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Being a better poker player in 2013

My 2013 poker journey.
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Before I begin, I should say this post is inspired by an article I read when I first decided to improve my game in 2010, and was a really old even then. Now I wish I could find a link to the said article, and I have tried, but it was written by a man who is probably the most hated man in the poker community and the site was shut down (2 guesses).  While I can’t remember the article word for word, these are the bits that have shaped my view of the game today. I hope you take something from this.

 


For most people who got into poker post 2003, they started by playing No Limit Texas Hold’em, a truly fantastic and rewarding mind game. However, most players continue playing NLHE exclusively and miss out on a lot. By not broadening your games you miss out on poker formats that are genuinely fun. I’ve never had as much fun playing poker as I did playing Badeucey on Sunday afternoons with my friends. Each hand would last 10 mins, 5 of which would be showdown deliberations.  And while poker can be profitable for the serious player, it can be a lot of fun for the casual player if you want it to be.


I realized early on that I was not going to be best NLHE player ever. Infact, if I had insisted on being a NLHE specialist I would have probably given playing poker a long time ago. But by learning many varieties it increased my options. Being a general player, it’s allowed me to post profitable mixed games sessions, both ring games and tournaments. You’ll be surprised how soft the field is in mixed game tourneys. Though this means more variance but a simple, solid style has borne results for me. During previous MM or MiniFTOPS, I found great value playing satellites for Stud, Stud 8, Razz, Horse and the likes.


By trying out new variants you can find your true calling. I found I’m more suited to limit games.  Especially the Stud games and their straight forward nature. You either have the best hand or correctly represent the best hand. Their simplicity is the complexity. I would have never known this if I hadn’t tried my hand at the Astronomer freerolls on Pokerstars.


Even if fixed limit games don’t do it for you, there’s still something to gain from playing them. Skills that NLHE require can be honed at other games. Limit Hold’em is great for cultivating post flop skills as most hands get to the flop. Getting free cards, value betting the turn & river and other traits are honed in Limit Hold’em. Stud will also teach you how to get free cards and why you shouldn’t be betting Top pair on later streets.  PLO is a position game. Omaha 8 is great for reading texture. You learn to read Hi nuts and Lo nuts, while trying to figure out your outs. Stud 8, probably my favourite variant, teaches you to narrow the field at the right time and to track cards. It’s great for honing your reading skills and when to bet or fold because of the no. of players in the hand. Razz is a game of patience, at least to me it is. All Studs are great for learning how or when to represent a strong hand.


Though I’m far from being an expert in any of these, by being proficient in many of them I’ve been able to find value and improved by NLHE game.

 

P.S. I’d like to Pokerstars have a 10mix in the mixed games or in the Micromillions.

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