How Not to Suck at Poker: Pay Attention

vincent pasdeloup

Texas Hold'em is a game of partial information.

The more you can acquire, the better you'll play.

Everything that happens at a poker table - whether you're in the pot or not - is one more piece of information you can add to your collection.

Get Information at the Poker Table

The vast majority of poker hands you'll be dealt actually require little to no thought at all.

If you're following the advice from the first article in this series (play fewer hands), you should only be playing somewhere in the neighborhood of 15% of all hands. This means 85% of the time you're dealt in, you're folding.

Mike Matusow

Of the 15% of hands you're playing, many of them are going to be simple, one-action hands.

Either you raise your K K and everyone folds or you're ready to play your 9 9 when a player moves all-in ahead of you.

Only a few hands you play will really require some thought. And only a fraction of those will force you to make a very difficult decision.

When you do need to make those difficult decisions, you'll need as much information as you can - and you can gain that while you're auto-playing.

What to Look For

In short: everything. Everything a player does at the table is a clue to how they play and what kind of decisions they're going to make.

Watch how they talk, how they sit. Watch every hand that plays out even if you're not in it.

Take notes (mental notes in live poker obv.) anytime someone does something out of the ordinary. Note how much money they brought, how they bought in.

The more you take in, and the more you consciously catalog, evaluate and remember it all the better chance you'll have at making the right decisions when the time comes.

How to Classify Your Poker Opponents

Pay attention to how much each player is raising before the flop and from what position.

When they get called, how often do they continuation-bet after the flop? Are they capable of bluffing all three streets or do they shut down after one call? Do they like to semi-bluff with their draws or play passively and only bet and raise when they have a made hand?

Right away you want to start classifying your opponents as aggressive or passive, loose or tight. There's an old saying that if you can't spot the mark at the table in the first 10 minutes, you are the mark.

You need to figure out who the weak players are and paying close attention is the easiest way to do it. 

Making the Hard Choices

When you're in a hand that requires you to make a difficult decision, you need to quickly and accurately compile all of the information you have about the hand and the players involved.

Every scrap of information you have is one more piece of the puzzle. The more pieces of the puzzle you hold, the easier it will be to see the big picture. 

Making the correct decision in these few key moments is what separates the losing player from the winners. Check out the video below for more:

More on How Not to Suck at Poker:

  1. How Not to Suck at Poker: Play Fewer Hands
  2. How Not to Suck at Poker: Play in Position
  3. How Not to Suck at Poker: Count Your Outs
  4. How Not to Suck at Poker: Learn Basic Odds
  5. How Not to Suck at Poker: Pay Attention
  6. How Not to Suck at Poker: Have a Bankroll
  7. How Not to Suck at Poker: Stop Bluffing
  8. How Not to Suck at Poker: Keep Your Mouth Shut
  9. How Not to Suck at Poker: Keep Records
  10. How Not to Suck at Poker: Discuss the Game

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Andrew Bassett 2016-11-24 14:19:11

Poor article. The whole thing could have been summed up in one sentence. The reality is that for most people, paying attention to absolutey everything is unrealistic and a form of information overload, which will do more harm than good.

This article should have focused on what are the critical things to pay attention to, and how to do it. One technique is to pretend you have a play-by-play announcer in your head; this helps keep you focused on what's most relevant. Another thing to consider is quitting if you're too tired or bored to pay attention.

Self cut victim 2016-07-11 18:40:56

I won my first live tournament last Friday at Morongo casino. It was my first time ever playing in a live tournament with 40 players and it was awesome. I basically played scared unless I was 100 percent sure to my knowledge I was going to win. I've been playing 2 four for a while and it is not the same, all in is definitely a lot better. Nevertheless I used your strategy and it was a fantastic asset to have in my corner. Thx Sean

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