Wednesday, June 13, 2018

My New Poker Strategy: Less Tables, More Study

My new poker strategy
Let's face it, poker has changed a lot over the years. This is especially true for the online version of the game.

I can still remember the "good old days" when I could hop on 12+ NL100 tables on PokerStars and be able to literally print money at $100+ an hour almost in my sleep.

I think I and several others thought it would last forever. This was pretty naive thinking looking back now. People were eventually going to get better, learn the game, and fish would go broke.

But regardless, we all have to adjust to the new reality of online poker now. And it's not easy!

Most players these days at decent stakes like NL100 take the game seriously now. Often they even study on the side, use HUDs and so on. And most importantly of all, it is very rare to encounter totally clueless fish anymore at these stakes.

So this means that we need to change our approach as well. I have made several adjustments to my poker strategy in recent years which have allowed me to remain profitable in the changing poker environment.

I am going to discuss several of them below in this article.


Play Less Poker Tables


The first and most obvious adjustment that I had to make in my poker strategy was to start playing less tables. And I mean A LOT less.

This was a difficult adjustment for me especially because I have always prided myself on being one of the sickest grinders around.

My New Poker Strategy

My approach when I coming up in this game was that some of them might be better than me but none of them will ever outwork me.

In fact I attribute much of my early success to simply being willing to put in longer hours, on more tables, and ultimately play more hands than anyone else.

This vastly cut down my learning curve and allowed me to pass by my competition in terms of understanding the game much faster.

But the problem is that by continuing to play on 20 or 30 poker tables at a time I could tell that I was putting myself at a disadvantage versus the other regs who were only on 2, 4 or 8 tables.


Something Has to Give


Even if I felt that I was better than them (have an edge) it wasn't enough to overcome this massive disadvantage.

Basically, I just didn't have enough time when playing this many tables to really think through decisions and find the most optimal lines to beat them. And they of course absolutely DID have that luxury versus me.

So I started seeing my winrate slip quite a bit and I knew that I had to make a change. I could tell that many of the better regs were specifically exploiting the fact that I was a mass multi-tabler who was forced to take predominantly ABC lines.

This is something that I didn't need to worry about in the beginning because most of my competition were frankly really bad and had no clue what they were doing. However, the times have changed and you only see this at NL2 now these days.

So the bottom line was that I had to drop the table count considerably in order to compete with the best regs in my games. So for several years now I almost never go above 8 tables anymore and 4 is usually my bottom.


Table Selection


Another hidden advantage of this massively reduced table count was the ability to table select much more effectively as well.

Again, the poker environment was much different 5-10 years ago. I didn't have to worry about this so much. I could just hop on a bunch of random tables at the micros and expect them to usually have one or two fish on them.

This just isn't the case anymore today at any of the popular poker sites unless you are playing NL2. If you play at any kind of decent stakes you are much more likely to hop on a table full of tight multi-tabling regulars.

Now this doesn't mean that they are all world-beaters. Far from it. Many of them are still pretty bad. But the big difference is that they aren't bleeding money on a massive scale like the fish do.

So by significantly reducing the amount of poker tables I have given myself the time to check every table for a fish (VPIP 40%+) and to leave if I don't see one.

I also have the time now to always have one eye on the lobby so I can look for the recreational players who I have previously tagged and look for new tables as well which might have fish on them.

Table selection is just a part of the job in today's games in my opinion. People who aren't doing this (and site selecting as well), are simply going to be left behind.


More Time on Poker Study


The next major adjustment I have made in my poker strategy in recent years is that for the first time ever I am spending a lot more time (and money) on poker study.

Back in the day there really was no need. Plus almost all of the material out there was pretty ridiculous anyways.

10+ years ago all we had were archaic books written by aging live pros who likely have very little to no experience with the online version of the game.

But in the past 5-10 years in particular there have been several modern poker books released. And for the first time ever they were written specifically by online poker players for online poker players.

I know especially well because I have written 3 of them myself!

My New Poker Strategy
Finishing up my latest book "The Micro Stakes Playbook" last year from my Bangkok condo.


Secondly, we have also seen the rise of several modern video training sites recently which I think are finally offering comprehensive top quality poker strategy advice for today's online games.

First among these has been Upswing Poker. I have taken 3 of their courses already this year and I have written a review for each of them here on my blog as well.

The Upswing Poker Lab was the one that helped me the most at the lower stakes. You can find my full review of this poker course is right here.

What they are doing differently from training sites in the past in my opinion is offering you a comprehensive program (a step by step course) which really helps brings everything together into one coherent system.

All of the instructors being world class pros obviously helps tremendously as well.


Out With the Old, In With the New


Training sites in the past by contrast mostly just offered a never-ending supply of individual "Hey, watch me play poker and talk about it for 45 minutes" videos.

The problem was that these didn't really offer much direction for the viewer beyond the specific poker situations that happened to pop up in that one video.

This is not even to mention how unbelievably boring they could be as well if no big hands happened!

I know all of this very well because I made over 100 of these types of videos for a major training site in the past. I was/am a longtime coach (now inactive) at the popular training site DragTheBar.com.

People still watch my videos there and send me comments to this day, but I always felt there was something seriously missing with this approach to teaching the game.

The Upswing Poker Lab has finally changed that outdated model forever in my opinion by instead offering a step by step structured course, filled with targeted theory videos, and taught by world class pros.

Bottom line, if you want to stay ahead in today's ever changing poker environment, you need to be constantly upgrading your skill-set or you will get left behind.


Final Thoughts


The poker landscape has changed a lot in the past 5, 10 and 15 years.

This is a game that will leave you behind if you do not learn how to adapt and constantly change with it. Now, of course this doesn't mean that some things don't stay the same.

Some strategies will always remain evergreen.

For instance, the same basic strategies that I used to crush the fish and beginners at NL2 online 15 years ago are still largely the same today.

But against thinking opponents at any kind of decent stakes these days you really need to know what you are doing in order to succeed.

This requires a commitment to staying up to date on the latest poker strategy. This also requires that you lower the table count in order to have the time to make better poker decisions and table select.


Let me know what poker strategy is working for you in today's games.

If you found this article helpful in any way do me a quick favor and give it a "Like" or a "Tweet" below. Thanks!

My New Poker Strategy

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