Have you ever watched Floyd Mayweather fight?
It’s the most boring thing in the world to watch.
His defense is flawless. His form is impeccable. The other fighter can never land a punch. Floyd just sneaks in there, throws a flurry, and gets out. Every. Single. Time. He gets his points and runs. And that’s why he’s undefeated through 50 prize fights.
Good poker is also boring.
Growing up, I was always confused as to why I was a successful poker player. I harp on this a lot, but it really needs to be said: I’m no smarter than any of you. That’s why I really believe in my poker coaching. I know if it worked for me it can work for anyone.
When I got into poker, I could recognize that the people around me were intelligent. While, despite my best efforts, I wasn’t that great of a student, I did read voraciously. I knew how to recognize book smarts; those people sounded just like intelligent authors. There were many of them in poker.
They could elaborate forever on why they did this or that river bet. They always seemed so secure with themselves. They never seemed to worry about money, because they had so much of it.
I was intimidated, for sure. But I needed the money. So, I kept plugging away at card playing, and I picked up tricks here and there.
Then, one day, I looked around. I realized all the “hot shots” I grew up with had disappeared.
Meanwhile, the guys they always made fun of were buying their third house. The boring poker players who grinded their ass off every day were making the real money. More importantly, they were doing it quietly.
If you were to watch them play, you wouldn’t see a flashy player. Actually, I can break down what they do pretty quickly:
They find super soft games. They’re not above taking fliers on international sites. They deposit small amounts and expect to lose them frequently. They’re really excited about what Bitcoin has done for the industry.
They open when they are unlikely to be threebet. They try to play as many heads-up pots as possible. They do this because the average range misses a non-two-high-card flop 45-50% of the time, and a normal c-bet needs to work 25 to 43% of the time.
They threebet when they are unlikely to be fourbet. They’re always in position when they commit chips to a pot. They understand there’s a reason nobody makes money from the big blind.
When they c-bet, they try to get high cards to fold. They might set it up so they fold out high cards on the turn, but they’re always looking to fold high cards and gutshots, because that makes up the lion’s share of their opponent’s range.
Once their opponent folds their high cards, they assume the player has mostly pairs. They only barrel board run outs that are likely to make one pair fold.
When they get raised on the flop, turn, and river they remember that these softer players don’t bluff enough, so they fold.
When they make good hands, they work extremely hard to set up river bets that will get called, because those large bets make up the majority of their hourly.
They take copious notes on their opponents to detect any variations. They find a way to convert hand histories on weird networks to database management systems, and then they review statistics from each player, so they can create scouting reports.
They withdraw their funds constantly so they can never get into a Black Friday type scenario. They currency leverage across borders. They cook for themselves, refusing to waste money eating out. They work out to stay mentally fit, and they don’t do drugs.
That’s pretty much it.
After that, most of the battle is getting yourself to the computer for long sessions.
Of course, there’s thousands of little elaborations, but that’s 90% of it. They love trying to attain that last elusive 10%, but most of their days are consumed by the process. Many of them are thoroughly mediocre players, but they have more money than you or I will ever have.
When I was a cash game player, this was pretty much my life. I was always confused as to why I was successful. One of my friends at the time, a German player with easily 100X my talent, would get so pissed off at my profit totals every month. “You’re such a f—ing nut peddler!!! How do you make any money?!”
It was when I started getting a lot of money together that I began getting an ego. That’s when all my problems started. That’s why I’m not one of my successful friends.
In the words of Joey Knish, “You little punk, I’m not playing for the thrill of f—ing victory here…I play for money. My kids eat. I got stones enough not to chase f—ing pipe dreams of winning the World Series on ESPN.”
A good rule to have for yourself is that exciting poker is often bad poker.
Good profitable poker means you know your opponents and yourself intimately. It means you’ve prepared for almost all situations. Your training is supposed to be difficult. Your poker sessions shouldn’t be.
If you want to play a tournament or cash game for fun, have a blast. But don’t tell yourself you’re playing for money. If you’re playing for money, your job is to find a watering hole that you can understand completely. That means you need to understand your opponents more than they know themselves. That requires study, self-reflection, and honesty. None of that is exciting.
I hope these tips can be beneficial to you and your game. Good luck to all of you.
This article has been a preview of Alex’s new strategy series, “How To Think Like A Poker Player.” The 5+ hour series is available for $79.99 for a limited time! That’s 60% off the normal price!