Now that you are moving on to the advanced game, the best piece of advice is to commit the basics to memory and know them cold. That’s on task that will prove fruitful for the rest of your career. At this point as a poker player you are beginning to lay down a solid foundation for a challenging game. Again we offer you another tad of advice and that is to be selective about the hands and games you play. Build yourself a set of starting standards that you know you can always rely on, and stick by them, even though there will be times when your intuition is suggesting to do something else.
No matter which game you play, if your goal is to win money, and then look for reasons to stray from what your intuition is telling you. When you begin to play hands or playing too many of them, it becomes more of a challenge to remain or to play the selective game. Instead, stay away from troublesome, marginal hands. But when you do get involved in a hand, play that hand aggressively. Once you have proven that you have the best of it, make your opponents pay to draw out on you. Sometimes they will, but the majority of the time they will not and of course, that extra money in the pot will just sweeten the size of your stack of chips.
Another angle on playing and maintaining the selective game is hand selection; this has proven to be one of the most important keys to winning in poker. Most players that just play to win tend to play too many hands, even those who have been playing the game for years. After all, the majority of players aren’t in it to make their living; they play to enjoy themselves. Most players may put on the façade that they have set their goal on playing to win as much money as possible, that’s really secondary to the main goal of having fun. These recreational players will look for reasons to play as many hands as they can whether they hold strong hands or marginal hands, even when subsequent betting rounds are filled with inadequate hands. The money player, on the other hand, will look for reasons to dump hands. He will avoid speculative hands whenever the potential reward is out weighed by the risks of the game.
The decision of which starting hands to play in any poker game is like any form of investment, as a career you should keep this in mind, because you will be confronted with this on a daily basis. You can make the decision or you can look for an opportunity that provides the best ROI. The “Selection” you make is nothing short of an investment decision. Either you take the opportunity or you can pass it along to someone else.
When all is said and done and the decision of whether to play has come you don’t have the time to assess each and every hand as though you’re seeing it for the first time. These decisions should have been made long before you took a seat at the table. This is why sharp and concise decisions have been consider part of made player’s standards and why they are so critical. By incorporating a ridged starting regime into your game you are years ahead of any of your opponents, it does not matter how long he’s been playing or how much experience of the game he has.
Once the development of starting standards has been place in your arsenal another valuable trait. The trick is to be able to maintain this while providing the skill of deception your game play without sacrificing your standards. Under the right circumstances and conditions, when a player deviates from a known pattern their opponents are left guessing. You won’t know when the time is right to deviate unless you’ve developed standards and incorporated them so completely into your game that they are second nature to you.
What does this mean in real terms? Its simple this means winning and keeping your opponents at bay because it is harder to figure the next move. It requires knowledge of your ability and the essential skills of the game, the playing style of your opponents, your table image at that moment, and the cards you’re holding, as well as those that may have already been played. There’s no set of step by step instructions to guide you through all of your future endeavors. But deploying a logical thought process and combining that with the experience that comes from dedication and practical knowledge will give you all you need.
If you still doubt the importance of selective play, think of the following example:
At a tournament you stumble upon a player that is constantly calling through every round, then you notice when his hand is a loser, nothing! What do you think he plays for? Well what are his odds of making a career out of player poker? Think of this, this player could actually win quite often considering that he is continuously calling the hands, by winning multiple smaller pots and not taking the risk of raising or staying in, he may do ok. He would not be driven off the winning streak by other player’s bets or raises, and it would be almost impossible for this guy to let someone bluff him out of a pot. I would venture to say that it would not take an excessive amount of time before the other players key in to the fact that it does not pay to bluff him and then they will stop altogether whenever he is closing in on the pot. Of course, when his opponents get even the smallest edge, they would bet into him, knowing he would call with the worst of it.
These small bets to bait him into this action will soon relieve our eager poker player of his entire bankroll. These are but a few scenarios that could result if you feel that the selective game is not for you, remember every player has standards of some sort, it is best to find yours and define them to work in your favor.