How Do I Win at Poker?

by Dear Acey

Dear Acey: OK, Acey, or Spacey, or whatever your stupid name is, cut to the chase. Tell it like it is. How do I win at poker? I mean it — really, I do! How do I play and win?

— Deadly Due-Right

Dear Deadly Due-Right: If you really want to win at poker — I mean really win a few bucks on a regular basis — you must do exactly as I tell you. And I do mean exactly.

First, you must be focused and physically and emotionally stable before trying to play. If anything is bothering you — for example, you’re tired or angry, have a toothache, upset stomach, or head cold, or it’s the anniversary of your divorce — you must not play.

Second, you must find a game with at least two weak players. If your game does not have two poor poker players — two live fish — you must not play. Game selection is critical to winning. Play only in favorable games — ones in which you are the big favorite.

Third, be very selective of the hands that you decide to play. You must have premium cards, the right position, and the right opponents playing against you (meaning one or two of the poor players). If you don’t, you must not play. You must be very patient. Patience is golden. Play premium hands against weak players. Then, ram and jam them — hit ’em hard.

Fourth, play only as long as you are the big favorite. Once you are not a favorite in the game, take your money and run — run like hell.

Deadly Due-Right, that’s it. It’s a rather simple scheme, but most players find it hard to do. Why are these four things so hard to do? Because some people behave like children; they just want to have fun. This “ultratight, superselective” style of play is not fun — it’s boring. Most players are impatient, and do not wait for the right hand, at the right time, in the right place. Instead, they try to force the action — which is not always a winning play. Also of note is that most regular players in public cardrooms read Card Player, and are skilled and knowledgeable players, which doesn’t help game selection one bit. Finally, most players are greedy about their winnings. They think their winning ways will never stop, even when they are no longer big favorites. That, of course, is not true. So, Deadly Due-Right, do exactly as I say and you will win a few bucks at poker. However, I predict you will soon become bored and frustrated, since you strike me as the type of player for whom playing ultratight and superselective is no fun.

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