In this, the penultimate free poker education lesson in the Bullding a Bankroll beginner to intermediate poker training series we’re looking at what you need to do to bring your solid poker skills skill-set upto the 100% mark.
So, Michael, take it away:
I suppose that two or more of the above words might make you think that I’m writing this Article in a language unknown to mankind; ZUTZ for one, TUTZ for another. But, as is every so often the case, they’re simply an example of the relative frivolity I put to use in creating ‘non-English’ words that serve me a reasonably intelligent ‘faux-acronym’ purpose.
That being said, I sincerely hope that all five ‘non-words’ will help you as well. And, you can opt to use my bastardization of the King’s (Queens English, or you can choose to create your own version of a monarch’s set of ‘faux-acronyms’. Either way, once the inherent poker principles that apply to each word or acronym are absorbed into your game play routines, you’ll be sitting down at every game you enter with a 100% command of the multi-dimensional aspects of quality poker play (assuming, of course, that you’ve read all the free online poker coaching Articles….and, a number of the better poker books; written by Harrington, Caro, Gordon, Unger, Brunson, and others).
So, we’ll begin with the first of the five odd-sounding words; NUTZ.
In the instances where you possess very specific knowledge about your competitors’ style of play, about your competitors’ everyday table habits, about your competitors’ level of skill, about your competitors’ emotions management capacity, about your competitors’ betting patterns, about your competitors’ risk tolerance, about your competitors’ attention span, about your competitors’ stack management ability, about your competitors’ table tells….there is, in fact, more than one type of hand that is guaranteed to win the pot.
And, when all of the ‘competitor data’ is known by you, playing the NUTZ hand doesn’t always mean you’re playing the best hand. Surprised? I guess you should be! It’s certainly an odd way to define a NUTZ hand.
Curious? You gotta’ be! Yet, I can’t say that I blame you. It all sounds so bizarre. However, please accept my belief, and the belief of countless other poker professionals….by vocation, or avocation….that there are two different types of NUTZ hands. A ‘simple’ one, and a ‘complex’ one.
The ‘simple’ one….well, you, me, and all of our families are undeniably familiar with; it’s 2 pocket cards, in combination with the 5 board cards, creating a 5 card hand that can’t lose. Clearly, this type of NUTZ hand requires no further discussion on my part. I call it a type ‘A’ NUTZ hand. You win, you’ve got the best 5 cards; the contents of the pot get moved to your stack. And, you further the process of ‘Building a Bankroll’.
The second, not black and white I should note, is a touch harder to understand, and it’s even more difficult to use with a degree of accuracy that equates to 100%. But, it not only can be done, it’s done with so much regularity that you might find the whole concept somewhat incomprehensible.
Yet, the seasoned Professional cash and free poker online player uses it to stash additional cash in their pocket every single day that he or she plays. And, there’s no reason that you can’t do the very same thing.
It has everything to do with ‘knowing your opponent’, and it has nothing to do with whatever cards you may be holding.
If you’re a Donk, or if you prefer to briefly think like one, you can call it a bluff….a semi-bluff….a shot in the dark….a chance at redemption….a hope for vindication….a flirt with Lady Luck….a madman’s fantasy. However, I’ll never call it by any of those names.
You see, when a bet always takes down the pot, always produces a win, always adds to your chip stack, it can’t be any of the above…it’s just a winning play; it’s a NUTZ hand. I call it a type ‘B’ NUTZ hand.
Now, if you truly understand this second type of NUTZ hand, then you’ve ‘Zoned’ in (‘Z’ as in ZUTZ) on your opponent. If you don’t understand this second type of NUTZ hand, then you’ve got a bit of work to do (and we’ll do that ZUTZ work together in this free online poker instruction Article).
For the moment, though, accept my proposition, accept the professional players proposition, that a NUTZ hand is any play that guarantees a win….or, guarantees an extremely high long-term ROI (Return On Investment).
Keep in mind that the size ‘B’ NUTZ hand relates to ‘knowing absolutely everything about your opponent’ (again, it has nothing to do with whatever cards you might be holding). And, unless you were a member of one of my No Limit Ring Game Classes, you probably have little or no idea as to what I’m talking about. Now, you’re not alone; there have only been about 240 students to-date (including 12 present day students).
