In this lesson, we'll be looking at the concept of taking as full an advantage as we can when we have a good hand. This is much more of an issue at no limit, and is in fact perhaps the most important one, and we'll be dealing with that in later lessons. It's still a factor at limit however, and a more important one than some people think.
The type of thinking that can lead us astray here is the mentality that winning the hand is what's important. It isn't of course, and we've covered that in earlier lessons. Instead, what we're after is making the most money, and there's a difference to be sure.
When we seek to make winning the hand our top priority, we often fail to capture additional profits that would have been made available to us had profits been our goal instead. This will involve us, in a lot of cases, seeking to keep players in the hand rather than chase them away, as long as we maintain the advantage over them.
An example would be playing pocket aces pre-flop. You wouldn't believe the scolding you will take from some players by even considering not raising them. Yet there are situations where it would be incorrect to do so. For instance, if you know there's s strong chance that everyone will fold if you raise, and thus you will only capture the blinds. This is our top hand, and we need to get paid more than that on average. And it's better to have callers who will continue to call when our hand dominates theirs, not to mention the added advantage of being more unpredictable with top hands.
They, on the other hand, lament whenever they lose with aces, and seemingly will do everything in their power to prevent this, including making less money with them. This is, of course, not a wise way to approach the game.
This applies well beyond raising pre-flop with high pocket pairs though. It involves a principle that will take us throughout the entire hand. What we're after here is: what method of play is going to allow us to maximize our overall profit with this hand? And, in a lot of cases, it will involve looking beyond the particular bet or raise and considering its impact on the hand overall, in terms of the amount of money we'll make.
Another example that we've discussed previously is delaying our aggression when we have a strong hand. The reason for doing this of course is to make more money on it in the end, even though it may involve losing a slightly higher percentage of hands then if we showed the aggression right out.
It is surprising how some players who feel they understand principles of profit maximization in poker still harbor the hand winning mentality, letting it affect their decisions, perhaps without even being fully aware. In order to take full advantage of your poker play though, it is necessary to purge yourself of this misconception. It is not at all about winning hands. It is not at all about winning hands. It is not at all about winning hands.
Getting the most out of your hands means getting the most out of them, overall, and not necessarily winning a particular hand with them.
This doesn't mean that we won't be playing aggressively overall, or especially that we won't be looking to make players pay to stay in the hand as a general rule. What it does mean though is that we are going to see these things important only to the extent that it contributes to our ultimate goal of profit maximization. And whenever a move conflicts with this goal, it will not and cannot be chosen. There are no exceptions to this.
So, as perhaps you can see, the purpose of this lesson is to get you to think a little more about what your goal should be while playing a hand, which is to get the most out of it, over time, and not win it. And you have to look deep into your play to really examine if you are letting these distortions affect your play or not. And a great deal of poker players indeed, even better players, are thrown off by this, often to degrees which limit their profits significantly. We on the other hand are going to do our best not to let this happen.
As is often the case, poker decisions have a tendency to become rather complicated, and these considerations are no different. With both the proper thinking practiced through experience, you will develop a better and better feel for the correct decision based upon profit maximization. However, the starting point is to give yourself over to this goal, and ensure that you are keeping all your decisions in perspective of this as best you can.
In fact, taking the first step is the easiest. Often, decisions that players make are an obvious and direct manifestation of their fear of losing the hand. This ends up being a preoccupation for them, and they forget that their goal is actually to make money. This becomes a secondary goal, or in some cases, not a goal at all. This cannot be the case though and have you expect to win the most money, or anywhere near it. Needless to say, winning the most money needs to be the goal if winning the most money is to be achieved.
What you need to do though to help you over this is to simply tell yourself that you will no longer be afraid of losing hands, no matter what type or strength it is, and simply play the hand to get the most money out of it if you win. This will go a long, long way toward setting you on the correct path.