I’ll just take that pot now if you don’t mind.

The struggle

Basically NLH is a battle to keep your opponents from seeing five cards.  Or, looked at another way, to allow you to see all five. Once all players involved in a hand get to see the runout to the river, you’re just playing a card game where the best hand wins.  Control for the power to make every hand you play a hand you’ll win no matter what the deck delivers is one of the fascinating challenges of No Limit poker. It takes into the realm of mind games and strategic warfare, and I think that’s what keeps so many smart people interested for so long.

Of course, this wouldn’t be the case should you flop the nuts, but that won’t happen very often. Most of the time you’ll have to rely on your ability to assess what it will take to get rid of your competition for the pot, ideally withholding any information about your holdings for as long as possible.

What do you think. Agree? Disagree?

The downside of hope.

Hope is certainly a good quality, but in poker, it’s just another word for gambling. When someone shows you their two kings and you say, “I was hoping you didn’t have that”, and show your jacks, you missed an important step: the logical thought process that probably would have told you that an overpair was possible. People hope to win the lottery. They hope to win at slots. They can never sit back and say, “I should have played that lottery ticket differently.” It’s all hoping, i.e. gambling. Poker is different.. There are clues everywhere for the astute detective and options both in strategy and tactics for the experienced player. Hoping won’t win poker games. Skill helps.

Final tables.

Running good, I’ve made 4 final tables this month.  The cashes were in some fairly big fields for weekly games (250, 230, 80 and 80).  This has given me a chance to think about some situations that come up after the bubble and near the final that we regular players just experience every so often.  Here are some thoughts:

Level time matters: Of course we all know this, but so many people continue to play bad format games.  I think a big reason for my string of cashes is that the Hard Rock (Florida) added 10 minutes to their Friday game levels (from 20 minutes to 30 minutes).This has made a huge difference to me in two ways: I play better in that time frame, and many people play worse.The other two cashes for me were at Dania where the levels are also 30 minutes but the blind structure isn’t as good as the Hard Rock. Dania skips many blinds so they go up much faster. This is true at the Isle as well. Gets very fast after the break

The worst, and critical time: You certainly have to play well the whole tournament, but when the game is down to say 3 tables with maybe 24 players and you’re playing short-handed at huge blind levels with the need to keep up but also want to make the final…that’s an awful time. The blinds are coming around way too fast and you can’t wait to break into two ten handed tables.  Luckily, at one of the games I had a huge chip stack at this point so I wasn’t in as difficult a position. However, a big stack is hard to play there too. You don’t want to sit back and miss opportunities, but you have more to lose and have to be super-thoughtful.

Suddenly at the big stacks meet at the final:  Or at least it seems sudden.  You’ve been the big stack at your table, then when you move to the final you see the real situation. You’re about average! Or at least there are several other stacks in your range. Again, a strategy adjustment, but now the blinds are astronomical.

Making these finals so close together has been a great chance to think about all the challenges that come up.  Can’t wait to make another one so I can put this experience to continued good use.

Let me know any “near the final” thoughts or tips you might have please.