When I was in college a few years ago, the university's student association sponsored a couple poker tournaments a semester. These tournaments were freerolls that gave away merchandise to the top three players. There were always less than 30 players on the field and the opposition was quite weak, of course.

Yet I was never able to get to the top three spots. It's true that I didn't get as lucky as some of my lousy opponents, but at the same time I knew I wasn't adjusting properly to the way they played. I saw these players making mistakes I couldn't even conceive: Calling with aces preflop after several limpers were already in the pot, raising from UTG with K9 (and getting paid big time when hitting one pair), chasing a seven-high flush draw with insufficient odds, to name a few.

Intrigued, I had this crazy idea of trying to contact some poker pros and ask for their advice. In hindsight, this simply looked like a young man's folly. After all, why would these famous players, who were winning millions, care about a college student who couldn't beat the school's freeroll tournaments?

Anyway, I wrote down an elaborate short text describing my thinking and the opponents I faced and send that as a message to several poker players' page on a social network. I waited impatiently for their reply, but nothing happened. After I had lost my hopes, one player actually answered my message.

His name was Chad Brown.

I didn't have an opportunity to implement the strategy he suggested, but the event restored some of my faith in mankind. I also didn't have the opportunity to meet Chad personally. He passed away earlier this month.

I thought it would be interesting to include my original message and his reply in this post in his memory. I'm sure he was a nice guy.


Original message:

Hi Chad,
I'm a break-even, slightly above average poker player from Brazil and I have a question. But, first, let me explain something.
I try to divide players in levels. Level 1 is somewhat intuitive, no concepts of starting hands selection, position etc. Level 2 is the type of players you like to see at the tables. They have the basics of the game, not only hand and position but also pot odds. However, they are likely to have easy-to-read betting patterns. Level 3 gets more sophisticated. Players now consider implied odds, folding equity, and are also able to mix their play. Level 4, in which I'm trying to get in, starts to pay more attention to their opponents. In other words, they try to adapt to the situations, ante structure etc.
My problem is that I can't beat level 1 players. I was in a freeroll held by my university and a guy raised with K4 offsuit under the gun against a full table! I feel confused about this, because I can't get a nice read on my opponents. Once I had AJ and the flop came something like J 6 2 and I lost to a guy who had J6 and called my four big blind raise out of position.
Hope you had patience to read that. But how can I play those super loose-passive players?


Chad's reply:

play small ball. when you had aj and hit the j and bet the flop and he called. ck the turn. also those type of players you can talk to them and get a good idea how strong there hand is. when you hit a flush or a straight and you know you have the nuts, you can over bet the pot and they will call with a pair. i hope this helped you.