Outdated Poker Advice Leads to Major Leaks in your Game
Poker advice is nowadays available in such a wide range of formats and from sources so diverse, it just blows one’s mind. Most beginners (those who know a thing or two about the game already) consider books written by various poker professionals and experts the most reliable of all sources. The problem with the advice dished out by these pros is however that some of what they recommend is outdated and thus counter-productive these days. The game of poker is a living, breathing entity. It has evolved over time and truths about it that could be considered universal and fail-proof a few years ago may not hold much water today. Therefore, what I’m trying to tell you is not that poker pros and strategy theorists like Dan Harrington, Phil Hellmuth and David Sklansky didn’t know what they were talking about when they wrote their books. What I am telling you is that you should take some of the information they present with a grain of salt on account of the changes that have since occurred in the game.
Here are a few examples of such dated theories.
In his book ‘Play Poker Like the Pros’, Phil Hellmuth discusses Limit Holdem. At one point he says that a player who’s sitting on a small pair and has the pot raised to him, should re-raise instead of just calling pre-flop, and after the flop, he should try to represent whatever the flop brings.
Now then, those who grind Limit Holdem online know that there are a whole bunch of problems with this theory. The above said book was written for beginners, and while beginners may indeed have pondered about what their opponents were representing on the flop back in those days, that is certainly not the case anymore. Today’s Limit Holdem beginners are about volume: they aim to play as many hands per hour as possible, and no, they’re simply not going to take any kind of bait on the flop: they’ll be happy playing their hands and that’s about it. If a guy has a top pair on the flop, one can break out all the intricate and subtle poker moves in the world, he simply won’t care: he’ll play his hand anyway.
With that in mind, instead of getting more money into the pot preflop on a small pocket pair, the way to play the hand today is to simply set-mine with it. Set-mining is about seeing the flop as cheaply as possible, after which the player can start stuffing it if he hits a set or he can fold if he doesn’t.
Another such theory worth taking a look at is TJ Cloutier’s ‘suited is worse than offsuit when it comes to connectors’ theory which he discussed in his ‘Championship No-Limit and Pot-Limit Holdem’. Cloutier argues that suited connectors will get players into trouble in multi-way pots because of the high likelihood that someone else has higher cards of the same suit and therefore goes on to make a better flush. While there is some reason behind the thinking, from a mathematical point of view, the theory is simply flawed. Suited cards always carry a higher likelihood of making a hand than unsuited ones. It’s that simple really.