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 Poker: Can you Execute? 
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Post Poker: Can you Execute?
Poker: Can you Execute?
by: Jared Devlin-Scherer

I'm a devourer of poker knowledge. If a well known pro comes out with a new book, I have it preordered on Amazon. When the box arrives I rip it open and lie on my bed reading straight through without a break. I TiVo every poker show on TV even if I've seen it before, I skim the internet everyday for new poker articles. I'm sure you know the feeling, because you're just like me. Every article online, every pros video you are there inhaling. Trying constantly to understand what it is that makes them better then you and how you can bring yourself to their level.

One of the most common questions that beginning poker players have is: what is the most important skill a poker player can have? I've heard many pros answer this question with: patience, the ability to read an opponent, or the ability to put pressure on other players. I think the pros have heard this question so many times that they script their answers and give up on really providing a significant answer. Its not patience or reading ability that makes a player a top pro, because these are skills that can be learned by most of us. While patience is important, it is not a skill that really separates you or me from the best in the world. Most good players are willing to be patient in the right situations, and know its ok to continually fold hands in. Hand reading skills are also learned. If you play thousands of hands it is virtually impossible not to gain the ability to read your opponents hand. The ability to read is just ingrained in you because you've been in the same situation many times before.

Being able to execute is what separates the top players from everyone else. This means constantly acting on your instincts and following through when you have a read or a plan for a play on a hand. It's easy to say "I have bottom two pair here and if he comes over the top he has me beat I'm going to fold". It's much more difficult to actually make that fold. It's easy to say "If I check to my opponent in this un-raised pot he's going to bet 90% of the time so I should try a check raise". It's harder to make that play continually in the right situations. You can constantly see this problem for players online. A player bets into them big on a later street, and they know they have the worst hand. The timer is ticking down and then they make the "I'm not a good enough player to make this fold" play. This play loses them tons of money in every session they play. This is a play that the great player doesn't even think about making. They aren't letting the timer tick down, because their hand is in the muck. They have the same instinct telling them to fold their big hand as you do; they just follow through with their reads when most others can't.

They can execute.


A great example of this is concept occurred in a hand on the High Stakes Poker TV show on GSN (if you haven't seen this, I suggest torrenting it right now, just stop reading I'll forgive you). Barry Greenstein raises and Antonio Esfandairi calls in EMP with AA. The flop comes KQX and it checks to Antonio who makes a bet and is called by Greenstein. The turn is a blank and both players check. On the river Greenstein leads out for a pot sized bet. Antonio thinks for a minute and throws his hand into the muck, his opponent having KQ for two pair. Would you be able to make that read?....probably. I would definitely consider that I had the worst hand in that situation. But would you make that fold even with that read? Most people wouldn't.

They don't execute.

Not executing:

Here's a great example of my own failure to execute. I had reraised this player preflop multiple times prior to this hand. His play had been to call my repop before the flop and fold to my flop bet. Obviously he was looking to outflop my big preflop hand and then felt me.

***** Hand History for Game 3552629530 *****$100 NL Texas Hold'em - Tuesday, February 14, 07:57:32 EDT 2006Table Table 85428 (6 max) (Real Money)Seat 3 is the buttonTotal number of players : 6Seat 6: skihood ( $177.12 )Seat 2: TheJar3d ( $157.45 )Seat 1: Captain54173 ( $192.55 )Seat 5: KardPlayer1 ( $179.78 )Seat 3: AceManhattan ( $98.50 )Seat 4: cardiac777 ( $155.90 )cardiac777 posts small blind [$0.50].KardPlayer1 posts big blind [$1].** Dealing down cards **Dealt to TheJar3d [ Ah Ad ]skihood calls [$1].Captain54173 raises [$4].TheJar3d raises [$10].AceManhattan folds.cardiac777 folds.KardPlayer1 folds.skihood folds.Captain54173 calls [$6].** Dealing Flop ** [ 6h, 9s, Td ]Captain54173 checks.TheJar3d bets [$15].Captain54173 calls [$15].** Dealing Turn ** [ Qd ]Captain54173 checks.TheJar3d bets [$30].>You have options at Table 85464 (6 max) Table!.Captain54173 calls [$30].** Dealing River ** [ 3s ]Captain54173 bets [$50].>You have options at Table 85464 (6 max) Table!. TheJar3d calls [$50].Captain54173 shows [ 6s, 6d ] three of a kind, sixes.TheJar3d doesn't show [ Ah, Ad ] a pair of aces.Captain54173 wins $209.50 from the main pot with three of a kind, sixes.

