Poker’s 1%, The Table Of Contents and Introduction

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My new book, Poker’s 1%: The One Big Secret That Keeps Elite Players On Top, is coming out Tuesday, March 11, 2014. Between now and then I will post a few bits of content from the book to give you a flavor for what it’s all about.

Today I bring you the Table of Contents, as well as the Introduction.


Don’t Play No-Limit Hold’em Like It’s A Slot Machine
–The Flipside
–The Other Problem
–The Bottom Line
Smashing Tight-Aggressive Players
The Big Picture
–An Inconvenient Truth
–The Bottom Line
The Frequency Game
–Folding Frequencies
–Betting Frequencies
The Secret Of The 1%
–The Two Rules
–The Fallout
Build Your Pyramids From The Ground Up
–Playing Too Many Hands Preflop
–Inappropriate Reactions To Board Texture
–Final Thoughts
Poker Pyramids Branch
The Big Exception
The Small Exception
Putting These Ideas Into Practice
Bluffing And Value Betting Frequencies
Putting Bluffing Frequencies Into Practice
Five Common Errors You Will Now Avoid
–Scenario 1: Betting and calling on ace- or king-high static flops.
–Scenario 2: Raising The River After Draws Come In
–Scenario 3: Reacting To Small Bet Sizes
–Scenario 4: Bet-Folding Top Pair Too Frequently
–Scenario 5: Giving Up Too Easily On Monochrome Flops
Fine Tuning Your Strategy
Good Events, Bad Events, And Non-Events
–Could It Be Worse?
–Remember The Range
Picking Hands
–Betting And Raising Hands
–Checking And Calling Hands
–An Example
How Do I Use All This?
–How The Heck Am I Supposed To Do All This Before They Call The Clock On Me?
–Is This Relevant In My Game?
–How Do I Find These Frequency Mistakes?
–Then When Do I Try To Play Frequency-Perfect?
–The Bottom Line
Getting Raised
Multiway Pots
Your Homework
Learning More


This book is about a single idea. I call it a secret on the cover, but it’s more of an open secret. It’s an idea that’s very well known by all the top players in the world. For years now, these players have been studying and refining this idea to create distance between themselves and everyone else who plays poker.

It’s not like there’s a conspiracy. This secret is not jealously guarded by the poker Illuminati or anything. People have been talking and writing publicly about this idea for years. But, for various reasons, the vast majority of poker players are today still, on a practical basis, unaware of it.
With this book, I aim to change this state of affairs. I want the poker players of the 99 percent—all the folks that grind all those hours—to understand the fundamental reason that elite players have become elite and left everyone else in the dust. I want people to understand what has made players such as Phil Galfond so successful.

This understanding alone won’t make you elite. After all, it’s just a thought. To become elite, you need to do hundreds and thousands of hours of analysis informed by this central idea. Work. Just like any other field, to become elite, you need to know what work to do, and then you need to work, work, work.

I make this analogy often, because I think it’s apt. Getting good at poker is the same as getting fit. It’s not enough to pop in the workout DVD, sit on the couch, grab some popcorn, and watch. The DVD is useful because it motivates you, and it instructs you in how to do the work that will give you maximum benefit. But results only come when you actually do the work.

I have several goals with this book. First, to motivate you. Here’s my pep talk. If you read this book and then put in the work I show you how to do, you can get a whole lot better at poker than you are today.

No, you likely won’t win millions like Galfond or Ivey. Just like you won’t become the next Adrian Peterson or Cristiano Ronaldo just by going to the gym every day. To reach the tip top of poker requires elite inborn ability, knowledge of the idea in this book (and more advanced ideas too), and the drive to work like crazy.

But most regular folks can get really fit if they put in the work—and they do their workouts correctly. And similarly, most people can get pretty darn good at poker if they put in the work, but they need to work correctly.

I hope that’s motivating. You can get pretty darn good at poker—much better than you are today—by reading this book and doing the work I show you how to do.

Second, this book is designed to get you working the right way. I talk to a lot of people about poker. Most poker players are focused on the wrong things. Almost all of them have developed thought processes that will stunt them. Eventually, if these players challenge themselves against better opponents, they will be unable to win. This is true even if they work to get better, because they will be working on the wrong things.

The idea in this book is key to breaking out of this cycle. It’s an idea that will, if you use it regularly to analyze your hands, point you toward the systematic errors you make that leave you vulnerable against better players.

In many ways, this is a very simple book. I present one idea, and I show you how to use it. I have made the book as simple as possible. Some might say I have oversimplified things. If I’ve oversimplified something, it’s because I want to make sure the point is clear and doesn’t get lost in difficult calculations.

The reason I believe that this idea has remained an open secret for years is because the application of the idea can quickly become very complex. The math behind this idea starts out complicated and becomes exponentially more complicated as you demand more precision.

If you want perfect, forget it. If you want near perfect, you’ll need high math aptitude, lots of patience, and thousands of hours to work things out.

Most of the public discourse on this idea is at the near perfect level. It’s complicated and difficult for lots of players to follow and apply.

This book is written at the “good enough” level. If you understand everything in this book, it is good enough to get you over a hump and make you a force at small and medium stakes no-limit hold’em, either live or online. (Medium stakes online at the time of this writing means roughly the $1-$2 or $2-$4 level. Medium stakes live means the $5-$10 level.)

I have a feeling that most people who read this book will learn the central idea, try out the analysis as I present it, and go no further. That’s fine. It’s good enough to make you one of the best regulars in your medium stakes game.

But it’s not good enough if you want to crack the 1%. If your goal is to become elite, you have to dive further down the rabbit hole and do the complex work to refine the ideas as I present them in the book. Everywhere in the book where I throw a number out and say something like, “This number is approximate—it’s close enough,” is a place where you will need to work to try to get a better number.

For the most part, you’re on your own for that. At the end of this book, I will direct you to a few more advanced books and some software tools that will help you. But most of this refined-level work is unpublished and truly a secret. It gets hashed out over dinners among elite players and in long hours in front of glowing computer monitors.

That’s the reality of modern poker.

The goal of this book is more modest. I want to bridge the gap between the 1% and everyone else. I want to show you what you may be missing. I want to give you a few “aha” moments. And I want to start you out on the path from here to the top.

How far you take it from there is up to you.