Winning Poker Tournaments One Hand At A Time, Vol. 3

Wednesday 2/4/15 time 11:51 PM - PokerHelena

The first poker book of the year is “Winning Poker Tournament One Hand At A Time, volume 3”. I haven’t read the first two books from the same series, but based on the description thought that this is exactly what I need.

The book is essentially analysis of different hands from real tournaments by three professional players – Eric “Rizen” Lynch, Jon “Apestyles” van Fleet and Jon “PearlJammer” Turner. The pros give awesome comments on what they would do in those situations, why they did it like that and what would be their reaction if certain actions happened after their turn.

From hand to hand there are some key lessons I have learned and additionally I can recognize some of the situations, as have been in similar positions myself. At times I have got the “oh, of course, why on earth didn't I think about that?!” feeling, so it has been definitely a great and helpful read.


Here are main things that I have learned.

1. Don’t think about only your next step (will I call/fold/raise?) but what you will do after that (what is he will reraise?).

Whereas I have got to the level of thinking “what might my opponent have?” I still haven’t managed to think much further from my next action. But actually it’s not that hard. From hand to hand the three pros show how you can easily make a decision about your next move based on what might happen in the hand overall.

Never bet if you don’t know why you do it and what you expect to happen as a result of that. What will you do if he checks/calls/raises? Do you expect the result of the hand to be? These are the questions I am forcing myself to think about now.

2. Expect to end up all in with around 20 big blinds left

From the Harrington’s book I learned to count M’s – the rounds I have left at the table before my blinds run out. However, I never thought about how far I have to be ready to go in the hand overall when I have certain amount of blinds left.

So now I remember that I should put more thought into entering a pot with 20 blinds or less. When to think about it, it’s quite logical. If you raise to 3 big blinds, someone three-bets you to 5,5 big blinds and you call, you are left with 14,5 big blinds. By that time there are around 12-13 big blinds in the pot, which doesn’t leave you much room for you to fold.

Thinking about it consciously helps to plan the hands better in long run and essentially follow my previous learning point.

Rizen also mentions several times that he has a rule that he never calls a bet that is more than 5% of his stack without a very specific purpose for doing so. That was a pretty good (and simple) guideline to remember as well. I think the book has improved my thinking of bet sizes compared to my stacks and to my opponents' stacks overall.

3. There is not always right or wrong ways to play a hand.

Whereas in many hands the pros would have played the hand in similar way there were some big differences in some hands. They admitted that it quite often depends on the read you have from the other players and the situation. Are they tight or loose players? Have you won many pots without anyone willing to respond to your raises? Do players defend their blinds aggressively? How high was the buy-in? Are we at the beginning or end of the tournament?

So staying alert and following your opponents is a super important part every tournament. It’s quite basics, but it's something that tends to forget easily. And it became quite clear through the actual hands from the book.

I have realized that I love to read and learning through reading is really my thing. It brings me back to some of the games I have played and some situations I have been to. And this book has definitely taken my thinking to a new level again.

Keywords: Books

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