Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Influential Players

In this blog post, I am going to share with you (in no particular order) 10 pros who had a huge impact on my poker career. Some were private coaches and I battled others on the felt, but all left a positive lasting impression on me.

David Benefield

David “Raptor” Benefield was my first online poker friend. I used to lurk on an old poker forum and one day I posted that I was “jcardshark”, the unknown guy who was tearing up the $215 buy-in sit n’ go’s on PartyPoker. David, one of the most popular online players of the time, messaged me and asked if I wanted to talk strategy on AIM, which of course I did. We became great friends and talked through AIM basically every day for three years while we grinded the sit n’ go’s. David was one of the first people to do what was thought to be impossible: play 4 tables at the same time. I quickly followed suit. He then moved to 16 tables and I did the same. I seemed to always be one step behind him, but that was fine because he was (and still is) ten steps ahead of everyone else. 

Shannon Shorr

Shannon Shorr and I have traveled and roomed together a bunch over the last 10 years. Like many of my poker friends, I met Shannon in the PartyPoker sit n’ go’s. He was clearly a good player but had a propensity to berate people when they played poorly. I asked him to message me on AIM and enlightened him as to why berating weak players is a bad idea. He took kindly to it and we started talking strategy and working hard to improve together. Shannon was my best man at my wedding. He is great!

Bill Seymour

Bill Seymour was my first poker coach. I found him by searching “poker coaching” on google. Unlike almost everyone, he seemed to never get rattled at the poker table. When his opponents took a bad beat, they lost their minds. When Bill took a bad beat, he was stoic and continued playing great poker. I remember traveling to a live tournament stop with him and watched him play the $100 and $200 satellites (at which he was known to be world-class). He won almost every time! Bill plays all the game well, something that I certainly can’t do, and has stood the test of time, which is something almost no poker players can claim. He was a pioneer, opening one of the first poker training sites, PokerCoaching.com, which I eventually took over. 

Andrew Robl

Andrew “Good2CU” Robl is another one of my friends from my sit n’ go days. He taught me to loosen up and stop being such a nit, both on and off the table. He was the first person to put the idea of physical fitness on my radar. Similar to Raptor, Good2CU seemed to be (and still is) one step ahead of everyone else. He can currently be found playing the biggest cash games in the world. He is the end boss of poker. 

Greg Shahade

Greg “Curtains” Shahade was my second official poker coach. While I was having decent results in the $200 sit n’ go’s, I realized my edge was diminishing. It was initially winning $20 per game (10% ROI) but eventually dropped to 2%. I decided to hire a coach and found Greg, who was crushing the $100 games at some insane rate like 20% ROI. It may seem silly to hire someone who is playing lower stakes than you for lessons, but it was clear through Greg’s writing that he was one of the best and could easily beat the $200 games if he wanted to. He told me that the only reason he didn’t play the $200 games was because he didn’t want to experience gigantic swings, which is a concept I carry with me to this day. Just because you have an edge does not mean you should play. He also taught me to stop pushing all-in with A-x from early and middle position for 10 big blinds. That alone increased my ROI back to 8% and allowed me to print money for a few more years before transitioning to live tournaments when I turned 21. 

David Pham

While I have never had a strategy discussion with David “the Dragon” Pham, I have learned a ton by watching him at the table. In a world where everyone played a tight, cautious game, he would reraise and run insane bluffs to his heart’s content. This occasionally sent him to the rail early, but often led to him having a mountain of chips. I realize this makes him sound like a maniac, but I have also witnessed him make some overly tight folds, including one against me deep in a WPT where he raised to 2.5 big blinds from the button, I went all-in for 14 big blinds, and he folded A-J face-up. Of course, I had K-K. Don’t mess with the Dragon!

Lee Markholt

I have the utmost respect for Lee Markholt. He is truly a master of no-limit hold’em, excelling at both nosebleed cash games and high stakes tournaments. While he seems to play a decent amount of hands, he always seems to have top set at the showdown, earning him the nickname “Top Set”. Lee has taken my money many times by showing me top set (and sometimes just Ace-high). Thanks for that! Lee is my favorite poker player.

