Is Your Poker Game Full of Leaks?
August 12, 2013 4 Comments
In the world of poker, a “leak” is a common term used to represent a certain weakness in a specific player’s game. There are a variety of different leaks, some mental, some physical, and some statistical. These leaks are the reason that playing poker can be profitable game in the long-run for experienced, skilled, and disciplined grinders.
Top professional poker players pry on leaks of their weaker inferior opponents, often times without their opponents recognizing what they are doing. Until an opponent makes an adjustment, they will continue to leak and bleed money over to the hungry sharks who have virtually no flaws in their game whatsoever.
Top 5 Common Poker Leaks & How to “Plug” Them
1. Bankroll Management
Your bankroll is your poker lifeline, treat it as such.
Without a bankroll, you can’t play poker. Many players take money from their “life roll” and gamble in poker with that money. I was fortunate enough early on in my career to recognize that without adequate bankroll management skills, I would ultimately go broke at some point in the long-run. Knowing this, I invested $100 from my “life roll” to start my online poker bankroll with the intention that if I ever lost it, I would never play online poker again.
This decision forced me to study the game and learn how to win. I have read countless articles and books to gain as much knowledge as possible so I would be ready when my money was on the line. I would not risk more than 5% of my entire poker bankroll into a single cash game or tournament to minimize my risk as much as possible. While not risking much, I could slowly put in a ton of volume of games by playing multiple tables at a time, the luxury you simply don’t have in live poker, unless you are Phil Ivey, Durrrr & Co. and multi-table WSOP events.
The advantage of online poker is that you can play games for pennies, nickels, and dimes, another non-luxury of live casino poker. You can slowly learn at the lowest stakes available, and work your way up the ladder by barely risking anything at all. The games at these stakes are also full of the weakest opponents, allowing you to easily make profit if you have any kind of skill and discipline.
An overwhelming majority of good and bad poker players alike are prone to being emotionally affected at the poker table by short-term results. In the short-term, luck plays a major factor in whether or not you succeed and win in poker. In the long-run, the gap between skill and luck shrinks dramatically, and skill prevails as the true profit generator for your business. One of the most important skills many aspiring players lack is mental discipline, and that in turn causes them to go on tilt, and play sub-optimal poker. Failure to play optimal poker will negatively affect your long-term win rate, and profit margins.
I used to tilt and break mice during my younger years of online poker. No longer could that possibly happen due to the fact that I no longer attach emotion to short-term results. I have seen every bad beat possible, and I know I will again and again. Why have it affect me emotionally if it is completely out of my control? I play each hand as if it is a fresh slate, new session, and simply another opportunity to make correct +EV decisions. In the long-run, the amount of volume I put in dictates how much my hourly average win-rate calculates. I can assume with a massive hand sample size (1,000,000+), my win rate will reflect how much I will earn on average if I simply sit down to play with standard variance fluctuations in the short-run. If showing a profit after 1,000,000 hands at your desired stakes, it is safe to say you are a winning poker player at that current level. The tricky part comes when you decide to move up levels, or open up more tables at one time. The games get infinitely tougher to beat as you move up the stakes, so you might actually win more playing $1/2 NL rather than $2/5, even if you have proper bankroll management requirements squared away.
3. Failure to Make Adjustments & Correct Mistakes
One of the most important aspects of becoming a solid, winning poker player is the ability to adjust. Adjusting to the dynamics of your table, your opponents, your stack size, you position in the tournament, etc. A lot of players fall victim to simply playing “ABC poker” meaning they do the same thing every time, in every spot, and their hands are basically face up to any observant opponent
4. Losing Focus Due to Distractions
When I am playing in a poker game, my focus is on nothing else except making the most profitable decision every time it is my turn to act. There is an abundance of distractions in live poker, and also online poker. In live games, I see many people not paying attention to every hand, instead they are watching TV or browsing on their iPhone. The disadvantage of this is that when they get involved in a hand, they lack prior information given away by opponents in past hands. This concept is known as meta-game, and without proper understanding and awareness of it, your game and win rate will massively suffer.
To stay as distraction free as possible, bring some headphones to listen to music. Music during poker usually puts me in a trance This state of extreme focus allows my mind to dedicate all of its power and resources to figuring out my opponents tendencies, and how I am going to exploit them. I want to pick up more information than I give away, as poker is a game of incomplete information and mystery. The mystery gets closer to being solved if you simply pay attention to the hands your opponents are playing, and how they are playing them.
If you get bored with playing poker sometimes, it is safe to say you will not be a top professional in this lifetime. All top pro’s are not only extremely skilled at poker, they absolutely love to play the game. Much like an athlete will train everyday, poker players will play or study each day they can. I enjoy studying poker because I believe building a solid poker mindset also gives you a nice foundation for living a super conscious and abundant life.
5. Playing Passive & Not Aggressive
Passive poker players are the easiest players to play against. They rarely get involved in hands, and if they do, they usually have something good. They rarely bluff, and will rarely put many chips in the pot without monster hands. They rarely get paid off on their monster hands because opponents can pin them on a strong hand and easily fold and lose a small pot. Loose-passive players play FAR too many hands, and play them sub-optimally. They are the ATM’s of the poker world. They would rather call than raise, and would rather check than bet. They will pay your big hands off if they have any piece of the board because they are only concerned about the value of their hand, and not your perceived range of hands. Sit back and value bet these players to death and watch them bleed chips over to your stack.
I have experimented with a variety of different playing styles, from super tight to super aggressive, and I can say for sure that playing extremely aggressively will increase your winrate tenfold (assuming you know what you are doing). Playing a hyper-aggressive profitable poker style is only achieved by gaining experience and knowledge of how certain opponents will react to you. You have to be extremely good at hand reading ability, and you have to know when you are beat and need to fold. Because you are going to be getting involved in a lot of pots, you have to be able to control the pot size in your favor. Your aggressive image will allow for big pots to be built frequently, and when you do hit a big hand, you are more likely to be paid off because you are eligible to be bluffing a lot more frequently than everyone else at the table. Picking spots to balance bluffs/value bets will confuse your opponents, polarize your hand range, and ultimately make you extremely tricky to read and play against. For further information, I put together an article a few weeks ago that explains and details the process of running over a live cash game table with relentless aggression.
When you are in control of the poker game, everyone else fears playing against you because they know they will be put in extremely tough spots and decisions for every chip in front of them. Most players will stay out of your way, others will purposely get in your way to try to take over control. Recognize who is challenging your status, and counter their plan by exploiting any weaknesses you might discover. If they play solid as well, there is no reason to get too involved, give them a few pots to keep them happy. We are interested in finding the fish who wants to felt the shark because he is tired of being bullied around. Recognize this type of player personality and make sure to play a lot of pots with them, as their mistakes will compound more rapidly the more decisions you have the opportunity to make better than them.