No Limit Hold'em is a very tough game. That's the bad news. But here is some good news: You can learn. How do I know you can learn? Because I was not always a winning player, and I learned. If I can go from "dead money" to World Poker Tour champion, there is no doubt that others can as well.
The greatest poker players in the world share five qualities:
- They are invariably aggressive. Aggressive poker is winning poker. They apply pressure to their opponents with bets and raises.
- They are patient. They wait for situations at the table that are profitable.
- They are courageous. They don't need the stone-cold nuts to bet, call, or raise.
- They are observant. They watch their opponents during every hand.
- They are always working on their game and want to be even better players. They talk about the game with other players. They practice. They read poker books. They analyze their play and work to plug "leaks" that have developed.
These five qualities are all that are necessary to be a great, winning player. The first four qualities you can learn and develop. You already have the fifth quality you bought this book so you're working on your game.
There are many ways to win at this game. I intend in this book to write exactly how I play. You may disagree with many of the plays that I recommend here. Good. I want you to approach this book not as a definitive guide for how to play, but as a catalyst for thinking about the game.
In short, the following pages are, to the best of my ability, how I play No Limit Texas Hold'em. I'm not the best player in the world. But I'm a winning player, and I win playing exactly the style that is described here.
Throughout my poker education I have read nearly every book on poker ever written. I owe a great deal to the poker authors that have come before me. Sklansky. Brunson. Cloutier. McEvoy. Malmuth. Cooke. Harrington. Caro. Without their work I wouldn't be the player that I am today. Most of the things I know about the game I owe to these authors.
Harvey Penick, arguably the greatest golf teacher that ever lived, wrote a great book, Harvey Penick's Little Red Book. In that book he recorded his thoughts and musings on the game of golf. Not once in his book did he profess to know the only way to play. I drew inspiration from Mr. Penick's book and his straightforward approach to teaching a very difficult game.
Take your time with this book. No matter how thoroughly you digest the contents, you'll need to play thousands of hands against all kinds of competition before things will really "click" for you. Take your time. Your bankroll will not be built overnight. Grow it slowly. There will be setbacks. There will be bad beats. But, there will be endless amounts of joy as your game improves.
Copyright © 2005 by Phil Gordon