Aaron O’Rourke

Aaron “Daliman” O’Rourke was one of the pioneers of early sit n’ go strategy. I learned a lot about sit n’ go’s, cash games, sports betting, and casino games from him. Many times, we have won and lost money together. There is something about winning and losing together that bonds people, which doesn’t happen too often in poker because it tends to be an individual game. We always seem to be on the same team though. Win or lose, I am happy to be in action with Daliman.

Hoyt Corkins

Hoyt Corkins is an awesome dude. He is my hiking buddy whenever we are both in Vegas, which at this point seems to only be during the WSOP. Hoyt taught me long before the GTO solvers to really push the aggression in spots where the opponent should have a range they cannot defend properly. As an aspiring poker player, I remember watching Hoyt push around (and get a bit lucky against) Phil Hellmuth in one of the first WPTs. It was fun to watch! 

Mike Sexton

Mike Sexton is the reason many poker players play the game. He was not only the face of the WPT (the show that brought poker into our homes each and every week on the Travel Channel), he was also instrumental in making PartyPoker the most popular and trusted poker site in existence. I have hung out and played with Mike on many occasions and he is as real as they come. He is larger than life, but still down to earth and kind. We could not ask for a better poker ambassador. I can’t think of a better person to represent the game we love.
Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, please share it with your friends. Be sure to check back next week on JonathanLittlePoker.com for another educational blog post. Thanks for reading!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Folding a Flush in Main Event?

Day 1 of the 2017 WSOP Main Event went about as well as possible for me. I correctly assessed most of my opponents’ tendencies and played a strategy designed to take advantage of their mistakes. I called down the overly aggressive players with a wide range and made big folds against the straightforward players when they decided to put a lot of money in the pot. I ended day 1 with four starting stacks, 211,300, which was good for fourth place in my portion of the field going into day 2a.

Despite winning most of my hands, I made what turned out to be an incorrect fold with a flush near the end of the day. With blinds at 250/500 with a 75 ante, everyone folded to me in the small blind and I limped 7c-2c out of my 100,000 effective stack. The big blind, who arrived to the table about 15 minutes earlier, checked. He came to the table with more chips than most of my opponents, but he seemed to be a recreational player, although it is difficult to say with no clear information.

Some players may question limping 7c-2c, but unless the big blind is overly aggressive, limping with all your suited hands will win a bit more money than folding due to the excellent pot odds. Notice I have to put in 250 chips into a pot that will be 1,675, meaning I only need to realize my equity 15% of the time to break even, which isn’t too difficult to accomplish. To compensate for limping lots of junk, I also limp some of my best hands, strengthening my limping range.

The flop came Jh-5c-3c. I bet 1,000 into the 1,675 pot and my opponent called.

I am fine with my flop bet, although perhaps a smaller bet would be ideal. In general, when you limp from the small blind and the big blind checks, you can make a 1.25 big blind bet and steal the pot most of the time when your weak, straightforward opponents fail to improve. Even if your opponent calls, it isn’t a big deal, due to your small bet size.

The turn was the (Jh-5c-3c)-5s. I bet 1,500 into the 3,675 pot, my opponent raised to 4,100, and I called.

The 5s on the turn is a particularly bad card to continue barreling on because now a 5 is never folding, whereas an unimproved middle pair may, but given I have a draw that has essentially no showdown value, I am fine betting. I would also continue betting with all my trips, top pairs, and some of my flush and straight draws, making my range quite strong. Once my opponent raises, I think calling is fine, again due to my pot odds. When my opponent raises, his range should be mostly trips and bluffs, most of which he should continue betting on most rivers, meaning I should have decent implied odds if I improve to a flush.

The river was the (Jh-5c-3c-5s)-Jc, giving me a flush, but also double-pairing the board. I checked, my opponent bet 6,500 into the 11,875 pot, and I folded.

