The guys that had root access on poker servers so they could see the other player’s cards had an incredible advantage. But what if instead of being able to see the opponent’s hole cards, they could see the future? What if they could predict what the other players would do and what the board cards would be? If you had that advantage instead, could you play really well?
That is exactly what good players do. Instead of knowing with absolute certainty what will happen, they have a very good mental model of what will happen from a long-term perspective. A very common case I see every session I play is one like this:
There are three limpers at $1-$2 with $200 effective and someone on the button decides to raise to $7. I doubt many of us need a crystal ball to know what is going to happen here. The three limpers are going to call, and there is a very good chance that the Big Blind does also.
If you were on the Button, and were contemplating a raise, is this the outcome that you would want? If so, what hands would you want to have when you end up five handed in a $35 pot with $190 effective for an SPR of about six? This is not a situation I want to be in with any hand.
In this example, we all saw the future, and we did not make the raise. What other futures can we imagine?
We make it $25 and take down the $9 in the pot. That is 4.5 big blinds without a fight. PokerNews has an article that shows what the average win is with a given starting hand.
According to the statistics, this isolation that just takes the blinds is worth a little bit more than the average return with QQ and a little less than the average return with KK. Since you are likely to be doing this isolation with a ton of hands that are worse than QQ, this “no action hand” is looking pretty good. This is in comparison to a billion hands of online poker, which is a very reasonable baseline. You also get the opportunity to make this “no action hand” a ton more often than you get to play QQ+.
We make it $25, end up heads up to win a $55 pot with the initiative, position and and SPR of 3.5. Here we get to play a little bit of poker and look deeper into the future. What kinds of flops are going to come out, at what frequency? What flops are ideal for us?
A very simple flop that we like is one where there is a single Ace or single King.
Using Flop Falcon (a soon-to-be-released software program from Red Chip Poker) we see this kind of flop will happen about a third of the time.
Giving the Villain a reasonable range and continuation requirement, we can expect a half-pot bet to be break-even without even considering our cards. We can predict this because we estimate they will fold 50% on the flop. Remember, we put in $1 into a pot of $2 that is risk ÷ (risk + reward) of $1/$3 or a break-even percent requirement of 33%. On Ace- and King-high flops we are printing money and have not even considered the fact that we sometimes actually flop something.
Those times that we bet and get called, we expect to have about 33% equity. If we bet half pot and get called we just put 25% of the money into the pot on the flop, but expect to win about 33% of the time. This is also a good thing. This is just an overview of a purely mechanical strategy of “Bet half pot on Ace or King high boards”. Go with something more subtle, and you will do even better.
What about the other 68% of boards that can come out? We can go through and classify them into different textures and think of a general plan for them also. Just like the Ace and King boards we will likely find a plan.
None of the boards above are Nine high or lower, so let’s look at those:
Here is a different 16% of the possible flops. Flop Falcon, for the same range and continuation requirements, says we can expect a fold about 60% of the time. This is great for continuation betting.
What I am saying is that by reading the board, you can see the future. Maybe your crystal ball is murky, but if it is right more often than wrong, it is a good enough guide.
Winning poker is not played by the hand or the session, but by the year and decade. If you are constantly pointed in the right direction, these murky glimpses into the future will get you to your goal.