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This article was written by contributor Fran Ferlan.

Playing the river optimally is what makes or breaks your winrate. 

It’s the biggest money street and you often have to make a decision for your
whole stack. The amount of money in the pot by the river often paralyzes
players, because they are overly focused on the pot size, which affects their
decision making process. 

So what should you do versus a big river bet? Well, when you ask a broad
question, you tend to get a broad answer, so here it is: it depends.

There’s a lot of factors to consider here: your opponent type, previous
action, board runout, pot odds, your relative hand strength, just to name a

Not a huge help, so let’s try to break it down in this article.

1. Try to Bluff Catch Versus Loose and Aggressive Players

Let’s start with the type of player we are up against. Most players will
primarily bet for value when they fire off a big river bet, especially at the

The only exception would be loose and aggressive players. This is true for
both regulars and aggrofish. You can generally call wider against aggrofish
than you would against LAG regulars. The looser and more aggressive the
player, the wider you should call them down. 

This is an advanced poker strategy that works extremely well in today’s small stakes games. BlackRain79 discusses it in more detail in this video:
So in practice, this means that sometimes you should call them down with hands
you wouldn’t be comfortable calling with otherwise, like top pair weak kicker,
second pair, two pair on a wet board and such. 

It’s important to trust your judgment in these situations, otherwise you’re
better off folding earlier if you suspect you’re going to get barrelled and
pushed out of the pot. 

However, just because someone is loose and aggressive, doesn’t mean they will
have only bluffs in their range, especially on the river.

The board runout is an important factor when deciding how wide you should
call. Generally speaking, the drier the board, the wider you can bluff


Because your opponent sees the same community cards you see, and if they bet
huge on the river, they’re basically saying that the board doesn’t scare them
and they don’t care what you are holding. 

On the other hand, if the river bricks (i.e. a river card doesn’t change
anything significantly, because it fails to complete any straight or flush
draws, for example), your more observant opponents might put you on a busted
draw and try to bluff you out of the pot. 

They can also have a busted draw of their own, as decently winning LAGs know
the power of semibluffing on earlier streets, and know a large majority of
their opponents won’t have the heart to call down their triple barrel without
a monster hand.

In this situation, you should look for an opportunity to bluff catch with your
top pair or second pair, for example. Bear in mind that this isn’t something
you should try to do often, as these kinds of situations are more of an
exception than the rule, but who doesn’t love a good hero call from time to

If you’re able to pick off a huge pot with a mediocre hand, it can do wonders
to your bottom line, as most players wouldn’t have the nerve to pull it

It will also make it more difficult to play against you, because you’ll show
that you are able to call down in less than ideal circumstances, and won’t be
pushed around. 

Just a disclaimer: 

Know that it’s a high-risk, high reward play, and should be attempted only in
specific circumstances, against specific opponents, on specific boards and
against specific previous action. 

You should base it on sound information and tells you’ve picked up on, not
just the feeling that this guy is bluffing, I’m gonna call him down with my

Big River Bet Example Hand #1

Effective stack size: 100BB.

You are dealt A♦8♦ in the BB.

A LAG reg open-raises to 3x from the BU.
SB folds, you call.

Pot: 6.5BB.

Flop: T♣7♠6♥

You check. Villain bets 3BB. You call.

Pot: 12.5BB.

Turn: 2♣
You check. Villain bets 6BB. You call.

Pot: 24.5BB.

River: A♠
You check. Villain bets 16BB.

You: ???

You should call.

This is a great spot to bluff catch based on our opponent type, previous
action, and the board runout. Let’s break it down.

A loose and aggressive reg open raises from the button. We assume their range
is very wide here, probably close to 50% of all hands. We have a decent
speculative hand. We can even opt to 3-bet light from time to time, but we
decide to flat call.

We flop a gutshot straight draw, and we expect the villain to fire off a c-bet
with pretty much a 100% of their range, which he does.

The turn doesn’t change much for us, except it puts a possible flush draw on
the board. The villain double barrels, but since not much has changed for us
from flop to turn, and are getting about 3:1 odds on a call, we decide to

The river doesn’t complete our gutshot, but we do end up improving to a top
pair. Is it good enough for a call? Let’s look at it from the villain’s

We didn’t give him any reason to assume we are holding an Ace. In fact, we
checked three times, so if they had to put us on a range, they would assume we
have a Tx hand, a busted straight or a flush draw. 

Conveniently, that’s a part of their perceived range as well. The river comes
with a scare card, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if they tried to buy the pot

Are we going to be good a hundred percent of the time? Of course not, but we
don’t need to be. This is something that BlackRain79 talks about in Modern Small Stakes.

They have a significant amount of bluffs in their range for our call to be
+EV, considering their player type, their open-raising position, our passive
lines, non-coordinated board and so on. 

When we take all of that into consideration, we can infer that we can call

As for the aggrofish, aka complete maniacs, you can widen your river calling
ranges considerably. It is also a high risk, high reward play, but these
players are the only ones that will have a significant amount of bluffs on the


Because their ranges are already extremely wide on previous streets, so it’s
fair to assume they will get to the river with all kinds of busted draws,
Ace-high hands, fourth pair etc.

While their aggression can certainly be profitable in the short term, as even
they can occasionally catch a monster hand, they will be the most significant
long term losers. 

You can’t outrun math. So when playing against them, you should be making more
hero calls than you would usually be inclined. 

Be aware that their maniacal ways are usually short-lived, so you should try
to get them to donate their stacks to you before the next guy. 

And you usually won’t have the luxury of waiting around for the monster hand
to try and trap them. 

So next time you find yourself facing a huge river bet against them, go with
your gut, take a deep breath and call them down. Your winrate will thank you
for it.

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2. Look for Possible Completed Draws

As far as all the other player types are concerned, like fish who aren’t of
the aggro persuasion (which is most of them) and TAGs, you should be very
careful when calling big river bets. This is especially the case if they donk
bet big into you. (A donk bet is a bet made against the previous streets’

Look for possible completed draws and ask yourself if their previous action
makes sense that way. If the answer is yes, your overpair or top two pair
probably isn’t good enough anymore. 

Think of it this way: would you bet big out of position on the river against
someone’s previous incessant aggression without a really strong hand? You
probably wouldn’t. And neither would the majority of the player pool at the
micro stakes. 

Big River Bet Example Hand #2

Effective stack size: 100BB.
You are dealt A♠Q♠ on the BU.

You open-raise to 3x.
SB folds, a loose passive fish calls in the BB.

Pot: 6.5BB

Flop: A♦3♦Q♥

Fish checks. You bet 5BB. Fish calls.

Pot: 16.5BB

Turn: 8♣
Fish checks. You bet 16.5BB. Fish calls.

Pot: 49.5

River: J♦

Fish bets 40BB.
You: ???

You should fold.

Let’s break down the action street by street.

There’s not much to say about preflop. We’re dealt a great hand on the button,
and we can assume the recreational player will call us down pretty wide in the
big blind.

We flop top two pair and should start building the pot as soon as possible. We
expect to get called by a bunch of Ax hands, gutshot straight draws, flush
draws, you name it.

The turn doesn’t change much, but it does add a couple of gutshot draws if our
opponent called the flop with hands like JT, J9, or T9, for example. 

We’re still miles ahead of villain’s range, so we decide to charge them a
premium for their drawing hands. We can even consider overbettting, but we go
for a pot sized bet.

And we get one of the worst river cards possible. The fish fires off a huge
donk bet. There is nothing left for us to do but bemoan our luck and fold

The Jack on the river completes a number of straight draws and a flush draw.
If we go back to preflop, we should expect this particular opponent to have
practically all suited junk in their range. 

Fish love chasing draws, and they love playing suited junk. Nevermind the fact
that the chances of flopping a flush are only 0.8%.

Now, we could argue that it’s a fish, they don’t know what they’re doing, they
could be bluffing. Or they could have any number of two pair hands we’re ahead
of. Fair enough.

But if they did have a two pair hand, for example, wouldn’t they go for a
check-call option, considering such a scary board? 

Even fish can see three diamonds on a board. And yes, they could be bluffing,
but there is nothing in their previous history that would suggest that.

You should always be on the lookout for disrupting patterns when playing

If an otherwise weak and timid opponent suddenly starts blasting off big bets,
they didn’t just randomly decide to mix it up a little. They are politely
letting you know they have the nuts.

As a rule of thumb in poker in general, calling should be the last option you
consider. As the old adage goes, if your hand is good enough for a call, it’s
good enough for a raise.

3. Check Your HUD Stats to Make an Informed Decision

But how do you know what type of player you’re up against? Well, the most
accurate way would be to check their VPIP (voluntarily put money in pot), PFR
(preflop raise) and AF (aggression factor) in your poker tracking software HUD.These are statistics which are placed right on your online poker table, beside each of your opponents, which tell you what type of player you are up against. This is highly useful information to have especially in the fast paced, multi-tabling, world of online poker. 

These three poker HUD stats alone can give you a pretty good idea of the type of player you’re
facing, and only after a hundred hands or so. Of course, the bigger the sample
size, the better, but you can draw some general conclusions pretty

However, as we all know, most hands don’t get to showdown, and while we can
make some wide generalizations about some player types, it’s better to have
more info than less. If you are using a HUD, you might want to consider adding
stats like WWSF, WTSD, and W$SD to accurately assess your opponent’s postflop
By the way, if you aren’t using a poker HUD yet, BlackRain79 shows you how to set up your HUD in less than 5 minutes in this video:

So, WWSF stands for Won When Saw Flop, and is a percentage of times a player won
the pot after seeing the flop. The lower the WWSF, the weaker the player,
meaning they play aggressively with very strong hands only, and conversely,
the higher the WWSF, the more they bluff and fight for the pot post flop.

Here is a rough estimation of the spectrum.Use These Specific HUD Stats to Make Optimal Decisions Versus a Big River Bet

If their WWSF is less than 42%, they are weak and give up too much post flop. They don’t bluff enough, and if they give you action, especially on the big
money streets (turn and river) they have a very strong hand.

WWSF between 42% and 52% is the average. Of course, the higher the number, the
more often they bluff.

If their WWSF is bigger than 52%, they bluff way too often. You can call them
down widely and use their aggression against them.

WTSD stands for Went to Showdown, and shows the % of times a player, well,
went to showdown.

A player with a WTSD below 20% is an extreme nit, and goes to showdown with
very strong hands only.

A WTSD between about 24% and 27% is the norm for most winning players. Players with a WTSD above 30% are huge calling stations, and you should value
bet them relentlessly.

W$SD or Won Money at Showdown (or WSD) indicates the % of times a player won
the pot after the showdown. It’s inversely proportional to the WTSD, i.e. a
player with a low WTSD will have a big W$SD because they only see the showdown
with very strong hands, and huge calling stations will have a low W$SD because
they call down with a bunch of garbage hands.

Nitty players will have a W$SD of about 60% or more, fishy players about 40%
or less. Solid winning players will therefore be right in the middle with
about 50%.

One very important caveat, these stats require a huge sample size in order to
be accurate. 

You will need 500 hands at the bare minimum to make any informed assumptions.
1000 hands is a decent sample size, but they get really accurate only after
5000 hands or so.

Needless to say, the more they tend towards the extremes of the spectrum, the
less hands you need to be sure, and the more you can exploit them by either
overbluffing or betting for value, depending on which side they fall.
If you want to learn much more about all these HUD stats make sure you check out BlackRain79’s popular optimal HUD setup guide.


In order to play the river effectively, you need to take into account a number
of factors, including, but not limited to: the pot odds, your relative hand
strength, board runout, type of opponent you’re up against, previous action
and so on.

You basically have to apply all of your theoretical knowledge at the same
time. While it may seem daunting at first, the more you practice, the more
automatic the process will become, and after a while you’ll be able to put
your opponents on correct ranges, maybe even zero in on their exact hand.

It will certainly take a great deal of practice, because as we know, most
hands don’t even get to showdown, and river spots are so rare and unique that
it’s hard to even try to answer what to do in these spots in a single article.

However, there are some general guidelines you should adhere to:

First of all, big river bets usually indicate a strong made hand, especially
at the micros. Most players will bet for value, and aren’t really inclined to
risk a significant portion of their stack without something to back it up.

The only exception would be loose and aggressive players, and maybe some solid
tight and aggressive players who know what they’re doing, and know that a well
timed aggression can go a long way. 

But again, these are quite rare at the micros.

So against LAGs, you should try to bluff catch from time to time if you
believe they have a significant amount of bluffs in their range. 

Just bear in mind that it’s a high variance play, so be prepared to take it in
stride when they actually had the nuts all along.

