This One Little Word is the Key to My Poker Success

This One Little Word is the Key to My Poker Success
Have you ever made a call at the poker tables even when you absolutely knew for sure that you were beat? Perhaps you just had to see it?

Well, if so don't worry because we all have. They even have a name for it. They call it a "crying call." But what if I told you that there is actually no such thing as a crying call in poker, only bad calls?

It is true.

There is actually one little word in poker that will drastically change your results at the micros in particular if you start implementing it right now.

When I finally learned to incorporate this one little word into my poker game, especially against the tight players at the lower limits, my results skyrocketed.

It literally changed everything for me. It is the key to my poker success. And I know it will be for you as well. So what is this one little word already?

Fold.


Most People Don't Actually Even Like to Bluff


Here's the funny thing about poker. Most people are highly suspicious that other people are constantly bluffing them. It's this crazy little egotistical game that many of us play in our heads.

This suspicion is magnified drastically in a game like poker because you often don't actually get to see their cards if you fold.

So in other words you are always left wondering and wondering. And this eats away at some people. It causes them to become paranoid that people are constantly out to bluff them.

But here's the other thing about poker. Most people don't actually like to bluff all that often. This is especially true at the lower limits.

It is really only a handful of recreational players (fish) who like to bluff. And usually when they do it, it is so transparent and bad that you can just easily snap it off.

But the vast majority of regular players at the lower limits in particular (online or live) actually aren't bluffing anywhere near as much as you might think.

And this is because bluffing is not something that most people naturally like to do. It is a bit like lying. It can cause you to become nervous, raise your heartbeat a bit.

Bluffing also causes confrontation which many people do not like. It is much easier to just sit around and wait for the nuts and play an "honest" game.

So this is what most people actually do at the lower stakes in particular. They might make a small bluff here and there, but by and large, when they are betting big amounts, it's because they have it.


Turn Raise is Usually the Nuts, River Raise is Always the Nuts


In my first poker book Crushing the Microstakes I firmly stated that the turn raise is usually the nuts and the river raise is always the nuts.

And this is because in my vast experience of playing millions and millions of hands at the micro stakes online, this statement is almost always true, especially against the legions of tight nitty regulars that you will encounter frequently these days.

These set-mining nits who are playing on 15 tables just aren't running a random bluff against you out of the blue. You aren't special, they aren't picking on you for something to do.

No, they don't even have time for that!

When they raise the turn it's because they can beat your one pair hand. And when they raise you on the river you can literally bet the farm that they have your one pair hand crushed.

I am talking about players who are multi-tabling and have HUD stats of like 18/15/2 in 6max or 12/10/2 in full ring.


Here is an example:

You raise AA from early position and a tight regular calls you on the button.


Flop:

357

You CBet

He calls


Turn:

9

You CBet

He calls


River:

2

You CBet

He raises...


Now, you can go ahead and make the "crying call" here. This is what most people do after all. But let me tell you something else that most people do.

They lose at poker.

And why do most people lose at poker? Because they make bad calls like this.

If you make the call here (on this board and versus this player type) he is going to show you one of the following hands the vast overwhelming majority of the time:
  • 33
  • 55
  • 77
  • 99

Many people will try to convince themselves that maybe he has a bluff or another overpair like:
  • TT
  • JJ
  • QQ
  • KK

The problem with this line of thinking though is that most tight regulars at the micros will just call down with these hands when you triple barrel. And if he had QQ or KK he probably would have re-raised us before the flop anyways.

So what is he left with? Yup, you guessed it. Hands that beat our one pair. Specifically sets. And it really doesn't even matter which one he has because all of them beat AA.

Most people will call here anyways without even thinking. And that is why they get the results that they do in poker.

The select few who win big in poker however will think a bit deeper and find the fold button instead.


Why is It So Hard to Fold a Hand Like Pocket AA or KK?


So why is it so hard for most people to toss away a hand like pocket AA in a situation like this? Well, I think they get married to how pretty their hand looks.

