How we make money in poker

pocket with money

There are two basic fundamental ways that we make money in a poker game. These are at showdown and without a showdown. In any individual poker game then the chances of you seeing a showdown differ greatly. For example, in a very aggressive game versus top players, these guys will be making more moves against their opponents if they suspect that they have fold equity. However, against better opponents they may get called down lightly.

In a low stakes game then these thin marginal calls are much rarer but that is offset by the fact that players may call you down for other reasons. So it is really in our best interests to be playing against opponents when we know whether or not they will call down and with what ranges. For example, if you have seen an opponent call three barrels against you with K-J on a J-10-4-A-9 board then don’t try bluffing them on multiple barrels in future. Doing so may not be too far removed from burning money.

If you see a player make this call against you then they are doing so for one of two reasons. This is because they feel that they have the best hand or the possibility of it and that they simply do not believe your line. These two reasons are obviously connected but the main issue for you is if your opponent is going to call your bluff or not and you need to know this. If they are then you simply refrain from bluffing and concentrate on value betting safe in the knowledge that you will get paid off.

You need to figure out a way to place a stethoscope onto the heartbeat of the action and listen to what your opponents are actually saying to you. In full ring games then your opponents will be playing in a more generalised way and hand reading is much simpler. If we find that in our games that we are not getting to showdown all that often then players are clearly folding too much and not calling or raising enough.

This means that fold equity is now dominating hand equity and so bluffing becomes of much greater importance than how much pot equity you have. You have to either listen to the game dynamic or adjust your game to suit it. If the game is tight then you loosen up if need be. If your opponents are playing very strong hands in big pots then you have very little edge in such situations and your real edge could come from not playing big pots at all.

In games where your opponents are very weak and also very loose then bluffing is much more difficult and so how much pot equity you hold is the vital ingredient. Fold equity is also important in more aggressive games as well. It comes and goes all the time and you can have fold equity one minute and it be gone the next.