Against aggrofish (aka maniac fish) you should widen your river calling ranges
significantly, and be prepared to call them down with less than ideal

Don’t wait around for a monster hand, because these don’t come along as often,
and try to take their stack before the next guy. 

Lastly, if an otherwise weak and timid player starts making huge bets, your
top pair hand probably isn’t good enough anymore. 

Look for completed draws and assume they have it. Make a disciplined laydown
and live to fight another day. 

One bonus tip, be sure to practice hand history review off the felt. Filter
for the hands that went to showdown, and try to narrow your opponent’s range
street by street. 

Talk to yourself out loud and tell yourself all the information you have. This
will sharpen your decision-making skills in-game, and you’ll be able to
accurately assess your opponent’s ranges in no time. 

You’ll be able to read souls, make all kinds of huge laydowns and hero calls
like a pro. Just remember, practice makes perfect.



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This article was written by contributor Fran Ferlan.

Facing a pot sized bet can be a difficult spot to play. 

We are faced with a big decision, often in marginal situations, and have to
decide then and there whether or not to continue and potentially put our
entire stack on the line on consecutive streets, or give up right away and
relinquish our equity. 

The problem becomes even more complicated when the bet we face comes from an
erratic and unpredictable opponent, aka the fish.

What the hell are they doing this with? Why are they donk betting? Do they
have the nuts or complete air? 

You want to find out, but it’s expensive to do so. And it’s very difficult to
put them on the exact range, let alone narrow it down to a couple of hands.

Facing a Pot Sized Bet By a Fish

So what do we do in a situation like this? Unfortunately, the answer is all
too familiar: it depends.

But that’s not really helpful, so let’s break it down in this article.

But before providing some answers, let’s first define the questions and narrow
it down to make our lives easier.

This article will focus on facing a pot sized donk bets in single raised pots
and 3-bet pots from recreational players on the flop and turn, because: 

A) it’s a spot in which players tend to struggle the most, and… B) because these situations are more common than facing a C-bet against
fish, as fish usually call more than they raise.

Also, when playing against fish, you should be the preflop aggressor most of
the time anyway. 

The article was written with cash games in mind, but is applicable to other
formats to some extent as well.

Definition of a Recreational Poker Player (Fish)

For the purpose of this article, a fish is a recreational player that plays
too many hands (typically 40% or more). If you play online you can
use a HUD
to show you this right on your screen.

They also play fairly passively both preflop and postflop (with the exception
of aggro-fish, more on that below) and makes huge fundamental mistakes and all
kinds of crazy nonsense plays. 

Or in other words, our most beloved customers.By the way, if you don’t know the basic strategies to consistently beat these kinds of players, check out the brand new BlackRain79 video with the best 14 beginner poker tips:
A few more quick definitions, so that we are on the same page here:

A single raised pot (SRP) is a pot in which there was a raise preflop, and the
other player(s) just flat call instead of 3-betting.

A 3-bet pot is a pot in which a player re-raised the original raiser and other
player(s) call. A 3-bet pot will usually have a much more shallow stack-to-pot
ratio (usually 5 or less).

By the way, if you need a reminder on SPR and how it affects your preflop
strategy, BlackRain79 already has you covered in a
recent article.

What is a Donk Bet?

In a broader sense, a donk bet is a bet made out of position against an
earlier street aggressor. For example, you raise preflop on the button,
villain calls in the small blind, and fires up a bet on the flop.


It isn’t necessarily a derogatory term, as there are situations where it might
be a correct play. 

But as this article will hopefully demonstrate, when fish make a pot sized
donk bet, it’s rarely an optimal play.

We already said that our decision on what to do against a pot sized bet
depends on a lot of factors. So let’s break them down, starting with how
committed we are to the pot.

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SPR and Pot Commitment

The smaller the SPR, the more committed we are. If the stack-to-pot ratio is 3
or less, we are committed with a top pair hand or better. 

This will happen often either in 3-bet pots, or when fish are playing
shortstacked (i.e. their effective stack size is significantly less than 100
bb, because they bought in for a minimum of 40 big blinds, for example). 

So when we face a pot-sized bet against a fish on the flop with a made hand,
we should be inclined to get all our money in the middle, preferably as soon
as possible.

Top pair hands go up in value in shallow SPR pots, as opposed to speculative
hands that perform better in deeper SPR pots.


The reasons we shouldn’t try to slowplay in this situation are abundant.

First of all, implied odds are bigger on earlier streets than the later ones,
so fish are more likely to call us down with all kinds of crazy draws, like
gutshot draws, backdoor flush draws and so on. 

They don’t care about the math, and the risk-reward concept is only vaguely
familiar to them.


Secondly, the board runout might scare them off. If they have a top pair or
second pair on the flop, they might end up with a third or fourth pair by the
river, and won’t be as willing to pay us off. 

And lastly, fish have extremely wide preflop calling ranges. The wider the
range, the harder it is to connect with the flop. 

Fish are also notoriously impatient, and if they have little money left
behind, they’ll often just roll the dice and try to get lucky with their
suited junk, fourth pair, ridiculous draws and so on.

So with a top pair hand or better in a small SPR pot, your best bet is just
get all the money in as soon as possible and hope your hand holds up against
their nonsense. 

It won’t always be the case of course, but as long as you’re getting your
money in with a mathematical edge, you’re good. You did your job, and the rest
is up to the poker gods.

Example Hand

Effective stack sizes: 80BB.

You are dealt K♥Q♥ on the BU.

A loose passive fish min-raises to 2x in the CO.

You 3-bet to 7x. Blinds fold, fish calls.

Pot: 15.5 BB

Flop: K♠9♦7♣

Fish bets 16.5 BB
You: ??? 

You should raise.

Let’s consider the previous action, the flop texture and villain’s potential

A fish min-raised in the CO, which means they probably like their hand
somewhat, but since they play north of 40% of all hands, we can’t narrow their
range too much. 

We go for an isolation 3-bet and the fish calls. Their range is capped,
meaning we can probably eliminate AA, KK, and AK.

We flop top pair decent kicker and face a big bet. We need to make a decision
right then and there. Commit or quit.

Folding is out of the question, of course. 

SPR is 4.7, i.e. on the smallish side of the spectrum. We aren’t necessarily
automatically committed, but in this spot against this particular opponent we
pretty much are, so we should play for their whole stack.

A number of hands that would give us action against which we’re ahead of is
through the roof. Any Kx hand, like KJ, KT, a bunch of drawing hands, like QT,
QJ, JT, J8, T8, T6, 86, 85, 65, maybe even 9x hands like Q9, J9, T9, 98 and so

Remember, we are playing against somebody that plays nearly half of all hands,
so they can have ALL of those hands in their range and then some. 

Sure, there are some hands that have us beat, but those are just a small part
of their overall range. 

We are quite comfortably ahead most of the time, and should get our money in
and let that edge play out. 

We can call here as well, but a lot of turn cards can kill our action.
Remember, implied odds are bigger on the flop than on the turn, so we should
take advantage of that. 

What About Drawing Hands?

Having a top pair hand against a fish and facing a pot sized bet in a shallow
SPR spot is pretty straightforward, and these hands basically play themselves.
There’s not much more to do than get the money in and hold your breath. 
Here is a hand that BlackRain79 recently reviewed on YouTube that talks about this in more detail:

But as we know, most hands miss most flops.

We don’t have a made hand on the flop more often than we do. We usually either
miss or have some sort of a drawing hand. Also, effective stacks can be quite
deeper, particularly in cash games. 

This is where it gets a little trickier, and we need to rely on math to make
an educated guess on how to proceed.

When we face any bet on the flop, it can be extremely useful to memorize certain pot odds in relation to the bet size. That way, you don’t need to
waste any brain power to calculate the pot odds in every single situation.


Poker is essentially an extremely complex math problem, so it’s useful to use
some shortcuts in order to make better in-game decisions.

One such shortcut is to remember that when you face any pot sized bet, you are
getting 2:1 pot odds on a call, which means you need to win the hand 33% of
the time on average for your call to be profitable. 

So if your equity is 33% or more against your opponents range, you can
continue profitably.


But how the hell can you know if your hand is good 33% of the time? You can’t.
In order to know that definitively, you’d have to know your opponent’s exact
range, which is virtually impossible. 

What’s more, that’s only the part of the equation, because you also need to
take into consideration a number of other factors, such as implied odds,
action on future streets, board runout etc. 

Too many unknown variables, too little time. 

To avoid such paralysis by analysis, let’s try to simplify once again and
focus on what we actually know.

We can’t accurately predict the fish’s range, but we don’t really need to. We
can rely on our intuition backed up with a little bit of math once more. 

If we have a drawing hand, again, it might be worth memorizing how often we’ll
hit our outs.

The Rule of Four


We can use the rule of four to quickly guesstimate our equity, by simply
multiplying our number of outs by 4. This rule becomes less reliable the more
outs we have, but it’s accurate enough for most in-game situations.

Here are the chances of improving your draws from flop to river you should
have memorized:

A flush draw completes 35% of the time.
An open-ended straight draw completes 32% of the time.
A gutshot straight draw completes 17% of the time.

So we see that calling a pot sized bet on the flop with a flush and open-ended
straight draw can be outright profitable. 

Of course, we won’t always be drawing to the nuts, so even if we do improve,
it doesn’t mean we’ll necessarily win the hand, so these percentages are only
a guideline.

There are many other factors that determine whether or not our play is +EV or
not, but since a lot of those factors will be unknown, we can always fall back
on the fundamental math to try and make an informed decision.

But like we said, it’s only a piece of the puzzle. It still doesn’t answer the
cardinal question of poker: what the hell are they doing this with? 

We need to have at least a vague idea of our opponent’s ranges in order to
apply our mathematical knowledge somewhat successfully. 

To do so, we need to know what kind of opponent we are facing. Not all fish
are created equal, and it would be a huge mistake to apply a
one-style-fits-all strategy when playing against them. 

While it’s true they might share certain traits, it doesn’t mean they all play
the same in all situations. Here are a few rules of thumb to keep in

First of all, the looser the villain, the wider you can call. The higher the
villain’s VPIP (voluntarily put money in the pot), the more junk they’ll have,
and it will be less likely they’ve hit the flop in any significant way.

Also, when it comes to recreational players, the higher the VPIP,  the
worse player they tend to be. A 90% VPIP fish is certainly going to play worse
than a 40% VPIP fish.

Next, the more aggressive the fish, the wider you can call. As we’ve said
before, not all fish are of the passive variety. 

Some of them like to spew chips around and make all kinds of wild bluffs,
betting and raising erratically, and what’s worse, getting away with it a
large chunk of the time. 

While they can be frustrating to play against, these kinds of players can
actually be your biggest source of income. 

But only if you remain patient and keep your ego in check. 

Also, from time to time you might need to call them down with a hand you won’t
be quite comfortable calling with otherwise, like a second pair, or even an
Ace high in some situations.

Example Hand

Effective stack size: 100BB.

You are dealt A♣K♠ in MP.
A loose and aggressive fish limps UTG.

You iso-raise to 4x. Folds around, aggrofish calls.

Pot: 9.5BB

Flop: Q♥T♠3♣

Aggrofish raises to 9.5BB
You: ???

You should call.

As opposed to the previous example, we have a much bigger SPR of about 10, so
we aren’t automatically committed to the pot, and we have a lot more
maneuverability post flop.

Folding is out of the question in this spot, as we are drawing to the nuts
with four Jacks, as well as a TPTK (top pair top kicker) with any Ace or a

If we hit any of our outs, we can be comfortably ahead of the villain’s range,
which is extremely wide in this situation, considering their player

Like in the previous example, it can consist of any number of hands like top
pair weak kicker, second pair, third pair, gutshot draws, backdoor flush draws
and so on and so forth. 

Too many to even consider counting here. 

We aren’t necessarily ahead with our Ace high hand, but we have a large chunk
of equity we aren’t willing to give up. We can consider raising, but if we do,
we might only get action from hands that have us crushed. And what if the
villain comes over the top with a shove? 

Certainly not an optimal spot for us. 

By flatting, we allow them to keep barrelling on future streets with all their
crazy bluffs, while also controlling the size of the pot. 

Then we can assess the best course of action on future streets. We have
position and a skill edge in the hand, so we should utilize it.

Answering blind aggression with aggression of our own should be done only if
we can conclude with some certainty that we are comfortably ahead with our
hand and that we can get action from weaker hands.

What Should You Do Versus a Turn Pot Sized Bet?


Here’s where things get a little trickier, because there’s more information to

If you encounter a turn pot sized bet, you should consider all the info
mentioned before, as well as previous action, but you should bear in mind that
turn ranges tend to be stronger, and there’s a lot less junk in their range at
this point.