They think that having a big over pair like this is basically a licence to print money. The problem is that it isn't though. Hands like Aces and Kings are just one pair. And they can and will lose sometimes.

Now let's look at just how disastrous it is for your poker winrate to make the crying call here against a nut peddling nit in a situation like this.

You will often need to call as much as 50 big blinds in order to see a showdown with your pocket aces in a spot like this.


Let's assume some very typical bet sizing amounts of 3bb preflop / 55% pot flop / 70% pot turn / 70% pot river:
  • Preflop: you raise 3bb + 3bb call + blinds = pot 7bb
  • Flop: you CBet 4bb + 4bb call = pot 15bb
  • Turn: you CBet 10bb + 10bb call = pot 35bb
  • River: you CBet 25bb and he raises to 75bb = 50bb to call.

50 big blinds is an absolutely huge amount to call here when you know that you are beat a very, very high percentage of the time.

Now let's just think about how the math works if you were able to make the correct laydown here even once every 1000 hands.

This would save you 5bb every 100 hands. So if you are currently a break-even type player with say a 1bb/100 winrate you would now be crushing the games with a 6bb/100 winrate instead.

Please just let that sink in a little bit longer.

Making the correct fold in a situation like this a little bit more often could quite literally be the difference between you being a break even poker player versus a big winner.


Now you might be wondering does this type of situation actually pop up once every 1000 hands on average? That is debatable. I am certainly being a little bit liberal here in my estimates.

However, I hope the gravity of these numbers strikes a chord with you.

If you can learn to just stop making these bad crying calls against a nit on the turn or river it can actually improve your overall poker results in a massive way.


The Key to Poker Success


So what this really boils down to actually is a very simple question. And that is: Do you truly want to be a winning poker player or not?

Because I will tell you what finally gets you to start making these folds can be summed up in one word, discipline. This is the real key to poker success.

Most people straight up just do not have it. After all, it's the micros right? It's only $5 to call. Who cares right?! They just have to see it!

But once again, if you are playing NL10 for example then $5 is actually 50 big blinds. That's no joke!

And like I just said, being able to make this fold more often can actually be a key difference between you having mediocre results in this game or being a large winner.

Look guys, it's really not rocket science. It's just discipline. It's wanting it more than the next guy does at the end of the day.

Amateurs make the call, pros fold. Why is this?

Because the pros have seen it enough times already. They are ready to learn from their mistakes. They take this game seriously. They truly want to win.

They don't need to keep getting their ego involved every time like amateurs do. Because that's all it is. It's an ego call. It's an "I need to see his set one more time" to satisfy my ego call.


Go See The Cold Hard Stats For Yourself


But as I always say, you don't even need to believe me or take my word for it. Just go log into your PokerTracker database right now and go see the results for yourself.

Just click on the View Stats tab, click on More Filters, then Actions and Opportunities. Now filter for all the hands where you got raised on the turn or the river and you chose to continue in the hand.

This One Little Word is the Key to My Poker Success

See all the glorious losses for yourself that came from your crying calls in situations like this! Let all that red ink fully sink in.

Because that right there is a big part of the difference between you finally getting the results that you want at the poker tables or continuing on with your "somewhere around break-even" ways.

It's having the discipline to finally start making the right folds when you need to make them. Now look, nobody is perfect, everybody still screws up and makes a bad call from time to time.

It is important not to beat yourself up about it when it happens.

But the biggest winners (the professionals) are able to make these folds most of the time. The amateurs get their ego involved and they just "have to see it."

And that is why they get the results that they get in this game. It's a simple matter of discipline. And it's always your choice every single day at the poker tables.


Final Thoughts


So what is the one little word that will completely change your poker results? Fold.

This is truly the key to my poker success. This is how I made a career out of this game at the micros as a 10+ year poker pro and now a multiple time poker author as well.

It's not easy to do. Everybody wants to see it. They want to know for sure that the guy has it again. But the problem is that you often have to pay a big price to see it.

