Poker’s 1% Excerpt: Putting These Ideas Into Practice

Here is the second excerpt from my upcoming book, Poker’s 1%: The One Big Secret That Keeps Elite Players On Top.

This excerpt speaks for itself. It gives you a good feel for what the book is all about. The actual book contains a lot of charts and graphics for this section that are absent here. But they shouldn’t be necessary to follow the logic. If this excerpt intrigues you, please share it using the social media sharing tools on this page or by emailing it to others who might be interested.

The PDF e-book releases Tuesday, March 11, 2014. Paperback and Kindle formats will be available a few weeks after that. If you want to preorder the book, you can do that right now. Click here.

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It’s a good time to take stock of what we’ve covered so far. The one big idea so far (the idea that guides elite players) is that poker is a game about frequencies. What matters is not if you can play pocket jacks well or if you can figure out where you’re at in hands. What matters is that you consistently, at nearly every betting decision, present your opponent with the correct frequencies of checking and betting, or folding, calling and raising. If your frequencies are close to correct, then when your opponents play with incorrect frequencies they will effectively beat themselves against your proper actions.

This is a revolution in thinking from traditional poker wisdom. First of all, to implement these ideas, no hand reading whatsoever is required—at least no hand reading in the heat of the battle. If your frequency-based thinking is advanced enough, you can go back to a “zero level” thinking where you just play your hand and ignore what your opponent may have.

Of course, very sophisticated consideration of what opponents might have has gone into the creation of the frequency-based strategy in the first place. But once the strategy is set, it’s set-it-and-forget it. You can play it and basically not even consider what your opponents are doing.

If this idea rubs you the wrong way, think about it in these two ways. First, all I’m saying is that you could program a computer to play no-limit hold’em without building in an explicit hand-reading model. You could just give it a set of immutable frequency-based instructions, let it loose against the best players in the world, and it would do just fine. In fact, as of this writing, a group of artificial intelligence researchers has claimed to have done exactly this.

Second, have you heard about online players who play twenty-plus tables simultaneously and win at a high rate? If you haven’t, these players exist.
The only way they could possibly exist is if they relied far more on this frequency-based approach than on making constant reads. No human brain could possibly make and keep accurate reads on 20, 30, or even more games at once. At least not while simultaneously playing at a high level. What these players have done is train their brains to behave much like a computer program.

This fact is also why I’ve always thought people generally overrate the advantage that a heads-up display (HUD) offers an online professional player. If you play the game at a truly high level, the information a HUD provides becomes less and less important. Many top, top players that I know—while they do often go through the motions of setting up a HUD while they play—concede that they don’t use the thing for most decisions.

“So,” you may ask, “if hand reading is useless, Ed, why did you write a whole book about it?” It’s not useless. Not at all. It’s very difficult for a human to play this immutable, frequency-based strategy I said you could load onto a computer. Hand reading—and making reads in general—is a shortcut we humans use to try to get to the correct answer without actually knowing the perfect solution. If we concede that we will never play a perfect strategy, we can fill in the gaps by making intelligent reads.

The bottom line is, however, that everything else you know about poker is secondary to the big idea in this book. The most important thing you can do is to make sure your frequencies are correct in as many situations as possible. Do that, and you will be nearly impossible to beat. Your opponents will beat themselves against you with their flawed play.

And now for a practical question. I hope I’ve convinced you by now that a frequency-based approach is very powerful. But how do you learn this frequency-based approach?

The best way I know is to explore it one situation at a time. You play for a while and record as many significant hands as you can. Then you go through each hand and determine your frequencies at every decision point by writing out hand ranges. If your frequencies look flawed, you find a solution and build ranges that conform to the correct frequencies. Then you do it for the next hand. And the next one. You do it over and over again until you build an intuition for it.

Let’s try it out here with a simple situation so you see what I mean.

It’s a $2-$5 game with $500 stacks. A player has opened for $15 from three off the button. You’re on the button, and you call with KdJd. The blinds fold. There’s $37 in the pot with $485 behind.

The flop comes Td7s2c. Your opponent bets $30, and you call. There’s $97 in the pot with $455 behind.

The turn is the As. Your opponent bets $65, and you fold.

Did you play the hand well? It’s hard to say. One could argue for folding, since you have a weak draw. One could argue for calling, since you have a draw to the nuts with money behind. One could argue for raising, since bluffing is always on the table.

