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The Pain Barrier - Manipulating Your Opponent
Joe Beevers
Feb 9, 2007

Finding the Low Cards in Omaha Hi/Lo
Mike Matusow
Jan 15, 2007

Looking at the Long-Term
Erik Seidel
Jan 6, 2007

Playing Small and Medium Pairs in Seven-Card Stud
Perry Friedman
Dec 29, 2006

Playing Aces in PLO
Andrew Black
Dec 21, 2006

Playing in Australia
Mark Vos
Dec 15, 2006

Playing Mixed Games
Jennifer Harman
Dec 7, 2006

Pot-Size Manipulation
Gavin Smith
Nov 30, 2006

Betting out of Position
Gus Hansen
Nov 20, 2006

How a Pro Thinks Through a Hand
Team Full Tilt
Nov 13, 2006

Cash Equity at the Final Table
Rafe Furst
Nov 6, 2006

Getting Beyond Your Cards
Perry Friedman
Oct 30, 2006

The Mindset of a Winner
Kristy Gazes
Oct 23, 2006

Balancing Poker and Life
Clonie Gowen
Oct 16, 2006

Play More Pots
Erick Lindgren
Oct 9, 2006

Heads-Up vs Multi-Way Hands in Omaha Hi/Lo
Andy Bloch
Oct 3, 2006

Playing Big Slick in Deep Stack Tournaments
Paul Wolfe
Sept 25, 2006

Breaking Out of Your Comfort Zone
Ben Roberts
Sept 18, 2006

Playing Cap Games
Howard Lederer
Sept 11, 2006

From No-Limit to Limit
Richard Brodie
Sept 4, 2006

Check-Raising on Draws
Steve Brecher
August 28, 2006

Betting the River with Marginal Hands
Andy Bloch
August 21, 2006

Learning from Allen Cunningham
Jay Greenspan
August 14, 2006

Acknowledging Mistakes
Team Full Tilt
August 7, 2006

Playing the Main Event
Gus Hansen
July 31, 2006

Managing the Short Stack
Mark Vos
July 24, 2006

Playing Pot-Limit Tournaments
Rafe Furst
July 17, 2006

Red for a Day
Brian Koppelman
July 10, 2006

A Big Stack Mistake at the 2006 WSOP
Phil Gordon
July 3, 2006

Winning Poker - It's About More Than Money
Ben Roberts
June 26, 2006

Seventh Street Decisions in Seven-Stud
Keith Sexton
June 19, 2006

Big Blind Play in Limit Hold 'em
Jennifer Harman
June 12, 2006

Firing the Second Bullet
Greg "FBT" Mueller
June 5, 2006

Fourth Street Decisions in Seven Stud
Keith Sexton
May 29, 2006

Finding Your Inner Maniac
Greg "FBT" Mueller
May 22, 2006

Beware the Min Raise
Phil Gordon
May 15, 2006

Playing Bottom Two Pair
Rafe Furst
May 8, 2006

The Other Danger in Slow Playing
Howard Lederer
May 1, 2006

Why I Prefer Cash Games to Tournaments
Huckleberry Seed
April 24, 2006

Early Tournament Play
David Grey
April 17, 2006

Bad Position, Decent Cards
Howard Lederer
April 3, 2006

Inducing a Bluff
Layne Flack
March 27, 2006

Representing a Bluff
Huckleberry Seed
March 13, 2006

Viewer Beware
Howard Lederer
March 6, 2006

When Passive Plays
Chris Ferguson
February 27, 2006

Book Smarts vs. Table Smarts
Erik Seidel
February 20, 2006

Playing with John D'Agostino
Jay Greenspan
February 13, 2006

On Cavemen and Poker Players
Ben Roberts
February 6, 2006

Small-Pot Poker
Gavin Smith
January 30, 2006

Tips From Tunica
Andy Bloch
January 23, 2006

How Big a Bankroll?
Team Full Tilt
January 16, 2006

Thoughts on Omaha-8
Jennifer Harman
January 09, 2006

In Defense of the Call
Gavin Smith
January 02, 2006

Stepping Up, Stepping Down
Kristy Gazes
December 26, 2005

Playing a Big Draw in Limit Hold 'em
Chris "Jesus" Ferguson
December 19, 2005

Know Your (Table) Limits
Paul Wolfe
December 12, 2005

Getting Started in Stud-8
Jennifer Harman
December 05, 2005

What's Your Starting Hand Really Worth?
Steve Brecher
November 28, 2005

Big Slick: A Slippery Hand
Rafe Furst
November 21, 2005

Bad Cards or Bad Plays?
Team Full Tilt
November 14, 2005

Strategies for Short-Handed Limit Hold 'em
John D'Agostino
November 7, 2005

Taking on a Short-Handed No-Limit Game
John D'Agostino
October 31, 2005

What I learned at the WSOP
Jay Greenspan
October 24, 2005

Back to the Drawing Board
Perry Friedman
October 17, 2005

It's Not Easy Being Green. Or Is It?
Team Full Tilt
October 10, 2005

Texture Isn't Just For Fabric
Phil Gordon
October 3, 2005

Know Your Opponent; Own Your Opponent
Paul Wolfe
September 26, 2005

How Bad are the Beats?
Steve Brecher
September 19, 2005

Third Street in Seven Stud
Perry Friedman
September 12, 2005

Flopping a Monster
Richard Brodie
September 6, 2005

Our Favorite Poker Books
Team Full Tilt
August 30, 2005

Holding On To Your Winnings
Aaron "GambleAB" Bartley
August 22, 2005

No-limit by the Numbers
Andy Bloch
August 15, 2005