On the river my opponent makes the obvious, lead in because I want my big hand paid off and I am out of position. I sat there and let the timer click down, my read saying I should fold and then I called. I didn't execute.

Another great example:***** Hand History for Game 4239100812 *****$100 NL Texas Hold'em - Thursday, May 11, 01:46:49 ET 2006Table Surf Rider (No DP) (Real Money)Seat 4 is the buttonTotal number of players : 6Seat 1: elmerfuddpi ( $99.85 )Seat 3: Spazz233 ( $122.68 )Seat 5: Metygl ( $104.60 )Seat 6: BottledFly ( $110.70 )Seat 4: TheJar3d ( $146.40 )Seat 2: fzilco ( $106.95 )Metygl posts small blind [$0.50].BottledFly posts big blind [$1].** Dealing down cards **Dealt to TheJar3d [ 9c 9d ]elmerfuddpi calls [$1].fzilco raises [$4].Spazz233 calls [$4].TheJar3d calls [$4].Metygl folds.BottledFly folds.elmerfuddpi calls [$3].** Dealing Flop ** [ Qs, 9h, Ks ]elmerfuddpi checks.fzilco checks.Spazz233 bets [$4].TheJar3d raises [$20].elmerfuddpi folds.fzilco folds.Spazz233 calls [$16].** Dealing Turn ** [ 2c ]Spazz233 checks.TheJar3d bets [$40].Spazz233 calls [$40].** Dealing River ** [ Kc ]Spazz233 bets [$40].TheJar3d raises [$80].Spazz233 is all-In.TheJar3d shows [ 9c, 9d ] a full house, Nines full of kings.Spazz233 shows [ Kh, Qd ] a full house, Kings full of queens.TheJar3d wins $21.32 from side pot #1 with a full house, Nines full of kings. Spazz233 wins $251.86 from the main pot with a full house, Kings full of queens.

Sure I have a near nut hand here. There's a lot of money in the pot. But I had an exact read on his hand, I knew it was KQ. This is what I like to call the "fuck you! You outdrew me now here is the rest of my money play". I knew this was a situation where I should make the river fold, or at the worst just make the call. There is just no reason to give him the rest of my chips when I have the right read. As a great player you need to be able to execute on your instinct in every situation. The majority of players would just look at this situation and say "well you had a great hand and happens" These are solid players who don't realize how much money they are losing each session because they can't execute on their instincts.

The reads that really matter are the ones that let you fold a great second best hand. Folding that AA in the right situation makes you more money then folding ten high after the flop. Why? Because your opponents can't make the same fold. The money you make in poker is from situations that if they were reversed your opponent would lose more money then you. If you are going broke every time your opponent out flops your AA, then you aren't really making money when you out flop their AA. Folding a good hand that is beat or calling a bluff with a marginal hand is how you make money off other solid players. If you are making folds that they aren't capable of making you will come out on top. You need to be able to execute on this play, because it's your bank.

When you get down to the fundamentals, poker is just a game of comparing your hand strength to your opponents. All experienced poker players can read hands, and can compare hand strengths. The difference between the people who wins 5PTBB/100 hands versus the person who wins 10PTBB/100 hands is their ability to constantly execute on their reads and instincts. This is the most important poker skill out there. To guess what your opponent has in each situation then follow through, being able to execute on your read, make that big fold, or fire that second barrel when you know they are weak is what will make you a great poker player. It doesn't matter if you have all the poker knowledge is the world, or if you can make the great read in every hand if your chips aren't backing up your read.

Don't be a bitch, execute.

For more great No Limit Holdem articles visit

About The Author
Jared Devlin-Scherer is a no limit holdem cash game pro and a contributing writer for

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Sat Mar 05, 2011 5:05 pm
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