It’s amazing the things you accept in your life without probing just a little bit deeper.
A couple of months back I asked one of my students the simplest of questions:
Why do you have a default preflop strategy?
And by “student” I mean he’s been a pro for the last 5 years, has a 6-figure bankroll, Ivy league educated, and pretty much crushes the games he plays in.
He’s the real deal.
He couldn’t give me one … he had never thought about it!
How crazy is it you can follow a set strategy for years on end without ever asking yourself, “Why”?
Confessional booth time: Coach Brad, professional and coach who has lived and breathed NLHE for 16 years … only thought to ask himself this question about 4 months ago.
When I verbalized the answer, I learned it was a concept I intuitively understood but had just never put into words (mercifully, it wasn’t just because Phil Hellmuth told me to).
Before I give you the answer, I’m going to ask you to do a few things:
First, take a moment and meditate deeply on the reason you believe you have a default preflop strategy because the correct answer has extreme implications for how you structure your overall play.
Secondly, imagine all the different archetypes of players you’ll encounter on the felt: TAGs, LAGs, Fishes, Whales, Nits, Pros, Recs, Eagles, Salamanders, and Bears.
Alright, so some of those are redundant and god dammit if Phil Hellmuth wasn’t lurking around in my subconscious after all.
Finally, imagine yourself sitting at a poker table.
You’re in the four seat and, two your left, are two known NITs.
After an hour of play those two nits stand up and two LAGs take their place.
The structure of the game just fundamentally changed, right?
And if the structure of the game just changed, your preflop strategy ought to as well.
Do you see how the make-up of each random table you sit at has its own unique environment (Even if you have no information or awareness of the combined pieces, the players)?
I imagine each table as a living, breathing, and changing organism and you ought to as well.
So the answer I came up with is simply this:
You have a default strategy because it will allow you to be competitive when you sit down at a randomly constructed table with no information about your opponents.
Will it be optimal?
You bet your sweet ass it won’t!
If you discover that when the 6 seat limps they’ll call any sized isolation raise and you still raise 4x with AA simply because that’s your default strategy … you’re making a HUGE mistake!
The onus is on YOU to gather the relevant information and make strategic adjustments ASAP.
If you aren’t, you are costing yourself a boatload of dollars.
So what’s the logical next step in your poker development after memorizing your preflop strategy?
It’s learning how to adjust your strategy on the fly as you get gain clarity on the specific table you’re playing at.
Tomorrow I’m going to give you a specific list of things to look for and then challenge you to figure out what you think the appropriate adjustments are.
P.S. Tonight is Poker Power Hour night … One hour of free live coaching with the CPG Community at 8 pm EST.
If you’d like to pop in, make some friends, and study some poker I’ll be sending the meeting link to the private Slack community.
You can join the Slack group by CLICKING HERE.