Never let your guard down in Online Poker

Spoiling an online poker session is surprisingly easy

Self-indulgence is a dangerous habit when it comes to online poker. Discipline is key, and deviating from a tried and tested, effective strategy is rarely a good idea unless it’s backed up by enough factors and is part of a logical plan of action.

Yet it’s so easy – for one reason or another – to go out of our way to deliberately play in a way that we know is fundamentally wrong. It might be because we feel like having a bit of fun to relieve the pressure, or we’re simply being stubborn and are protesting against the poker gods, or against statistics. But the result tends to be the same, and the lesson learned should be that, at the end of the day, we’re playing with real money, and that’s a poker truism worth remembering.

Here’s an example of how a typical cash game session might pan out. Let’s say we’ve been sitting at a short-handed No-Limit Hold’em $0.10/$0.20 table for around 45 minutes, and things have been going quite well.

We bought in for the $20 maximum and managed, from the very beginning, to put in a more than decent display of disciplined poker. For example, we resisted the urge to call a min-raise pre-flop with J7 suited, and we were rewarded not long after when our pocket sixes turned into a set on the Flop, and we ended up winning an all-in head-to-head versus someone with pocket aces.

Thusly, our stack increased to $52, for a (running) profit of $32, which is far better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, as they say. In fact, our better than 150% gain is quite impressive, and if we carry on at this rate we’ll pocket a good $43 win in just an hour. Keep this up and we can go out and buy some shiny stuff with our well-earned money

We conclude that we could have a talent for this game, that despite not having a great deal of experience, we do seem to have a better understanding of the more refined, subtle aspects of poker than the other players at the table. Maybe we’d be ahead even more if we used some of our newfound skills to ‘correct’ a few of the wrinkles in this strategy we’ve been sticking to so closely, like an unwelcome diet. We start to feel almost held back, that poker convention is stifling our creative abilities…

We’re dealt 84o in early position. Normally, of course, we’d automatically trash such a hand, but the start of the session seems a long time ago now. We’ve come such a long way on our learning journey since then. So – back to that 84o… 84… our good friend was born in 84, and a couple of weeks ago our neighbour celebrated his 84th birthday. Could the poker gods give us a clearer sign of what we need to do? So, suitably inspired, we limp in. It’ a mere 20 cents. Who cares?

Our previous victim, who reloaded for another $20, raises to $0.70, after which it’s folded round to us. The way the hand is going at the moment suggests that we shouldn’t have got involved, but instead of folding, we call with our rubbish hand, and out of position, to boot. The Flop comes Q42, giving us a pair. We check. Previous Victim bets $1.50, which we suspect is a continuation bet, so we call. The Turn is another 2. We check again and are met with a bet of $3, which we confidently call, putting the pot at over $10. Incidentally, that brought our stack down to $47, which doesn’t look quite as good as over 50… Anyway, the River adds a K to the mix, and we check. Our opponent bets $6 and, nothing having gone right in this sorry looking hand, we decide enough is enough, and fold.

Five minutes later, with positions reversed, Previous Victim open-raises for $0.70, which he‘s done numerous times since the hand above. It’s folded round to us, on the Button, and we judge that this is a good time to put on a display of our poker skillz, (re)raise to $2 with our Ac9s. Note that we weren’t doing this kind of thing before. The call comes immediately, and the Flop is 9d, 10d, 10h. He checks. We bet $3, he raises to $10 and we fold.

As the hour mark approaches, we’re now at $42, which is still a healthy profit. We’re dealt K9s in the BB. Everyone folds round to the Small Blind, who’s been at the table only for a short while, and has $23. He raises to $0.70. We should fold, but we (re)raise to $2, partly because this leaves us with $40, and we have a thing for round numbers. He calls and then bets $2 on the Kxx flop. We raise to $8, because that’s how we roll… He goes all-in and we eventually call with our top pair. Unfortunately, he has AK, we’ve been out-kickered and therefore don’t win a single penny. Another badly played hand that was best avoided. Indeed, it wasn’t unfortunate that our opponent had AK, and that we suffered as a result. It was a situation we got into purely out of our own self-indulgence.

With the hour up, we decide to leave the game, and our profit has disappeared now that we’re down to $19. No biggie, having started with £20, but we don’t want to make a habit of spoiling a potentially profitable session by actually having bad habits! But we did learn a valuable lesson for only $1…

Have fun! (but not too much…)

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About the Author

AngusD

AngusD switched from pro chess to poker two decades ago and has been professionally involved in the game on numerous levels since the very beginning of online poker, including playing as a poker ambassador both online and at major festivals around the globe. He has written much about the game over the years, and brings to YPD a wealth of experience in all aspects of the poker industry. Meanwhile, his many years on the pro chess circuit (he’s an International Master and prolific author) afford him an interesting perspective on the psychology of poker.

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The last changes of the page “Never let your guard down in Online Poker” was made by AngusD on December 24, 2020

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