I’m sure some of you know why I’m writing this article at this time. For those of you who don’t know, it’s because I posted on Facebook the other day that someone left a 1-Star review for The Perfect Range. This led to an interesting response, and that response proved something that someone said to me recently: “Do you realize that every time someone attacks you, people come to your defense?”
I hadn’t realized that, but I guess it might be true. A few months ago, someone told me that while I don’t have the biggest following in the poker community, I do have the most dedicated following in the poker community. If you happen to be one of those people, I appreciate it immensely. I’ll share a secret with you…
This shit ain’t easy! You have to realize that I only published my photo in Summer’18. This led to people getting to know me during live poker events. That, in turn, built my brand. It led to being invited to poker rooms, poker tournaments, to be a guest on radio shows, to co-host a radio show, the development of a feature film, to becoming an ambassador for a poker tour, and much more.
Has my time and financial investment paid off over the past two years?
Big Picture? Maybe.
Everyone always tells me, “Dude … you’re going to be way good,” or “I can’t see it failing. It’s just not possible,” or “Just give it time. You will succeed.”
I sure hope these people are correct.
For years, I had a high-paying job as a finance writer. My books were supplemental income. When the place I worked for hired a new CEO, that CEO hired a new Head Editor. The former Head Editor loved my work and gave me creative freedom. The new Head Editor wanted me to work from a template and to micromanage me. I was out.
After that, I wrote more books and I was moving in the right direction. The brand was building, and this was prior to anyone knowing what I looked like when I was playing live poker. I was under the radar, which was pretty cool.
Then fate stepped in, but maybe it was a dark fate. I’m not sure. A lot will depend on how things play out.
A Facebook friend who I added out of nowhere asked if I wanted to work as a salesman in the energy industry. He told me I would make hundreds of thousands of dollars. I said, “Okay” and started cold-calling.
They usually called churches and small retail stores. Fuck that! I wanted to blow everyone out of the water. I called Lehigh University, Under Armour, GE, and shit like that. I was flying, booking appointments left and right with major players. How? By being me instead of a salesman.
About halfway through this venture, we had a potential $1 million deal with Lehigh University. They gave our company (not to be named) an opportunity to prove themselves for three months first with a $10,000 deal.
When the three months were up, Lehigh decided to pass. About one month after that, during a live meeting, one of the owners of the company said the following during a meeting, “I remember driving up to the Super Bowl in a limo because I used to rip people off.”
When you hear the term ‘red flag’ you probably think of a little red flag that would be blowing in the wind at the beach or something along those lines. This red flag was a big motherfucker. Like the kind you would see at a NASCAR race. It didn’t take long before I left the company. I got paid a little per month, but it was a far cry from hundreds of thousands of dollars.
My point is that I had shut down poker and poker-related writing for a year because of all the time, energy, and focus I put into this job. Did failing lead me in the right direction? If I had succeeded in that job, there would be no movie deal, APAT, poker room invites, etc. And I never would have met many people in the poker world.
Since re-entering the poker world and posting my picture so people could identify me, my popularity has increased quite a bit. That’s cool, but it can also be bad. It can be bad because of haters.
I don’t honestly know if the person who left the 1-Star rating was a hater. I’m going to guess not because there are several 1-Star ratings on The Perfect Range. If they were truly haters, they would leave 1-Star ratings on other books as well. Most of my books have zero or one 1-Star rating. The Perfect Range has a bunch. This tells me that they truly didn’t enjoy the book and/or the strategy within it.
Let me dissect that for a minute. If they didn’t enjoy the entertainment side of The Perfect Range, they’re probably the kind of people who like to visit the library on Friday nights and ask for the manager at a restaurant because the waitress’s top is too low.
If they didn’t like the strategy, it’s because they NEVER FREAKING TRIED IT!
Okay … now let’s get into poker mode. You don’t see me rant often, but here it goes.
POKER RANT MODE
It happens over and over again, and it will never stop happening. That’s why I usually don’t say anything.
Do you have any clue how many poker players pretend to be profitable and talk to me as if I don’t know what the hell I’m doing? Fortunately, there are many more that respect me and ask my advice.
Ironically, I have been so bombarded by people telling me that I’m doing it wrong that I actually start to believe it, which leads to me not being sure if I should be teaching others. And maybe I shouldn’t, but I’ll explain why.
I once posted a question years ago asking people to rate their reading ability 1-10. Almost everyone overinflated their number. When someone asked me my reading ability toward the end of that post, I went the humble route and said 6 (of 10). Biggest lie I ever told.
I once had a conversation with another poker player about this and he said, “Dude, you can read my farts.” I took that as a compliment. More recently, someone told me my reads were spot-on. When I folded KQ face-up to AQ on this flop: 9Q6-rainbow, a dealer asked, “How do you know?” He had dealt to me many times.
I’m not right all of the time, but my mind is much more suited to figuring out human puzzles by using clues than it is to figure out pot odds. Most people are writing about pot odds, implied odds, EV, GTO, etc. That’s not me, and I’m not going to try to be someone I’m not.
I’m doing my best to write about much different things based on what works for me. I won’t go through an entire list. I will just use one word: Patterns. If you figure out someone’s patterns, you know them better than they know themselves. That is how you read someone. And that is how you win. And knowing them better than they know themselves is not an exaggeration.
How the hell am I supposed to reach reading ability? It’s more of an instinctive thing. Or, maybe it just comes from seeing so many poker hands throughout my life that I usually have a sense of what’s going on. My biggest losses come from knowing I’m behind and calling anyway. I have greatly reduced that tendency, but it still creeps in once in a while.