While the Jc may appear like a good river because it improves me to a flush, it also improves my opponent’s oddly played top pairs to a full house. Clearly I also lose to the other obvious made hand, trip 5s, which also improved to a full house. I also lose to better flushes, which may or may not bet the river (given I should have all Jacks and 5s in my range). Since I know I would play all my full houses in this manner, the 7-high flush is actually one of the worst hands I should have in this spot. With no reads, it is rarely a bad strategy to fold the bottom of your range. That said, it is worth noting that many straightforward players only raise the turn with a 5 but then cautiously check behind on the river, fearing the better full house (which isn’t such an irrational fear). If I knew my opponent thought in this manner, it removes both Jacks and 5s from his range (because he wouldn’t raise Jacks on the turn), allowing me to make a hero-call.

I later found out that my opponent posted on one of the poker forums that he decided to bluff me on this hand to try to slow me down because I was playing more than my fair share of pots, making it difficult for him to enter the pot with a wide range. While that strategy is often fine, especially early in the day, this is not the best spot to do it because my turn bet/calling range should be quite strong.

When these plays work, they seem amazing but most of the time they will fail. Fortunately for my opponent, this time I had a flush draw and not a made hand.

If you enjoyed this blog post, you will love my interactive poker training site, PokerCoaching.com. There you can test yourself with over 100 interactive quizzes and study the game with me with monthly homework questions and review webinars. If you want to take your game to the next level, sign up for a completely free one-week trial at PokerCoaching.com.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

ALL IN Early!

Today I am going to share a hand with you that I played last year in the $1,500 buy-in Monster Stack WSOP event. This event was different from other $1,500 events in that each player started with an overly deep stack. This was third hand of the day 1.
A 35 year old guy who I did not know raised to 525 out of his 15,000 stack at 100/200 from middle position. Everyone folded around to me and I called with 4c-3c from the big blind.
Both calling and folding are fine options. I strongly suggest that you learn to profitably call in these situation because being able to continue with a wide range of hands will make you much more difficult to play against compared to if you only play strong hands in an obvious manner. If you constantly keep your opponents guessing, they will make mistakes. If they usually know where you stand, they will play well. For those who do not know, you profit when your opponents make errors. When they play well, you do not profit.
The flop came Ac-Jc-4d, giving me bottom pair and a weak flush draw.
I checked to my opponent, as I tend to do with all of my hands, and he bet 700 into the 1,150 pot. I decided to check-raise to 1,700.
If the stacks were a different size, either shallower or deeper, I would likely have called. If the stacks are shorter, my opponent would be able to realistically go all-in, forcing me to make a decision for my tournament life with a hand that I know will win roughly 50% of the time (in general, if you have edge, you want to avoid coin-flip scenarios). If the stacks were deeper, my opponent could call and play intelligently on the turn, folding when the draws complete and calling when they don’t. With the current stack size, going all-in would be a huge over-bet and calling would allow me to put significant pressure on him on the turn by betting again, making all of his options somewhat marginal.
My opponent surprised me by 3-betting to 5,000, leaving only 9,475 remaining in his stack.
I was fairly confident that my opponent liked his hand. However, I thought that he could like a strong hand such as A-K or A-Q but still be willing to fold if I pushed all-in. I was aware that countless players traveled a great distance to play this event and would certainly not want to bust out on the third hand of the day. I did not care if I busted because this event was one of many that I would play throughout the series. For a professional, no individual event is emotionally significant.
This gave me the courage to go all-in.
While attempting to bluff someone off a likely strong hand is rarely a good idea, occasionally it makes perfect sense.
My opponent looked disgusted. He asked me a few questions, trying to get a read, but of course I did not reply. He thought for around three minutes before folding A-J face up. He proceeded to tell me that he knew I got lucky to flop a set and that anyone else at the table would not have been able to make the great fold that he made.
222Be sure you are not one of these players who thinks you always make the right play. If I thought he had an effectively unfoldable hand like top two-pair, I certainly would not have tried this semi-bluff. When your opponents are looking for a reason to make a big fold, do not be afraid to get out of line and induce them to make a huge mistake.
Thanks for taking the time to read this blog post. If you enjoyed it, please share it with your friends! Be sure to check back next week for another educational blog post. If you are looking for more content from me, check out my books. I imagine you haven’t read them a

