The other day I was playing a huge buy-in poker tournament where the majority of players have spent years working on their playing style and studying the game from many different angles. But given the behavior of the players at the table, it was evident that the simplest way to increase your edge was going unnoticed. Get your notepad ready, because here is the one simple trick that is going to undoubtedly increase your hourly rate:
DO EVERYTHING YOU CAN TO HELP MOVE THE GAME ALONG!
Poker is a game of small edges. One of my favorite sayings to explain the way poker edges work to a lay person is to say, “On any given day, it’s 80% luck and 20% skill. But in the long run, it becomes 80% skill and 20% luck.” The more hands you play, the more you get to push your edge against your opponents. Per hand edges are low, but when your table is playing more hands than the other tables you all stand a better chance of winning the tournament than players at other tables. Even in cash games it matters for hourly rate. Here are the four easiest ways to accomplish this goal:
1) Play hands faster & Call more clocks
I’ve already blogged about how people tank too much at the table in tournaments. Yesterday I tweeted “Everyone at this (Pot Limit Omaha final table) who takes >20 sec to act apologizes to the table, while NL players tend to throw a fit if you clock them after 7 min.”
I can’t control the behavior of other players, but I can call clock when necessary and appropriate. As for myself, I will continue to make my decisions as quickly as I reasonably can at all times. If I make slightly worse decisions because I don’t take enough time I trust that the edge I have in the additional hands I will be dealt as a result of my speedy play will compensate for it in the long run.
2) Collect antes for the dealer
Some dealers will ask you not to do it, but the vast majority of dealers will happily have one player at each end of the table collect antes from them each hand. It may only save 5-10 seconds per hand, but that often translates to 1-2 more hands per down (half hour) than other tables are getting. This literally benefits every player at your table unless it’s a player who is shortstacked near the bubble or it’s a satellite).
3) Post exact change
I constantly see players waste the dealer’s time by betting or calling with oversized chips despite the fact that they have exact change in their stack to bet/call with. When you waste the dealer’s time, you’re really wasting the entire table’s time including your own! This is one of my biggest pet peeves at the table. These people seem determined to collect all of the small chips at the table. While I’m left to wonder what they’re trying to compensate for, they further slow down the game by hoarding all of the small chips so that other players CAN’T post exact change. JUST STOP IT, SMALL CHIP HOARDERS!
4) Make change for/with other players; Don’t wait for the dealer to
This is just one last bit of common sense that seems to be lost on so many poker players. I get that it’s annoying to have to talk to other people with your mouth sometimes, but tossing a chip in front of a player and saying “Change please?” isn’t really that difficult. The dealer should not have to stop and look around the table to see who can break your 5k chips to pay your 25 ante. If you see people at your table doing this, change the chip for them before it has a chance to slow the game down and prevent you from getting one more hand in for the down.
THAT’S IT! It’s that simple and I can almost guarantee that if you listen to this advice, you will experience an increase in your hourly expectation. So HURRY IT UP and good luck!
~ Matt Stout