Let’s develop a frequency-based strategy for all the hands you can have and see what we might do with KdJd at each point in the hand.

Preflop, you call the raise. This is certainly not a call you’d make 70 percent of the time. Since you are one of five players the opponent raised into, you five share the responsibility to call roughly 70 percent of the time. Realistically, to call a raise from a player three off the button, you need a fairly good hand to be on a level playing field.

Let’s assume that you’d tend to reraise AA-QQ and AK. (In actually, I tend to flat some combinations of QQ and AK in this exact scenario.) And to go with these value reraises, you’d tend to reraise some hands as bluffs. I personally choose hands such as A5s-A4s, 76s-54s, AJo, and KQo, so let’s assume you have chosen these hands to reraise with.

Your preflop calling range might look something like this:

JJ-22
AQs-A6s, KQs-KTs, QJs-87s, QTs-64s, Q9s
AQo

This range represents 168 hand combinations or 12.7 percent of all hands.

The flop comes Td7s2c.

This is a relatively dry flop in terms of flush and straight draw possibilities. But with the low high card, it’s reasonably likely an overcard will hit on either the turn or river. Dynamic boards tend to favor the player with position, and this board is either average or slightly more dynamic than average. It’s a flop that the player with position should defend with average or above average frequency.

The preflop raiser bets nearly pot on the flop. Let’s say we want to defend (either call or raise) 70 percent of our hands. That’s 118 combinations of the original 168.

Let’s start off with the shoo-in combinations to defend. We have

JJ-TT, 77, 22
ATs, A7s, KTs, JTs-87s, QTs, 97s, 75s

That’s sets, top pairs, and middle pairs. I excluded the pocket pairs 99 and 88 from the shoo-in list because I’d generally prefer to defend 97s middle pair versus 88 because of the extra outs when behind.

This is 46 combinations. If we defended only these shoo-ins and folded everything else, our folding frequency would be 72 percent—way, way too high. We need 72 more combos to defend to hit our target.

The next obvious hands are 99 and 88, so let’s throw those in. And then I’d go with big aces and gutshots. These categories add the following hands:

99-88
AKs-AJs, J9s, 86s
AQo

That’s 44 more combos. It’s still not enough to reach our goal of 72. We need 28 more. Next I’d go to weaker aces and overcards that include a backdoor flush draw. This category includes the following hands:

A9s, A8s, A6s, KQs-KJs, QJs – all combos of these hands except those suited in hearts

That’s 18 more combos. You need just 10 more. Take your pick from hands such as Q9s with backdoor draws, 66, 55, and overcard hands without backdoor flush draws. These hands are all pretty weak, but some hand has to be the weakest hand you defend. And the bar for defending is fairly low—it’s zero dollars of profit on the $30 call (including the $37 in the pot). In other words, the weakest hands you defend should be pretty big underdogs to end up winning the pot, since the borderline hands aren’t supposed to show any significant profit.

Let’s go with a final range that looks like this:

JJ-66, 22
AQs-ATs, A7s, KTs, QJs-87s, QTs-75s
A9s-A8s, A6s, KQs-KJs, Q9s – all combos of these hands except those suited in hearts
AQo

That’s 118 combos, exactly 70 percent of the ones we started with. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that we raise none of these combos and call with all of them. (On this particular board type, there isn’t a lot of incentive to raise, so this simplifying assumption isn’t too bad.)
You may be thinking, “Wow, Ed, that’s a lot of hands. I’d usually be folding a good chunk of these.”

Guess what. You fold too much! By folding so much, you reward your opponents for making excessive continuation bets out of position on flops like these.
“But, Ed, isn’t that how the fish play?” you ask, perhaps not yet convinced in the error of your over-folding. Sort of, yes. This is how the fish play. But this is the part the fish get right. Remember back to my pyramid example from before. The pyramid with the open top represents the call-it-all-down fish. The problem with their strategy wasn’t the calling frequencies after the flop. It was the fact that they started out preflop with way too many hands. So even though they are calling correctly with many of these hands after the flop, they have a lot of extra junk hands in their ranges that we don’t have in this example. It’s all this extra junk that they must get rid of (and can’t hide) that ultimately dooms them.

Remember that refusing to fold after the flop can be very frustrating, especially when the player refusing to fold is the one who has position and the board could change a lot on future cards. That annoying player refusing to fold is you.

