When did you know you were beat? This question sounds strange for the beginning of a magazine article. Sadly some players never know when they’re beat. When, then, do you become aware you’re playing a losing hand?
Let’s begin with the way you enter the pot. Do you consider your position before putting in your chips? When will you have to act after the flop? Do you know the types of players in the pot before you enter? Have you considered how these players entered? Did they limp or raise? What was the size of the raise, min-raise, three times the size of the big blind, or more? How many players behind you could enter the pot? Do you know the type of player they are if they do enter the pot? How far are you prepared to go with the hand based on the flop? Can you continue after the flop if you don’t get a piece of it? Where does your starting hand rank out of the 169 possible starting hands? Do you hold a drawing hand or a pair?
It’s preflop and you may or may not know you’re beat!
Now we have the flop. Where does your hand rank after the flop? How are you going to play the hand? Is your play going to be based on the actions of other players? If so, how aware are you of where your hand stands? Have you been able to pick up any tells? How’s your chip stack in relationship to the other players in the hand? If you’re playing a preflop pair, are you aware of all the numbers associated with a pair whether you hit the flop or not? Is anyone in the hand the type of player who is capable of making a move? Are you able to play a big pot if need be? I hope you know your hand is 71.4 percent complete after the flop. I hope you know the rule of 4 and 2 and are able to count outs.
It’s postflop and you may or may not know you’re beat!
Here comes the turn card, or fourth street if you’re an old-timer. What has happened in the hand up to this point? This is always a good time to replay the hand in your mind before committing chips to the pot. Re-evaluation becomes paramount to all successful players, and the turn card is the ideal time for this to occur. Try to combine the thought process and the ranking of your hand with all previous actions that have occurred. Be on the lookout for tells of all types, verbal or physical, and especially betting patterns, which are usually the truest tell of all when combined with the type of player making the bet.
It’s after the turn and you may or may not know you’re beat!
Old Man River. This is where the rubber meets the road! Where does your hand rank? First nuts, second nuts, or just the same pair you had preflop? Do you feel the need to bet your hand to protect the money in the pot? If you open the betting and you’re raised can you make the call? Are you hoping the hand is checked down? Do you wish you played the hand differently? If so, you were not playing the hand with a strategy to win. Have you showed down a hand and were surprised you won or lost?
After the river you may or may not have known you’re beat!
Well you know now! At this point there’s a glaring weakness in your game. I don’t care how strong or weak your game is, we all get our money in bad from time to time. Great players get their money in bad less than average players do. Why is this so apparent and why do we see the great players cashing so frequently? Texas Hold’em is a thinking game. This game is so multifaceted that all players should be learning constantly. Learning how each player at your table plays is a major factor in the success of all great players. As my good friend Tom McEvoy says, “Poker isn’t a card game played by people; it’s a people game played with cards.”
After reading this article if you’re not factoring the many decisions required to become a successful player I can help you to know when you’re beat.
You were beat when you entered the cardroom and before you sat at the table. In today’s poker world there are so many great players, young and old, that your need for knowledge could never be higher. Knowledge is currency. Simply playing your pocket cards and hoping to hit the flop just won’t do in today’s poker world.
Please read, study, learn and play. Invest in a poker seminar. Combine these factors to become successful and prosper.
— Antonio Pinzari is the host of Poker Wars Live, which airs Mondays from 7-9 PM (ET) on WBZT-AM 1230 Radio from West Palm Beach, FL and streams live at www.pokerwars.info.