These students have all learned to record salient information about their opponents. And, subsequent to their individual ‘note taking’ tasks, when that ‘note’ information is used properly by each of them, it guarantees a win….or, if nothing else, it guarantees a Return on Investment (ROI) that exceeds approximately 110% (i.e. for every $100 any one of them put into play, the user of the type ‘B’ NUTZ hand gets back at least $210; a ROI of 110% (or more)). This, by the way, vastly exceeds the Professional Players average ROI of about 40 to 50 percent.
Clearly, it’s one thing for me to offer a general description of the type ‘A’ (simple) and type ‘B’ (complex) NUTZ hands, however, unless I get you to completely comprehend all that is involved with the task of being attentive to your poker play environment (ZUTZ; zoning in on all players, all actions, at all times), the fact that there are two different types of NUTZ hands isn’t going to do you one iota of good.
Why? First off, you already know how to play the type ‘A’ hand; so you’d be learning nothing new. And, second, you’ll never be able to successfully use the type ‘B’ NUTZ hand, unless you fully grasp all that is involved with the composition of ZUTZ.
This being the case, the timing is appropriate to welcome three new elements to your ever expanding skill set; and, these three elements combined make up the totality of my crazy acronym ‘ZUTZ’ (a faux-acronym).
The first is a Consistency of Focus (COF), the second is a Player Note Log (PNL), and the third is an awareness of Competitor Table Tells (CTT). And, while all three are far removed from nuclear physics, none of the three will be learned by the ‘Farm Animals’….they’ve learned nothing to-date, so I can’t imagine they’ll start now. For one thing, if nothing else, they almost all suffer from RCI.
The herds of pasture dwellers….almost all of them….are, to my belief, afflicted with the dreaded poker disease Rectal Cranial Inversion (RCI); an ailment that increases anus functionality, and, concurrently, significantly, and in direct proportion, decreases brain functionality.
The ‘Farm Animals’, most of whom are suffering from RCI, will continue to fling chips around as though they were immersed in a contest to discover who amongst them is today’s king of the dung pile. The winner, I might add, is always the jackass who has accumulated the most ‘nothings’….they must have a way of keeping score, but I’m not familiar with the ‘dead flies in a heap’ counting method; it’s my understanding that they use this to accurately, or erroneously, maintain a scoring list.
Now, zoning in on your opponents table behavior (ZUTZ) begins with a powerful resolve on your part….no exceptions.
When you’ve chosen to sit at a table, you must also chose to fully commit your eyes and mind to all that is happening….all that has happened….and all that is about to happen. No one becomes a very good poker player without a complete and total commitment to Consistency of Focus (COF).
Should your COF be absent during a game, you’ll invariably attain the level of no more than ‘just an average poker player’. I, for one, would find that unacceptable….I think you should also.
Thus, the Consistency of Focus that I make reference to in this free online poker training Article (and in prior Articles) is more than just a suggestion by me; you’d be well advised to view the task as a fundamental part of your ‘winning future in the game’.
You can’t allow your eyes or mind to wander while seated at the table….any table. If you were to permit either to happen, you could easily miss a key piece of information; something so important that your tournament life, or cash game life, could be put at risk in a yet-to-be-played hand. Remember, we don’t play to lose….that outcome is the primary subconscious goal of the gambler.
Plus, without complete and exacting focus, you’ll never be able to record truly accurate notes about your competitors’ play habits, play styles, pocket card preferences, betting patterns, chat utterances, time utilization, and more….all of which, once properly notated by you, could make the difference between his dispatch of you to the ‘Farm Animal’ filled losers domain, or your dispatch of him to the very same pastures of stench and filth. Where, I might add, there are no ‘acronyms’, faux or otherwise….quite possibly the only positive about the place.
Consistency of Focus (COF) is a pre-requisite to maintaining a Player Note Log (PNL). Plus, Competitor Table Tells (CTT) is an integral part of a PNL. The three are all closely aligned with one another.
And, all three acronyms, or sub-acronyms, are components of the ‘faux-acronym’ ZUTZ. The COF aspect of this three way relationship requires no further explanation on my part….and, you must recognize it’s significance in your multi-dimensional approach to the game.
