Before I get into the gist of this series let me start off with a DISCLAIMER: Quantifying the importance of different strategies, concepts, and theories in poker is often a difficult if not impossible undertaking. For one thing, different situations put an emphasis on different strategies and concepts. For instance, when you are playing a 10 Big Blind stack in a tournament the only thing that is of importance is getting your chips in the middle with some fold equity, where playing in a cash game with 200 big blind stacks there are a multitude of factors to consider: position, cards, your opponent’s tendencies, table dynamics, your table image, and so on.
Ok, with the disclaimer out of the way let’s get down to business and discuss the Three most important factors players need to know and utilize while playing poker.
- A Solid Understanding of the Basic Strategies
- Focusing at the Poker Tables (Tells)
- Adjusting to Different Opponents and Table Dynamics
Understanding the Basic Strategies
The basic strategies of the game often get overlooked in today’s world of light-five-bets, equilibrium plays, and ICM decisions, but the basics are far more important than any of the advanced concepts and strategies you’ll learn. The reason I say this is quite simple: Without a complete understanding of the basics you’ll never fully understand or be able to implement the far more advanced strategies into your game.
Think of it this way; when you learn to do math you don’t spend a couple weeks on addition and subtraction and then grab a calculus book. There is a progression that must be followed, and if you are lacking in any of the previous areas (addition, multiplication, fractions, algebra, geometry) the chances that you will be able to do calculus are close to zero.
The same holds true in poker. In poker you have hand strengths, position, pot odds, and other concepts that need to be mastered before you can start adding things like re-steals, third-level thinking, and fold equity into your game. Going a step further you need to understand re-steals, third-level thinking , and fold equity into your game before you can move on to four and five-betting ranges, floating out of position, and so on.
The reason the progression needs to be followed is that if you don’t understand continuation betting you can’t understand floating. If you don’t understand the proper times to float an opponent you will never realize when it’s correct (and incorrect) to float out of position. Without the basics you will constantly be trying to plug leaks in your game, and while you might think you don’t understand the advanced concept, it’s actually a lack of understanding and grounding in the basic strategies of the game that are causing you fits.
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