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A Christmas gift for the Poker player – A time machine

Thu, Dec 22, 2:08pm by Poker Guru

As a poker player, what do you want for Christmas? Flopping more sets? No more aces cracked? No more flush cards on the river? Personally I want a time machine. I want to go back to 2004-2005 and play online again. Of course I would miss the new formats, like the Pokerstars Spin & Go’s and Zoom, but the cash games back then were so easy. Most poker players would agree that there is nothing more entertaining than winning.

I want to give you an example of what is was like. Suppose you are in a six-handed NL hold’em cash game today with 100 big blinds. What would it take for you to go or call all-in pre-flop? Of course the situation and the style of the other players will be important factors here but in general? Pocket aces, yes of course, and maybe pocket kings but most players nowadays would not want to be all-in with any other hand. At the mid-stakes cash games tables at Party Poker in 2005 players would be happy to go all-in with AK, AQ, AJ and any pair down to at least pocket tens. Occasionally you would even see lower pairs, AT and KQ. It was absolutely insane. Since that was how others played, I needed to adapt and I remember my standard range for raising/reraising/calling all-in pre-flop was AA, KK, QQ, JJ, AK. Even three-way all-ins for 100 big blinds each were so common that you needed a pre-flop strategy for it. Yes, it was absolutely insane. And wonderful.

When you meet poker players who tell you that they used to be professionals ten years ago but have chosen another career path since, keep in mind that this is what their job used to look like. It was not a difficult job. The most difficult thing was probably not to start playing like a maniac yourself. You need to loosen up against all the crazy players but not too much.

I just finished watching WSOP Main Event 2016 on ESPN. I am happy Qui Nguyen’s aggressive style paid off and he is a worthy world champion. He entered the final table as the chip leader and he was a massive chip leader when they were down to three but then he went on a roller coaster ride before finally clinching the title. During the heads-up play, he made a few all-in shoves that made Gordon Vayo fold the best hand. This hand is a good example of that:

WATCH: Qui Nguyen in action

In heads-up whatever works is a good play but to me this hand is an example of a poor decision by Vayo. Had he called and faced a better hand he would have lost in style but folding was just too tight, in my opinion. Either way, getting your opponent to make mistakes is what heads-up play is about and Nguyen clearly deserved the title.


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