Friday, April 22, 2016

Small Stakes Poker Tournament

Today I will share with you a hand from the $1,111 buy-in Little One Drop event that took place during the 2015 World Series of Poker. This event attracted a huge field of 4,555 people. I managed to take 67th place for $7,215, which is always nice. When playing in a tournament consisting of mostly amateur players, it is important to steal lots of pots by making your opponent feel as if his entire stack is at risk while only risking a small portion of yours. It is also important to quantify your opponent’s range and choose bet sizes that will allow you to achieve whatever result you want. The following hand beautifully illustrates these concepts. I thoroughly discuss these concepts, and many more, in my best-selling book, Strategies for Beating Small Stakes Poker Tournaments. Be sure to check it out!
The blinds were 50/100. A tight amateur raised to 250 from second position out of his 8,000 stack. Another tight amateur with 13,000 called from middle position. I, with 15,500 chips, woke up with Ad-Kc on the button. In this spot, both calling and reraising are fine options. If I thought the initial raiser was only raising with premium hands, I would call because if I reraised and the initial raiser applied pressure, I would be in a tough spot. Even if he called my reraise, I would not be thrilled. If instead, I thought he was capable of raising lots of hands that are inferior to A-K, such as A-10 and K-J, I would certainly reraise. This time, I decided to reraise to 700. I picked this size in order to keep my opponents in with numerous hands I dominate. Notice if I reraise large, perhaps to 1,300, which is the play most amateurs would make, my opponents would fold the dominated hands I really want to keep in. Both the initial raiser and the caller called 450 more.
2013 World Series of Poker $10K Main Event Final TableThe flop came 6h-4h-4d. My opponents checked to me. I could easily have the best hand on this flop but that does not necessarily mean I should continuation bet. If I think my opponents will only call with hands that beat me, such as 9-9 and 6c-5c, I should check behind. If I made a large continuation bet, perhaps 1,600 into the 2,250 pot, that would often be the result. However, I thought if I instead made a bet of 800, numerous hands I crush, such as A-10 and K-Q, would call to see what develops on the turn. It is important to always think about how your opponents will react to each bet size then pick the size that leads to the result you want. Since I do not want to give a free card to hands like Q-J and 10-9, I need to bet, but if I bet large, my opponents will only call when I am beat. This makes a small bet ideal. So, I bet 800. The initial raiser folded and the tight player from middle position called.
The turn was the (6h-4h-4d)-9c. My opponent checked. At this point, I thought that if I continued firing my opponent would likely fold all marginal made hands, perhaps middle pair and worse, while still calling with all draws. Since my opponent only had 11,400 remaining in his stack, I wanted to choose a size that would imply that I could go all-in on the river, reinforcing that he should fold his marginal made hands. Since the pot was 4,050, I thought a bet of 2,600 would make him realize that he could face an all-in river bet. Notice if my opponent calls 2,600, he will have 8,800 remaining in his stack and the pot will be 9,250, allowing me to go all-in on the river for a touch less than the size of the pot. You should always size your bets such that you can find yourself at the river with the ideal stack for your situation. Do not simply blindly bet any street for ½ or 2/3 of the size of the pot every time. You must think ahead if you want to succeed at poker. I bet 2,600 and unfortunately, my opponent called.
The river was the (6h-4h-4d-9c)-2h. My opponent checked. At this point, I thought my opponent either had a flush, an overpair, a stubborn middle pair or a busted draw. I assumed he would certainly check with his overpairs, middle pairs and busted draws. I was unsure if he would bet into me or check with a flush. It is quite common for amateur players to lead out when they complete their draw because they don’t want to look foolish when the river checks through. This led me to assume he had mostly one pair hands and busted draws in his range. It is important to recognize that I could easily have a flush because I would almost certainly play all flush draws the same way up until this point. I was also unsure if my opponent would be willing to risk his entire stack on the river by making a hero call. All of this led me to put my opponent all-in for his remaining 8,800 stack. My opponent looked miserable and thought for around three minutes before folding.
While this play is clearly risky, I think the bluff is mandatory on the river, especially against a conservative player. If I can make him fold all of his one pair hands, which should be a large portion of his range, an all-in river bluff will show significantly more profit than checking. Always be sure to quantify your opponent’s range and choose your action based on that range.
SMPDo you have an interesting hand you want to share with me? If so, upload them to ShareMyPair and send the link to me on twitter @JonathanLittle. Be sure to check back next week for another educational blog post. Thanks for reading!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Folding Kings?