So you call with your KdJd, since it’s on the list.

The turn is the As. It’s an interesting card. Many players would jump to the conclusion that this card benefits the preflop raiser. But if you look at the range of hands you called with on the turn, you’ll see that it contains plenty of aces. There’s no reason to think that the preflop raiser has an ace more frequently than you do.

It is no worse than an average card for you. Your opponent bets $65 into $97.

He’s backed off the nearly pot-sized bet on the flop with a two-thirds pot-sized bet on the turn. Because you have position, because the turn card is at least average for you, and because you are being offered better odds, you should defend with at least 70 percent of combos again.

Let’s go with 70 percent. Since the As was used in 9 of the 118 combos you called the turn with, you’re down to 109 possible combos. You want to defend at least 70 percent of these, or 76 combos.

Let’s start again with shoo-ins.

TT, 77, 22
AKs-ATs, A7s
A9s-A8s, A6s suited diamonds or clubs
KQs-KTs, QJs-98s, QTs-T8s, 86s, Q9s – all combos of these hands suited in spades
AQo

That’s 47 shoo-in combinations of top pair or better or a backdoor spade flush draw. If you were to fold everything weaker than these hands (and this is precisely what many regular no-limit hold’em players do), you would be folding 57 percent of the time! Again, this is way, way too often. I can bet two blank cards on the turn for a huge profit against this sort of player.

We need 29 more hands to defend. Let’s start by keeping JJ and the hands with a ten in them.

JJ
KTs, JTs-T9s, QTs, T8s – all combos of these hands except those suited in spades

That’s 16 hands. We’re getting close. We need just 13 more combinations.

I’d pick the open-ended straight draw 98s (not spades) next. Now we need just 10 more combos.

Candidate hands would be the gutshots: KQs, KJs, QJs, J9s, and 86s NOT suited spades. Because we didn’t carry forward the big hands with diamonds in them, that’s 12 combos.

Other possible candidate hands would be the hands with sevens or 99 and 88. I personally prefer the gutshots since they still have big hand potential while the small pair hands are hanging on for dear life at this point.

It wouldn’t be wrong to defend a small number of extra combos as well, but for the purpose of this exercise we can stop with these.

At this point in the hand, we likely want to raise our strongest hands such as TT, 77, 22, ATs, and A7s. This raise denies a cheap river card if our opponent holds backdoor spades or one of the now-numerous gutshots. It also extracts value those times our opponent holds a big ace.

If we raise exactly the hands I listed above, we will be raising 14 combos. Due to a frequency rule I haven’t yet introduced, if we raise 14 combos for value on this turn, we will also want to raise approximately 14 hands as bluffs.

The gutshots and 87s work well for this purpose since they have little showdown value, while they also have the potential to win stacks if the turn bluff is called. Backdoor flush draws with no pair are also candidates to raise. There are more than 14 combos of these drawing hands with weak showdown value, so you can pick 14 of your choice and raise them.

There is also merit in choosing one or two combos of sets and flat calling with these to preserve nutted hands in your range on blank river cards. This is a more advanced concept and it doesn’t really change things too much.

In the actual hand, you held KdJd and folded to the turn bet. Having gone through our frequency analysis, it turns out that KdJd is a marginal hand in your range. It’s right at or near the bottom of the set of hands that you might want to defend against this turn bet.

Because it’s a marginal hand, it’s likely that raising, calling, and folding this particular hand all have roughly similar EV. Because it’s clearly a superior hand to the small gutshot hands J9s and 86s, I’m likely not folding KdJd to the turn bet. I’d probably end up raising it, along with 98s, and a few combinations of low showdown value flush draws. These are the bluff combinations that complement the value raises I’d make with sets and aces up.

Back to the original question. Holding KdJd, you call the Td7s2c flop and fold the As turn. Did you play the hand well? I believe that folding KdJd is a small mistake, and raising would be a preferable play. Calling is also a reasonable option, but likely not quite as good as raising.

But if you chose to fold KdJd (and similar high card gutshot hands), and instead chose to call with 99 instead, it would make your overall strategy only slightly weaker. Because your frequencies are still solid—you are still defending the correct percentage of hands overall—a flaw in your choice of which particular hands to defend is of secondary importance.

