Thursday, September 30, 2004


Game Selection (1, of many)

The most important decision to make in poker is which game you should play in. I plan to talk about this at great length (doh !). Let's clear up one misconception first.

A lot of people see poker on TV, sometimes on Sky Sports, right next to the golf and the snooker and the football, and this confuses them. Poker is fundamentally different to these sports because you put up your own money to play - money which you can lose. In all the sports, your aim is to play at as high a level as possible. It doesn't matter if you're a below-average player at that level, you still want to be there, because the higher you go, the bigger the rewards. You're much better off being the worst player in the Premiership (Michael Gray is my current non-favourite) than the best player in the Conference (Grazioli, Grazioli, ole ole ole). Much much much better off. It doesn't matter if all you can do is kick people and give the ball away, as long as you're there.

In poker, being the worst player in the biggest game is a total disaster. I don't know who the biggest loser is in that cash game in the Golden Nugget, but whoever it is, whether they are "poker face" or millionaire, is doing an absolute fortune. They're not only worse off than the best player in a smaller game - they're worse off than the worst player in a smaller game ! In the smallest game ! Poker is all about finding the game that you can beat for the most amount of money. Not about being famous. If you want to get on TV, write off to 15-to-1. Or Ready Steady Cook. Or whatever's your bag. Trying to play for thousands of pounds against much better players just so you can get on Discovery and Leisure at 2 am is a bad idea, and if that's what you want to do, look away now and don't come back because I'm not here to help you.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004


Find Your Own Truth

The first piece of advice may well be the most important. I can't claim credit ; the words are attributed to the Buddha, some 2500 years ago. Simply : "Doubt everything. Find your own truth". Following any poker advice by rote without thinking about the context and reasoning behind it is not very helpful at best ; at worst it's downright dangerous. For example, I wonder how many terrible laydowns have been made in small tournaments by people who took to heart TJ Cloutier's advice that "Aces are the only hand big enough to go broke with in the early stages of a tournament". They might well be the only hand TJ should go broke with in the tournaments he plays in, for various reasons, but almost certainly not you or me. Then again I might be wrong. What do I know ? Think about it for yourself and understand why the author or adviser says what he says. Then work out for yourself how it applies to your games, in your experience. The best players (whoever they are, but that's another matter) are not always the best teachers, in fact probably not even usually the best teachers. Take any advice you receive on its own merits, and work it out for yourself.

As I imply above, that applies to any advice that I give. Double. I've made a conscious decision not to clutter this up with constant "normally" and "usually" and "with exceptions" just for clarity but that's what I mean. Poker is a game where you think on your feet, and always make adjustments for what's going on around you. I can't tell you what to do in every situation. No one can. Which is great. If it was easy, everyone would do it, and then how would we make any money ?

Monday, September 27, 2004


Hello, Good Evening and Welcome

I have decided to split my blog in two. This section will contain strategy tips and articles. I do like to ponitificate about these matters, and if I can help people who are keen to learn, so much the better.

Obviously I have thought about how many "Secrets of the Amateurs" I should give away. I have decided that, seeing as I have pretty much forsworn live tournaments in favour of the Internet (and mostly Sit and Gos online), I'm very unlikely to come up in direct competition with someone who has benefitted from reading my advice. So I'm going to go for it. It's always helpful for me to organise my own thoughts, and I hope that anyone who disagrees or wants to discuss a point will chip in with some comments so we can all move forward.

So stay tuned, and enjoy !

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