A football metaphor to help your poker game


Michael Laake poker strategy

When it comes to all forms of poker, a lot of pros consistently prefer to be the raiser if they’re the first player into the pot. A lot of recreational players prefer to reduce risk, but actually, calling or limping oftentimes will cause greater variance. 

I’m going to attempt to explain why via a variety of football metaphors that hopefully can turn this complicated topic into a simple one.

Being the first one in with a raise, you’ll avoid having capped ranges. A capped range is one that can be only so good because a lot of the best hands a player can have are hands that are unlikely to make sense on all past streets. 

For example, if you call on the button preflop, it’s unlikely you’ll ever have 9-9 through A-A, A-K or A-Q and every time opponents can remove big chunks of your possible hands from the equation, it will make life less profitable for you.

Next, it keeps, for future scenarios, in manageable ways second- and third-down scenarios (aka flop and turn). 

The smaller the number of opponents and the more frequently you can shake opponents off on early streets, will help you not only sell better stories, but make more money when you have it. 

If you always just call with a hand such as 5-5, then when you do make sets, your pot-to-stack ratios will be much smaller and harder to stack opponents.

Finally, by creating a pot worth stealing, you’ll have much better reasons to scratch and fight for each pot you play. A tight-aggressive style I generally recommend benefits from the ability to bluff and make value hands while capturing the most value from opponents with the least amount of risk. 

Similarly, your preflop raise sizes should vary based on the type of game you’re playing. You’ll always factor in stack depths of all players left to act each hand to determine the proper sizes for your situations. 

Dealer cash-game stacks will play out differently based on opponents’ reactions because there are more implied odds for big hands; similarly, larger reverse implied odds for medium-strength hands like an overpair, etc.

By running the ball on first down (preflop), you’ll be able to set up much more manageable and solvable situations on the flop and turn that will help you figure out opponents hands and prevent them from easily guessing and playing perfectly against the types of hands you’ll have.

— Michael Laake is a Florida dealer and tournament grinder since 2005. Email him at Allthingzpoker@gmail.com.

Chris Cosenza

Chris Cosenza