This tip comes from Joe “TheDefiniteArticle” Towse. Joe is an instructor at the Poker Training site GrinderSchool.com which focuses on providing affordable training targeted at small stakes and microstakes games. Joe has strong background in NLHE Cash Games, with a focus on the quick thought processes required to dominate at 6-max Rush Poker.

Maximizing Value from Poker Strategy Forums

If you have ever been around the hand history section of a poker forum, you will have seen many replies to hands along the lines of ‘call flop’, ‘fold pre’, or ‘wtf are you doing fish’. Unless the original poster has fully set out arguments for two or more lines in the original post and just wants help assessing the merits of the various arguments, it was probably a pretty useless response. Sure, if that exact spot arises again, then it will be useful, but apart from trivial preflop decisions it is very rare that such reasoning will provide any value. Poker is a complex game, and for proper analysis, we need to go further – do not stop at understanding the ‘what’ but rather seek to decipher the ‘why’ behind every decision.

Consider the game tree of no limit hold’em. Theoretically, the tree is infinite, but in every poker room to ever exist there has been a limitation of denomination placed on bet sizing (in a casino it is likely to be the size of the smallest value chip, whereas online it is nearly always 1c), which limits the size of the tree to a finite size because bet sizes are now discrete rather than continuous. Still, it is very large, and the situations people want help most often with (’25NL: Hero faces river check-raise with 2 pair when straight draw completes’ comes to mind) are in some obscure corner of that game tree. So if I give advice which is only applicable to that specific part of the game tree, even if it forms a part of a solution, it is not going to be very useful.

What might be useful to someone is an explanation of the principles behind the decision. By delving into the overarching principles, they can then add the principle to their arsenal of tools in their poker thought process. For instance, if I offer advice on bet sizing on dry flops in 4bet pots 100bb deep, it helps if I explain the reasoning behind it (size your bets small because you often want to play three streets on this texture and if you bet half pot or bigger you are going to have a Stack to Pot ratio of about 1.2 on the turn which is awkward to play). This helps because they can then take the concept behind it (if you want to read up more on this particular idea it’s usually called ‘pot geometry’) and apply it to other situations without having to post another hand wondering about flop sizing in 5bet pots 260bb deep.

So, if you are the one asking the question, make sure you understand the reasoning behind the answer you are given (but don’t pester – make sure you work through things yourself as well; especially if the responses represent free information as few poker players like to spoon-feed). If you are answering a question, don’t be lazy. There are better ways to inflate your post-count and elucidating the concepts thoroughly will help your game as well.