04-25-06 [poker]The "next level" for me is to get away from pre-plans for hands and get into the ability to really evaluate my position in the hand from instant to instant. Newbies will look at their hole and decide how to play it before anything happens in the hand. eg. they see AA and plan to get all in with it. Decent players can look at the board on each street and change their plan, but will still make plans overall like "try to play a big pot" or "try to get to showdown cheap". Slightly better players can change their opinion if their opponent does something obvious to let them know they're beat. My goal is to get away from any kind of longer-term thinking and get into more "instantaneous" thinking. eg. for each time it's my turn I make a fresh decision about where I stand and what I should do.
If you have a pre-plan, one of the bad things you do is sort of bet weakly or fail to value bet with a marginal hand. In some cases you should just fold that hand, but in some cases you should bet hard with it. I want to be able to stop on a dime, like going bet-bet-bet, and then just fold when I know my hand is no good any more.
Sort of a classic example of this is when a draw makes. Say you have something like AA and the flop is K72 with two spades. You bet the flop and turn. The river is a spade. A lot of people want to check here so they can call and see a showdown. What you should do is go ahead and bet as much as you think Kx will call. Now if you're raised, even min-raised, you just fold. You bet like your hand is the nuts until you know it's no good, and then you just fold.