They will still rarely have the absolute nuts, and practically never have
complete air. What this usually means is they probably picked up some equity
on the turn. 

You should tread carefully, but if you’re already pot committed, this
shouldn’t change your plans too much. That’s why it’s important that you
decide on the flop whether or not you want to take your hand to the felt.

As a rule of thumb, if you call one street, you should usually call the
consecutive one as well. So if you call a flop bet, you should be prepared to
call the turn bet as well, otherwise you’re better off folding right there on
the flop.

Bear in mind that the higher their VPIP, the more ridiculous hands you can
expect in their range.

These are all just guidelines of course. No two players are completely alike.
So take all this advice with a grain of salt. 

So What is Their Actual Range?

Finally, let’s answer the cardinal question, what are they doing this with? As
we’ve seen, it depends on a lot of factors, and most of the time we shouldn’t
overthink it and play it straightforwardly, especially in shallow SPR

But if we’re playing in deeper SPR pots, we should take more factors in
consideration, including our opponent’s range.

Here’s the bottom line: 

When you encounter a pot sized donk bet from a fish, they usually have a
mediocre or a drawing hand. They probably don’t know what to do with it.

They don’t want to fold it, but they aren’t particularly stoked about it
either. So they try to “buy” the pot right there on the flop, hoping a big bet
size would scare off their opponents. 

They will almost certainly never have the nuts, and they will never have
complete air either. 

Why? Well, it all comes down to fish psychology. Fish have a strong propensity
to be deceptive. 

They like to slowplay their huge hands in order to trap their opponents, or
make huge bluffs, because that’s what poker is all about, right? 

Outplaying people and owning souls. It certainly isn’t about odds and
percentages and all that boring stuff.

So if they have a really strong made hand on the flop, like two pair or
better, they will often slowplay it, because they don’t want to scare you

And if they missed the flop completely, they’ll just give up a lot of the
time, because that’s about as far as their technical game knowledge

They see their hand, they have some rudimentary understanding of the flop
texture (i.e. they can see if they hit or miss), and that’s about it.

So when they fire off a bet, you can narrow down their range to something like
top pair weak kicker, second pair etc. And if they have a drawing hand, they
will rarely be drawing to the nuts. 

They will usually have a gutshot draw, backdoor straight and flush draws and
all other kinds of nonsense.


Facing a pot sized bet from a fish can be a difficult spot to play. We are
often faced with a big decision with a limited amount of information, and
their range is outright impossible to predict.

Now, you don’t necessarily need to study a bunch of advanced poker strategy to beat these kinds of players. But in these situations it pays to have a default plan and stick with the

First thing we should consider is the effective stack size and size of the pot
to determine our commitment to the pot. If we have a made hand (like top pair
or better) in the small SPR pot we should aim to get the rest of our stack in
the middle as soon as possible.

Getting involved in shallow SPR pots with fish and trying to take their whole
stack is something we should aim to do often anyway.

If we have a drawing hand, we should memorize how often our draws complete in
order to assess whether or not we can continue playing profitably. Counting
our outs and using the “rule of four” will work in a pinch. 

Some factors to keep in mind are our draw strength, the number of outs,
implied odds, our opponent type and so on. The more factors work in our
favour, the faster we can play our hand.

As far as our recreational players’ actual range is concerned, it varies
wildly. A lot of the time even they don’t know what they are doing. But when
they fire off a pot sized donk bet, we can usually narrow it down to some kind
of mediocre hand. 

They will almost never have the absolute nuts, but they won’t be bluffing with
absolute air, either. The reason for this is that fish love to be deceptive,
so they’ll often slowplay their huge hands lest they don’t scare off their

So you can narrow down their range to something like: top pair weak kicker,
second or third pair, weak straight and flush draws and so on.

Also, the bigger their VPIP, the weaker their overall range, so you can call
them down more widely.

If they fire off a pot sized bet on the turn, we should be more careful, but
hopefully we’ve put the majority of our stack in by now. All the general rules
still apply.

When playing against recreational players in general, the best approach is
always to keep it simple and stick with the fundamentals. Play your hands as
straightforwardly as possible, and don’t worry about being too predictable.
Save your fancy plays for players that actually pay attention. 

Keep in mind that most of your money in poker won’t come from your superior
skills, but from your opponent’s mistakes, so act accordingly.

Lastly, if you want to learn the complete BlackRain79 strategy for crushing
small stakes games, make sure you grab a copy of his
free poker cheat sheet.



Three more partypoker players can call themselves APAT WCOAP champions after a trio of Championship Events crowned their winners. The PLO, Turbo Knockout, and Turbo are now done and dusted, paving the way to the massive $150,000 guaranteed WCOAP Main Event and its $20,000 guaranteed Mini Main Event cousin.
Suokas Wins PLO Championship For Finland
Jarkko Suokas took down the PLO Championship and saw his $55 investment turn into $2,386. Finnish poker players tend to love pot-limit Omaha and Suokas is definitely in that camp.
Suokas defeated Kazakhstan’s Andrey Tin heads-up to lock up the title and the lion’s share of the prize pool. Tin collected $1,651 for his runner-up finish, which will go some way to numbing the pain of falling at the final hurdle.
Third-place finisher Andrey Kilyushev was the tournament’s other recipient of a four-figure prize. The man from Russia scooped $1,158.
WCOAP #13 – PLO Championship Final Table Results


Jarkko Suokas

Andrey Tin

Andrey Kilyushev

Jean Yip

Ronaldn Gijtenbeek

Drew Atkins

Steven Fraser
United Kingdom

The Czech Republic Has a WCOAP Champion
Tomas Lestina is more than $6,000 richer today thanks to winning the Turbo Knockout Championship. The bounty payments grew large by the time the final table was reached and it was Lestina who secured the biggest of them all.
The Czech grinder’s $3,160 first-place prize was bolstered by a bounty payment weighing in at $3,035, making for a total combined score worth $6,195. His bounty prize was so large because a PKO tournament’s champion gets their hand on their own bounty when they’re the last player standing.
Thomas Reilly of the United Kingdom was the event’s runner-up. Reilly walked away with a combined prize worth $3,609, an impressive return on a $55 investment.
All but two of the seven finalists scooped four-figures when bounties were included, showing you don’t have to spend a lot to win big at partypoker.
WCOAP #14 – Turbo Knockout Championship Final Table Results


Tomas Lestina
Czech Republic

Thomas Reilly
United Kingdom

Max Hoffmann

Jan Bucl
Czech Republic

Vitaliy Ostrovyi

Matthew Carter
United Kingdom

Andreas Goll

Kafouros Wins Turbo Championship For Greece
Greek player Georigios Kafouros won the penultimate Championship event of the WCOAP, namely the Turbo Championship.
Some 657 players bought in and created a $32,850 prize pool that was way more than the advertised $20,000 guarantee. The tournament concluded a shade over five hours after the first cards were pitched, meaning Kafouros’ $5,696 top prize was the equivalent of a $1,100 hourly rate, wow!
Kafouros defeated James Reid when the tournament was heads-up, leaving Reid to collect $3,954.
Other players who navigated their way to the final table and banked a four-figure prize were Theodoros Konstantinidis, Viteslav Cech, and Aleksey Konoplev.
WCOAP #15 – Turbo Championship Final Table Results


Georgios Kafouros

James Reid
United Kingdom

Theodoros Konstantinidis

Viteslav Cech
Czech Republic

Aleksey Konoplev

Charles Chattha
United Kingdom

Antoan Asenov

Other WCOAP Winners

Eryck Soares Lopes Rabelo – first-place in the WCOAP Mini Turbo Knockout for $830*
Gustav Henrik Staffan Warn – first-place in the WCOAP Mini Turbo for $814
Ben Prior – first-place in the WCOAP Mini PLO for $448

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Something that people ask me all the time is if you can prevent bad
beats at the poker table. 

I am sure you are sick of getting so many bad beats in poker. So am I!

So, is there anyway to make them go away?

It is completely natural to ask this question because bad beats are actually
one of the hardest parts of the game to deal with.

Sometimes they come in bunches and it can be very difficult to handle this
from a mental perspective.

It causes people to go on tilt, play poorly, throw away all their winnings,
and then go down the dark rabbit hole of thinking that every poker site is
rigged against them.

So what can be done? Can we find a way to avoid bad beats once and for all?

This is what we will be investigating today here on the blog!

Can You Prevent Bad Beats in Poker?

Alright, so let’s just get right into it.

I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but short of going all-in every time
you hit top pair or better, there is really no way to avoid bad beats in

Because the thing with fish (recreational poker players), is that if they want
to make the call with their bad hand, then they are going to make the call.

And no matter how far behind they are in the hand, it is very rare in No Limit
Texas Hold’em for somebody to be drawing completely mathematically dead.

They almost always have at least some “outs.” They might only have two cards
remaining in the deck to save their life.

But the cold hard reality of poker is that those two cards will drop on
the river once in awhile. Yes, even right before the final table of a big

No matter how far a bad player is behind, if they call with their 5% equity,
it WILL hit sometimes. And it is also very mathematically possible for this to
happen several times in a row.

So this is something that you need to be prepared for in poker. 

A seemingly endless series of seemingly impossible bad beats will happen to
you sometimes in this game.

Trust me, I have played 10+ million hands of online poker. It won’t even seem
believable at times. There is no point in even trying to make sense of it!

The difference between the biggest winners and everybody else though is that
the former are able to control their emotional reaction to these bad beats

They do not go on destructive tilt. They are learn to control their emotions
in the moment or they quit for the day once the frustration and tilt starts

Example Bad Beat Poker Hand

Let’s look at a poker hand that was recently sent to me to help us understand
these bad beats better.

In this hand we are dealt A♦5♥ in the small blind.

Now, let’s be real, this isn’t exactly a great hand. 

Sure, it is always nice to have an Ace in our hand because it can make a very
strong top pair. But ideally we would like to have a much stronger kicker than
a 5, or to have suited cards.

But the situation is a bit different in this hand because we are playing 4
handed (only 4 players at the table) and there are several recreational
players in the hand.

So when two players limp into the pot preflop in front of us like this, I do
like the decision to raise it up.

Why Not Just Complete the Small Blind Preflop?

Now, some of you might be asking, why not just complete the small blind here?

It is a reasonable approach and I couldn’t blame anybody for doing it. But as
I proved in my first book Crushing the Microstakes, it is statistically much more profitable to raise rather than to limp

Of course, if you really just want to avoid variance altogether, folding
preflop here isn’t a terrible option either.

But I think when we are 4 handed versus multiple fish, we would be giving up
value by folding a hand like this preflop.

The biggest thing I would like to see in this hand though is a larger raise

We need to remember that when we are out of position like this (small blind),
we need to charge them more in order to see a flop against us.

This is because we will need to act first on every postflop street: flop, turn
and river. And this is another huge, huge proven statistical disadvantage in

So instead of 12 cents, I would like to see us raise it to something like 16
cents or 18 cents here. Give these recreational players a real decision on
whether to continue on in the hand or not!

Are You Sick and Tired of Bad Beats? Learn My Proven Winning Small Stakes Strategy

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 That is why I wrote this free little 50 page poker cheat sheet to give you the exact strategies to start consistently making $1000 (or more) per month in low stakes poker games right now. These are the exact poker strategies by the way that I have used as a 10+ year poker pro. And I lay them all out for you step by step in this free guide. Enter your details below and I will send my free poker cheat sheet to your inbox right now.

Flopping a Monster Hand – Two Pair

Alright, so we have successfully flopped a monster hand, two pair. We have A♦5♥ and the flop comes: A♠K♦5♣Now what?

Well, versus multiple players like this out of position, and first to act on
the flop, I actually prefer a check raise here.

And the reason why is because we are likely to get a bet out of somebody after we check,
which means that we can raise it up when the action gets back to us.

This traps the most money in the middle of the pot when it is very likely that
we have the best hand.

Just betting out here (as hero decides to do) isn’t the worst option in the
world either though, and I do like the larger bet sizing used here.
But overall, when we are out of position versus multiple opponents and we flop a monster hand like two pair or better, I do prefer a check raise because it gets more money in the pot.And of course, when we have a big hand in poker, we always want to get the highest amount of chips in the middle as possible.

Raised All-In on the Turn – Bad Beat?

When we catch another safe looking card on the turn (8♥) I think it is
definitely a wise decision to keep betting big here.

This is something I have discussed numerous times here on the blog and in
my poker books
as well.

It is really important to make big value bets like this against the weaker
players at the lower stakes. Because they are likely to call with a really
wide range.

Now, when the recreational player shoves the turn on us here, I am not going
to lie, it sucks.

