I watched most of the final table tournaments to get a mental picture of the play and decisions players were making as the chips were rushing in. My first impressions were that people seemed to be playing pretty loose early on, then tightening up as the blinds got bigger and the action got smaller.
How did you make your final table decisions?
After spending a lot of time at the table, I thought that there were two main reasons people made bad decisions at the WSOP final table. One is that they just didn’t play the cards they did put in, and especially how the play broke down as the blinds got bigger.
The other main reason is that they just didn’t play the opponents they did raise or go after. That is, they didn’t know their opponents’ starting hands, and they certainly didn’t know the potential hands of their opponents-they didn’t know the value of their own hand, and they certainly didn’t know the potential hands of their opponents.
It is this second aspect-knowing the hands of your opponents-that separates the professionals from the amateurs. More money will be made in this aspect than in any other, because players making bad decisions will not be raising and going all-in with less quality hands. If they think they have a good hand, they will bet, and by and large bet big.
The professionals know more about the hands of their opponents than the professionals do. They know the potential value of hands, they know which pots are worth competing for and which are not, and they know who to call a raise with if they have a big hand. They don’t blindly bet every hand, because they know that’s not the best long-term play. They’ll actively try to win pots even with bad hands, but they’ll also wait for the big hands.
This is the aspect of Vegas88 that separates the pros from the amateurs. The professionals know their way around a deck of cards better than the amateur, and they’ll spend some time trying to figure out what cards their opponents hold, while the amateur will go into his or her game without any idea of what’s going on.
The professionals know how to make the right decision at the right time, and they don’t give two hoots about what their opponent has or hasn’t. They’ll recognize very quickly if they have the best hand, and they don’t give a hoot about what their opponent has, because they know they’ll win over the long haul more than they’ll lose if they lose the hand.
The amateur will sit there, length wise, and throw away a potential winner because he’s not getting any pointers on his own hand. “Just call the big blind, I’ve got a good hand,” he’ll say, when it’s his turn to act. The professional knows that the amateur has no idea what he doesn’t know, so he doesn’t care. He’ll patiently wait for a better spot.
This also means that the professional knows when to fold. The pros have patience, and when the time’s come for them to act, they’ll do so without any inclination to wait around for a better hand. They don’t want to waste their money on a hand that’s unlikely to win.
So, the first way to improve your poker skills is to take a closer look at your own game. Say you’re a poor poker player. Improve your game and you’ll improve your chances of winning, and you’ll quickly eliminate your weaknesses.