Your eyes and mind are always occupied while seated at a table, your focus is intense; interruptions are an absolute ‘No-No’. Don’t play if you can’t concentrate on everything happening at the table.
Moreover, you don’t ever take a seat in a game when you’re dealing with an Emotions or Stress Management issue of any kind.
If one exists, you must automatically ‘sideline’ yourself. Stress that may be sourced in family matters, work concerns, financial problems, dating dilemmas, health worries, bankroll misfortunes, or anything else that elevates your emotions to the forefront of your thoughts, are all more than justifiable causes for you to be uninvolved with poker. Deal with the issue first, and, when it’s resolved, completely resolved, you can once again deal with the dealer.
Now, before any discussion of a Player Note Log (PNL) can take place, you’ll need to make yourself aware of fairly common Competitor Table Tells (CTT). However, the ‘tells’ to be described relate ONLY to online poker play….not B & M play.
What tells? It’s a game on a PC! I know, but there are quite a few. The most common, the simplest, and the easiest to pick up on at the outset, are as follows:
- Time clock utilization
- Chat box statements
Often, a player with a really good hand will bet quickly….or, a player with a really good hand will bet slowly. You’ll need to focus on the way each of your competitors bet when they’re in the mix; not everyone does this, so be careful before jumping to a quick, and possibly false, conclusion.
Alternately, a player with a bad or ‘drawing’ hand might bet slowly….or, a player with a bad or ‘drawing’ hand might bet quickly. Again, you’ll need to focus on the way each of your competitors bet when they’re in the mix; remembering, of course, that not everyone does this….exercise caution before arriving at what could be a false conclusion.
And, to put the above ‘possible’ tell into perspective, make sure you’re waiting until the hand ends before you decide that there could have been a tell. Then, after seeing a reasonable number of similar time clock utilization’s by any one competitor, after seeing the very same type of hand being played by that particular competitor during just about all of the time clock utilization’s he/she has exercised, then, and only then, are you in the position where you can decide that you have identified a tell….or, a ‘possible’ tell.
A careful read (literal) of chat box statements can easily identify another tell. The “I gotta go, so I’m all-in”, or, “Time for dinner, see you guys”, or, “Enough for me, I’m outa here”, are all potential indicators of a powerful hand. Not every time it’s said, but when it is consistently said by the same competitor, and when the outcome of the hand consistently reveals a ‘good’ or ‘winning’ hand from that competitor, would you not learn that the individual who is chatting is essentially ‘tossing the bull’ to everyone in the game.
And, conversely, there are instances where the very same utterances could mean that the player really is leaving….thus, it presents you with a possible opportunity to play your current hand with weaker cards (versus the quality of cards you might normally play).
Or, think for a moment about how many times you’ve seen a Bozo display his pocket cards after he took down a pot. Sure, it’s not chat, but it might as well be. He’s providing you with visual information….when he never needed to do it. Whenever someone does ‘show’ their cards, the information must be considered a ‘tell source’. It may not be. Yet, over time, you’ll be able to determine whether it is or isn’t.
And, last, the Competitor Table Tells include both overbets and underbets.
An overbet being a wager that significantly exceeds the size of the pot, and an underbet being a wager that is significantly lower than the size of the pot. Both types of bets could be ‘tells’….again, when they are consistently done by the same individual (and verified at the conclusion of the hands).
The overbet is often put forth by a player who believes that he has the current best hand, and doesn’t want anyone drawing against him. The underbet is often put forth by a player who has a NUTZ hand, and wants everyone else to be drawing against him.
There are other CTT’s, and you’re more than capable of identifying them. And, while the underlying component of discerning ‘tells’ is your Consistency of Focus (COF), neither the unrelenting focus that you bring to every table, nor the invaluable ability that you use to ‘pick up’ on ‘tells’, will serve you any valid purpose unless you have a way of accurately recording the information you’ve gathered. Stage right! Here comes the Player Note Log (PNL).
Best of Luck at the Tables
(c) copyright 2008; no reproduction, all rights reserved by D. M. Vadnais
(THIS ARTICLE CONTINUED IN NEXT MONTH’S POST)
Next in your free poker training strategy lesson course is The Nutz, Zutz, Gutz, Butz and Tutz equals 100% – Part 2
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