I don’t usually write about spots that come up infrequently but recently I witnessed this hand I thought was uniquely instructive. Everyone started with about 150 big blinds. Player A in 1st position raised to 3 big blinds, Player B, a good tight aggressive kid in 2ndposition, reraised to 8 big blinds and Player C, a mediocre loose aggressive kid in 3rdposition, 4-bet to 22 big blinds. Player A folded then Player B 5-bet to 42 big blinds. Player C elected to 6-bet to 68 big blinds only to watch as Player B decided to go all-in. Fun stuff! Player C, who was currently getting 3.7:1 pot odds, meaning he needs to win 27% of the time, proudly flipped his K-K face up and folded.
While I am all for making big folds when they make sense, in this situation, even though Player B will have A-A a huge amount of the time, folding K-K is a fairly large error unless you know for a fact that Player B will only go all-in with A-A. The problem with this hand is that Player B is certainly aware that Player C is a loose aggressive player. Because of this, Player B could easily have a wider range than only A-A.
Suppose Player B’s range is A-A and K-K. Notice there is only one combination of K-K remaining, meaning he will have A-A 86% of the time and K-K 14% of the time. Player C will win the hand 22% of the time, making a call an error as he needs to win 27% of the time to break even. If Player B would go all-in with A-A, K-K and Q-Q, Player C would win 50% of the time. If Player B would push with A-A, K-K, Q-Q and A-K, Player C would win 57% of the time. If Player B is ever bluffing, Player C’s equity skyrockets.
The way I look at these situations, especially when I do not know my opponent’s exact range, is to average the ranges I think make sense. I imagine the equation for calculating Player C’s equity in this spot looks something like this:
EV = .3(.18) + .4(.22) + .2(.5) + .1(.57) = 30%
Clearly I do not do this math at the table. I have studied the game away from the table enough to know how this situation typically looks and how to react if I am ever in this spot. What this equation represents is 30% of the time Player B will have A-A, 40% of the time he will have A-A or K-K, 20% of the time he will have A-A, K-K or Q-Q, and 10% of the time he will have A-A, K-K, Q-Q or A-K.  Given the numbers, it would be a small error to fold as Player C will win 30% of the time, on average, and he needs to win 27% of the time to break even. Since 30% is larger than 27%, he should call.
As always, one simple equation is not the end of the story. Notice I did not add any total bluffs to Player B’s range. If Player B is bluffing around 10% of the time and he has A-A 10% less often, Player C’s equity jumps to 35%, making a fold a clear error. However, there is always value in surviving in a tournament, especially if you think you are much better than your opponents. Assuming Player C is good, which he obviously isn’t because he folded K-K face up, he should lean toward folding, especially if he thinks the situation is nearly break even. If Player C is a bad player, significantly worse than his opponents, he should actually be much more prone to call as he can get all of his money in with around neutral equity, which is probably much better than he will do later in the tournament.
In my opinion, Player C made a large error by 5-betting to 22 big blinds. If he called, he could take a flop and likely see a somewhat cheap showdown. While he would still lose a large pot if his opponent had A-A, he would force his opponent to take a flop with all of his worse hands as well. Assuming you are a good player, you rarely want to get all-in preflop when extremely deep stacked. You are much better off winning lots of small pots, slowly grinding up your stack. By putting in the 5-bet, Player C set himself up for failure if Player B decided to go all-in.
As Player B mucked, he flashed his As-3s. I liked it.
poker-jonathan-little-complete-strategyIf you want to learn more about my tournament strategy that has allowed me to win in the highest buy-in games over the last 10 years, check out this exclusive webinar where I reveal my complete tournament strategy. If you follow the advice I present in this 2 hour 45 minute training course, I am confident you will be one of the best players in any tournament you enter.
Be sure to check back next week for another educational blog post! Thanks for reading and good luck in your games!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Putting an opponent on a range and doing something about it...

