This Poker Decision Made Me The Most Money

In recent years, it seems like everyone has been focusing on developing their postflop game, with the feeling that preflop action is simple and solvable. “Follow the charts” was the mantra. There isn’t much to lose, there isn’t much to gain – right? RIGHT?!

By Gio | 19 Apr 2023
Article featured image

This could have been the case, but until you delve deeper into the game, you realize how much more there is to know, how much more there is to exploit, and how much more there is to lose.

Did you know that over 46% of hands are played on a stack below 30bb, 27% below 20bb and over 16% below 15bb? Many of them end up preflop.

There is a common saying that you don’t ever play the same spot twice.

It is mostly true, but of course, you will have concepts and ideas that are transferable, and you can apply them to different contexts.

Preflop decisions are often neglected, but they shouldn’t be because, let me state the obvious:

  • The most hands you are going to play will be preflop.
  • Hence, the most decisions you need to make.
  • The most mistakes will happen before the flop, as well.
  • Most often, in terms of EV, mistakes will not be big but will be recurring.
  • Small and often preflop mistakes will most certainly lead to costly preflop plays.
  • When aiming to get better at poker for almost all players, this is the place to go. Not check-raising or bluff-catching rivers, not how to play four-way, or how to probe the turn; these things are fancy and cool, but simply put, they are not the most important.

I do think this was the best poker decision I ever made–to step back and focus on my preflop game. It may seem simple at first, but it could not be further from the truth. For example, run a sim with everyone 25bb; check the results, mark any mistakes or applaud your play. Ok, this is the first part; but what happens when you make the stacks asymmetric? Check how this changes ranges. See if you are the smaller stack, and then if you are the bigger stack–with the same actions and positions.

Then, you could see what changes if we are at the start of the tournament, or 50% left, or ITM with 10% left. What happens when we go to the ranges and start making other assumptions? Does the opponent have A9o, KJo, T8s, 22 or not? How does this change the outcome? And so on and so forth; if you really go down the rabbit hole to learn a concept, not just simple results that you try to memorize, then you could easily spend several hours on a single preflop hand. I know I did.

Imagine an architect creating the plan for a ten-story building and at the beginning, he decides, “Well, I know this, this, and that about the foundation, so let’s focus on the bedrooms, living room, and decorations.” It doesn’t matter that tens of people will eventually live there; the foundation is ninety percent complete so we can move on to the other parts of the building.

You are the architect of your poker career, and your winnings can live on the upper floors, but only if you give them a chance. Otherwise, they will be deep beneath the rubble of the fallen building that was broken down due to a poor foundation.

A losing or breakeven play preflop will, more often than not, result in bigger losses on the flop, turn, and river. To prepare for your post-flop decisions, you need a good base beforehand. Respect your post-flop actions by giving them the best chances to be profitable.

This is likely why, if you are not where you want to be in your poker journey, the fast lane to change starts at mile 1, not mile 45. If you are not playing at the highest stakes you want, there is a high chance you will find many ways to improve your decisions before the flop. There is no shame in going back to basics. Master that and then make another shot.

And this is where Poker.Academy became my best poker friend. Only when you start exploring the app you realize how much more there is to know.

Next, in Part 2, I will show you exactly how to start winning more money playing poker by studying with the app.

Join Poker AcademyGet access to world-class tools used by best in business.