“Preparing To Play” Al Spath PSO Dean and Instructor
There are many things to consider, remember and do onceyou are at the casino aside from getting a seat at the table: •Table Stakes •String Bets • Going All-In •Splashing The Pot •Protecting your Cards (hand cuffing) •Time •Acting in Turn
8. Don’t Discuss Hands While In 9. Tipping 10. Cashing Out
However, what you do “on your way” to thecasino might be just as important as your play at the tables.
“The Drive” Most of us have a commute to and from the casino and many of us misuse this time. What do you do? •Use the cell phone? •Use your MP3 or listen to XM radio?•Bring along a passenger and talk about last nights TV show or poker game?
I would recommend none of the aforementioned distractions: Your mind needs to be on the task at hand. Why are you going to the casino or home game? What do you want achieve?It can’t be to participate and lose; it must be to win, so why aren’t you preparing yourself to WIN!
Preparation starts when you cut out the distractions: Turn off the radio Leave the cell phone off Travel alone Begin to focus on playing that day.
So how do you begin, what should you be focusing on if not listening to Rod Stewart or Christine Aguilera?I start by identifying the game I am going to play that day It could be No Limit, Limit, Omaha, Stud, whatever.Am I playing a tournament, cash game, satellite; I need to have a strategy.
What resources have I brought? What is my current bankroll? How much did I bring today? What limits can I play comfortably? What is my GOAL today? •How much do I intend to win? •How long do I have to play?
What has been my experience at this casino or home game in the past? Have I won before? What is the level of the competition?Is the environment favorable to me (more on this later)?
What tactics have I used previously that seemed to work well? Was I more aggressive? Was I more passive?Did I establish a table image that allowed me to be trickier? Was I beaten and exploited by my opponents playing a certain way?
What is my frame of mind (while driving)?Turn around and go back home if sick, tired, or upset over anything. Playing under duress (worrying, upset over a bill, a fight with a spouse) is a recipe for disaster.Being upbeat, thinking positive, ready for action is the only way to enter a casino.
What mental exercises can you do? You can first think super positive: •I’m going to play my best poker today. •I’m going to win X amount and enjoy the competition.•I’m going to maintain my emotions, even through tough times or bad beats. •I’m not going to allow anyone to put me on TILT. •I’m going to remain in the zone, thinking I can outplay anyone, knowing I can’t win every hand I enter.
What actions (or preparations) should I employ at the tables? When I get my seat, what am I looking for at the tables? •Do I know any of my opponents? •Do I have a prior read on any of them? •Where is my seat located, how do I need to protect my cards?
•Who is seated to the right of me and to the right of them, and I must watch how they play more closely? •Who is to the left of me and left of that person, they aretargets (blinds) that I need information on to amass chips.
What else is important as I observe the first hour? Who stacks their chips neatly, colors all aligned?Who has chips scattered everywhere and in no stacks generally?Who is playing tight, who is loose, and who seems solid when they do play a hand?
Don’t forget, others are watching you, what is your image right now? •Are you appearing tight? •Have you been aggressive? •Are you stealing blinds? •Have you bluffed in proper position?
I remind myself of “Tells” to watch for at the table:Who pounds chips on the felt when they announce a bet? Who smoothly moves their chips into the pot? Who looks away while calling a raise?Who stops talking, whistling or moving when they are in a hand? Who over bets pots?
Who makes min raises?Who talks out loud when they are stumped facing a raise? Who flashes cards (I just love them)?Who does not have their emotions in check, easily pushed into a fury? When do opponents give away their strength?
Picking your fight with the right person After I have played quite awhile (although the table canchange), I should know who is weak, who is strong, who I can bluff, who is not bluff-able (the calling station), and who I must have stronger hands against, with excellent position, and hopefully a chip lead over. •Who constantly picks off the blinds?
•Who raises in late position (LP) when first in, no matter what? •Who will defend in the blinds? •Who is a walk-over? •Who is someone to respect when they do play a hand?•Who will bluff with middle pair, a draw, or a busted hand?
Remember, you are driving along and have a lot to think about in preparation to play: Are you still listening to the radio? Are you still on the phone?Have you thought about everything above and are ready to play your best?
Preparation is not only the day of the event! Did you get enough sleep? Did you eat a lite meal?Were you able to leave the house without worrying about anything that was undone? Did you remember your lucky charms?
When I drive I like to think about positive results: I think about scooping entire pots! I think about stealing blinds! I think about raising in position instead of calling! I think about re-raising rather than folding!I think about laying down a hand I’m not certain about!
I think about changing my game as the tournament or even ring table moves along!I think about avoiding conversations and friendliness with those to my left I am about to rob!I think about making nice with those to my right who might raise me! I think about position, position, position! •I want to act last. •If I am acting first, I want a better hand. •If I don’t have position; how can I get it (check raise)!
The drive home, relish the win, savor the thrill of victory, and most of all: Learn from your mistakes!Think about how you might have played the hand different. •Could you have won more with that premium hand? •Could you have lost less, got away from the hand earlier? •Was there a way out earlier, without losing chips?
•Were there times a bluff was incorrect? •Should you have semi-bluffed a few extra times? •Did you play to many “hunches” with favorite cards? •How often did you lay down a potential winner?•Did you remember to value bet the river when the action dictated it?
•What did others think of my plan? •Did I catch myself giving a “tell?” •Did I play my best game; was I sharp, changing speeds, making proper moves at the right time? •Did I live up to my “own” expectations today?•If I failed, where did I make my biggest mistake, or were there lots of avoidable mistakes today?
Take time to congratulate yourself on the drive home for achieving success today.Remember the feeling, it feels good, it’s worth repeating.No one likes to lose, but if we do, we must learn from it as well, you certainly paid for that pleasure
I’d like to thank you all for listening and specialthanks to Brian (TOO2COO at PSO) for helping me with this PowerPoint presentation.
This concludes my presentations, any questions? The Home of Future Champions