In my new book, Excelling at No-Limit Hold’em, out of the 500 pages, quite a few are dedicated to in-depth range analysis. While most advanced players know how to put their opponents on a range of hands, it seems like very few of them actually get out of line and take advantage of their range assessment abilities. I recently played a hand in the $3,500 Borgata WPT event where I was fairly certain I knew both of my opponents’ ranges. The only problem was that one, if not both of my opponents had me in bad shape.
To start this hand, I had 340,000 at 600/1,200-200. I was crushing the table and running hot. The average chip stack at this point was around 90,000.  I imagine I had a fairly loose image although in reality, I was simply getting a good run of cards. A loose, passive player with 170,000 limped from second position. He was limping with his entire range, both with premium and trashy hands. He would occasionally fold his limps to preflop aggression. Knowing this, when I woke up As-3c on the button, I decided to make it 3,500. I expected him to either fold preflop or call preflop then play in a fairly straightforward manner postflop. To my surprise, a tight, aggressive middle aged man with 150,000 called in the small blind. The initial limper also called.
The flop came Ac-Ks-2d. My opponents checked to me. At this point, you must realize that it would be relatively difficult to get much value from my hand. At the same time, if I checked behind on the flop and someone bet the turn and the river, I would be in a nasty spot because my hand would be fairly face up in a large pot. Because of this, I decided to bet 6,000 into the 13,500 pot, hoping to either pick up the pot or get called by a worse hand. Notice if I bet around 10,000, my opponents would likely only continue when I am crushed. By betting 6,000, I allow my opponents to continue with some worse hands. When you have a weak value hand, it is important to make bets that allow your opponents to stay in when they are behind.
The player in the small blind raised to 12,000 and the player in 2nd position thought for a while before calling. At this point, I thought the small blind had a strong hand, probably A-J or better. I was not sure if he was raising with A-J to “find out where he is at” or if he was raising with a premium hand such as A-2 to try to get all the money in. All I knew was that he had something he thought was strong. Given what I knew about the player in 2ndposition, I thought his range was at best an Ace and most likely a hand such as K-Q. Notice there are already 3 Aces accounted for, one in my hand, one on the board and one that is probably in the small blind’s hand, making it fairly unlikely that he also has an Ace.
Knowing I am crushed by one opponent and probably in mediocre shape against the other, what should I do? While this may seem like an easy fold because I am behind, I think it is an excellent spot to reraise. I thought the small blind would view 2nd position’s call as strong although to me, it was clearly weak. I thought the player in 2nd position would certainly fold if I reraised unless he was somehow trapping with a premium hand such as 2-2. In the end, I decided to reraise to 36,000. Notice this sizing gives me an excellent price on my bluff while forcing both of my opponents to risk a significant amount of chips in order to continue in the hand.
The player in the small blind thought forever before folding, flashing an A in the process. The player in 2nd position also thought for a while. As he was thinking, I was trying to decide if I was going to call if he went all-in. It may sound insane to play a 300 big blind pot with top pair, bottom kicker,  but given that he knew an A was in the muck, I thought he might think I could only call a push with a premium Ace or better. He eventually decided to fold and told me he almost pushed with a King. I had pretty much decided I was going to call if he pushed, so I suppose my thought process was at least somewhat reasonable.
Excelling cover_miniI think most players simply throw their A-3 in the muck when facing the flop raise simply because they think they are beat. While it is nice to always have the best hand, you will find it quite difficult to win, especially at the medium and high levels, if you only win the pots that belong to you, even if you win slightly more money with your big hands than your opponents do. When getting way out of line, always think about your opponent’s range, how he views your range, and how he will react if you apply extreme pressure. You will find that most of the time, unless your opponent has a premium holding or is a world class hand reader, he will simply get out of the way and give you the pot. The next time you are playing, try to find spots where your opponent simply cannot continue when facing a raise. This will usually be when you think they have a strong, but not amazing hand, such as an overpair or top pair with a good kicker, on a scary, draw heavy board, such as Ts-9d-7s or 8c-7c-4d-Tc. As long as you know your opponent is capable of folding, these plays will show a huge amount of profit. However, you must be careful. If your opponent is a calling station, these plays will quickly turn your bankroll into a pile of ash.
For a thorough treatment of range analysis, I strongly suggest you check out my new multi-author book,Excelling at No-Limit Hold’em. There are a few chapters in the book detailing how to put your opponent on a specific range and also what you can do to get out of line and exploit your opponent. I will also be hosting lots of free webinars with the authors of Excelling starting at the end of this year and in 2016. To sign up for free, check out HoldemBook.com.

