This has to be my umpteenth post on this but when I look at the occasions I have lost against the occasions I have done well, it comes down to that simple word - "Patience"


Many people will tell you that poker is more than just waiting for the best hand and getting your money in however depending on the source of that statement, you may have to question it.


Even the most gambly type players out there can no last long tournaments with purely an aggressive style. They have to incoporate this into many different styles and change hats depending on the situation.


Even big LAG type players like Gus Hansen although they look mega loose on TV, if they ever hope to outlast 10,000 players in a tournament, they need more than just raise+raise+raise in their arsenal. Those guys have fine tuned the LAG style to be able to fold correctly as well as push against players well enoguh to know when they are beat.


For everyone else that makes up the vast majority of the poker community, playing LAG without the experience to read a situation/player well is a losing proposition.


So back to patience, patience is good and here is why.


In a poker hand preflop, the best odds you have are 88% vs an opponent, that is with AA vs 72o (where you cover both suits)

Lets for fun round that to 90%

That means that out of 10 occasions of putting all of your money in the pot, 1 time you will loose.

Sounds awesome, except that in large field MTTs, you may need to put all of your money in quite often and you are rarely going to get such awesome odds as this, but even when you do.. you still loose 1 in 10.


Lets compare it instead to a real all in hand with a big pair (AA/KK/QQ) vs a decent calling range of someone who has you plenty covered and is willing to take a shot at picking up your 12BB (TT+, AQ+)

Now you are a 67% favorite in this more typical scenario.

Lets round that to 70% and again, for every 10 of these plays you make, 3 will bust you


Seems really crappy right, although 70% sounds awesome, knowing that 30% of the time you will bust is plain awful.


Most plays made for all of your chips you will typically want to fall into 70/30 ranges, 80/20 if you are lucky and 90/10 if you are blessed by god. They might seem like they aren't a g'teed cert but these are going to be the best you will get a lot of the time.


Sometimes when you are short though, any pair will do and any AJ+ will do.

Agains the same tight calling range, you are now a 38% chance to win the hand.


So unless your opponents are likely to call you with ANYTHING on a short-stack shove and the table is just-that-loose... you can expect to win only 4/10, not even flipping!


So when i play badly... i think what chances my poor range is really working against. Worse still, if i get action with those hands then can i really be sure I am dominating?



Patience can often be about the planets aligning.


Opponent with bad skills

Opponent willing to call with a weak hand

We have a strong hand

We get action

We have position


if we can get all of those to line up, we don't have to worry as we are pretty much sure to double up


Lets drill down into that

Opponent with bad skills (bet sizing all over the place, over-protects his blinds, too much table talk, shows his cards, is noted as being a bad player in previous games with him and doesn't know how to build value)

Opponent willing to call with a weak hand (again, what does his table history show... will he gamble with draws, does he like underpair/bottom pair)

We have a strong hand (something better than a pair)

We get action (opponent is willing to bet into us and dont have to work hard)

We have position (we don't have to reveal the strength of our hand and can extract max value)


This is a +EV play because we increase our chances of winning by our opponent having a poorer range, we increase the amount of winnings by our opponents stack size and willing to give away money. If you take some of these components out (skill, position) it does hurt our EV and either requires better judgement and skill on our part to get the max value


If we look at the inverse of this, then the opponent has better skill, better hand, better position, willing to check/raise or trap, only plays hard when he has a hand... then we are -EV and we are the fish.



Now here is the best thing

How aware are your opponents that you are playing patient?


In games of higher buy-in, this awareness can hurt you since they see your big hand and just avoid you, if enough of the table do this then you are folding so often and the times you get a hand you can't cover the cost of waiting so long.


However in smaller and micro buy ins, players don't notice this.. they dont use HUDs and they dont have any concept or care about what you have until they have to make a decision for their chips, often being too late in the hand.

So playing patient here is still going to get you action, providing your opponent likes his hand enough or is agro enough. You will see lots of players shoving at you with rags and you hold AA just shaking your head. It happens... you can't bank on it (ie overplay this possibility) but you shouldn't fear that opponents aren't going to take your tight plays well and start being more gambly... just stay tight


Tight is right


Its boring

It isn't as much fun

But when you play tight, you win more and winning is fun!


My best advice to myself and others is that playing a NIT tight style is the training wheels on a bike. When you can improve your buyin level, bankroll and skill enough that you find the wheels restrict you, pull them off and start opening your range up.

However, rushing ahead when you can't even use training wheels... pavement meet head, head meet pavement, you meet ambulance