Improving at poker can be a daunting and intimidating experience. The game is so complex that it often feels like there is no way you will ever learn all of the concepts and apply them while playing at the table. Improving at poker takes time and patience, but with the right approach it not only becomes more efficient but also a lot less stressful.
There was a time in poker when a 3-bet before the flop meant exactly one of two hands – either AA or KK. People were scared to death of running into a bigger hand, so they waited for the absolute nuts before building a pot. Sharp aggressive players like Phil Ivey and Stu Ungar used these tendencies to their advantage by re-raising a wide range preflop whenever they sensed weakness.
Before you worry about anything else in poker you have to have rock solid hand selection. Knowing which hands to open and which to fold has to be an automatic skill. This will allow you to think about other things like your opponents’ stats.
Even if you’ve been playing for a long time it’s always a good idea to look at the fundamentals of your game every once in a while and see if you can improve them in any way. And if you’re new to the game it’s absolutely essential to develop a strong foundation before thinking about any advanced concepts like 3-betting light. You have the chance to avoid developing bad habits that will be very hard to change further down the road.
After following Nathan William’s blog at www.blackrain79.com for a long time and running into him in a random bar in Chiang Mai (my new home), I decided to start a blog myself so I can share a little bit about my poker life and also try and help other players get better at this beautiful game of ours.
I’m from Germany and I got into poker around 10 years ago (watching the 2005 WSOP Main Event is what got me). I was just playing for fun for the first 5 years or so and wasn’t taking it too seriously. I was basically a huge nit and just played premium hands without any positional awareness. I C-bet virtually any flop and gave up if I was called or played back at. I actually think I was playing a winning style because everybody was playing so terribly around that time. I did have absolutely horrible bankroll management though. I would have like 200$ in my account and go play NL25 6-max. I would play solid and slowly build my roll and then have a standard downswing of 4 or 5 buy-ins (half my bankroll!) in a bad session. This would just flip me off and I would go on complete monkey tilt and spew the rest off at higher stakes.
Then I stumbled upon a book that made me realize just how much I had too learn in this game. It was like someone switched on the light and suddenly a lot of things started to make sense for me (you can raise K9 from the button? WTF?). I dropped down to NL2 and just grinded my way up through the limits with at least 30 buy-ins for each level.
After finishing my business studies I thought, why not give poker a try and head to Thailand for while? I was a winning player at NL25 at the time and I had been to Thailand a number of times and absolutely loved it there. Plus I knew that you can basically live there for as little as $500 (although I would say you need around $800 to live comfortably).
So I sold my stuff back home, bought a one-way ticket and I haven’t regretted that decision for a second. Right now I’m playing a mix of NL50 and NL100 at Stars and iPoker (6-max cash almost exclusively). It’s frustrating at times for sure and playing for a living can be an extremely stressful endeavor. But at the end of the day I’m playing a game for a living that I still enjoy very much and I can do it all on my own terms.
I’ll be using this blog to tell you guys about life here in Thailand and I’ll try to post some strategy on a regular basis to help you improve your games. Poker is a ridiculously complex game but with enough study and practice I feel that almost everyone can become a good player and make a decent amount of money.
Welcome to my blog and I hope you find something useful on here!