The way you eviscerate your strategy is if you get the folding frequency grossly wrong. Start folding 50 or 60 percent of hands instead of 30, and you’re just killing yourself. If you play like most regular no-limit players, you make precisely this mistake on many turn and river cards.

The range-building, frequency-based analysis I just did on this hand, this is what you do to learn to play like an elite player. You do this analysis over and over again. Every time you play a session, you write down at least 1 to 3 hands you played and then perform this sort of analysis.

The hands you choose need not be the biggest pots or the nastiest beats. My example, for instance, is a seemingly mundane hand. You flopped overcards, took one off, and folded your gutshot to a turn bet. A hand like this one is unlikely to be one that you think about for days afterwards. But these decisions are the bread-and-butter of no-limit hold’em. These situations are where the edges are made and lost. It’s all in the frequencies. You want to make sure your frequencies are solid in hands like these. Make sure your pyramids are smooth. Don’t give your opponent opportunities to bet two blank cards and beat you.

We’ll go through more examples like these as the book proceeds and I teach you a few other key concepts. But I wanted to address the complaint I hear most frequently when I introduce students to this sort of analysis. “How am I going to do all this at the table? I’ve got ten seconds to make a decision. How the heck am I going to count through a hundred hand combinations to get my frequencies perfect?”

You aren’t. This analysis is not done at the table. The only thing that happens in those ten seconds at the table is that your brain recognizes similarities between the present hand and ones you’ve seen before. Then you make an intuitive decision. Your brain—after repeated analyses away from the table—learns to program itself to make these decisions much like a computer.

It’s muscle memory, except no muscles are involved. It’s the same way the violinist knows in a split second exactly where to put her finger to play the note she wants. It’s the same way the tennis player knows precisely how hard and at what trajectory to swing the racket so it ricochets the ball hard and straight down the line. It’s muscle memory. You train your brain in practice, and then in the heat of the moment it gives you instant feedback. The more you train, the more sharply accurate the message from your brain.

So learning to play poker like the 1% is both simple and hard. All you have to do is analyze the hands you play in the manner I analyzed the example above. The hard part, of course, is that you must do it thousands of times on all different sorts of hands to become elite.

What They’re Saying About Poker’s 1% by Ed Miller

I offered a special deal back in November to my readers to get a two week sneak peak at my brand new book, Poker’s 1%: The One Big Secret That Keeps Elite Players On Top. The sneak peek is underway, and I’m already starting to get feedback. Here’s what they’ve been saying.

The book is 100% without question, the most groundbreaking thing that I have ever read on the game.

-John Childs

I really like your book and would make it the first thing my students read (you know, if I had students).

– Seth Baldwin

I just finished the book. You can probably tell from how fast I read it that I loved it. Gotta go clean my gray matter off the walls now.

– Carlos W.

You can tell from these quotes that this book isn’t some rehash of stuff you’ve read already. The reality is that elite poker players (the 1%) approach the game in a completely different way than everyone else (the 99%). In Poker’s 1%, I hope to bridge that gap. I want to give you a simple, clear window into the world of the top players.

You aren’t going to read a book and play like them overnight. No way. Elite players have put in thousands of hours of work to get when they are. What the book does is it shows you in plain language how what they do is so different from what everyone else does at (and away from) the poker table. It also shows you exactly the type of work you need to do if you want to join the elite.

Poker’s 1% gives you a clear road map to massive improvement. It lays out the path for you. It’s up to you to decide how far you ultimately go.

The release date for the PDF e-book version of Poker’s 1% is March 11, 2014. Other e-book formats and paperback will be available a few weeks after that. You can preorder the book right now.

Want to know more? Here are links to everything I’ve written about the book so far.

Poker’s 1%, Table of Contents and Introduction
Poker’s 1% Excerpt: Is This Relevant In My Small Stakes Games?
Poker’s 1%: What’s the Secret?
Poker’s 1% Status Update

Poker’s 1% Excerpt: Is This Relevant In My Small Stakes Game?

This is the first of two excerpts from my forthcoming book, Poker’s 1%: The One Big Secret That Keeps Elite Players On Top, which releases on March 11, 2014.

Elite players (the 1%) and everyone else (the 99%) think about poker in completely different ways. It’s not like the 99% just need to get incrementally better at what they’re doing to join the 1%. They need a massive overhaul. They need to tear much of what they’ve learned down to the ground and rebuild their thought processes the right way.

