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If you’re serious about playing even modest free poker, if
you’re serious about tossing donkies into dung heaps, if
you’re serious about moving average players to farm pastures, if
you’re serious about holding an advantage over good players, if you’re
serious about embarrassing skilled players, and if you’re serious
about winning ‘serious’ amounts of money….then you’ll need to
develop a ‘serious’ Player Note Log (PNL).
And, what is a Player Note Log? Well….it’s no more than a storage tool intended to house all of the information you’ve gathered about your competitors. It could be in your head….if you’re intelligent enough to retain vast amounts of data; I’m not. It could be a note book of some type….large or small; possibly similar to the one used by Greg Raymer. It could be a PC based spread sheet, or a self-designed PDF file. It could be a somewhat cumbersome file of Index Cards. It could be a 3-ring binder filled with ledger paper. Or, it could be any device for data retention that will ultimately suit your need to record solid notes.
And, what are the notes that you need to record? Or, what notes do I record? Better yet, what notes do the professional players record? Wait…possibly of even greater significance, what notes should be recorded concerning the players who participate in the WixTips free online poker games? Or, maybe none of these questions really matter.
What does matter is that I have already provided you with the necessary materials in Part 1 of this Article such that you should be able to record the ‘player notes’ that create the highest possible advantage for your individual gaming environments. Obviously, if you’re playing free Texas hold em exclusively at WixTips, there need not be any sophistication to the type of notes you record. The vast majority of players here, as y’all well know, are about as proficient at the tables as would be a ‘Farm Animal’ costumed as Einstein.
If, on the other hand, you play for ‘real money’ in online poker, you’ll clearly want to be playing at a site that offers a ‘note taking’ option as part of their software. And, importantly, of the countless sites I have visited, the effort required to record notes is minimal. Usually a ‘right click’ on your mouse brings up the software’s note box. Granted, you’re gonna’ have to develop your own ‘note taking’ coding system. And, the codes are gonna’ have to be memorized in order for you to maximize their use during game play. But, if I’ve been able to do it, then you can also.
Next, if you’re playing in home games, even the less intelligent amongst us (including me), should be able to use their heads to retain sufficient player notes on the six to eight friends in any one game. Moreover, at least for me, I view a home game as a place to socially interact, and to seek out a form of entertainment. I’m not at all concerned with emptying the wallets contained within my friends’ pockets. Conversely, however, if you play in a non-social home game, quickly start to think of it as the equivalent of playing in a casino.
And, last, if you’re playing in a B&M card room (or casino).…well, there is ‘serious’ money involved, there should be ‘serious’ notes, and you’ve got a ‘serious’ job to do. Thus, here’s a reminder from Part 1 of this Article as to the ‘things’ you need in your PNL: your competitors’ style of play, your competitors’ everyday table habits, your competitors’ level of skill, your competitors’ emotions management capacity, your competitors’ betting patterns, your competitors’ risk tolerance, your competitors’ attention span, your competitors’ stack management ability, your competitors’ table tells, your competitors’ play habits, your competitors’ pocket card preferences, your competitors’ chat utterances, your competitors’ time clock utilization, and your competitors’ note taking ability.
Can you do all that? Can you ‘code’ all of that? Can you memorize all of the codes? It ain’t easy….but, the results are sure worth the effort. It’s what separates the ‘good’ players from the ‘big time’ players. It’s what separates the 3 and 4 figure winners from the 6 and 7 figure winners. It’s what separates the amateur players from the professional players. And, in all candor, it’s what separates the little known Pro’s from the big name Pro’s (and some Pro’s you’ve never heard of because they only play in cash games). Yet, it’s not for all of us….it’s a lot of work, and it’s time consuming. Plus, you CAN be a winner without ever taking a single note; especially here at WixTips.
Now, moving forward, it’s time for BUTZ; the ‘faux-acronym’ for biggest mistakes; where BUTZ could have been named ‘butts’, ‘bums’, ‘arses’, ‘asses’, or any word implying a degree of stupidity. And, for your edification, the two biggest mistakes made in every poker enclave….including WixTips, other Internet sites, home games, B&M venues, and elsewhere….are ‘lack of patience’ and ‘not paying attention to pot odds’. Of note, the combination of the two, is a clear indicator that the player is suffering from RCI.
