Nostradamus was a French astrologer, apothecary, physician, and a reputed seer… He could see the future!
I know we can't be a seer like Nostradamus. But, we can use our poker experience to gauge what the future holds to help us make better decisions in the present.
Watch me discuss planning for the future with the 6 example hands below:
Nostradamus Would've Seen This Coming
I've given myself food poisoning with bad chicken in the past and it was the worst experience of my life. The worst!
The other day I gave myself a food poisoning scare.
I pulled out some bacon for a BLT and left it on the counter in the garage for 6 hours (doh!). When it came time to make my sandwich, I found the bacon and felt it. It seemed a little cold still, so I figured, “Hey, it's not chicken. It should be okay.” So I cooked it and had a great lunch.
However, a couple hours later my mind started churning and I was worried I gave myself food poisoning. Yeah, I shoulda seen this anxiety coming and made a better bacon decision! I know Nostradamus would've.
The Better Bacon Decision: throw that $3 pack away, whip out a new one, defrost it under water for 10 minutes or in the microwave for 2 minutes, THEN cook and eat it. (Jeez, when I say it this way, my decision to cook the 6-hour garage bacon sounds even dumber!)
For the next 12 hours or so, I couldn't think of anything else other than the stomach pains and days of sickness that were headed my way. I couldn't eat dinner, couldn't do any work, couldn't think of anything other then the inevitable pain.
This lead to a terrible night's sleep riddled with anxiety. Thankfully, it didn't happen and I was fine. But I think I learned a valuable lesson that's applicable to poker.
Poker planning requires that we think about what can and is likely to happen in the future before we make our play right now.
You've heard me say things like “3bets are the bane of 2bets” or “there are only 3 reasons to call flops and turns” or “if they ain't folding, you ain't bluffing.”
These are all related in some fashion to making better decisions by planning for the future right now:
- Before open-raising, look ahead for 3bet bluffers. If you find any, make a plan for facing their 3bet before open-raising.
- Before calling a flop cbet just to bluff later, know the good/bad cards for bluffing. Look at his Turn Cbet stat. What's the SPR (stack to pot ratio) going to be on the turn if you call? Will you be able to bluff him later?
- Before bluffing the flop, look at his fold to cbet stats. Which street is he honest on? If it's the river, make sure you're willing to triple-barrel before you even pull the trigger on the flop. And, are the stacks big enough to allow you to put enough river pressure on him to earn the pot?
In order to plan for the future, we use all the information available to us:
- Who's still to act?
- What are their stack sizes?
- How are they likely to respond based on my play?
- Are they capable of exploiting my play?
- How can I exploit them now or on a later street?
- What future board cards are good/bad for us or them?
Key idea: If I enter the pot… what situation am I getting into?
Planning As the Preflop Raiser:
- If I raise, who's likely to call? Are they calling just to exploit me later? How can I exploit them post-flop?
- Who's likely to 3bet bluff? What will I do in response?
- What are my potential opponent's tendencies? Do I have easy exploits? Do they have easy exploits against me?
Example Hand: 77
Make a plan before open-raising:
- P1 and P2 are the most likely 3bettors. I'll probably fold vs P2, but vs P1, I'm going to shove b/c of a past hand where he 3bet and I quickly folded in the same positions.
- P2 is the most likely caller. I don't know his post-flop tendencies yet, but I'll probably cbet 100% to start learning about him.
- P3 has folded to every steal so far, so if he comes in, it's likely with a decent to great hand.
- P1 seems loose-aggressive and is capable of using position against me. He might just call to make me fold on the flop or turn by betting when I check. I'll minimize my flop cbets and probably only cbet if I'm willing to double-barrel.
Example Hand: 88
I opened with 88, P5 min-3bet. Let's plan:
- I could fold, but it's only 2 more bb's and it's worth it to set-mine with 88. It's highly unlikely P4 will raise after we call.
- If I call, P4 will call. We'll go 3-way to the flop. I have best position, but I'll most likely just fold vs P5's cbet on most flops.
- But, what if I 4bet? I'll be the aggressor and they'll likely just check to me (and P4 is likely to just fold). Look at that! In case they call my 4bet, they both fold to cbets a ton! P4 folds 100% and P5 folds 75%. That settles it, I'll 4bet then cbet bluff the flop.
