In life then you tend to find various fields that have a strong overlap with each other. If you can learn to think in principles then you will really start to understand certain things more. For example in trading then any experienced day trader will tell you that how you enter a trade isn’t as important as how you exit. This is exactly the same in poker and we can prove that exiting a hand is more important than entering with the following example. Let us say that you raise with 7-2o UTG in a cash game. This is a play that is –EV but a raise to 3.5bb only risks a tiny percentage of your stack at that stage of the hand.

Even if you get called and make a c-bet which also fails then with a starting stack of 100bb then you have still only risked less than 10% of your stack. Now let us say that after you raise that both blinds call you and the flop totally misses your hand. Both opponents check and you make an ill-advised c-bet. If one of your opponents check-raises you then you have absolutely no business being in the hand. If you come back over the top and move all in then you have made the wrong play.

So we can say that your “exit strategy” is wrong but look at how this same principle applies to blackjack. Imagine if you were a card counter and you had enough data to tell you how to enter the hand at the right times. Then the dealer was sitting there with a six while you had a total of eighteen. Basic strategy says to stay on this total as the dealer is not a favourite to beat your hand. However if you took a card on eighteen then this would be grossly bad play and you would bust a high percentage of the time.

So we can say that despite having a good entry strategy that your exit strategy was so poor that you cannot possibly make money. You could in theory be the best card counter in the world but if your basic strategy (which tells you when to exit a hand) is so poor then you cannot possibly make money. While entering a hand in poker is very important, it is equally important to know that if your exit strategy is poor or flawed then you cannot possibly make money.

We can once again see this process at work in poker where we have say aces and a deep stack. You cannot really make a mistake entering the hand because you have the best hand possible. However you could make an absolutely horrendous mistake on say a flop of Qc-10c-9c if you do not hold a club and your opponent who is also deep stacked wants to get all in. So once again it is important to realise that simply waiting for supposed “big hands” and then misplaying them isn’t a sure fire way to make money.

Just because you are dealt aces doesn’t mean that you will win the hand. In fact you tend to win a lot of small pots with aces but you also lose big pots as well. However it is the concept here that is the most important and the concept is to concentrate on how you exit a hand before you even get in. If more no limit Texas hold’em players followed this advice then far fewer players would ever get themselves into trouble. So remember that all games are linked and finding the principles behind them will help you understand them more.

Carl Sampson is an online poker pro at 888poker

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