Can you Execute? by Jared Devlin-Scherer

On the river Greenstein leads out for a pot sized bet. 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.

Sure I have a near nut hand here. When you get down to the fundamentals, poker is just a game of comparing your hand strength to your opponents. They aren’t letting the timer tick down, because their hand is in the muck. This is the most important poker skill out there. 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”. 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. You need to be able to execute on this play, because it’s your bank.

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. Obviously he was looking to outflop my big preflop hand and then felt me.

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). If a well known pro comes out with a new book, I have it preordered on Amazon. Every article online, every pros video you are there inhaling. But I had an exact read on his hand, I knew it was KQ. The flop comes KQX and it checks to Antonio who makes a bet and is called by Greenstein. There is just no reason to give him the rest of my chips when I have the right read. The turn is a blank and both players check. 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 what I like to call the “fuck you! You outdrew me now here is the rest of my money play”. The money you make in poker is from situations that if they were reversed your opponent would lose more money then you. But would you make that fold even with that read? Most people wouldn’t.

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I’m a devourer of poker knowledge. It’s much more difficult to actually make that fold. 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’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”. This is a play that the great player doesn’t even think about making. I would definitely consider that I had the worst hand in that situation. There’s a lot of money in the pot. A player bets into them big on a later street, and they know they have the worst hand. You can constantly see this problem for players online. Why? Because your opponents can’t make the same fold. 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. Antonio thinks for a minute and throws his hand into the muck, his opponent having KQ for two pair. I’m sure you know the feeling, because you’re just like me. I sat there and let the timer click down, my read saying I should fold and then I called. I didn’t execute.

Not executing:. Spazz233 wins $251.86 from the main pot with a full house, Kings full of queens.

They can execute.

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 had reraised this player preflop multiple times prior to this hand. 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. All experienced poker players can read hands, and can compare hand strengths. His play had been to call my repop before the flop and fold to my flop bet. As a great player you need to be able to execute on your instinct in every situation. I TiVo every poker show on TV even if I’ve seen it before, I skim the internet everyday for new poker articles. I knew this was a situation where I should make the river fold, or at the worst just make the call. Barry Greenstein raises and Antonio Esfandairi calls in EMP with AA. This means constantly acting on your instincts and following through when you have a read or a plan for a play on a hand. 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. Most good players are willing to be patient in the right situations, and know its ok to continually fold hands in. 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.

The reads that really matter are the ones that let you fold a great second best hand. When the box arrives I rip it open and lie on my bed reading straight through without a break. If you play thousands of hands it is virtually impossible not to gain the ability to read your opponents hand. If you are making folds that they aren’t capable of making you will come out on top. While patience is important, it is not a skill that really separates you or me from the best in the world. 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. The majority of players would just look at this situation and say “well you had a great hand and lost…it 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.

***** 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.

Don’t be a bitch, execute.

Here’s a great example of my own failure to execute. Folding a good hand that is beat or calling a bluff with a marginal hand is how you make money off other solid players. Would you be able to make that read?….probably. Hand reading skills are also learned. The ability to read is just ingrained in you because you’ve been in the same situation many times before.

They don’t execute.


Being able to execute is what separates the top players from everyone else. Folding that AA in the right situation makes you more money then folding ten high after the flop. It’s harder to make that play continually in the right situations

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