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Podcast topic suggestion: What should we focus on at the table?

Dragon-Ash Posts: 203Subscriber
edited February 2014 in Crush Live Poker Articles
Hi Bart and everyone. First a quick congrats on the new site, it looks great and love the new functionality. 

I'm one of the '40-something' guys Bart often mentions on his show. I'm a break-even player, small winning player at low-stakes games the last year or so. I have a very full time job and an active family life (two small kids!) so only get time to play once a week, twice if I'm super lucky, 3-4 hours a session. 

Since guys like us only get maybe 10-12 hours a month max at the tables (and often go several months without playing at all), often we sit down at a table of complete unknowns. Obviously we try to be as observant as possible, but trying to process the entire tables' action every hand and break it down into meaningful patterns is difficult, if not impossible, especially if we end up with essentially a new set of faces the next time we play. 

So, my question to Bart and the community - and I'd love for this to be discussed on the podcast at some point: I'm a big fan of keeping lists down to just three items, so: what three things specifically would you recommend we focus on first and foremost in terms of the most 'relevant / bang for our buck'? (Obviously knowing how a villain plays AA in three-bet pots might be useful, but also might only come up once a session; we couldn't do much with the info even if we had it!)

Lately my approach has been to focus first and foremost on the two people to my immediate left and right (the people in the blinds when I'm on the button and on the button when I'm in the blinds). One obvious 'pattern' I try and observe for the entire table is how aggressively people play their draws. Would love to hear what else people think are good patters to pick up on!



  • Arenzano Posts: 1,402Subscriber
    So you mentioned paying attention to the players to your left and right already. I would add paying attention to your position in each hand in relation to the button. Second, I would say look for the person who seems to be putting the most money into play and try to move to their left. Third, watch for how people tip. If they tip 2-3 per hand no matter the pot size, then typically they are there to have fun as opposed to trying to grind a win rate.
  • eyedunno Posts: 215Subscriber
    What I've been focusing on lately besides trying to move to the "left of a fish" is actually just trying to move to the immediate right of two nits if it's possible.  Position is so paramount in NLHE, that it's importance really can't be overstated as the most important fundamental aspect of playing well.  I know we all can easily say "position is king" but I think we rarely put that attitude into practice.  During my last session, I managed to move to the right of 2 "nit regs" and let me tell you...  It was like having the button 3 times in a row on most orbits.  

    I get to play about 3 times/week right now, so instead of focusing on 3 things each time I play, I'm actually just hyper focusing one thing per session.  The last 3 sessions those things have looked like this:

    1. Position, Position, Position (Move to the right of nits if possible)
    2. Always be aware of the effective stack sizes (this goes for openers we want to call or 3-bet as well as players left to act pre-flop if we are opening)
    3. Always keep track of pot size (if you start to do this for every hand regardless of your involvement, it becomes second nature really quickly)
    For me, these 3 things are key and paramount to playing effective and fundamentally sound NLHE.  For the immediate future, I am going to focus on these 3 things until they become something I do subconsciously.  Hope this helps!!  
  • neverlearn2 Posts: 2,860Subscriber
    i feel you man. Im younger then u but I got a pre teen daughter, wife, and a baby on the way.

    Just wanted to say GL on finding time to play and have you thought of playing online?
  • Dragon-Ash Posts: 203Subscriber
    Txs for the comments so far. FWIW, I mentioned this to a poker buddy of mine today, and he said he looked at: 
    - how Vs play top pair
    - how fast Vs play 'nutty' hands, and
    - any difference in nit/loose pre vs post. 

    I suppose 'how thinly does V bet on the river for value' could be one more, but I think a lot of times people bet without really knowing why....
  • TJ Posts: 239Subscriber
    I agree that focusing on everything is complicated, but I do it anyway. Every time I see something, I make a mental note of it, which I will probably forget by the end of the session, but eventually you start to remember things. This is what we often term, "gut feeling" - when you have no logical explanation for why your opponent is bluffing, for example, because his line is nutty, but you just know he is and you call. It's actually your subconscious mind recognizing a pattern from previous play.

    It definitely gets easier with practice.

    The more info you observe and think through, even briefly, the more you will start remembering (consciously or unconsciously) and be able to act on it.

    For example, if I see someone I had tagged as nitty call a raise OOP with KTo, it brings up a few questions I can ask myself. Is he really nitty and thinks KT is a good hand? Was he not really paying attention? Is he actually a thinking player, and knows KT is ahead of the fishy raiser's range? Is it just his favorite hand? And on and on.

    Most of them don't get answered, at least not immediately, but just getting your brain thinking and questioning will improve both your observational and analytical skills.
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