And when we are talking about turn or river raises here, we are talking about a heavy price of 20bb, 30bb or even 50bb sometimes.

In today's micro stakes games where the edges are often very thin this is quite literally the difference between a winning and a losing poker player.

Begin with the tight nitty multi-tabling regulars at the micro stakes online. When they raise you on the turn or river, just start folding.

Bite your tongue and just do it. Remember that you pocket aces or your pocket kings are just one pair. And they aren't good anymore.

Do you really have to see it yet again? You already know what hand he is going to show you. Have the discipline to let it go just this one time and you will start seeing how easy it actually is.

I actually just laugh and fold these days. This nit has literally been waiting an hour to hit his set against me while I have been stealing so many other pots against him.

Now he finally hits his set against my pocket AA or KK and I don't even pay him off! Can you imagine how much that must piss him off?

It really becomes easier and easier once you get used to doing it. You don't need to see it. You don't need proof that the sky is gonna be blue again today either.

The bottom line is that when a nit raises you on the turn or the river he has your one pair hand beat. Just laugh and fold. And thank me later.

---

Lastly, make sure you grab a copy of my free poker cheat sheet to learn all my best strategies to crush the micros.

And let me know in the comments below if you are able to make the difficult folds at the poker table. Or is this something you struggle with?

This One Little Word is the Key to My Poker Success

21 comments:

  1. I agree, that folding is one of the most difficult things to learn, when we are playing online micro stakes cash games. The money involved is insignificant, and its so much more appealing to press that “call” button than to roll over and give up.

    Just one quick word on the PokerTracker stats though. Whenever we get raised, we are always going to lose money, because we already invested money in the spot, and unless the opponent is a total maniac, his raising range is always ahead of our range for making the previous bet, plus he now gets the initiative in the hand.

    Say we opened to 3BB, got one caller, C-bet flop for 4 BB, he called, C-bet turn for 8 BB, he raised, we folded. This hand will show in our database as a 1.500 BB / 100 loss, and if we can bring that number down to 1.400 BB / 100 by calling, then we should call.

    So seeing in the database, that we lose when calling a turn raise, is no more surpricing than seeing, that we lose when defending our big blind by calling. But if we only lose at 70 BB / 100, this is better than folding, since folding will result in a 100 BB / 100 loss.

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    1. Yup I think the small amounts of money at the micros make it difficult for many people to fold. Thanks for your thoughts!

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  2. I have this issue: I had enrolled in Upswing Poker Lab, which really helped me taking my game to another level. I also read many books. But now I have started to think that we might have got poisoned by these GTO style balanced approaches.(talking for micros only)

    Each time I'm about to make a fold, I start thinking like: "I need float here otherwise my checks will sign weakness in the future"

    I play on Microgaming Network in which majority of tables are anonymous. So noone has any clue if you fold to 3bets %99 of the times. But this fact can not stop me calling a 3bet with JTs as I think that "correct play" is that. However, there is really no need to try to get value from these kind of marginal spots at these limits.
    I have been struggling at these limits for years and even though I know why I fail I keep doing the same things over and over again, which I find really incredible.

    Last month I promised myself to play a straightforward game and fold much. (NL 10) I was able to make 1000 euros profit in 3 weeks. Then guess what happened ? I started thinking like: " Ok, but this play is not correct. I will start semi-bluff raising with my flush draws " etc... I always come up with an idea that will destroy me. Even though I know that a pretty straightforward approach solve most of the problems I have, then I start thinking: "NO, THIS CAN NOT BE THIS EASY"

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    1. Ya GTO is not the best for stakes under NL25 in my opinion. I fact I think at stakes like NL2, NL5 and NL10 an exploitative poker strategy is far superior to GTO.

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  3. Your comment about people not liking to fold because they don't get to see what the other guy had is important, because we all feel that way but we're all wrong to do so. Good poker is about making the right decisions. If folding is the right decision then fold and don't worry about whether you got pushed off the hand.