Planning as the Preflop Caller:
- My initial call says, “I want to see the flop against you.” So, what's my post-flop plan against this player? What are his tendencies? Am I happy with our positions? What boards are good/bad for each of us?
- If I call the raise, who else will call? Do I want to go multi-way to the flop?
- Who's likely to 3bet squeeze? What will I do if I face one?
Example Hand: AQo
P3 opened, I have AQo in the CO. I'm considering a call:
- If I call, there are two 3bettors still to act. Ouch! I hate facing 3bet squeezes.
- And, the remaining players could easily call. Do I want to see a multiway pot with AQo? Wouldn't I rather 3bet to isolate the open-raiser? And, he could just fold and I'd take down the 4.4bb pot right now.
- If I 3bet and he calls, I've got position. Great for cbet bluffing the flop!
- I think I'm better off 3betting as that puts me in a better situation than being the caller.
Example Hand: 66
A TAG opens in the MP and I call with 66. Here's the plan:
- I like set-mining vs TAG players with tight ranges. If I hit my set and he's got a strong pair, I'm making beaucoup bucks. I also like having position against a TAG in case I miss my set.
- I don't mind other players calling behind and going multiway. It makes my set-mining potentially more profitable (but more dangerous, too).
- But, the BTN is a maniac LAG who now has an easy and fun 3bet squeeze. But, I think the juice is worth the squeeze here, so I'm fine with calling then folding to his 3bet of reasonable size.
- Maximus said, “What we do in life echoes in eternity!” Well, your preflop choices echo through each of the streets, just like your flop echoes into the turn and river, and so on.
- It's critical to put more thought into your post-flop play than, “I have a draw, I gotta call” or “I hit nothing, I'll donk bluff.”
- What's the next street going to look like if I make this play? What's the pot going to be and the stack sizes?
- What are his tendencies? Can I exploit him later?
- What cards are good/bad for me/him on the turn and river?
Example Hand: 87o
We were the only caller in the BB with 87o. We flopped 2nd pair and checked only to face a 1/3 pot cbet. Plan:
- His small bet smells weak, especially given he cbets the flop a lot at 67% (4/6 opportunities). We have a pair so we can call. But, we're giving him position on the next two streets and he could make things very costly.
- But, the Smart HUD shows us he's very turn honest when cbetting at 0% (0/2). This is great for us. We call now, and if he doesn't hold an Ace, he's checking the next street. Then we can easily bet to bluff the river or check with our showdown worthy hand and maybe call a small river bet.
- Or, if he barrels big, we've got an easy turn fold if we don't improve.
Example Hand: Q8s
CO limp/called our iso raise with Q8s. Then he donked 1bb on flop and 2bb on turn. Our plan:
- He donks flops and turns about 20% of the time, so he's capable of bluffing especially at these tiny sizes.
- I suspect weakness, and he only bets rivers 15% of the time. So, I can call now with very little showdown value with the plan of bluffing on overcards or maybe any card on the river. He'll see my flop and turn calls as maybe Jx just slowplaying because that's what he'd do if the positions were reversed.
Play with Purpose
Play 1-2 tables for the next 5 days with a planning focus.
Preflop: What situation am I getting into?
Post-flop: What's the next street going to look like?
Study with Purpose
Review 10 hands per day over the next 5 days.
Use hands that went to showdown; big winners and big losers.
Plan each street, find your mistakes and take note of them in your poker journal so you can work to NOT repeat them.
Get the Smart HUD for PokerTracker 4
Aleksandar, David Cassidy, Travis Baugh, Brendan Rojas, Crawford Parrott, Michael Walker, Raymond Fairclough, Matthew Tommasiello, Matt Wires, George Skrypek, Joseph Ristoro, Dalton Pelster, Daniel Palis, Sebastian Rios, Salvatore Garozzo, Rene Emmell, Arno, Eric, Sergii Kolisnyk, Timo Truumaa, Sean Juntilla and Stephan Horvath bought the Smart HUD with a 1.5 hour webinar for PokerTracker 4. It’s the best online poker HUD in the business! 16 elements in the HUD and 7 custom popups. This is what every online player needs to maximally exploit opponents.
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