Doyle Brunson ruined my game. I was playing pretty decent poker, placing in the top third in tournaments, until I read his book, “Super System: A Course in Power Poker”. After I read the book, the wheels came off! The word DONKEY in flashing neon appeared on my forehead. I’ve never busted out so early, so often and on such garbage cards! Doyle’s “I’m an action man”, loose aggressive style really messed with my head and my game. I swear – that man plays anything!
After I started the UMichiganPoker.com web site and playing in more tournaments, I decided I needed some strategy. I checked out book recommendations at live tournaments, on the 2+2 forums, and on Amazon. After a little research, I had a list of “must read” poker books.
The first book I read was Phil Helmuth’s “Play Poker Like the Pros”. He had a simple strategy for beginner tournament players – play the “Phil’s NLH Fifteen” and fold any other cards. I started following Phils advice in tournaments and started having some success! Phil also had some great advice on how to trap with AA and KK instead of just going all in and hoping for that rare call. The Three theories on how to play pocket 22 to 88 and AQ gave me a lot to think about. I’m still really bad at “Phil’s Game” – Guess your Opponent’s Exact Two Hole Cards. I’ll have to consult the psychic hotline on this one, because other than guessing high pair, low pair, high cards, draw – I’m terrible at guessing the exact two cards. After reading his book, I still don’t play poker like a pro – though I’m a lot better at choosing starting hands and more aware of my opponents hole cards.
After my lessons with Phil and playing in a couple tournaments with my new, tighter starting hands it was time to go back to school. At one of our home games, everyone started talking about tells. One of the home game players had an obvious tell that another player politely pointed out after taking down a big pot. I was as stunned as the player with the tell! I certainly didn’t notice his tell because I 홀덤 was so busy paying attention to the flop and trying to figure out my opponents “Exact Two Hole Cards”. Once it was mentioned, the tell was obvious – even to me, the oblivious one. It was time for “Caro’s Book of Poker Tells”.
Caro’s book was a lot of fun! When the text got boring, the photos were a riot! During the next tournament, I saw a lot of the tells described in the book. The most common one was glancing at chips once a player looked at his/her hand. I could tell which players were going to enter the pot and which ones were going to fold before it was their turn. (The chip-glancers pushed chips in the pot every time! ). Another great tip from Caro was to watch your opponents face during the flop. The cards will be there for the rest of the hand – your opponents expression after the flop is fleeting. There were hands I knew I was going to win right away, and hands I knew I needed to lay down. About an hour into my next tournament, I picked up on another opponent’s tell. My opponent was a very tall man who put his bet further out on the table the stronger his hand. His speech and inflection were confident and determined no matter where the chips were set. We were in a pot together and he put his bet in the center of the table. I folded my pocket fives and he disappointedly flashed pocket kings. A couple hands later the two of us were in a pot together. He must have been on a draw and made a continuation bet about a foot in front of him. I hit trips, but wanted to maximize my chip-ertunity. I took my time and called – trying to show weakness too. After a blank on the turn, he bet again, I called again. The river was another unmatched low card. He checked and I bet half his stack. He called saying I wasn’t going to bluff him out of the pot. I ended up taking first at that tournament. I felt like Caro had given me the key to the kingdom! What a great book!
The next tournament started out great. There was a guy who made it clear that he didn’t want to play poker with a woman. He tried to get the other guys to join in ribbing me. They didn’t want any part of his game – true gentlemen! A couple hands into the tournament I noticed rude guy staring at me as the flop fell. I was trying to get a read on him through the sunglasses at the flop. The next time we’re in a pot together, same thing – we end up in a stare-down waiting for the other person to look at the flop. Finally I winked at him. The guy went on tilt. He called my ever increasing bets to the end and I took a bunch of his chips. He went all-in the next two hands and busted out. I played on for a while and went out in eighteenth place, finding myself short-stacked and desperate for a couple double-ups. I was getting the cards, but not collecting enough chips to make it to the final table. Time for more homework.