I don’t claim it’s an easy thing to do. Some people will read my book and say, “You know what, that’s not for me. I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing.” It’s a perfectly reasonable reaction. But a lot of people will read the book and be inspired. They’ll want to do the work for the promise that they may possibly someday become truly elite at this game (and reap the rewards).

But here’s where lots of players run into an immediate roadblock. They’re trying to learn to think like an elite player, but they’re still playing in $1-$2, $1-$3, and $2-$5 games with the 99%. How do you use an elite-type thought process in these everyday games? That’s what this excerpt is all about.

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Is This Relevant In My Game?

“I play $1-$3 at my local casino. My opponents don’t know a flush from a straight. Is any of this relevant to me?”

My short answer is, yes, this is relevant. I think it’s relevant in three major ways.

First, let’s say you play $1-$2, $1-$3, $2-$5, or a similar game. Your opponents are not elite (understatement alert) at poker. Yet I’m guessing if you’ve been playing these games for a while, you have your share of frustrations with the game. These guys you play with, they make plenty of mistakes. This you know. But somehow you aren’t pulling $70 an hour out of your game. Why not?

I believe the answer is almost always twofold. First, you unwittingly make some of the same mistakes your opponents make. So even though they make a mistake, when it’s your turn to be in the same situation, you also make a mistake and give back your edge. Second, you fail to take advantage of many of the mistakes your opponents make. So even though the money is there for the taking, you don’t take it.

I believe the heart of this problem is the same as the problem with the generous craps table. A pass line bet wins 49.4% of the time. The difference between 49.4% and 50% is the house edge. If you were to find a magic craps table where a pass line bet wins 50.6% of the time, the house edge would be all yours. All you’d have to do is max bet the pass line repeatedly and eventually you’d be ready to buy the New York Yankees.

But even if the magic table were sitting right under your nose, you wouldn’t notice. It’s hard to tell the 49.4% table from the 50.6% table just by eyeballing it. It’s impossible if you’re not specifically looking for it. It’s even more impossible if you don’t even know what to look for.

The reality of the situation is that your opponents are making many, many mistakes that you are unable to identify because you don’t know what to look for. You also make many mistakes that you don’t know are mistakes because you don’t know what to look for.

Any mistake in no-limit hold’em can be identified and explained from a frequency-based perspective. What does this guy do wrong? Well, he bets the flop 80 percent of the time, but, when called, he only bets the turn 30 percent of the time.

Bam. That’s a huge error. How do you take advantage of it? Well, you could call the flop bet 70 percent of the time like you’re supposed to. But, because this error is so large, you can formulate an exploitative play to take even more advantage of this error. You could actually call this flop bet 100 percent of the time—yup, even with the no pair, no draw hands. Then the 70 percent of the time he checks to you on the turn, you bet.

If you’re like most of the rest of the 99%, this adjustment is one you don’t currently make. You never think, “Hey, this guy’s betting percentage plummets between the flop and turn. I exploit this by calling all his flop bets and torturing him on the turn.”

If you’ve read my book, Playing The Player, you’ve seen a series of similar adjustments that work to destroy typical live no-limit hold’em cash game players. I could explain every one of these adjustments from a frequency-based perspective. One of the big adjustments I recommend in that book is to exploit tight-aggressive players who like to bet-fold too frequently. For instance, on the turn their default play with a hand such as top pair will be to bet, planning to fold to a raise.

Well, what it means is that they are failing to defend 70 percent (or whatever the appropriate number might be, given all factors) of hands against the turn raise. They are failing consistently and predictably to defend in this specific situation. So what do you do? You raise, raise, raise. You raise two blank cards if the frequencies are off by enough.

And you print money, because they are not obeying the basic math of the game.

If you play live poker, your opponents will make enormous frequency-based mistakes on nearly every hand. It’s not like they are folding 40% of the time when they should be folding 35% of the time. They are folding 65% of the time when they should be folding 35% of the time. Gigantic mistakes, these. They make mistakes because they have no idea what the correct frequencies should be. But, more importantly, they make these mistakes because they play way too many hands before the flop.

If you play way too many hands before the flop, it is impossible to play after the flop with the correct frequencies.

When you add hands preflop, you are adding junk. None of the hands you add are good ones. They are all weak hands—hands that are, theoretically, too weak to be playing. This weakness carries forward through to every street. Therefore, it is nearly impossible not to fold too frequently on the turn and river when you are playing too many hands and you are up against an opponent who plays correctly.

