A 26 year old player, named Josh, opened with a raise UTG+1 and it was folded around to me, in the cut-off.
One could argue that with a hand like this, either folding, flat-calling or three-betting are options.
Considering the raiser was pretty aggressive, even in early position, our history together and that the blinds were capable of just about anything, I decided to flat call his raise.
I can tell you straight up that my decision in this hand was the biggest factor in my tournament. In fact, this key hand allowed me to get to the final table, and finally win the tournament.
Because my assessment in this hand was based on a decision I took 3 years before. So let me first tell you how I came to write this page today.
Sure I’d play in some casinos at Foxwoods or Atlantic City, or when I travelled to Las Vegas to play in the WSOP, but most of my playing time was done in low-lit basement games or at “invitation-only” private clubs.
The games were good (very good in fact), full of fish that had no clue how to play the game. Around 2003, as you probably know, poker exploded to the public scene with the World Poker Tour on television and Chris Moneymaker’s historical win.
Just about every player has read dozens of books, watched online pros dissect their play and have played hundreds of thousands of hands, if not more.
On top of that, there are hundreds of training sites, discussion forums and software that can analyze your play and find your leaks in a matter of minutes.
Unless you are dedicated to working on your game for hours every day, it’s very difficult to stay ahead of the pack.
So 5 years ago, when I had a kid and I couldn’t work on my game as much as I wanted to, I started to look for ways to stay ahead of the competition. I wanted to find an area of poker strategy that was still untapped.
I loved playing live, and one aspect of live play that I did not fully understand and that I thought most players did not fully get was poker tells.
Even though I started playing poker on the Internet, that didn’t stop me from having success in live games. I knew the odds, played position well, adjusted to my opponents, read betting patterns effectively and knew when to apply pressure and bluff profitably. So I didn’t need tells to win.
Plus every week it seemed a “green live” internet pro won a major tournament, like when Annette Obrestad took down the WSOP Europe for example.
I felt what I knew about poker tells seemed somewhat esoteric, that people move around all the time, and that if I was able to bet with a shaking hand to appear like a nervous player, or sigh at will to “prove” I was acting, anyone could do it.
I’d play a hand. The guy would twitch nervously, bet with extra emphasis and then stare me in the eye. What the heck is all of this?
The bad ones like “Poker tells for dummies”, the “Ultimate Guide to Poker Tells” and other atrocious ones like Howard Lederer “Tells” All and Phil Hellmuth’s Million $ Secrets To Bluffing & Tells.
The tells in this book… Read more…