In my opinion, in order to be a successful poker player you need a wide set of skills to make money in the long term and at the forefront of these attributes is that you have to be an adaptable player. If you aren't, you won't be able to play against the wide variety of player types and the different playing styles opponents will inevitably use against you and will ultimately put you to the sword for your money. In the 'Art of War' by Sun Tsu there is a quote which says, 'know your enemy, know yourself and you fight a hundred battles without disaster...' That being said, in the last few days, these are salient words of advice, but sometimes we fall prey to just poor old bad luck at the tables.
In the excellent poker book 'No Limit Hold'em Theory' by David Sklansky and Ed Miller, the main thing I got from their advice and technical guidance is that gambling with cards for money is a game played with making mistakes. As long as you make smaller mistakes losing small pots, rather than big mistakes in huge pots, you will become a winning player in the long run. This may sound counter intuitive at first glance, but bear with me.
Take your driving test for example, if you drive. In the final test you can make a number of minor mistakes and still pass, but if you make a couple of big mistakes, like drive into a lamp post for example, you will definitely fail. The same goes for playing in poker tournaments and on the cash game tables. Make a big mistake in those and your out, but make a few small mistakes, entice opponents to play a certain way against you, and you can capitalise on them. Everything is not as it seems on the poker table.
Sometimes, however, even playing perfect poker can lead to tears and the game can justify fall down to sheer good or bad luck. Take the following hands for example. In the first hand I will show you I was playing in a $1 $400 guaranteed tournament feeling extremely confident and having built up my stack to about 150,000. I smooth called from EP, one off the BB, and it came back to me after a player had raise about four times the BB from mid position. I decided to go over the top and re-raise all in to either induce a fold or to force the player heads up, with me with the best of it hopefully! After a long while she thought and finally called, showing an amazing AQ offsuite which I was delighted to see wasn't AK. What didn't delight me and left me hurting was how this hand played out.
Ofcourse the river card was a 10 giving the other player a straight and a nice double up to 300,000 chips and knocking me out of the tournament. Still I was overall happy with my play here.
I'll give you another example. Take for instance a hand I had yesterday playing with Ah 9h from mid to late position against a wild 'play any two cards' player on my left who was entering every single pot and raising pretty much before the flop almost every time. The flop came Js 8s 7h giving me a straight draw and I called the wild card player's bet on the flop. The turn came an amazing Kh giving me a huge number of outs (and on hindsight the A was also an out as well, which I hadn't factored at the time.) He went all in on the turn and I called, but Lady Luck wasn't with on me this day. Can you guess what card hit the river?
You got it, it was a 9 giving him the low straight, and once again I missed out, despite being a huge favourite.
So should I have adapted my play to suit the opponents better? Would it have been more sensible to simply raise smaller with QQs and fold on the turn against the wild player? Well perhaps it would, but as far as I'm aware if you have anything like an 80% chance of winning, the long term statistics suggest it is far more profitable to call, so I don't think it was a terrible play on my part...just bad luck.
So hopefully by keep forcing opponents to keep making bad decisions which get them to put the worst of it into big pots against me and eventually the 80% chance of winning will eventually go my way.
Good luck at the tables folks! Thanks for reading.