Nearly everyone who plays live poker plays too many hands preflop. Therefore, nearly everyone who plays live poker will fold too frequently in many situations on the turn and river.

I believe that most of my edge in today’s live games comes from bluffing the turn and river in situations where I know my opponents fold too frequently.
Therefore, I believe that the most important reason to learn the frequency-based strategy if you play small stakes live poker is so you can systematically identify the massive mistakes your opponents make. Watch their frequencies. If they bet the flop and you call, how often do they bet the turn? Is it most of the time (i.e., 60-75 percent) or is it not?

When you call the turn, how often do they give up on the river rather than follow through? When you raise a flop continuation bet, do they call 70 percent of the time or much less? What types of board textures create what frequencies in your opponents?

If you pay attention to what your opponents do from a frequency-based perspective, you will very quickly see that your opponents’ frequencies are often way, way out of whack. Once you observe this, it’s a slam dunk that they are exploitable. The way to exploit them should also be similarly obvious. If they fold too much, you bluff. (Frequently, the theoretically correct bluffing frequency in these situations is 100%.) If they give up too frequently on the next street after one of their bets is called, you increase your calling frequency of the first bet and you bet the extra junk hands when they give up.

The game can become very simple when you view it from this perspective. You’re looking at frequencies, and you’re trying to find frequencies that are out of whack. When you find them, you adopt the simple counterstrategy. Then you profit. It’s really that easy. (Of course, the profit is served with a nice hunk of variance on the side. This is, after all, poker.)

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Order Poker’s 1% today. The PDF e-book format will ship on March 11, 2014. Other format e-books and the paperback will be ready a few weeks after that.

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

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.

Contents

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
Raising
Multiway Pots
Your Homework
Learning More
Acknowledgements

Introduction

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.

Poker’s 1% Release Date Announcement

My brand new book, Poker’s 1%: The One Big Secret That Keeps Elite Players On Top, is officially complete. The release date for the PDF e-book will be Tuesday, March 11, 2014. Paperbacks will be available 4-6 weeks after that. I will also try to get a Kindle version available around the time of the paperback.

I’m very happy with the book, and I think it’s got a decent shot to blow your mind. Stay tuned. Between now and release, I will post the Table of Contents and an excerpt or two.

Poker’s 1% Status Update

I’ve got a new book coming out very soon. It’s called Poker’s 1%: The One Big Secret That Keeps Elite Players On Top. It’s a great book that generalizes some of the concepts presented in Playing The Player.

Poker's 1% by Ed Miller

I announced the book in November and ran a limited-time preorder sale. If you snagged a copy during that sale, I said that I expected to send you the PDF version of the book in February. It’s now February, so I figured it was time for an update.

We’re still on target for a late February finish. All that’s left to do is the layout, which should take maybe 3 weeks (give or take). Once the book is fully laid out, I will package and email it ASAP. If, for some reason, the layout takes a bit longer than 3 weeks, it’s because I’ve hired someone with experience to lay the thing out right this time rather than try to do it myself. So expect an upgraded reading experience over my last two books.

I also promised a two week sneak peek to my preorderers. So I’m going to finish the book and email it out. Then I’m going to wait two weeks after that before I release it for general sale. The full release date, therefore, is looking to be early-mid March.

At release, I will have only a PDF e-book ready. The Kindle version is more complicated this time around, due to the layout upgrades. So it will likely be 4-6 weeks from late February before a Kindle version is ready. A similar timeline goes for the paperback version. If you preordered the book or you buy the e-book at release, and if you’d like the Kindle format when it’s ready, just email me when I announce that the Kindle version is done, and I’ll send it to you.

Preorderers also bought a paperback copy, and I will ship those paperbacks out as soon as I receive them. My best guess for that is April.

That’s about it. Oh, and I’m launching a new website here at EdMillerPoker.com. I’m not taking down the old website yet, just slowly phasing things over for now. I’ll be posting articles here periodically, and I plan to start producing more video and audio content in 2014. So stay tuned. If you run a poker-themed blog or other website, please drop me a link over to this new site on your blog so people can begin to find the new site.

I’ll be posting more updates from now through the paperback and Kindle releases in April. I’ll post some excerpts and other info to let you guys know a little more about what the book is about.