The times when I wasn’t playing poker at all tended to be when I thought that there was something wrong with my game. So I elevated learning more than playing and this is important if you want to correct any flaw or flaws that you have as quickly as possible.
My own fundamental weakness was that I was not a trained poker player or one that was coached until recently. The worst way to learn poker is to do it in an isolated way without personalised outside professional help.
Many players that were previously making money that are no longer making money will argue that the games have become tougher.
If they are referring to the average opponent being quite knowledgeable now then they are correct.
However there is always value at the lower levels simply because the average player doesn’t have all that much time to dedicate to learning the game.
The time that the average player has available is used primarily to play although there has been a far greater learning period than a few years ago and players these days have access to far superior coaching material.
If you think that the poker games are tougher then you need to examine your own game. In the overwhelming majority of cases then previously successful players tend to be sound poker players and many of them have good ABC games.
However once you move into an environment where there isn’t really much to choose between your style and everyone else’s then the profit potential dies.
A common buzz word in poker at the moment is “standard”. A line is “standard” or a particular tactic is “standard”. In my opinion then “standard” is just another name for something that is well known and widely used.
Standard in this context means a well-trodden path. So just how effective can lines be if they are “standard”? Well that all depends on how high you play but the very best poker players in the world analyse their games differently to the rest.
Understanding the game dynamic is the first step but adjusting to play non-standard lines that work is the next.
At the higher levels of play then you need to be at the very forefront of the changes in game dynamics just like day traders otherwise you are either playing the same as everyone else or being exploited by the very elite players that deviated from conventional play first. Let us have a look at standard plays.
It is folded around to you on the button with the Qs-Js. If you raise here then the raise is standard for the situation and especially if you raise to around 3bb-3.5bb. If your opponent calls from the big blind and the flop comes 10c-8d-4h and they check then your c-bet is standard.
You have the overcard outs plus the inside straight draw for a decent level of pot equity. Only having one opponent and a relatively dry board means that the c-bet is “standard”! If your opponent check-raises you then if you shove all in then you have deviated very widely from standard play.
This is a major factor in my opinion for why previously successful players stop making money.
They play at levels where their opponents adjust to “current theory” constantly and their own adjustments either only match up to that or fall short.
Carl Sampson is an online poker pro who plays at 888poker and cane be seen in Poker Player and Bluff Europe Poker Magazines