While teaching reading ability is tough (yet doable), there is another aspect of the game that I can teach. I have said it before and I will say it again: “You can either look cool or you can win.”
You have to make that decision, and it will likely determine your future as a poker player.
Most people choose the “look cool” route because they’re basing their decisions on what other players at the table expect them to do. As in, what is the correct move because if you make the incorrect move people are going to see you as an idiot. They also might see you as too loose, too tight, or something else.
Here’s some advice if you want to win: Stop Giving a Shit What Other People Think! But that’s only if you want to win. I’ll give you an example.
I played in an online cash game the other night. I was + $195 when the following happened.
I was dealt Ac Kc UTG. This was a loose and crazy table. In fact, it’s a loose and crazy table every night and a PLO game was just added. If you want in, the only way in is to DM me because it’s a private game. I’ll get you in.
Anyway, what do you think I did with that Ac Kc UTG? This is a game where $400-$900 pre-flop all-ins are common.
I limped because I knew I would be raised, I knew the pot would inflate if I remained involved, and I knew I might end up having to call for my entire stack if I hit top pair. Did I really want to go down that road?
It was indeed raised by MP1, who raised 3x the BB.
There were three callers by the time it got back to me.
If I was stuck, I’d blast in that spot, but I was up and this crowd didn’t fold. AK is still a drawing hand.
I did call, but with extreme caution.
I checked to see how much interest there would be from the other players.
MP1 bet pot and three people called. I had no doubt that meant someone held the Q.
I’ll fast forward. I would have lost the hand to two players, one of which ended up with a straight.
You might say that I could have raised them off these hands pre-flop, but that’s just it. There is no way I would have raised them off these hands pre-flop. The only way to do that in this game is to raise to $50 when the Big Blind is $4. I wasn’t going down that road. I was protecting my wins.
Later in that game, I was dealt KK UTG +2.
I raised 5x the BB because it was easy to see how this table played.
I got two callers.
I bet the pot.
The first player called.
The second player raised three times my bet.
I really thought about this as the timer ran. It was a rainbow flop, so I didn’t have to worry about a flush draw. The player who flatted likely had 98 because he called my pre-flop raise due to being in position and he wasn’t raising. A set was the only concern there. The player who raised three times my bet definitely didn’t have a set because he wouldn’t want to scare me away.
And, no, most players with sets don’t fear straight draws. They are willing to take that risk. And he sure as hell wasn’t going to raise three times my bet with a pair of sevens. We can also eliminate 72 and 62 because he called a big pre-flop raise. The only possibility was 76.
The other two players got it all-in.
The player who flatted tabled 88 (I had that beat).
The player who raised three times my bet tabled 76 (I didn’t have that beat), which held.
The point here is that most ‘poker pros’ will never fold in that spot. But which route is more profitable? I hope you see my point.
I go with what wins based on what I have seen throughout my life at the poker table. I don’t go with what someone wrote in a book because that’s someone who hasn’t been out there as much as me. I’m in the trenches.
Have I had a great poker year? No. But it hasn’t been bad. I have probably shipped 10-12 tournaments. That’s more than most people, even if some of them are small tournaments. I’ll be crazy honest with you at all times. I’m hovering right around even for the year. That’s fine because I’m getting a ton of content at the same time. And there is plenty of time left in the year.
As far as The Perfect Range goes…
Figuring out when to call, fold, or raise isn’t the only thing I have picked up on. There is another pattern, and it relates to SPATS. I can’t reiterate this enough: SPATS does not mean you have to play every hand within SPATS! It means they are the only hands you CAN play (unless four-handed or less).
Five monster points here.
One, every single time I go outside of SPATS, I lose chips.
Two, almost every tournament I have won ends with me holding a SPATS hand.
Three, if you truly want to win, you need to fold marginal SPATS hands when out of position. However, there is one tremendous exception. If you have a pocket pair, don’t fold. I’m playing almost every pocket pair unless there is a massive pre-flop raise. I do this because of implied odds. I actually want my opponent to have AA, KK, QQ in that spot. I know I’ll only flop that set 1 of 7.5 times, but those are easy folds when I miss and I’m stacking my opponent when I hit the set.
Four, stay the hell away from small Suited One-Gappers and small Suited-Connectors unless you’re able to limp-in late or raising late because the players behind you are passive.
Five, the only players who don’t profit from SPATS are the ones who don’t use it!!!
If you want to succeed in the game of poker, then you need to make a very important decision. Do you want to look cool or do you want to win? If you’re brave enough to go against the crowd, then I highly recommend paying careful attention to the players at the table and their patterns.
It’s not about what you’re supposed to do in this spot or that spot. It’s about what you need to do against that specific player in that spot based on their past behaviors. You also need to have a long-term navigational approach to the game. I limped with AKs UTG and folded KK on a 762-rainbow flop because I sensed danger in both spots. Those plays aren’t what you’re supposed to do, but they are the plays that won based on the behaviors of others.
If you combine pattern-reading with SPATS and you play SPATS correctly, you’re going to be dangerous. Not dangerous in the traditional sense because you will be viewed as a tight player, which doesn’t seem scary to others, but many times, you will leave the table a winner. Let them underestimate you. That’s what you want.
In order to play SPATS correctly, remember to always stay within the SPATS range, fold marginal SPATS hands when out of position, play all pocket pairs for set-mining opportunities unless facing a monster pre-flop raise, and stay the hell away from small Suited One-Gappers and Suited-Connectors unless you’re able to limp-in late or raise late because the players behind you are passive.
And please stop using my own strategy against me. It’s starting to get annoying. See you at the WSOP!
♠ pokerjournal.org | Tyler Nals
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