Recreational players do not make this play very often as a bluff. It is almost
always something at least reasonably strong.

So I actually would be inclined to lay down a one pair hand here most of the
time, especially with the deeper starting stack sizes.

With two pair though, there is no way I am ever folding. And that is because there are just too many value hands that we are ahead of.
Obviously that is not the case in this hand though.Our opponent turns over 8♠8♣ and laid a pretty sick bad beat on us. He/she only had two cards in the deck to win the hand when they called us on the flop.This is definitely one of those frustrating bad beat hands that can set many people on tilt.

How to Avoid Bad Beats Like This

So was there any way that we could have avoided the bad beat in this hand?

Honestly, not really.

Short of just shoving all-in on the flop, there is nothing we can really do here,
because as stated before, bad players are going to call, if they want to.

And if we shove the flop to protect our hand here, he just folds and we win a
tiny pot. Not exactly the key to a winning poker strategy!

So this is why bad beats are just a part of the game that we unfortunately
need to accept.

We need to remember though that the vast majority of the time this player will not hit his/her miracle 8♥ on the
turn or the river and will therefore just be spewing their chips to us.

We always need to remember this.

We also need to remember that when the bad players get lucky like this, it is
actually a good thing. Because if they could not get lucky sometimes, then they
wouldn’t keep coming back again and again to lose more.

In fact, I like to view bad beats like this as a sort of tax that we all need to pay as
poker players.

We all have to pay the bad beat tax sometimes. It’s for a good cause though!
These recreational players will always be the primary source of your profits at the poker table, and if they couldn’t get lucky once in awhile, they would simply go away.

What Should You Do When You Get a Bad Beat?

So let’s talk instead about how you should react when you receive one of these inevitable bad
beats at the poker table.

Well, most people get mad, they start “steaming,” go on tilt and throw all
their money away. Worse yet, they will often jump up stakes to chase their
losses and lose their money even faster!

You need to react differently to bad beats than most people if you truly want
to get ahead in this game and win big.

Most people do not win at poker because they react poorly to bad beats and
tilt away all their profits.

You can study all of the most
advanced poker strategies
out there, but if you cannot learn how to control your mental and emotional
reaction to bad beats, you will never win big in poker.

So what can you do?

1. Focus on the Math Behind the Hand

The first thing you need to do when you receive a bad beat is to focus on the
math and the logic behind the hand.

Did you get all the money in good as the statistical favorite in the hand? By the way, you
can just use a program like
to check this for yourself.

If you can answer yes to this question, then there is absolutely nothing for
you to worry about.

Because the one thing you can’t do in poker is fight the math and expect to
win. If you got your money in good, then it will pay off for you in the long
This is why the fish always lose big in the long run, because they are always climbing an uphill battle, fighting the math, getting their money in bad.You on the other hand, as a winning poker player, get the money in good, which pays off over the long run with big profits.

And that is the only thing that actually matters in poker.

2. Take Some Deep Breaths or Leave the Table for Awhile When You Get a Bad

So now that you understand the math behind the bad beat, and you rationally
understand that you did everything you could in the hand (and they just got
lucky), it is time to control your emotional reaction.

In order to do that, I recommend taking several deep breaths or even walking
away from the poker tables for a few minutes if needed.
I actually use all sorts of mental game strategies away from the poker tables such as meditation, yoga, exercise and visualization both before and after my sessions.

The bottom line is that you need to learn to control your mental and emotional reaction to all the bad beats that you will take so that you can continue playing a solid winning poker strategy.

3. Learn to Laugh Off the Bad Beats

And now finally, you can learn to just start laughing off all the bad beats.

Because the truth of the matter is that so long as you play poker, you will
take bad beats. In fact, you will take tons of them.

So there is no point in getting excessively emotional about any particular

You got the money in good, the fish got lucky. It’s time to laugh it off and move on.

Honestly, this is what the pros like
Daniel Negreanu
do in order to consistently keep playing good poker even when they get
multiple bad beats in a row.

You need to learn to have a light hearted approach to this game because bad
beats will always be a part of poker as long as you play it.
There is no point in getting so emotionally invested in every single bad beat like most people do. Because that is precisely why most people lose at poker.They can’t see the forrest through the trees.

Final Thoughts

So is there any way to prevent bad beats in poker?

But at the end of the day, if they want to call you down with their bad hand, then they
will. And that means that they will also hit their miracle turn card or river card sometimes.

It is just a simple mathematical fact that we must all accept when playing
poker. As long as they have a chance, then they have a chance.

But the vast majority of the time, they are just throwing their money away to
us. Because you cannot continue to chase long odds in poker and expect to win over the long run.This is why the fish lose big-time over the long term. And this is also why you should learn to celebrate your bad beats. Because it means
that you are playing in some good poker games!

Lastly, if you want to learn the complete strategy that I used to crush the micro
stakes online poker games for some of the highest winnings ever recorded, grab a
copy of my free poker cheat sheet.



This article was written by contributor Fran Ferlan.

Handling the inevitable swings in poker is one of the biggest obstacles to
success for any aspiring poker player. 

Doing everything right and seemingly getting punished for it over and over
again is so incongruent to the human experience and preconceived notions of
justice and fairness that most people will eventually just throw their hands
up in desperation and find a less stressful endeavour or play a couple of
hours on weekends to unwind after a long week. 

And there is nothing wrong with that. 

However, for others who are more serious about the game and put in bigger
volume, lengthy downswings are basically inevitable, so approaching them with
a right mindset is one of the most important skills to master on your way to
poker greatness. 

Like any skill, you get better at it with practice. It is a long and arduous
process though, but so is everything else that is actually worth doing.

This article will hopefully provide some insights into a phenomenon that
presents a big problem for many players. 

By understanding variance better, you’ll be better equipped to deal with it
better, and by doing that you get a huge leg up on the competition.

What is Variance in Poker?

Before we get into the details, let’s define what we actually mean by variance
in poker terms. 

Without getting too sciency, we can say that variance measures how much data
points are spread from the average. In plain English, it means that how much
you expect to earn and how much you actually earn will differ over a small

The bigger the variance, the bigger the difference between the two, and
conversely, the smaller the variance, the closer your expected results and
your actual results. This means that in poker, your short term results will
always be all over the place. 

Some game formats inherently have more variance built into it than others, for
example, there is more variance in tournaments than in cash games, and more
variance in a 6-max game than full-ring game. 

This article is written with cash games in mind, but most of the concepts
apply to other formats (such as tournaments and sit-and-gos) to a certain
extent as well. 

With all that in mind, let’s get into the actual tips…

1. Accept It and Expect It

The first step to deal with variance better is to internally accept that it is
an integral part of the game. Without it, poker wouldn’t be poker. Variance is
what actually makes the game profitable in the first place, so you have to
learn to take the bad with the good. 

Without it, bad players would quickly get overwhelmed by superior competition
and eventually stop playing altogether, leaving just a bunch of sharks
cannibalizing each other and shuffling money around, while the house takes
their cut.

If you can’t accept variance for what it is, you can try a zero variance game,
like chess. In chess a superior player will win close to a 100% of the time,
and that’s why there’s really no money wagered that way. Think of it this way:
would you bet a 100 bucks that you could beat a chess grandmaster? 

If you weren’t a world class expert yourself, you wouldn’t. But would you bet
a 100 bucks to play a heads-up session with Phil Ivey? You just might. You can
get lucky and beat the best in the world (and get bragging rights for life).

That is why Phil Ivey is able to make bank. He knows his superior skills will
prevail, no matter how many times someone “gets lucky” against him. That is
why poker is so profitable. 

Everyone can play, and everyone can win, but over the long run, skill
prevails. Over the short run, luck prevails. So accept a few bumps in the
road, embrace them and prepare for them. 

So how can you actually prepare for it better and diminish the negative
effects of it? This brings us to number two on the list…

2. Have a Big Bankroll

In order to succeed in poker it is necessary to allow and endure all the
never-ending swings of fortune, and the only way to do so successfully without
going broke in the process is to have a sufficient bankroll. 

However, in order to not only survive the inevitable swings, but also not be
negatively affected by them it might be prudent to have more money than would
be considered the norm for the limits you’re playing. 

I’m not going to go in full details about bankroll management here, as it is a
topic deserving of its own article, but suffice it to say that it is better to
be over-rolled than under-rolled, for obvious reasons.

For example, let’s say that you are playing 10NL and have a $300 bankroll. If
you are a winning player at your limit, 30 buyins is certainly enough to
handle basic variance. 

However, if you play long enough, there is certainly a chance that you could
encounter a 10 buyin downswing, even through no particular fault of your

Now your bankroll is 33% smaller, and every other session puts an additional
pressure to cut your bankroll in half. Then you’d have to grind the lower
stakes again to get it back, or even reload to feel comfortable playing your
current limit again.

Winning players should never need to reload. They should be taking money out
of the site, not the other way around. 

Now let’s compare it to say, a $500 bankroll for the same limit. A totally
standard downswing of 10 buyins is only 20% of your total bankroll and won’t
hurt as much. 

If you keep playing well, you might as well not even notice that you were down
10 buyins at some point. Peace of mind is not to be underestimated,
especially in today’s competitive environment. 

Get a fat bankroll and save yourself the trouble of fretting about variance in
the first place, and focus on playing to the best of your abilities.

3. Don’t Look at the Cashier

One of the advantages of having a big bankroll is not having to focus on
short-term results at all. If you know you are beating your current limit,
there is absolutely no reason to fret about how you are running session to

Sometimes you get on an insane heater and seem to hit every draw in the best
possible time, sometimes you get dealt garbage hands for hours on end, and
when you finally do get a decent hand, some idiot donkey catches a backdoor
flush draw with 92s, or you get set over set, or any other horrible string of
never-ending disasters that keep coming your way. That’s poker. 

But focusing on how you are running instead of focusing on making the most +EV
decisions is only going to exacerbate the problem either way. 

If you check the cashier to see that you are behind, you might start to get
the feeling that you need to “win it back”, start chasing, forcing the action,
pile up even more losses, get more frustrated, until you inevitably rage-quit
and break your mouse. Hopefully it doesn’t get that bad, but you get the

On the other hand, if you see that you are ahead a couple of buyins, you might
want to “protect your winnings”, tighten up too much, not pulling the trigger
on a big bluff you think might be profitable, and overall stop playing great
poker that made you money in the first place.

Don’t look at the cashier. Hide it, or better yet, put a post-it over it on
your monitor with some kind of inspirational message or a smiley face. 

You won’t feel the compulsion to check your results, which will make you focus
more on making better decisions, which will improve your results, which will
make you less likely to feel the need to check your results. 

Break the negative feedback loops, and your bankroll will be better off for

Learn How to Lower Your Variance and Crush the Small Stakes Games With My Free Poker “Cheat Sheet”

Are you having trouble beating low stakes poker games online or live? Are you looking to make a consistent part time income playing these games?

 That is why I wrote this free little 50 page poker cheat sheet to give you the exact strategies to start consistently making $500-$1000 per month in low stakes poker games right now. These are the exact poker strategies by the way that I have used as a 10+ year poker pro. And I lay them all out for you step by step in this free guide. Enter your details below and I will send my free poker cheat sheet to your inbox right now. 

4. Take a Break

Just because variance is unavoidable and an integral part of the game, it
doesn’t necessarily mean you should play through it no matter what and wait
for your “luck to turn around”. Sure, it’s important to put in volume, but
that volume should be filled with your A game or a solid B game at

Players who run bad tend to play worse, and conversely, they play their best
when cards are falling their way. This is no big surprise by any means. 

A professional poker player will play his best, or close to it, no matter how
he’s running, but for us mere mortals, short term results do tend to affect
our performance to some extent. If during a session you feel that’s the case,
ask yourself: can I still play to the best of my abilities? 

If the answer is a resounding no, quit. There’s no shame in it. It takes some
honest self-reflection to realize your limitations. That’s the only way to
overcome them. If it goes from bad to worse, live to fight another day. 

5. Study More

When cards don’t fall your way for an extended period of time, use it as an
opportunity to study and improve your game. It might be that your “bad luck”
is actually just bad play. 

Everybody has leaks in their game, and taking some time to reflect on ways you
may be bleeding money is going to pay dividends. Improving your technical
knowledge of the game will undoubtedly improve your results over time. Bigger
win-rate means less variance.

Reviewing your hands is one of the most effective ways to study. If you
conclude that you played perfectly, great, but more often than not, you will
realize that you made a mistake and should have taken a different line in a
certain spot. 

For example, you get set over set and lose the whole stack. Definitely
unlucky, but you review your hand and realize that you were set mining with
incorrect implied odds. 