    Years ago in the WSOP Joe Hachem was playing a relative newcomer; the board went to the river showing 4 diamonds. Hachem didn't have a diamond; he checked and the other guy bet the pot. Hachem folded and the other guy revealed he had no diamonds. Hachem said "hmm. Nice bluff" and went on with his play. He'd been bluffed off his hand but didn't mind because under the circumstances folding was the right play.

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    1. And that is why the game is so great haha. It's like a magic trick, it always leaves you wondering!

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    2. Yup. And so, to keep yourself from going crazy you have to focus on the one thing you shouldn't have to wonder about: that you made the right decision based on the information you had (poker being a game of limited information). "Correct play" doesn't always mean "desired result".

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  4. live 1/2, 9 handed i opened AJo utg co called
    flop AJQdd i cbet $17, he called.
    turn To, i/x, he overbet shoved $110 into $67,
    i ended up folding, the river paired i made a full house.
    The reason i fold is because he smiles/happy/talkative, most people are not smiling when they're bluffing. I think i made the right fold.

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    1. I think this was very likely the right fold. Players at stakes this low just don't bluff very often, especially overbet on a board like that. Those physical tells you mentioned are important as well.

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  5. i like the article and think that you should raise QQ+ ACCORDINGLY(close to 10x) if you are utg so you get all these speculative hands out of the way like 55 or lower suited hands...but yea its hard to fold AA or top pair

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    1. Thanks glad you enjoyed this article. I do like making larger than normal raise sizes with hands like QQ+ in super loose low stakes games simply for value.

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  6. Great article! This has happend to me thousen of times and I hate life every singel time, especially when a fish does it to me. It has come to my conclusion that a lot of people has stopped rasing the flop and the turn with sets. They just call the flop, call the river then ship it on the turn.. If I bet 2/3 pot on each street it is very hard to get away beacuse of all the money I have put in. So I started to bet my top pairs like 2/3, 1/2, 1/2. Maybe it's not the biggest difference but it feels like it's easier to get away when I commit a little bit less. The down side is of course that I lose a bit of value but I can finally get away and it makes me tilt less so I guess it's worth it..?

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    1. Thank you, I am glad this article helped! I agree, most regs these days will not raise the flop anymore with a set. They will raise the turn or river instead.

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  7. Looked at my stats in PT4 like Called Turn raise with 1 pair, Called Turn shove with FD, Called Turn shove with 1 pair, Called Turn shove with straight draw, Called River raise with 1 pair, and Called River shove with one pair. Found that on average, these various situations are costing me 1857BB/100.... yes, you read that correctly. 1857 BB/100!!!

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  8. I do not know what's going on this weekend by stars?
    The weekend for the fish?I was 40 dollars up this month and then this weekend i losn t everything? AA vs. A10, AA vs. A9, three of a kind vs three of a kind. AA vs. 1010.
    In three days i lost 45$ in 2/5c. I play with your tactics since October and I have never lost so much? every month i have won average with 10bb/100.
    have you ever had such a thing?

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    1. Hi Sam,

      What you are describing is a very routine downswing of 9 buyins. This will happen regularly to everyone, even very good players.

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    2. yeah, i think i was frustrated. i have never lost 9 buy ins one behind the other. But ok the show must go on. I will win again and then climb to 5/10 in April ;)

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  9. F*&% yeah! I find calculating Stack-to-Pot-ratios very useful. For example: efective stacks 100BB. I raise 3BB from MP, button calls, blinds fold. Pot = 7.5BB, stack left = 97BB. SPR = 13. If we get all-in on the flop with AA, KK we are risking 13BB to win 1BB. Very poor risk to reward ratio!

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  10. Wow. I just ran the numbers on PT for the river call all in and every hand nearly was this situation. So much money burnt. 8.41/100 so far over 100k hands. Thanks for the help!

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    1. No problem glad this article helped!

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