Chip Sandwich
Phil Gordon
August 8, 2005

Sizing Up Your Opening Bet
Chris Ferguson
August 1, 2005

So You Wanna Go Pro
Rafe Furst
July 25, 2005

Dealer, Leave the Bets in Front of the Players.
Greg Mascio
July 18, 2005

Not Playing By The Book
Phil Gordon
July 11, 2005

Playing Two or More Tables at Once
Erick Lindgren
July 4, 2005

How To Win At Tournament Poker, Part 2
Chris Ferguson
June 27, 2005

How To Win At Tournament Poker, Part 1
Chris Ferguson
June 20, 2005

Specialize At Your Peril
Howard Lederer
June 13, 2005

Common Mistakes
Phil Gordon
June 6, 2005

Don't Play a Big Pot Unless You Have a Big Hand
John Juanda
May 30, 2005

Ask And Ye Shall Receive Part II
Erick Lindgren
May 23, 2005

Ask And Ye Shall Receive Part 1
Erick Lindgren
May 16, 2005

Should I Stay Or Should I Go
Jennifer Harman
May 9, 2005

Keep Your Toolbox Well Stocked
Chris Ferguson
May 2, 2005

Why I Leave My Sunglasses And iPod At Home
Howard Lederer
April 25, 2005

In Pot Limit...
Clonie Gowen
April 11, 2005

The Script
Phil Gordon
April 4, 2005

Just A Few Things When Playing Razz
Jennifer Harman
March 28, 2005

A Way To Approximate The Odds
Clonie Gowen
March 21, 2005

Sit N Goes Made Easy
Howard Lederer
March 14, 2005







POKER TIP: 53
Back to Basics

David Grey
March 20, 2006


I play in some of the biggest cash games in the world. Usually, these games are loaded with pros - folks who know the intricacies and advanced strategies of pretty much every poker game. We normally play a mix of games that can include Hold ‘em, 7-Stud, Omaha, and one or more of the Hi/Lo variations. Most of the time, we play with a fixed-limit betting structure.

In a recent session, I had a stretch where I was pretty card dead, so I spent most of my time folding. To my knowledgeable opponents, it must have appeared that I was playing especially tight. Then in a game of 7-Stud, I was dealt an Ace as my up-card. The bring-in bet had been raised and I re-raised.

Then, two top-rate pros with no more than their antes in the pot called my re-raise. There are only a couple of hands that might justify their calls. However, as the hand proceeded with me as the aggressor, it became clear that the callers of my third-street re-raise didn't have much at all. One held three unconnected hearts, the other had a middle pair with no kicker.

What were these guys thinking? It's hard to know, but my guess is that one of them let his desire to gamble get the better of him. Though that can pay dividends in well-chosen spots, this wasn't one of them. The other might have thought he could outplay me later in the hand.

In the end, neither of their strategies makes much sense. I made it expensive enough that it was a lousy spot to gamble, and given that I've declared that I have a pair of aces, there's little chance that I'm going to get bluffed out of the pot.

I think this hand highlights a couple of the mental traps that sometimes snag advanced players. As players improve, they inevitably see more opportunities for profit, and thus, see potential in a greater number of hands. But it's a slippery slope, and a player can easily lose the long view and convince himself that he can make any starting hand work out.

This just isn't the case - especially when playing fixed-limit games. Even at the highest levels, profitability in limit poker is largely determined by a player's ability to choose the right starting hands. If you fail in this regard or somehow lose your discipline, it's nearly impossible to recover. Fancy plays and good decisions on later streets cannot overcome early-hand mistakes. If you're throwing money into a pot when you shouldn't, you're going to lose money. There's no way around it.

If you find yourself in a stretch where things aren't going especially well, take a step back and make sure your hand selection is all it ought to be. Review the previous tips from the other Full Tilt Poker pros. Jennifer Harman has written on hand selection in Stud-8, Omaha-8, Razz,and Perry Friedman has written about third street decisions in 7-Stud.

Always remember that in limit poker, hand selection is the foundation for your entire game. You can't build a solid game on a weak foundation.



David Grey
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