Or you flop a straight in a multiway pot, get all the money in, and some whale
catches a backdoor flush draw with 84s. You could have squeezed preflop and he
might have folded. Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.

6. Flip the Script

There’s three ways to go about this. First, recognize there is also positive
variance. Sometimes you actually win more than you normally would. 

Humans are naturally prone to focusing on the negative outcomes and
conveniently forgetting all the times we got lucky, or our hand actually held
up. It’s easy to attribute negative variance to bad luck, and positive
variance to our great play, but that kind of thinking is detrimental to our
improvement as players.

Secondly, recognize that a player sucking out on you is actually a good thing.
You put your money in with a mathematical edge. Just because that edge didn’t
manifest in that particular hand, or two hands, or ten, means nothing. Over a
large enough sample, you win more than you lose. 

Third common situation that tilts a lot of people are coolers and setups.
While not as clear-cut as a suckout example above, it might help to think what
would happen if the roles were reversed. 

For example, if you put all your money in preflop with pocket kings, and you
run into pocket aces, think what would happen if the cards were

The money would go in either way, except this time you’d be the 81% favorite.
Sometimes you’re lucky, sometimes you’re not. 

7. Think in Sklansky Dollars

Having your aces cracked 3 times in a row is a frustrating experience.
However, from a mathematical standpoint, it’s hardly an anomaly. It can and it
will happen. 

Human brain is not equipped to deal with math, odds and outs, percentages and
equity and what have you. Its primary language is emotion. So when you get the
best possible starting hand and lose with it over and over, it doesn’t seem

You feel slighted and cheated, and start to create narratives like “This
ALWAYS happens to me”, or “I NEVER get my fair share of luck” etc. 

By the way, check out this recent BlackRain79 YouTube video for a deeper discussion of how to react better when you receive a bad beat:

This kind of thinking isn’t helpful (or true), but it’s completely
understandable in the heat of the moment. But if we take a step back, we’ll
see that there is nothing particularly unfair about it. If it can happen, it
will happen sometimes.

Our opponents almost always have some portion of equity in hand, and that
equity will manifest against us sometimes. To accept it, it might be helpful
to think in Sklansky bucks, a term coined by legendary David Sklansky. 

To put it simply, Sklansky bucks tell us not how much money we actually won or
lost in one particular hand, but how much money we earn on average in that
situation when considering our equity.

For example, we go all-in with Aces versus Kings and we lose $10. We know our
equity in this spot is 81%, which means that on average we will lose every
fifth time. 

So on average, we made 8.1 Sklansky bucks, even though in reality we lost $10.
In the long run, Sklansky dollars earned and real dollars earned will be about
the same. 

Even though Sklansky bucks are imaginary, thinking in these terms helps us to
focus on the long run and making the best decisions, no matter the current bad

8. Think in Business Terms

If you are serious about playing poker and want to make it a lucrative and
sustainable endeavour, you need to approach it differently than the vast
majority of people. 

Most people treat it as a hobby, they play here and there, and if they lose,
they can always reload. All hobbies cost money, so why should poker be any

But if you want to make money consistently, you should look at it more like a

You are the CEO, you decide when you play, how long you play, what stakes you
play, and ultimately, you decide how profitable you want your business to

Every business has income and expenses, and the difference between the two is
profit. If you look at poker this way, you see that the pots you won can be
considered income, and the pots you lose are the expenses. 

The problem is you don’t know how much you will earn or spend in any given
time, so you have to look at your skills as an investment that will earn you
money over time. 

When you look at it this way, you don’t have to worry about the constant ups
and downs that come with it. There is always risk when doing business, and
poker is no exception. What’s important is that your business is profitable
over the long run. 

As long as you’re making good decisions and work to improve your game, your
business will thrive. It might take a while, but it’s important that you get
there eventually.

9. Play Tighter

While most of these tips are about handling variance better, this one can
actually reduce variance altogether, albeit at the cost of also reducing your
potential earnings. 

If you are more risk-averse and don’t mind slightly worse, but less volatile
results, you might benefit from being more selective with hands you play and
avoid marginal spots that you’re not quite comfortable playing. 

Poker is a game of incomplete information, and a lot of variables determine if
a play is +EV or not. 

Since we don’t have all the information, a lot of times we are forced to go
with our gut and often find ourselves in those “either way ahead or way
behind” situations when we have to make a decision for our whole stack. 

But you can choose not to get into those situations in the first place by
folding marginal holdings preflop, and save yourself the mental strain of
having to make big decisions too often.

 While highly skilled players will opt to play in marginal spots and look
for small edges, they do so in accordance with their skill edge. 

If you are struggling in certain situations, make a note of it, study off the
felt and try to improve, but do so at your own pace. You don’t HAVE TO do
anything. Play tight, pick your spots, and the results will follow.
If you are in doubt about what hands to actually play, just pick up a copy of the free BlackRain79 poker guide, which includes charts telling you exactly what hands to play in Zoom, 6max etc.

10. Take Responsibility

Finally, something that was touched upon briefly in previous points, but so
important that it deserves to be emphasized again, take responsibility. 

You cannot control the cards and you cannot control variance, but what you can
and definitely should control is how you react to it. 

Bad things happen, in poker and in life in general. How we deal with it is
what matters. If you play perfectly, there is only so much you can win, but if
you play badly, there is no limit to how much you can lose. It takes a
thousand steps to success, but only one step to ruin. 

Be mindful of that, and remember that no matter how bad things are going, we
can always make it a hundred times worse. 

Everybody loses sometimes, but in the end the big winners are the ones that
make sure they lose no more than is necessary.


Dealing with variance is hard, and being negatively affected by the
never-ending swings is normal. You can study all the
advanced poker theory
in the world and this will still not change.

However, in order to have long-term success in this game you need to be
prepared for variance and be willing to tackle it head on. 

To do so, make sure you are sufficiently bankrolled for the stakes you play.
Expect obstacles along the way and make peace with them. Learn to take bad
with the good. 

Sometimes you’re lucky, sometimes you’re not. Don’t focus on the short-term
results and focus on playing to the best of your abilities. If it gets too
bad, take a break and use it as an opportunity to study and improve your

And most importantly, take responsibility not for the cards you are dealt, but
for the way you react to them. Do all these, and poker greatness will come. In
due time.



This article was written by contributor Fran Ferlan.

Poker is an incredibly competitive game, and it’s no surprise by any means.
Wherever there’s money, there’s people scrambling to get a piece of the

One great thing about poker is that, unlike many other endeavours, there’s a
minimum barrier of entry. Anyone can play, and anyone can win, and it only
takes an hour or so to learn. All you need is a “chip and a chair” as the old saying goes.

The basic poker strategies are widely available online, and with a little
effort, anyone can learn to be a winning player, or at least not a complete
noob just waiting to give their hard-earned money away.

But to be a successful long-term winner, you need a little more than the basic
know-how, especially in today’s games, where the edges seem to be getting
smaller and smaller. 

It’s not enough anymore to just play tight, wait for a hand and get paid.

After learning the fundamentals, it pays to keep building up on your poker
knowledge, because that’s the only way to keep up and stay ahead in an
increasingly competitive environment. 

This article will give you five advanced tips to take your game to the next
level and crush the competition who just wait around for the nuts all day.

Let’s dive right into it…

1. Get the Jesus Seat

What do poker and real estate business have in common? Location, location,
location. Poker is a business, and where you choose to conduct your business
will greatly influence your profitability. 

So even before you sit down and play, you should consider choosing a seat
carefully. Ideally, you want to grab as many Jesus seats as possible (if
you’re playing online and can multi-table). 

Jesus seat refers to the position on the direct left of the fish. If you have
a recreational player (or more of them) on your right, you’ll have the most
money making opportunities.

The most profitable spots in poker are when we are playing in position, as the
preflop aggressor, against one opponent. And all these conditions can be met
frequently with the Jesus seat.

When you are seated on the direct left of the fish, you’ll be playing in
position against them most of the time. 

You’ll be in a great position to take their money first, by isolating them if
they limp in the pot, or even 3-bet them if they raise, which means you’ll be
playing a heads-up pot with them with the range advantage post flop in most

By being in position, they’re going to have to be the first to act, so you can
get better reads on them. Also, you’ll be able to control the size of the pot,
get to showdown cheaply with your weak hands, and value bet them heavily with
your strong hands.

But there’s an even better variation of Jesus seat you should be on the
lookout for. Jesus seat deluxe, if you will. It’s the seat that is directly to
the left of the fish, and directly to the right of a nit, a supertight

Not only will you be able to isolate the fish all day long, you won’t need to
worry about getting reraised yourself. 
By the way, if you don’t know how to spot the fish at the online poker tables, I highly recommend using a good poker HUD.Just look for the players on your HUD with a VPIP of 40 or more. VPIP by the way is just a fancy term used to indicate the percentage of hands that somebody plays.A VPIP of 40+ is a guaranteed recreational player (fish) in any poker game.Your HUD will tell you everyone’s VPIP (and dozens of other highly useful stats) directly on your online poker table screen. BlackRain79 actually shows you step by step how to setup your PokerTracker HUD in less than 5 minutes in this video:You can download the free trial version of the PokerTracker HUD, right here.
Anyways, as you move up in stakes, you’ll encounter more and more solid and aware
players who will realize you’re abusing the fish, and they will start to make
adjustments to your play. 

They’ll start calling your isolation raises more widely, or start 3-betting
you lightly. This can get quite frustrating quite quickly. 

Fortunately though, these kinds of players are a minority at the lower

Most solid players still play pretty straightforwardly a large chunk of the
time, and there’s a bunch of multi-tabling nits still populating the lower

They don’t make a lot of mistakes and you won’t be able to make a lot of money
against them, but they aren’t that difficult to play against either.

If they have a strong hand, they’ll let you know, if not, they’ll let you have
it and look for a better spot. So having these kinds of players on your right
is great for your bottom line. 

Not only you need not worry about their incessant aggression, you can also
pick up their blinds uncontested most of the time, which will add up nicely in
the long run. 

2. 3-Bet Resteal

Anyone familiar with the basic poker strategy knows the importance of stealing
the blinds. Winning poker players know that most money comes from playing in
position as the preflop aggressor. 

Conversely, playing from the blinds you are actually expected to lose money in
the long term, no matter how good you are. It’s just how the game is
structured, and there’s really no way around it. 

So when playing in the blinds, your primary goal should be to lose as little
as possible. The easiest way to go about this is simply folding a 100% of your
hands in the blinds. 

That way, you’re losing 1.5 big blinds per orbit, or about 25 big blinds per
hundred hands if you’re playing 6-max, for example. So folding all the time is
hardly an optimal strategy.

One way to reduce that kind of negative outcome is to occasionally 3-bet light
to steal attempts. When we say steal attempts in this context, we’re talking
about open-raising from cutoff, button or small blind. 

You can see your opponents stealing tendencies by checking their Attempt to
steal stat in PokerTracker 4, by the way. 

The beauty of this play is that it is insanely simple and can be outright
profitable, because you’ll be able to win the pot right then and there

Also, you’ll be able to pull it off quite frequently, because open-raise
stealing situations are very common.

It will also make you harder to play against, because your opponents will have
to think twice before trying to steal your blinds. Rightly timed aggression
can go a long way.

The best players to target with this play are of the TAG and LAG variety. They
tend to be positionally aware, and they widen their range considerably in late
positions.See The Micro Stakes Playbook for much more on how to create optimal strategies versus TAGs, LAGs, and all player types in small stakes games.  

But basically, these two player types will have a lot of speculative hands in their range, and even some
borderline junk in some cases, like A6o or 85s, and a lot of these hands will
fold to a 3-bet. 

Remember, the idea is to get folds preflop, so your opponents have to have a
fold button. Doing this against recreational players can backfire, and you’re
better off 3-betting them mainly for value. 

Example Hand

You are dealt A♠3♠ in the SB. A TAG villain open raises from the BU to 2.5x.

You should consider 3-betting to 10x. 

An average tight and aggressive player will play about 40% of their hands on
the button, and a lot of them will fold to a 3-bet, which makes this play
outright profitable. 

We have a great speculative hand that can flop a lot of monsters, and blocks a
lot of villains’ big hands (like Aces, Kings and Ace-King) as well. 

Even if we do get called, we’re going to see the flop with the initiative and
range advantage, and can often take down the pot with a simple C-bet.

Learn All of My Best Advanced Poker Strategy Tips in My Free Poker Cheat SheetAre you having trouble consistently beating low stakes poker games online or live? Are you looking to make a consistent part time income playing these games? 