If, by chance, you’re prone to making the first mistake, ‘lack of patience’, take the time to read the good Article posted by TRUMMY, or take the time to re-read Article 1 in this ‘Building a Bankroll’ series of Articles. The combined read of both Articles won’t take more than about 10 to 12 minutes of your time. And, if you follow the tutorials contained within these posts, you’ll be on your way to a relatively quick fix of the problem.
If, by chance, you’re prone to making the second mistake, ‘not paying attention to pot odds’, please re-read Article 04. Interestingly, you’ll find that you’re not alone. If you take a look at the number of views to each of the Articles, you’ll find that Article 04 holds the second highest view count. For good reason! The subject matter involves some arithmetic, and many of us are uncomfortable in the world of mathematics….many of us need a second or third attentive read of the text contained within the Article. And, it’s OK. No one will ever know how many times you’ve read the Article….it’s just you and your PC screen.
Or, If you’re making both mistakes, immediately stop what you’re doing, pack a light lunch, and get on the next bus to Donkeyville; the ‘Farm Animals’ will be delighted to know that you’re coming to stay with them. And, fear not! Rectal Cranial Inversion (RCI) is not a terminal disease….it merely stops you from utilizing any form of intellect at a poker table. You can still play, but you won’t ever win any money; not on a long-term basis anyway.
On to GUTZ; the next ‘faux-acronym’. And, if I were to use an alternate word, it would be ‘guts’. Where….you would need those ‘guts’ to include the conditional value of low Suited Connectors (3/4, 4/5, 5/6, 6/7, 7/8, and 8/9) in your play. Where….you would need those ‘guts’ to include Shifting Gears once you’ve gotten by the bubble (some very good players on this site fail to do so). And, where….you would need those ‘guts’ to handle the Risk Tolerance issues that exist (a major obstacle for many players who are trying to advance through the stakes levels). So, I’ll briefly present some commentary on all three components of GUTZ.
Suited Connectors….specifically, 3/4, 4/5, 5/6, 6/7, 7/8, and 8/9….can possess a Positive Expected Value (+EV). However, the occurrence of a +EV happens only when you are seated in the following three spots at the table: Dealer Button, Small Blind, and Big Blind. Also, four or more other players must have called the big blind (creating a Family Pot). Both of the preceding conditions must be met; not just one of them, but both of them. And, needless to say, your cost to see the flop cannot be greater than the cost of the big blind.
The bottom line here can be simply stated. Given that it’s a Family Pot, given that you have good ‘notes’ on your competitors, given that each of the players who called the big blind have at least one paint card (if not two) in their respective pockets, you’re likely to see a flop that fits well with the low cards you’re holding. And, as an aside, I’ll note that many excellent players will also include ‘suited one-gappers’ in this type of play (by one-gappers I mean 3/5, 4/6, 5/7, 6/8, and 7/9). I don’t! But, they do….and, many of them have kicked my butt on more occasions than I choose to remember.
Shifting Gears….specifically post-bubble….is a mandatory step in order to ultimately arrive at the final table with a competitive chip stack. Your goal is not limited to picking up a small portion of the prize pool. Your goal includes the intent of taking down the winner’s share of the prize pool. And, if the better players in the game have developed usable notes to identify your approach to table play, you’re pretty much stuck in a position where the chip stack you currently hold isn’t gonna’ expand. They know your game, and they ain’t gonna donate to you. So, shifting gears becomes essential to placing an invisible ‘Null and Void’ stamp on your competitors’ note books.
And, last (relating to GUTZ), is Risk Tolerance. A subject matter, by the way, that deserves a full length Article unto itself….and, unquestionably, it’s one that I’ll put into print sometime in the not-too-distant future. For the moment, though, let me equate Risk Tolerance to a process that I don’t want you to test; ever….just play it out in your mind. Yet, it is exactly how I came to understand it….it is exactly how I came to play in high stakes games at the B & M card rooms. The next paragraph briefly describes how a well-known Professional Tournament Player (both an author and a friend) taught me about the parameters surrounding individual Risk Tolerance.
