. I wanna talk about things not to do when it comes to poker. There are a lot of advice out there that preach what to do but not as much that tells you what not to do so I'll try to tackle that a little today. I'll also mention if I've been guilty of any of these don'ts as well by saying guilty which means I have NOT followed my own advice. In no particular order...

Don't let ego get in the way...ever. The only instance I can think of where it's ok is when you're trying to make a deal at a final table. You can, and should be talking about how great you are to try to get the best possible deal. Tell them how much you crush online poker for, how big your winrate is, how many mtts you've won, and how long you've been crushing poker.

Anyway you never want to get to a point where you feel you're the best or too good at poker. When that happens I can assure you you'll be looking for a new line of work in a year or two. If you don't believe me, ask arguably the world's greatest poker player Phil Ivey. I've seen interviews where he says he's always trying to learn something new every day, that there's a lot to learn still and how he's never satisfied.

*Not guilty but guilty about saying how great I am when trying to finalize a deal at the final table.

Now the correlation is that you should always be striving to get better. Never feel like you're the best and keep working at the game. I've had this mindset for 12 years and I think I have a pretty good track record because of that. You can have confidence but lose any cockiness or ego.

*Guilty and so should you be.

Don't play while intoxicated or high. Seems obvious but I know some of you guys have done that and need somebody to remind you not to do that, so I'm telling you now, don't. It's hard enough trying to beat the game when you're alert but trying to do so when your mind is elsewhere or in a state of inebriety is nearly impossible. Even if you are good enough to do so you are not going to match your normal winrate. You are theoretically costing yourself $ over the long run. After you win $, feel free to get as drunk or stoned as you want (err, probably not stoned since it's illegal).

*Not guilty but guilty of being inebriated and in other states when not playing poker...but that was a long time ago...really.

Don't blame bad luck. Luck exists but pretend it doesn't exist. What I mean is that everybody runs the same over the true long run (however long that is is anyone's guess). Everybody is going to make a flush after flopping a flush draw 1 in 3 times, be dealt aces preflop 1 in 220 times, and lose KK on a K88 flop to deuces 1 in 980 times (happened to my wife). Look at it this way, if you flip a coin 10x, it might come heads 9 out of 10 times. If you flip it 1 million times, you can be sure it'll be very close to 50% heads 50% tails. You can miss a flush draw 9 out of 10 times but over a million trials the times you make it is gonna be pretty damn close to 1 out of 3 times. There is nobody that is going to to make 10% or 50% of their flush draws over a million trials. I'm not gonna talk about deviation (because I know the einsteins out there are going to say I need to account for that, but that is a minimal factor when you have enough trials and also doesn't really relate to the main point I'm trying to get at). So knowing this we can assume everybody runs ("luck wise") around the same over a big # of hands, but what separates the winners and losers in poker over this long course of hands is skill, and not good luck and definitely not bad luck (again the # of hands is big but hopefully everybody gets the gist of my point).

*Not guilty...although I tell people I run effing bad sometimes as do lots of people...it's what I call a "listen to how bad I run (show hand history to friend), now feel sympathy for me because I deserve it and acknowledge how bad I run" excuse for losing or not winning more.

This is for you Adam...don't criticize other players on the table. When you berate a guy for playing a hand badly, nothing good really comes out of it. If you berate a bad player 2 bad things may come out of it. 1) he may feel like the game is no longer fun and quit the game and 2) he may think you are right and decide to get better (which hurts your earning power).

Now there may be a couple of instances where it may be ok to berate someone (at the expense of you looking like a total douchebag). Maybe there is a waiting list and there is a worse player 1st up and you're trying to get a player off the table. Maybe your criticism gets the guy to play worse (but usually not worth it because again, he may just pick up his chips and leave). These instances come up so infrequently that I didn't even need to point them out. So you should try to go your entire life w/o criticizing anybody on the poker table (unless you like to be the table a**hole, then by all means go for it).

*Not guilty, but guilty of thinking how effing badly that donkey played that hand to bust my flopped set at the table.

Along the same lines, don't talk strategy on the table unless you're w/ a buddy and nobody can hear. There's nothing tilting than being on a juicy table and having 2 guys talking about polarization, ranges, balancing, etc. in front of everybody. Are you effing kidding me?! Again you don't want to be giving lessons on the table, esp. to the losing players. And no you don't look like you know what you're talking about, you look like a complete jackass to the guys that are actually trying to win at the table. There is a time to talk about poker strategy and it's definitely not on the tables.

*Not guilty...if I wanna hear lessons I'll go rail Phil Hellmuth's table.

Don't chase losses, especially when you're tilting.

*Guilty, and my bankroll hates me for it.

Don't quit when you're winning and the game is good. This is a time to win more. If you're winning that means someone or several people are losing and could be tilting or playing less than their A game. This becomes an even more +ev spot for you. In contrast, if you're losing you should think about quitting because that means others are winning and they are playing confidently and correctly more often. Also you may tilt and play less than your A game and it becomes a -ev spot for you. If you feel like you're still a favorite to win even when losing then keep on playing. Again I'll refer back to Phil Ivey. He can tell you this but he plays longer sessions when he's winning and shorter sessions when he's losing. Most people tend to do the reverse because they want to book a win or get even when losing.