 That is why I wrote this free little 50 page poker cheat sheet to give you the exact advanced poker strategies to start consistently making $1000 (or more) per month in low stakes poker games right now. These are the exact advanced poker strategies by the way that I used as a 10+ year poker pro. And I lay them all out for you step by step in this free guide.

Enter your details below and I will send my free poker cheat sheet to your inbox right now.

3. Squeeze Preflop

A squeeze is a preflop 3-bet where there was an open raise and one or more
callers before you. 

If someone open-limps and one or more players limp behind and you raise, this
is not considered a squeeze. If someone open-raises and you 3-bet them, this
is also not considered a squeeze.

It’s called a squeeze because: a) you’re trying to “squeeze out” dead money,
ideally from weak ranges, and b) because the original raiser and caller(s) are
“squeezed” between two opponents and find themselves in hard to defend

The primary objective of the squeeze is to get your opponents to fold and pick
up the pot uncontested preflop. 
Here is a recent hand where BlackRain79 discusses the benefits of squeezing in more detail:

If you 3-bet Aces after an open-raise and one or multiple calls, it’s
technically still considered a squeeze, but in this case you are not looking
to get folds, but rather get called by weaker hands and build up the pot with
your value hand.

But in this context, we’ll consider only bluff squeezes, where we intend to
get all our opponents to fold and pick up easy money preflop.

What makes this play so effective is that we’re ideally attacking a weak
open-raising range and callers’ capped ranges, both of which are likely to
give up when facing a 3-bet.

Let’s consider the open-raising range first. We should ideally target opens
from late positions (cutoff and button) because these tend to be the

We should be more wary of attacking under the gun open-raises, because they
tend to have more value hands in their range (like AA, KK, QQ, AK) and are
less likely to fold to a squeeze.

We should be less worried about callers’ ranges, because we can basically
eliminate those strong value hands from their range. 

Had they had them, they would have 3-bet them themselves instead of calling.
That’s what we mean when we say someone’s range is capped. 

Now, that’s not to say that some players won’t try to get cute and flat call
with Aces preflop, but that’s a suboptimal strategy for a number of reasons,
which we won’t be getting into here.

Our target(s) should be weak players with loose ranges, because they typically
can’t stand the pressure of the 3-bet, especially in a multiway pot. 

It’s important to mention right off the bat that they also need to be able to
fold to 3-bets, otherwise we run the risk of getting involved into a bloated
multiway pot with a bluffing hand. Not a great look. 

Example Hand

You are dealt A♣J♦ in the BB.

A LAG villain open-raises to 2.5x on the BU.

A nit calls in the SB.
You: ???

You should 3-bet to 11x.

We can certainly call in this situation, but the chance of encountering a lot
of gross spots postflop is through the roof. 

We are playing a multiway pot, out of position, with an easily dominated hand.
We also don’t have a discernible skill edge on our opponents. 

Even if we do connect with the board in some way, we won’t be able to tell
where we stand with our hand, and if we completely smash the flop, there’s no
guarantee we’ll be able to extract max value from it.

Let’s consider the alternative. We have a great 3-bet bluffing hand and can
get easy folds preflop. The nit’s range is capped, and the LAG’s range is
extremely wide. 

The bet size and his position indicate he’s stealing the blinds more often
than not. Also, we block a lot of value hands like Aces, Jacks and

We’re getting a great price for a squeeze and even if we get one or two calls,
we still have a playable hand and we’re going to the flop with the initiative
and range advantage.

4. Shove Big Draws

As a rule of thumb, the stronger your draws, the faster you should play

It means you are better off getting as much money in the middle as soon as
possible in most situations. There are a couple of reasons for this. 

First of all, your drawing hand doesn’t have showdown value and can’t win the
pot unimproved, so you have to rely on hitting your outs. 

If you bet, raise or reraise, you don’t have to rely on luck, and can win the
pot with Ace high, for example. 

Secondly, even if you do hit your outs, there is no guarantee that your
opponent will pay you off, because the board runout can scare them off. 

Generally speaking, the implied odds are higher on earlier streets than the
later streets, and players are more likely to pay you off on the flop than on
the river.

Some draws are so blatantly obvious that even the fish can see through them,
and won’t be as willing to put the money in when the third heart comes on the
turn, for example. 

You often won’t get good pot odds to call a bet with your draw, so you can
give yourself a better chance to win the pot by coming over the top with a bet
of your own. 

That way, you get additional fold equity versus your opponents, rather than
just calling and hoping the draw completes AND praying that your opponent will
pay you off if it does.

That is, wherever you can rely on skill, do so, and count on luck only as a last

Example Hand

You are dealt A♥7♥ on the BUTTON. 

A TAG villain opens to 3x in middle position. Folds to you, you call, blinds

Pot: 7.5 BB

Flop: K♥9♣4♥

Villain bets 3.5BB
You: ???

You should raise.

Folding is far too nitty, considering you have a nut flush draw. 

Calling is not the worst option, but even if you do end up improving on the
turn, your opponent might not be inclined to keep barreling on such a wet

By raising here, you’re putting tremendous pressure on the villain, and he
needs to have quite a strong hand to continue. 

By continuing, he’s putting his whole effective stack at risk on consecutive
streets. He’ll have to give up hands that he’s actually ahead with, like KQ,
KJ, AQ, AJ, and maybe even AK.

Even in the worst case scenario, let’s say that he’s only continuing or coming
over the top with pocket Aces, Kings or Nines. We still have about 30% equity
with our draw.

So we see that it’s better to use aggression and put max pressure on our
opponents rather than relying on luck alone. As they say, fortune favors the

5. Overbet Jam the River

Strong hands don’t come around very often in poker. So when they do, you need
to make sure you win as much money as possible in order to make up for all the
lost pots, busted draws, bad beats and so on.

The majority of money you win in poker will actually come from a small number
of huge hands. 

The way these hands are played separate losing or breakeven players and solid
winners, and will determine your long term profitability more than any other

If you are playing no-limit hold’em, make the best use of the no-limit part.
Everytime you are in the hand, consider the effective stack size. If it is 150
big blinds, you should be aiming to win no less 150 big blinds.

Always aim for the maximum profit. So the next time you find yourself facing a
huge river decision with a strong hand, ask yourself: can I shove here?
Here is a recent overbet jam hand discussed by BlackRain79 illustrating this more:  

A lot of players start fretting about the bet sizing, especially on the river
where there is usually the most money on the line. 

When they have a huge hand, they go for something like ⅓ pot or ½ pot bet so
they don’t scare off their opponents, or even worse, they try to get tricky
and check in order to induce a bluff.

While there certainly might be situations in which these lines are the most
+EV, more often than not, people get in their heads too much and make things
more complicated than necessary.

If you’re playing at the micros, your balanced bet sizing with a polarized
range is going to go completely over most of your opponents heads. 

If you overbet jam the river, one of these things will happen:

a) your opponent will think you’re bluffing and call you down with their third

b) your opponent knows you have it, but they just can’t fold their precious
set or overpair and call you down.

c) your opponent will have a busted draw and fold to any bet, regardless of
the size.

d) your opponent will cooler you with a monster hand of their own, which is
least likely. The stronger your hand, the less of a chance there is for
someone to have an even stronger hand.

In any case, you are not really benefiting from a smallish bet size, but are
potentially missing out on a ton of value. Even if you don’t get called,
you’ll appear to be more aggressive, which is great for your table

Example Hand

Effective stack size is 100 BB.

You are dealt 9♠9♣ in the CO. You raise to 3x.
A loose passive fish calls on the BU. Blinds fold.

Pot is 7.5 BB 
Flop: J♦2♦T♥

You bet 2.5 BB. Fish calls.

Pot is 12.5 BB
Turn: 2♠
You check. Fish checks.

River: 9♦
You: ???

You should shove all-in. 

Let’s consider the previous action. You open raise pocket Nines from the
cutoff, and the fish calls. Totally standard and predictable. 

We don’t get the best flop in the world, but we reckon the fish is of the
fit-or-fold variety, likes to see a bunch of flops, and has an extremely wide
calling range. 

Most hands miss most flops, and the wider the range, the more flops it will

So we go for a small C-bet, figuring we don’t need to get a lot of folds to
still be +EV. Plus we still have a backdoor straight draw and some showdown
value. Unsurprisingly, the fish calls.

The turn doesn’t change a lot for us. We know we don’t have a lot of fold
equity in this situation, and we certainly can’t keep barrelling for

We still have some showdown value, so we check and hope to see a free

And the river comes with a miracle action card. This is a spot to go for
maximum value and forget all about balance, considering our opponent type and
the board runout. 

The number of hands that would pay us off here is huge. Remember, we’re
playing against a recreational player, and recreational players love to make
huge hero calls, and don’t fold a flush, ever. 

They don’t care about the pot odds and ranges one bit. So we’re getting called
by Jx hands, any deuce in their hand, any two diamonds, KQ, Q8, 87, you name

So going for something as ½ pot or ¾ pot bet would be a disaster. 

Sure, a lot of times they’ll have complete air, but if they do, they’re
folding, and if they have anything, they’re calling regardless of the size.
They’re pretty inelastic that way, so we should make the most of it.


One thing all of these plays have in common is aggression. This is indeed a crucial component that you will find in any advanced poker strategy.

Winning poker is aggressive poker. Every time you’re involved in a hand, make
a habit of asking yourself: can I bet/raise/reraise here? 

You don’t need to (and shouldn’t) do it every time, but at least being aware
of the prospect can make you see a bunch of profitable spots you might have
missed before.

In short, you should try to position yourself in a way most conducive to
exerting maximum pressure on your opponents, and you can do that even before
you sit down at the table. 

Look carefully and snipe that Jesus seat. Be on the lookout for steal attempts
and try to resteal the blinds often. Also, look for squeeze opportunities and
try to pick up easy money with a well-timed aggression.

If you have a big draw, try semi-bluffing instead of only relying on hitting
your outs and praying your opponent will pay you off if you do. Save luck only
as a last resort.

And finally, when luck finally does work in your favour, make the most of

Monster hands don’t come very often, so when they do, make sure you get paid.
Forget about balance and go for max value. Your bankroll will be better off
for it.
Lastly, if you want to know the complete BlackRain79 advanced system for crushing the small stakes games make sure you pick up the free poker cheat sheet, right here.



This article was written by contributor Fran

When looking at a high-stakes professional poker player losing a half a
million dollar pot, or busting out of a huge tournament “in the bubble” and
taking it in stride, the word “stoic” might come to mind. 

While colloquially referred to as someone who is calm and emotionless in the
face of adversity, this kind of definition doesn’t quite do justice to the
original philosophy of Stoicism and doesn’t really tell the full story.

Like most things, the original meaning and the ideas have changed and molded
with the times, and what we’re left with today is a superficial understanding
of what once was. 

There is a lot more to being stoic than merely showing (or even feeling) no
emotion and accepting your cruel fate. It’s not about suppressing emotions
either, for doing so tends to backfire, sooner or later. 

The surface-level understanding of Stoicism would indeed have us picture a
totally cold and detached person, but it’s just a facade. 

It’s not about the appearances, it’s about the underlying principles beneath
the surface that guide our thinking and behaviour.

What is Stoicism and How it Can Make You a Better Poker Player


Stoicism is a holistic philosophy that encompasses physics, logic and ethics.
It surmises that the path to a good life is to be found in pursuing virtue,
using reason, and living in accordance with nature. 

According to the Stoics, the four main virtues were wisdom, courage, justice
and temperance (or self-discipline). Certainly great things to have at your
side, especially when things don’t go your way. 

And they won’t. 

Anyone who has played poker for some period of time can attest to that. 

Quite simply put, stoic philosophy emphasizes virtues as a means of achieving
what they called Apatheia (Greek: ἀπάθεια; literally, “without
passion”). It’s not to be confused with apathy.

The most accurate translation would be equanimity, similar to the Buddhist
concept of the enlightenment, (i.e. a state of stability and composure in the
face of adversity).

In practical terms, it means reacting logically and reasonably to external
events beyond our control, rather than our decision-making process being
hijacked by emotions. 

That is not to say to be emotionless or robotic, but clear-headed, objective
and aware. Awareness being the key.

Poker and Stoicism – The Hidden Connection

The less aware you are, the more likely you are to react negatively to
external events beyond your control. The poker fish are the best example of

They don’t make their decisions based on odds, probabilities, previous action,
player types, ranges and so on. A lot of
advanced technical poker knowledge
is completely foreign to them. 

Sure, they might be familiar with some concepts to a certain extent, but
knowing that something exists and being able to apply it effectively are not
the same thing. 

I might have some theoretical knowledge about internal combustion engines. It
doesn’t mean I have the slightest clue how to go about fixing my car. 

