Any idiot can win at poker (for a short while), but that’s not the same as being a “winning poker player”. At the end of the week the “winning poker player” has made money. At the end of the month they have made money. The difference is that a “winning poker player” doesn’t crash and burn. This article teaches the key skill of folding.
Folding is the most overlooked skill by the majority of players. They can’t fold. They won’t fold. They find reasons to play when they should be finding reasons to fold. They think and then re-think, they try to read minds. They play pure position plays and think they can steal pots after the flop with any two cards. They think folding will make them look weak in the eyes of their opponents. It deflates their ego. They think they are poker geniuses. They are actually action junkies. These guys are going to be your new best friends, because they are going to make your mortgage payments for you.
The main reason people don’t fold is because they want to play. They see each poker “session” as a thing that has a start and a finish. If they are going to play for only one hour then they want to play some hands during that hour. YOU, on the other hand, are going to understand that your poker career is One Big Never Ending Poker Session. If you sit down to play for an hour and you don’t have any situations, cards and scenarios where you should play, then you won’t play. You will fold for an hour, turn off the computer and know you did your job!! If you want to play a game for fun, play Monopoly. If you want to play winning poker then it’s time to get a pen.
Get a pen and a pad of paper. On the top write “I ALWAYS FOLD…” then write the following. You have to write this out. Reading it is pointless. If you really want to burn it into your brain then you can write the list twice. As you write each hand THINK about it.
If you decide you aren’t going to ALWAYS fold some particular hand then you better have a fantastic reason why, and you better be able to create a strategy for playing that hand in about 15 different scenarios. Otherwise, just convince yourself that you will always fold it for the next couple months – while you’re becoming a winning player. Then, if you want, you can add it back into your starting hands with purpose and with a plan of action for the hand.
I always fold T8.
I always fold J8.
Now keep writing “I always fold” for the rest of this list. It’s not every hand in poker, but it’s enough for what we’re doing right now. ‘s’ means Suited, ‘x’ means “any numeric card”. So KQs means “King Queen Suited” and Ax means “Ace plus any numeric card”.
Write “I always fold” for each of the following combination:
Q9, A9, 74s, J7s, 85s 96s, K9, 54, 65, 76, 87, 32s, 42s, 43s, 53s, Q8s, T7s, Kxs, 64s, 98, t9, j9, 75s, j8s, k9s, 54s, QT, KT, 86s, AT, 65S, Axs, 97s 76s, JT, T8s, Q9s, 87, KTs, J9s, 98s, QTs, T9s, ATs, JTs
That’s your list of unplayable cards. UNPLAYABLE, any position, any situation, the only time you will be playing these cards is if you post the big blind and check into a hand with them. Otherwise you’re folding. You are folding on the small blind, you are folding on the button, you are folding with multiple limpers, raised pots, unraised pots, etc.
Before we continue though, I must state something that SHOULD be glaringly obvious to you, but might not be. When you check into a flop from the big blind with one of your “I fold” hands, it’s extremely important that you do not get drawn into playing your cards unless you really strike it lucky on the flop. Let’s say that you hold 83 as the big blind and it comes round to you unraised, so you check and get to see the flop for no extra cash, “free” if you like. The flop comes 864. You have top pair! You are DONE with this hand. Fold it. Don’t bet it. Don’t call with it. Just let it go.
In these instances your hand is no good. You are probably beaten already. If you aren’t beaten already, it’s highly likely you will be before the hand is finished. Very occasionally you will flop a monster – with your 83 big blind you could see a flop of 883, K33, or even 888 as some examples. It does happen – but these will be in the minority, and remembering this will keep you out of a whole lot of trouble. Just because you got to see the flop for free doesn’t mean it won’t cost you dearly if you play your mediocre flopped hand above its real value. We will cover this more in detail when we talk about playing the blinds.
Did you find that you said, “No way, I’m not folding this in ‘whatever’ situation”? How about TJ or ATs? There is an excellent chance that the list of hands you are always going to fold preflop is more than you can accept. That’s OK! Just stop reading. This system of making consistent profits playing poker can be… in a word… boring. The fact that it works consistently is really secondary. Action junkies and people who play great blue mega888 to prove how “smart” they are will have serious issues with the remainder of this article.
Finding more and more hands to play, and more reasons to play them make good players bad, bad players worse, and sucky players out of everyone. Please, for the love of all that is pure and holy understand this one thing. All the books you read and all the advice you got from people who read those books are based on the same antiquated concept of playing ONE table LIVE. That means that you are physically sitting at a table and only one table since there’s only one of you. The cards are being shuffled; you’re seeing maybe 35 hands per hour – if not less. You are playing the maximum stakes for your bankroll, because that’s what you should do if you are single table, live playing.