The Bankroll Management’s ‘Rule of 5%’ needs to enter the picture. So, hypothetically, let’s identify a bankroll of $10,000. And, the ‘Rule of 5%’ dictates that we can’t enter a buy-in tournament or a cash game with more than $500 (5% of $10,000 equals $500). Now….I want you to visualize five $100 U.S. bills in your hand. Look at them; green, valuable, possibly necessary to meet certain household expenses, and spendable….it’s real money. Can you rip them up? Can you shred them? Can you render them unrecognizable? Can you instantly part with them? Without suffering any form of emotional duress! If your answers are “No”, then your Risk Tolerance is less than $500. And, to find your Risk Tolerance, you’ll need to work your way down the monetary scale to the point where you’ve identified the amount of real money that you can destroy.
This now leaves us with TUTZ….the end of the ‘faux-acronyms’. Loosely translated, it means ‘total’, or the Italian word ‘tutti’ (all things). It’s each of the Articles; starting with Article 01, and ending with Article 11. It’s all of the books, penned by all of the authors, I’ve made reference to in Article 01 through Article 11. And, it’s the balance of the poker parlance to be addressed shortly. When all is added together, it equals 100% of the skills and assets you’ll need to bring to every game you play; sit-n-go, tournament, and ring. If you truly want to win money, you’re now able to do so.
What remains to be addressed? Just two items….one minor, yet important, the other major, yet beyond your control. The minor element is Poker Etiquette; where table chat issues and table courtesy issues should always be a part of your game play. The major element is Lady Luck; where you need to recognize that she perennially acts in a fair and unprejudiced manner. And, regarding the latter, no one should ever think that they’re either lucky or unlucky. She simply doesn’t permit any such thing to happen….certainly not over any extended period of time.
Now, let’s address Poker Etiquette; the manner in which you behave at the tables. It can’t possibly be a difficult undertaking for any of you. Simply allow a tutorial given by your parents to dictate your behavior….”if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all”. Thus, your chat box statements are either pleasant, or you avoid any chat whatsoever. Also, you never….again, never….be the player responsible for a ‘slow-roll’. I have literally seen fist fights in a casino because a player has had the arrogance to present a ‘slow-roll’ to his competitors.
For the purpose of your developing a precise understanding of ‘slow-roll’, here’s a definition: a ‘slow-roll’ is the last act in any one hand, perpetrated by the last player to call (where no other bets can be made), when that last player holds a Type ‘A’ NUTZ hand, and he chooses to delay the play by taking way too much time to either call or show his cards to the table. He’s being rude, he’s being antagonistic, and, sometimes, in a B & M card room, he’s been punched out because of it. Please….make a note to never do it. A ‘slow-roll’ is the most offensive of all behaviors at a poker table.
And, to finish this Article, Lady Luck takes center stage. Plus, the word ‘serendipity’….my favorite word….comes to the forefront; it means a fortunate accident. Yet, Lady Luck knows no accidents; she hands out her ‘good fortune’ and ‘unfortunate beats’ with absolute equality. She favors no one, she disfavors no one. Over time, each and every one who plays the game of poker will benefit from her actions, and each and every one who plays the game of poker will be hurt by her actions. Plus, when the good and the bad are tallied over any long-term period of time, the end result of her actions are a whitewash….she allows nothing else.
Certainly, there are stretches of time when cards appear in pockets, flops, turns, and rivers where serendipitous results accrue to any one player. Yet, there are also stretches of time where disastrous results accrue to any one player. And, you need to take the good with the bad. If it’s ‘good’, silently tell Lady Luck “thank you”. If it’s ‘bad’, actively exercise your first poker skill….Patience. Most importantly, accept the fact that rarely does any one win a tournament without one, or more, good tidings from the magical, mystical Lady.
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