Thin the field by forcing out most of your poker opponents

Nov 12, 2013 3:00 AM

Sid lost big!

Sid is so angry with himself. And I don’t blame him one bit.

He was playing middle-limit hold’em the other night and lost “big time,” he said.

Let me explain. Sid is a retired English professor. In his spare time he often reviews books and magazine articles before they are published, to suggest grammatical and related changes. It’s not exactly lucrative, but it is interesting work (for him, at least). And it supplements his retirement benefits and earnings from investments.

Well, it seems Sid has been reviewing the new book our mutual friend, George “The Engineer” Epstein, is in the process of writing. Sid did the same for George’s previous book, Hold’em or Fold’em? – An Algorithm for Making the Key Decision. Now he is doing the editing for George’s next book, The Art of Bluffing (available early next year.)

With permission from both Sid and George, here’s why Sid is so angry with himself. Reviewing the new book-in-preparation, Sid was privy to some important information – essential to poker players who want to be winners. For whatever reason (perhaps he was too lazy, he admitted), Sid failed to make the change, he says, he knew was the smart thing to do.

RSPF: In providing advice for successful bluffing, George writes about RSPF – Reduce the Size of the Playing Field. There will be times when, it seems, opponents never fold once they enter the pot. This is especially the case in limit games.

The idea is to thin the field by forcing out most of your opponents when you hold a vulnerable hand. That’s what RSPF is all about. Now, we all know a vulnerable hand is one that may be the best at this point in the hand, but an opponent could easily catch a better one to take the pot away from you.

For example, you make two-pair on the flop. It may very well be in the lead. But there are many hands an opponent might catch on the turn or river that will render your two-pair, second-best. That could cost you lots of chips. The more opponents staying to see the turn, the more likely one will connect.

Time to change tables: Well, as Sid explains, he was at a table where it was almost impossible to RSPF. As a result, he was being “turned” and rivered hand after hand. “Good-size pots, but second-best for me,” he complained.

As his losses piled up, he recalled the “advice” offered in George’s new book-in-preparation: “If your opponents are such that you are unable to RSPF, you should ask for a table change. There are too many calling-stations at that table. That’s not conducive to success.”

Sid is not so angry (perhaps “frustrated” or “upset” would be better words) because he lost (he can well afford it), but because he knew he should change tables and neglected to do so. “I kept trying to convince myself that this was a good table with so many loose players building big pots. With a little good luck, I could quickly get even, and perhaps go home a winner.”

To his credit, Sid avoided going on tilt and managed to move his seat to the left of the biggest maniac at the table. All to no avail. “But I was patient,” he smiled. Nevertheless, his chips kept disappearing, and he dug deeper into his wallet. It’s expensive when you get rivered over and over again!

“Why didn’t I ask for a table change?” he muttered.

“And I had just read about making table changes.”

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