There’s more to poker than just ABC

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I received an email from a student who wrote; “I have pocket kings and raised to $50 preflop. This woman called me and the flop was 7-8-J. She played 9-10 off for $50 preflop. What could I have done?”

Here’s my answer: You were so in love with your kings you were only playing your hand and not really into the game. Needless to say the hand cost him his stack and created a losing session. This is common when players become complacent and forget the basics.

Here’s a system for players who are on automatic pilot and not into the game.

A stands for Action
B stands for Betting
C stands for Chips or Cash
D stands for Doubt
Every player in every game falls into these categories.

ACTION: What types of action do the players on the table give? Tight, aggressive, positional, defend blinds, surrender to big bets, calling station, talkative? These demeanors will be exhibited by each player, including you. When you know what players at your table do consistently, you’re focused and able to assess potential hands.

BETTING: This is the truest “tell” of all. How do players bet during a hand? Most tight players make big bets with big hands. Aggressive players like to make big bets often; they can’t have that many good hands. Understanding how a player bets at the table will often reveal what the bet is telling you. Again, you’re focused and in the game.

CHIPS-CASH: Knowing each players’ chip count or cash available in the hand before you act will often determine how you react to the betting pattern. Small stacks will often push; big stacks will try to run over players. You can expect these betting patterns when you know chip count often will necessitate these types of plays. Anticipating an all-in move from a player behind you will save your chips.

DOUBT: This also could be DISCIPLINE, which should be the easiest to understand since you’re in control of this action. When in doubt, get out of the hand. It’s easier to fold than rebuy.

I hope that these ABCDs will help keep you stay focused and save you from yourself.

— Antonio Pinzari has been playing professionally since the ’70s. He’s the creator of Poker 23 and Wild Tallahassee Poker, which you can learn more about at WildTallahasseePoker.com.