No Limit Texas Hold em: Paying Attention!


As I watch online poker players play, I think something that happens from time to time is that many players play below a level that makes them play optimal poker. By this I mean, with smaller dollar games, especially Sit n Go’s some players are afflicted with what I call an “oh what the hell” attitude. In other words, they find themselves making calls or playing hands that they shouldn’t play,simply because “its only a couple of bucks” When you do this, you do a dis-service to your poker game and you don’t learn how to become a better player.

First of all, this is going to get into the issue of bank-roll. Every player has a different amount of money that they want to spend playing poker. Some players are not comfortable spending hundreds of dollars. Some would never dream of putting thousands into an online account. Others still would not play with out a certain level of bank roll to back them up. What your poker budget is, is totally up to you. However, if it is small, I do think there comes a point where you are not playing good, sound, poker because you don’t have much invested.

The SNG (Sit n Go) which is a favorite format of mine, is a great example of this. I see players all the time in these games calling all-ins with J-T suited or pocket 5’s. I am not talking about late in the game on the bubble either. I  am talking about early on. I think the fact that another SNG is so readily available makes it very easy to just say “what the hell” I will call with this hand and see if I can’t double up. Sometimes it happens and that player moves on. If he busts out, he simply finds another SNG that will be starting within a couple of minutes.

The problem with this attitude is obvious: if you play this way you will never improve. If you don’t care about the money that you have spent to enter the tournament, you will not concentrate enough to play your best game. I know some players who play their best even in free games. However, I think they are the exception to the rule. Most of the players I see in lower level games are really not taking the poker seriously.

How do you avoid this? My suggestion would be to move up in dollar amounts until it matters to you. Again, this is probably dependent on your bank-roll and you cannot move up so high that your bank-roll is decimated after a couple of bad streaks of luck, but you have to play at a level that brings out your best efforts.

If you have been playing $10+$1 games, maybe going to a $22+$2 game would do it. If you are at $50+$5, maybe going to a $69+$6 or a $100+$9 game would do the trick. It is all up to the individual, but I would bet if you were to be truly honest with yourself you would find yourself playing better poker, concentrating more, and paying better attention to the action around you, if you move up to a higher game.

Again, only you truly know where your comfort level lies, but I would guess that if you find yourself busting out of SNG’s early on or making calls where you say to yourself immediately afterward “did I really just do that?”, chances are you could benefit by moving your game up to a higher buy-in level that really makes you pay attention. Try it, you might find yourself becoming a better poker player before you know it.

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