Now there are a few circumstances when it's ok to quit early when winning. One such scenario is when you've been losing for days and need a win to regain your confidence back. It may be more +ev to regain that confidence back so you're assured that yeah, you are not doomswitched for life and can play your A game going forward. Also you want to quit if there are more urgent matters on hand, like having to pick up your kid or more importantly, watching Monday Night Football.

*Guilty way too many times...after all, who doesn't like the feeling of booking a win... the only feeling that may be better than that is sex,...and even a win feels slightly better sometimes.

Don't make excuses for your bad play during and after a hand. Don't come up w/ reasons that don't exist for calling, raising, and folding a hand. E.g. "Wow I'm running hot, I'm gonna call this 4bet w/ 76o here even though I normally wouldn't but hot damn I can't lose tonight!" and "this guy is bluffing because he hasn't bluffed once in the past 1million hands and he's due" (ahhh, the good ole' due theory.... notice it's a theory, not a fact). Make the most +ev play you think at the time based on logic, read, math, and your knowledge.

*Not guilty...except this one time I was pondering a hero call at the river even though it felt bad, because I held 44 on April 4th on a 3456A board w/ 4 flush w/ none of that suit in my hand and was facing a $440 bet and thought the moons were aligned right w/ all the 4's going through my mind. I finally called and was wrong, but hey everything just seemed more than coincidental to be folding the 44 there.

Don't lend money. You'll thank me for this. Learn from my experience. I've been around poker and gambling for over a decade and have befriended people I've lent money to over the years. I'm owed enough to buy a nice new car....the actual # might make you cringe. I've always been overly generous and it's been to a fault. The % that I've been paid back is very small. If guys are asking for a loan in the 1st place, they're probably not winning players or have a huge leak somewhere where they're constantly broke. Also if you ever run bad and your bankroll gets low, you won't be getting paid back when you need your $ the most and will be cursing yourself for ever having lent out that $ in the 1st place. So you should learn a very valuable word when it comes to lending out $... NO.

*Guilty as mentioned. And for those guys that still owe me money, pay up now or I will hire a professional hit man to take you out... just kidding, but I really would like to get paid or else my kid won't be going to college and you don't want that guilt on your conscience, do you?
Just like any other dad w/ a daughter, it's my goal in life to keep her away from the pole (I got that from Chris Rock fwiw).

Don't write advice on poker that may help your competition especially when it takes time away from playing poker for $...oh wait...



  1. Yup really good post...lending money...sigh

  2. WTF Dude! Stop giving away our secretz for free!!!

    Nice post. :-)

  3. Hey thanks for the advice, new info or confirmation of what we know is always great to hear. thanks for the efforts.

  4. I think a lot of the stuff I said was already out there in forums or literature..prob. all of it but I get a lot of questions about what it takes to succeed in poker and rather than answering each person (even though I try to) it's more efficient to just dish out some advice based on what I've learned or experienced over the years, even though some may seem like common sense.

  5. lol. nice touch of humor at the end

  6. i didnt play high for the first time ever and ur totally right.

  7. Updates on fantasy would be sick! I just read your comments on retirement and this game, I guess I'm a fool for thinking it's doable not just at msnl, but ssnl. I think your advice and experience were very spot-on, and probably true for the majority of cases, but you're not really thinking outside of the box. I also think your assumptions about wife, investment strategies, etc. might not fit for the minority of cases that could make it happen. In general, I think it's very true, but everyone who makes money from this game was a dog from the beginning anyways. I'll let you know when I make it.

  8. I didn't say it's an impossibility that you can retire from 10 yrs playing midstakes, just that it's really difficult. Online poker's been around 12 years..how many midstakes or lower guys are sipping mai tai's on a tropical island somewhere from all the $ they won at midstakes, knowing they never have to work again? Gl if you are planning on retiring in 10 years though...would love to see someone do so from midstakes or smaller to learn how they went about it...prob. a matter of time before someone actually does it though...hope it's you Tilt. :)

    As for fantasy, my 3dime team swept side bets and was high man in the league (xtra $500) and sitting atop 1st. Thank you Arian Foster! Lost in 1dime and nickel league but hovering around mid place in both. As long as the 3dime team is doing well, all is good in fantasyland. Maybe I'll update my fantasy results every tues or wed.

  9. Nice post. Here's a "don't" that's helped me out quite a bit...don't turn on chat.

    I've made some really iffy plays that paid off big this past week. I'm sure I dodged a lot of trash talking :)

  10. Wow, dude, just heard about the mouse in the glue trap...You truly are the Michael Vick of pest control.

  11. Speaking of Vick, he's starting for the 3dime team tomorrow. He's paid his due to society, now he can go put up 30 pts for my team.