Abysmal Tips from Top Poker Pros

This article was posted on December 12, 2013

To make heads and tails of the optimal strategy to beat the game of poker takes a brilliant mind indeed. Despite what various online forums will have you believe, the majority of online poker players are not winners: they are losers, and most of them are losers with an attitude. There are few out there who can solve the game indeed and those few you can read about pretty much all the time because they’re the ones who make it to the top and steal all the headlines.

While being a successful poker player is indeed quite a mental exercise, there’s something even more impressive out there: actually solving the game of poker and establishing various strategy guidelines that others can use to improve their games.

Through the modern history of poker, there have always been such geniuses to make the game easier and - at the end of the day – more enjoyable for the masses. The problem with these guys is however that they “solved” the game at a given point in its evolution. Poker is indeed a living-breathing and ever-evolving entity, therefore what may have been true at one given point in its history, may no longer be valid today.

Here’s a short list of tips from various poker legends, which are quite obsolete and counter-productive today.


In his book, Play Poker Like the Pros, Phil Hellmuth, the WSOP bracelet record-holder, tells beginners that they should re-raise with small pocket pairs before the flop in Fixed-Limit Holdem games. The problem with this advice is that it goes against the principles of set-mining, one of the most potent money making weapons in Limit Holdem. These guys play small stakes Limit games, which means that the majority of them are simply going to play their hands, not paying attention to what’s going on around them. By re-raising, one will merely stuff more chips into the pot, chips he/she will then find impossible to recover, unless he/she makes a set on the flop.

The basics of set-mining say that one should aim to see cheap flops, so with that in mind, one should only call, getting the other players behind them to call as well. Then, if the flop hits them for a set, they can get to pot-building. If they miss the set, they should simply get out of the way.


In his Championship No-Limit and Pot-Limit Holdem, TJ Cloutier says that one should avoid low suited connectors in favor of low unsuited ones, arguing that matching suits do more harm than good in this case, because if the player manages to land a flush, he’s likely to run into another player’s higher flush. Now this one simply doesn’t make any sort of a mathematical sense: I don’t even need to point out why suited connectors are ALWAYS better than off-suit ones. Yes, it may certainly happen that one gets caught in a flush vs higher flush conundrum and loses, but what will also happen is that he will often catch others with straights and sets on these low flushes, so everything tossed into the mix, the EV is much higher on suited connectors indeed.


Last but not least, we have the grandfather of poker strategy, David Sklansky and his Theory of Poker, the bible of poker strategy for pretty much everyone who knows a thing or two about poker and online poker these days. In this book, Sklanky pushes the idea that one can sometimes put in a raise just to see where he/she is in the hand. Raising to gain information is generally a bad idea, because the information one picks up this way may not be particularly useful.

Actually putting an opponent on a range in an active manner is a way better approach to this problem. Despite Sklansky’s recommendation, one should feel free to drop this move from his/her strategy arsenal.

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