Poker is deceptively simple, and fish are notorious for overestimating their
skill level and playing in games they have no business being in. 

You will often hear players say something along the lines of: I’m not a math
person. I’m more of a feel player. This is mostly a BS excuse. 

Sure, intuition and gut feelings are not to be underestimated, but they are
usually the consequence of acquired knowledge and reasoning that isn’t quite
articulated yet. 

It can be useful at times, but it can also be dead wrong, because emotions can
be unreliable at best, and highly destructive at worst. 

Example of How a Poker Amateur Reasons Incorrectly

You may think someone who is overbet shoving on the river is bluffing because
they’ve been overly aggressive and have been pushing you out of pots for more
than an hour

So you decide to make a hero call, only to be shown the absolute stone cold

The problem is you only considered a piece of the puzzle, and built a
narrative around it. You didn’t consider previous action, bet sizing, their
probable range, the board runout and what have you. 

You were probably more motivated to get even, or to make a sick call, or show
you won’t be pushed around. Probably a combination of those actually. 

Either way, you let emotions (anger or pride) guide your decision-making
process, even if you weren’t quite aware of it at the time. 

You did make a conscious decision, and there was certainly merit to your line
of thinking (i.e. the villain WAS overly aggressive and could have been
bluffing), but it’s not the whole story. 

It’s a single piece of the variable that stood out to you because of previous
events and your personal involvement. 

And that’s the core problem: 

We might think we are making rational decisions, and we aren’t even aware of
the ways our decision-making process is compromised before it’s too late.

How to Mitigate the Negative Effects of Emotional Based Reasoning in

If we could mitigate the negative effects of emotions and let the rational
part of our brain take the wheel, poker would be a fundamentally different
(and quite easier) game. 

This is where a little bit of stoic wisdom can come in handy. This article
will provide some insight into the mind of one of stoicism’s most stellar
personalities, the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius.  

Marcus Aurelius was quite an impressive person. He was dubbed the Philosopher
king by his contemporaries and was known as the last of the five good emperors
of Rome. 

He ruled from 161 to 180, and his reign will mark the beginning of an end of a
period which will later be called Pax Romana (lat. Roman peace), the golden
age of the Roman empire. 

As one of the most prominent Stoic philosophers, a lot of what we know about
Stoicism today can be ascribed to Marcus Aurelius and his capital work, “The
Meditations,” a series of letters and notes he wrote to himself as a means of

The work was never written to be published, but his ideas survived to this day
in one form or another long after the emperor’s passing almost two millennia

All the quotes cited come from The Meditations, so with the history
lesson aside, let’s get into the actual tips, starting with the cornerstone of
Stoic philosophy…

1. Some Things Are Out of Your Control

“You have power over your mind — not outside events. Realize this, and you
will find strength.” – Marcus Aurelius

As poker players, there is a lot we can do to improve our results, and how
much we win or lose depends greatly on us. We choose the game to play, we
choose a site, a table, a seat.  

We choose the stakes, when to play, how long, what cards to play, how to play
in a certain spot and so on. 

We are just not entirely sure about the outcome in a lot of situations. And it
certainly can be a deal-breaker to many people who want to be in control of
their life’s outcomes, and playing dice just isn’t their particular cup of

But for the rest of us degenerate gamblers, it’s a cruel reality that we need
to make peace with in order to survive this brutal game. 

You need to be aware that the prospect of loss is ever present, and disasters
are just waiting to happen. 

And there is absolutely no way around it, no matter how good you are.
Sometimes you will do everything right and lose anyway. It’s beyond you. But
the way you react when things don’t go your way is the true mark of character.

Everyone can play well when the deck keeps hitting them, but as soon as things
go south, their game collapses along with their fortunes. 

And this is what makes poker a lucrative endeavour for some, and a losing
investment for most. 

The key Stoic takeaway is this: True wisdom is identifying and separating
what’s within our control and what isn’t, and focusing exclusively on the
former. So how do we do that? 

With another piece of advice from Marcus Aurelius…

2. Stay Present

“At every moment keep a sturdy mind on the task at hand, as a Roman and
human being, doing it with strict and simple dignity, affection, freedom,
and justice — giving yourself a break from all other

You can do this if you approach each task as if it is your last, giving up
every distraction, emotional subversion of reason, and all drama, vanity,
and complaint over your fair share.” – Marcus Aurelius

Making peace with things beyond our control and focusing only on what is
within our control means letting go of past and future. 

The past is fixed and impossible to change, the future is uncertain and
impossible to predict. That is not to say that Stoics were just living in the
moment, partying non-stop and to hell with the consequences. 

Quite the contrary.

They did in fact think extensively about what their life would and could be
like, and what was the best course of action to take in order to live a
virtuous life. 

They also meditated on what has transpired already, but not to dwell on past
mistakes and misfortunes, but to learn from them. 

But when they weren’t pondering life’s biggest questions and were engaged in a
certain activity, they were all in on it, for they believed that anything that
is worth doing is worth doing well. 

Otherwise, why are you doing it in the first place?

So the next time you sit down to play poker, make sure you are focused on the
task at hand. Remove all distractions like your phone, email, Netflix

Make sure you are not to be disturbed, either by external forces or by your
own internal turmoil of any kind. Leave the past, the future, and your ego at
the door and play to the best of your abilities.

Focus on every hand individually, street by street, action by action. Pay
attention even when you’re not directly involved in the hand. 

Don’t let your mind wander off. You can’t expect to have great results if you
keep missing key pieces of information. Information is power, and every little
piece of it helps. 

Stay inquisitive, stay present.
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3. Expect Adversity

“When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: the people I deal with
today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous and surly.
They are like this because they can’t tell good from evil. 

But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil, and have
recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own – not of the
same blood and birth, but the same mind… And so none of them can hurt me.
No one can implicate me in ugliness. 

Nor can I feel angry at my relative, or hate him… To feel anger at
someone, to turn your back on him: these are unnatural.” – Marcus Aurelius

People are here to take your money and you are there to take theirs. It is not
a cooperative endeavour. Poker in its essence is closer to a Hobbesian
nightmare than to a utopia. 

It’s a dog-eat-dog world. It’s fair in so far that the rules regulate the
behavior of the participants, and the participants adhere to those rules. It
has evolved a lot from the lawless gunslinging days of the wild west, but at
its core, it’s still you against everybody else and vice versa.

Sure, there is a sense of camaraderie and mutual respect between players,
especially in live games, but at the end of the day, you are still there to
take their money and prevent them from taking yours, and you are to use any
means necessary to achieve that, as long as it is within the boundaries of
rules and fair play. 

The Stoic takeaway here is that other people will be out to get you in some
way or the other, and sometimes they will get the better of you in some
particularly nasty way. 

They may keep 3-betting you light because you
overfold to 3-bets out of position.
They can get frustrated with your aggression and keep calling you down and
hitting their miracle gutshot draw on the river. 

Or they can go on an insane monkey tilt and shove 63 offsuit preflop you snap
call with your pocket queens and the board runs out like this: Q♥2♠9♣4♠5♥

The universe won’t always cooperate with you. The cards won’t always fall your
way, and the people will be out to get you. And they will get you

It won’t be fair and it won’t be pretty, and you won’t see it coming. Just
remember that the universe isn’t conspiring against you. Which brings us to
the next point… 

4. Don’t Take Things Personally

“Choose not to be harmed — and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed — and
you haven’t been.” – Marcus Aurelius

Poker is random. People aren’t used to randomness, and they don’t interpret
the world as such. We are pattern seeking creatures, and if we don’t find a
pattern, we are more than happy to make one up. 

Chance isn’t conspiring against you. Things don’t happen TO YOU. They just
happen. This kind of thinking might sound fatalistic, but it’s actually quite
a relief once you actually internalize it. 

The law of large numbers pretty much guarantees that a series of highly
unlikely and highly unfortunate events will happen. And sometimes they’ll
happen in a quick succession. And they will happen to you.

People aren’t equipped to deal with large sample sizes and long term
probabilities. This is something that only
professional poker players
typically learn how to deal with.

Most amateurs instead are overly focused on the present moment, this
particular situation, this particular hand, this particular bad beat. 

Or a series of them. And since we are also incredibly gifted in pattern
recognition and narrative building, we don’t analyze cold hard data on a

We are reacting to what’s happening to us in the moment, and what’s happening
is we’ve lost a huge pot in a particularly vicious way. And it keeps
happening. And it’s happening to ME.

We are all protagonists in our own stories, and it’s quite apt to jump to the
victim narrative. It’s a way of ego protection, and it’s a normal instinctive

It takes some serious brain power to overcome it, and it’s anything but

It might be worth remembering that bad things happen to everyone. One of the
great things about poker is it doesn’t discriminate. 

Play it long enough, and you’re bound to run extremely hot at times, and
extremely cold at others.  Sure, some people will run worse than others,
but on a long enough time line, the survival rate of everyone drops to zero

So it’s more about the journey, and how we deal with the inevitable obstacles.
Some do it better than others, because they…

5. View Obstacles as Opportunities

“Here is a rule to remember in future, when anything tempts you to feel
bitter: not “This is misfortune,” but “To bear this worthily is good
fortune.” – Marcus Aurelius

You will get unlucky sometimes. You will do everything right and still fail
miserably. But so will everyone else. What separates the winners is the way
they approach failure. They don’t fear it. 

Because if you don’t risk failure, you can’t succeed. And if you never fail,
then you probably don’t ever try anything new or challenge yourself in any

If everything is coming easy to you, you might want to watch out, cause you
might just be going downhill at a slight slope. 

The winners are those that take the best out of disaster, and use it as a way
to better themselves. They use it as fuel to improve, to see their
shortcomings and work on them consciously and deliberately. 

Where some people see disaster, some see an opportunity. It’s a matter of
perspective. Remember that everyone will get their fair share of fortune and
disaster respectively. 

The ones that deal with it the best will be the ones that will rise on top.

The next time you get your aces cracked by a whale with
HUD stats
of 78/5/1 and lose your whole stack, think how much better you could react
than a vast majority of the player pool you’re competing against. 

Because bad beats and coolers happen to everyone, fish included. And the fish
are the ones that are more likely to start tilting like crazy and spewing
their chips. Because they see a disaster. 

And a shark sees an opportunity. It’s nature. And the Stoics were all for
living in accordance with nature. 

6. Be Grateful

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to
be alive — to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” – Marcus Aurelius

Ending on a more positive note, be grateful for the fact that we’re able to
play this great game in the first place. 

When you lose, remember that it is a privilege of the few to be able to afford
losing money playing cards. And the fact that some people are able to actually
make money in the long run is a miracle in and of itself.

It pays to count your blessings every once in a while. Sometimes you win,
sometimes you lose, but it’s the reality of life. 

There is nothing to do but to ride it out as best we can, and rejoice in the
fact that we can play a silly little card game every once in a while.


Being calm and composed in the face of adversity is something we should all
strive for on the felt, as well as away from it. 

But we humans are tragically ill-equipped to deal with poker, with our insane
monkey brains running amok with all sorts of complex emotions and

The idea that we can sit down at a table with a bunch of complete strangers
and take each other’s money back and forth for hours on end without tearing
each other to pieces is nothing short of a miracle. 

However, in order to not just be able to do so, but to make sure we are the
ones who leave with said money, it might be prudent to keep our insane monkey
brain in check. 

Fortunately for us, the great minds of antiquity have a few tips on how to go
about it. 

Firstly, we need to accept and recognize that things are either in our control
or beyond it, and it is up to us to differentiate between the two, and focus
exclusively on what we can control.

And what we control is our mind, in this particular moment. 

This moment is all we have, for the past and future don’t really exist but in
our mind. So we should get the best out of today, this hour, this minute, and
leave our regrets and anxieties behind.

Expect things to go bad, because they will. 

When you plan for the worst, nothing can surprise you. It’s not about being
pessimistic, it’s about being aware of potential adversity and challenges.
It’s harder to fall in a hole if you see it up ahead.

Don’t take things personally. Things are things. The universe isn’t out to get
you. You aren’t cursed.

When you face an obstacle, embrace it. Instead of saying, this is a disaster,
say: this is an opportunity. Ask yourself: how can I make the best of the
situation? What can I learn from this?

Finally, be grateful, even for the difficulties, for they are there to make
you grow.



This article was written by contributor Fran Ferlan.

“There is no such thing as standing still. You either move forward or
regress.” – Bohdi Sanders

Mastering poker is a lifelong journey, and it’s never really complete. Poker
is an incredibly competitive endeavour, and like anything else in life,
success comes to those who are willing to work hard to outperform the

No matter where you currently are in your poker journey, the first step to
improvement is willingness to do so. If you are reading this article,
congratulations, you’re on the right path.