Sunday, June 7, 2015


Every summer, poker players from all over the world flock to Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker. Luckily for the professional players, most of these visitors have little to no chance to actually come away with a big score because they set themselves up to fail from the start. To last the seven weeks at the WSOP you must remain focused and ready to play your “A” game the entire time.
Here are a few tips that will greatly increase your expectation at any tournament series without even mentioning how to technically play poker.  It should be noted these are tips for players who want to have the highest expectation possible during a long series and only care about poker. If you’re going to Vegas to party and to play a few tournaments on the side, these tips probably aren’t for you. Then again, neither is the life of a poker tournament professional.
Get a lot of sleep
To be ready to play your best at noon every day, you simply have to get a lot of sleep. I make a point to get home as soon as the tournament is over each day or around midnight, whichever comes last. For example, if I play a $1,500 tournament and bust in the first hour, I will play satellites or cash games until midnight and then go home. If I play the same $1,500 tournament and survive the entire day, I will go home when play ends, usually around 1 a.m. When I get home, I go straight to sleep. I don’t sit around and have dinner and watch a movie. I get sleep so I’m ready to go the next day.
Online-Cash-GamesPlay side games
In the past, I never really played the side games during the WSOP. I now realize just how much money I was missing out on. I’ve played mostly $500 and $1,000 single-table satellites in my spare time and have been happy with my results. I also hear the cash games are excellent. I used to simply go home whenever I lost a tournament, which would often waste an entire day. Now, I’m earning around $200 per hour.
Assuming you play four hours of side games per day, you will find that you profit $40,000 by the end of the series. That’s a nice way to supplement the daily tournaments. It can turn a losing series into a break-even one and a break-even series into a decent winner. Obviously this will take time away from goofing off or enjoying the outdoor world, but seeing how the profitability of poker has been shot in the foot because of the problems with online poker, you simply have to make the most of every tournament series.
Eat right
A few years ago, I lost around 40 pounds simply through eating right and exercising regularly. Throughout the WSOP, I make a point to eat a few eggs, some veggies and some lean meat as soon as I roll out of bed every morning. During the WSOP, there are a few food delivery services that will bring healthy food to the poker table. I have my healthy breakfast plus two meals delivered to my table each day. This allows me to not take dinner breaks, which will make me slightly more profitable, and it allows me to stay in decent shape, especially since I have to cut out a little bit of my routine workout time.
That being said, I still try to get in the gym at least three times per week, even during the hectic WSOP. Also, for those looking to quickly lose fat and keep it off, simply stop eating sugar, fatty foods and starches. This means no smoothies, potatoes, rice, yogurt, fatty meats and bread. If you cut these foods out of your diet, the weight will drop off quickly. Realize though, this isn’t a diet, it’s a way of life.
Avoid your vices
My past vices have been drinking and degenerate gambling. I never had a legitimate problem with either, but I realized they cut into the profitability of poker. If you have a few drinks at night you’ll find you won’t sleep as well and will wake up with a mild hangover, which will make you play worse during the day.
If you gamble on random things, such as blackjack or sports, you will find when you lose, you’re on tilt from losing and when you win, you would rather be doing those things than playing poker, both of which are terrible for your concentration. My advice is to cut these activities out of your life, and not just for duration the tournament series. If you do, you will find yourself a much happier person in the long run.
jonathan-littles-coaching-videosIf you are going to the WSOP, I strongly suggest you spend some time preparing. If you simply show up and expect to succeed, you are almost certain to fail. I recorded a six-hour long training series for you that explains all of the preparations I make in order to ensure I have the best chance to do well. I also discuss how to play with the wildly varying stacks you will be forced to play with at the WSOP. Check it out here: Jonathan Little’s WSOP Coaching Series
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