Staying ahead of the poker plan



Players who take the time and energy to prepare off the table have better win rates than those who do not. Poker is a game of intangibles. 

I have many ideas on developing a poker plan and no two players are the same. Sound familiar? I wrote that in last month’s column where I stressed a poker plan for this year, so let’s get started.

Bear in mind that the first week of the year is a tough time to play because many players have made their poker resolutions and are sticking to them. 

It usually takes about 10 days to inch away from our self-corrections and our A game slowly reverts back to our B game. That’s human nature. 

I have a few ideas on staying in tip-top poker shape for the year and, for the sake of this article, let’s presume you are exercising before play, have a stop-loss, have a start and quit time mapped out and are keeping accurate records. 

Just these four intangibles covered in my last piece will go a long way to improving your hourly win rate, so if you have put these ideas into your plan then great job. 

Now let’s find a common leak that many better-than-average players unfortunately own: multi-way pots. Hero has Q-Q in middle position and makes the perfect raise for this game to narrow the field to one or two opponents. 

In the fog of war, matters often do not go as planned. The hero gets four callers. It’s time to default to plan B. We must revert to pot control and keep this pot small or even fold, which at times can mean folding the best hand. 

To be a 10 big-blind winner at $1-$2 no-limit hold’em, which is $20 an hour, we must adjust our normally aggressive game to a defensive small-ball style of play when more than three players take a flop.

Apply these four rules to multiway pots:

• Medium-strength hand, which includes one pair: check.

• Slow play big hand? Bad idea. Bet your set extra strong: push.

• Forget about making a move, representing, stealing and such. Fall to Plan B, which is possibly folding a winner. You can do it.

• If your hand is a drawing hand with reasonable implied odds, stick around: call.

Hopefully, as the reader of this sage advice, you’re thinking, “Great stuff; now why didn’t I think of that and from now on if I get called by three or more players I will put on the brakes.” 

Let’s plug those subtle leaks and have a great 2020. Oh, and bonus advice: Get a poker buddy and find time to review.

— Mark Brement has spent 15 years teaching and coaching all facets of poker, including at Pima CC. Email him at

Chris Cosenza

Chris Cosenza