Even if you are a solid winning player, there is danger in becoming complacent
and thinking you have it all figured out. You don’t.
Why is it Important to Always be Improving Your Poker Skills?

Even the world class professionals continually strive to improve their game.
In fact, this is what made them world class professionals in the first

If you are going to the gym and see a guy or a girl with perfect physique
sweating and working their ass off, you might wonder: why the hell are they
doing that? They’re already ripped. They don’t need to do it anymore.

But the reason they’re in such great shape is exactly because they’ve worked
their ass off. And sure, they can go out to enjoy life and be attractive, but
they chose not to get complacent. 

They’re maintaining their physique and their health. They enjoy the process,
and are not overly focused on the end result (i.e., looking good).

Improving in poker is no different. Improvement itself is its own reward. The
end result (like making more money, moving up in stakes, winning a huge
tournament , etc.) is just the byproduct.

It is worth mentioning right off the bat that your motives for improving will
be a major factor in determining how successful or unsuccessful you’ll be. If
you want to improve in order to win more money, that’s certainly a legitimate

There’s nothing wrong in wanting to be more profitable, and at the end of the
day, how much we win is how we measure our success in poker. But if making
money is your primary concern, you’d be better off finding some other more
stable and certainly less stressful income sources.Why Hard Work Beats Poker Skill and Talent  

Making money in poker comes in due time to those who work hard to improve, but
they do so for other reasons, rather than prospective monetary gains. Above
all else, they have a deep passion for the game, and want to improve because
they want to be good in what they do. Money is just the icing on the cake.

Another reason you need to improve is the aforementioned competitive component
that’s inherent to the game of poker. Its evolving constantly, especially in
today’s fast paced digital age.

If you don’t improve, eventually you’ll be left behind the competition.
Today’s complacent winner is tomorrow’s loser. Sure, you might be able to
crush oblivious weekend players, but so can the other regulars. And the games
are getting increasingly harder.

In the post-Moneymaker era, money seemed to keep falling out of the sky, and
you were able to make a decent sum of money if you knew what you were

A lot of pros assumed easy money would keep pouring in, but there’s no such
thing as easy money, and all good things come to an end. 

Today the games are nowhere near the joke they were back then, and the pros
that couldn’t keep up got left behind. 

But not everything is bleak as it seems. As of writing this in 2021 poker can
still be incredibly profitable for those who are willing to put in some time
and effort to improve their game. By wanting to improve, you’re already ahead
of the majority of the player pool. 

This article will give you 5 ways to take your game to the next level. Let’s
get into the actual tips, starting with the basics.

1. Get The Fundamentals Down

When first trying to improve, it can be a daunting task. Maybe you started
with reading articles such as this one, or watched a couple of BlackRain79 Youtube videos. 

Then all these articles have links to other articles, you’re encountering a
bunch of terms you’re not familiar with (as every other industry, poker has a
language of its own).

And then you soon find out that poker is an incredibly complex mixture of math
and psychology (sprinkled with a dash of art for good measure) and there is
just so much to learn. 

It’s enough to make your head spin, and you’re left even more confused than
you started off with. 

In today’s information age, there’s so many sites, courses, books, articles
and videos to choose from, and it can get quite overwhelming quite fast. There
is such a thing as too much information. 

Before the internet, information used to be rare and precious like gold. Today
it’s common and useless like dirt.

Fortunately, the basics of poker are not that difficult to grasp. The math
part is no more complicated than what you learn in middle school.

When learning about poker, it might be far more enticing to learn about
advanced river check-raise bluffing strategy rather than boring odds and
percentages, but that’s putting the cart before the horse.

When you are building a house, you don’t start with the roof. You build a
solid foundation first, and then you slowly build up on it. It’s the case with
everything else you do in life, so poker should be no different.

You should start with the basic TAG (tight and aggressive) strategy. 

This includes mastering your starting hands selection preflop: About the top 15%
percent of hands in a full-ring game and the top 20% in a 6-max game, playing
tightly in early position and opening up in late positions (cutoff and
button), playing in position (being the last to act) and playing fast and
aggressively post flop in most situations.

As for the math part, you need no more than basic multiplication and division.
You should be familiar with pot odds, implied odds and stack-to-pot ratio
(SPR). All of this information is readily available online, and all the topics
are already covered extensively here on

Even though you might feel you have the fundamentals down, it’s better to
assume you don’t have it all figured out. Being familiar with something and
understanding it deeply are not the same thing. 

If you think you have it all figured out, here’s a challenge for you: try to
teach poker to somebody who doesn’t know the rules at all. You’ll soon find
out that even something as basic as absolute/relative hand strength and blinds
structure can be challenging to convey in a clear, comprehensive way, let
alone all the other intricacies of the game. 

Get the fundamentals down. Amateurs practice till they get it right.
Professionals practice till they can’t get it wrong.

2. Focus on One Thing at a Time

Poker is a game that takes an hour to learn, but a lifetime to master. So
there is no need to rush anything, and no need to learn all at once.

Slow and steady is the way to go, especially when we talk about learning and
improving. It can be a long and tedious process, but knowledge is

So in order not to make it any more difficult than is necessary, you should
avoid overwhelming yourself, especially at the beginning. 

It can be demoralizing when you start to understand how little you actually
understand and how much there is to know, but it’s actually a good

It means you’re starting to realize how deeply complex the game is, and
starting to grasp the areas with which you’re struggling with, and that is the
first step to improvement.

If you feel overwhelmed and terrified with the complexities of it all, give
yourself a pat on the back. It means you are on the right path. The first step
to understanding is figuring out what you don’t understand, so start with

Ask yourself: What is it that I don’t understand? Be specific. Make a list.
You might realize that you are struggling with a number of things, but again,
this is to be expected, and it’s actually a good thing.

If you have a list, rank order it, starting with the fundamentals (i.e., the
things you’re struggling with most often). For newer players, preflop might be
a good place to start. 

Pick one thing from the list, and focus on it until you have it figured out.
Then move on to the next thing. Rinse and repeat.

A great way to go about this might be focus sessions. Before you fire up the
software and sit down to play, you can start with a pre-game warmup. During
the warm up, you study the concept you’re trying to implement in your

It’s worth noting that it should be something you are somewhat familiar with
already. It shouldn’t be something that is completely foreign to you, or way
beyond your current level of understanding. 

Then, during the session, you look for opportunities in which you can apply
the concept. You might be surprised how many profitable spots there are where
you know where and what to look for. 

Note the spots where you weren’t sure what to do, or where you think you’ve
made a mistake. After a session, review the hands you were struggling

For example, one simple concept you can start with is SPR. After you have
familiarized yourself with the stack-to-pot ratio, and how different SPR
influences your starting hand selection, you can practice calculating it for
every hand you play. 

Keep doing it consciously and deliberately until you do it automatically. It’s
basically a simple division math problem, so there is absolutely no excuse not
to do it.

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Enter your details below and I will send my free poker cheat sheet to your inbox right now.

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The single best investment you can make in your poker career is Poker Tracker
4, guaranteed. It is an indispensable tool for tracking your hands and
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opponents statistics as well. 

It basically pays for itself, because the reads you’ll be able to get from
your opponents will more than make up for the price of the software itself. BlackRain79 actually made a YouTube video showing you how to setup your PokerTracker HUD in less than 5 minutes.Also, PokerTracker offers a 30-day free trial, so there’s no excuse not to give it a try.

But HUD aside, the real value of the software is that it helps you study and
take your game to the next level. It automatically saves all your hand
histories and shows you your results in a clear, comprehensive way. 

It’s extremely user friendly, even if you’re not particularly technology
savvy. And if you have any questions, it offers great customer support.

The features of the program are too numerous to even begin describing here. It
deserves its own article. But one that might be worth mentioning here is Leak

Leak tracker shows you your stats based on your hand history, and shows you
exactly where your skills might be lacking, and where your stats fall out of
norm for solid winning players. This means the guesswork is completely out of
the equation. It tells you exactly where you’re bleeding money.

You can’ improve what you can’t measure, and PokerTracker 4 measures
everything for you. 

The beauty of the software is that you can go as deep down the rabbit hole you
want, and can filter for any situation you want, no matter how specific. So
how much value and knowledge you get out of the software depends entirely on
You can download PokerTracker for Windows or Mac, right here.


4. Review Your Hands

The most cost-effective way to learn is to learn from other people’s mistakes.
But we all know that’s not how it usually goes. The biggest life lessons we
learn usually come from our own epic failures and tragedies. 

We can read strategy articles and watch youtube videos for days and weeks on
end, but some things just won’t go through our thick skulls until we get
burned personally in one way or another. And even then, most people won’t get
it. They’ll blame something external, as one usually does.

Personal experience is the greatest teacher, but only if we are willing to
admit our own mistakes and recognize our shortcomings.

And what better way to do so than with hand history review. What makes this
exercise so effective is the fact that you’re not just passively absorbing
information, as is the case with reading articles and watching videos, for

Not that there’s anything wrong with articles and videos, but it’s only a part
of the learning process. It is also about applying what you learn. When you
review your hands off the felt, you force yourself to think and ask questions,
and this is where true understanding comes from.

The best hands to review are the ones that went to showdown, because not only
can you study the lines you took, but also try to estimate your opponents’
range and narrow it down street by street. That way you’re basically studying
multiple things at once.

While reviewing your hands, talk to yourself out loud, and tell yourself all
the information you have. This forces you to apply what you know already, and
highlight the areas where you might be struggling. 

Also, by doing so, you’re training yourself to think actively on the felt,
which will make you more likely to think about the game on a deeper level.
Make it a habit, and you’ll be making better in-game decisions in no
time.For more on how to fix your leaks and review your hands check out this article by BlackRain79.  

5. Play More Poker

Poker is a game of skill. Like any other skill, you get better at it with
practice. Taking the time to study and improve off the felt is invaluable, but
at the end of the day, you need to take that knowledge to the felt.

Like they say, theory without practice is empty, and practice without theory
is blind. You can play poker all day every day without so much as reading a
single article, and you’ll stay a fish forever.

On the other side of the spectrum, there are people who approach poker with a
scientific devotion, read every book, watch every video, have hundreds and
thousands of posts on different forums. 

They know all about cutting edge strategies, 4-bet bluffing, blind defense and
polarized river ranges, yet they barely play any poker at all. All talk and no

There needs to be a balance between the two. Most people would benefit from
more studying (because let’s face it, nobody likes to study, and we all love
playing), but there’s only so much you can learn in theory. Putting it into
practice effectively is where real knowledge comes from.

It’s like weightlifting. Sure, it’s important to know how to do the exercises
with the proper form and learn a thing or two about a healthy diet, but it
doesn’t mean anything if you don’t put the reps in. 

Progress takes time, but the more you do it, the better you’ll get at it.
Action is the greatest teacher, and there’s no better way to learn than
through direct experience. 

So go out there and practice. But practice consciously and deliberately. You
won’t see any progress day to day, week to week, or even month to month, but
when you look back, you might be surprised how far you’ve come.


Improving in poker is not an easy task, but being willing to do so is
certainly a step in the right direction.

It may be daunting at first, but that is precisely the reason most people
won’t bother with it in the first place. 

They just want to have fun. And this is where the opportunity lies for those
who are determined to go the extra mile and put in some time and effort in their game.

In order to do so successfully, it’s important to start with the basics and
building up from there. When you build a house, you need to build a strong
foundation first.

Focusing on one thing at a time allows you to progress at a comfortable pace
and not get overwhelmed with too much information. 

Also, you’re more likely to celebrate small victories along the way and keep
the momentum going, instead of getting discouraged and throwing in the towel
before even giving yourself a chance to succeed.

If you’re serious about improving your game, investing in poker tracking
software is a must in today’s competitive environment. 

Not only will you be able to get better reads on your opponents, you’ll also
have a reliable tool at your disposal to plug your leaks and learn from your

It will also allow you to tag hands during your session so you can review them
later while you are studying off the felt. 

Hand history review is arguably the single best exercise, because it allows
you to study multiple things at once, and trains you to make better decisions

And lastly, if you want to improve, go out there and get the volume in. 

If you want to learn to swim, you can read a hundred books on the topic, but
you’re going to need to go into the water eventually. So go out there and
start flailing. 

So there you have it. None of these tips are exactly groundbreaking stuff. No
quick and easy hacks to get great results fast, but that’s because they work.
It isn’t sexy, but there are no shortcuts to success.

It’s about repetition and perseverance. The more you practice, the better
you’ll get. And that’s a guarantee.



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