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Being Patient Isn’t Just About Folding

by Greg Raymer |  Published: Sep 08, 2021

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In the Vol. 34, Issue 15 edition of this magazine, I wrote an article titled Improving Your Patience. The article was then posted online, where it got a lot of attention. And I greatly appreciate the positive feedback I got from many of you!

However, I noticed when the article was shared to Facebook, a handful of commentors seemed to significantly misunderstand what I wrote. That means I wasn’t clear enough, and that it is my fault.

• Win chips whenever it is smart to try, but fold and save your chips when playing the hand isn’t the correct move.

I made sure to include that in the article, but it seems some readers focused on the portions of the article where I said being patient means sometimes you have to do a lot of folding, saying that I was advocating for a misguided strategy.

“If all you do is wait for great hands other players will have a read on you,” one person wrote. “Folding is not the key, you have to play in the moment,” said another.

Allow me to make myself more clear. I was never advocating a strategy of folding all “weaker” starting hands, and only playing premium cards. Being patient means you don’t start playing hands out of boredom or frustration.

If a situation arises where it is profitable to play 7-2 offsuit, you should do so. But if the situation is not profitable to play A-Q, you should still fold, regardless of how many previous hands you have folded.

One of my greatest strengths playing live poker is my focus. Just ask people who played with me with back before the big blind ante took over. If somebody hadn’t posted their ante, I almost always noticed. And if the dealer missed it, I pointed it out to them. It was the same thing if a player wasn’t given change, or given incorrect change. Or any of the many other nitty little details.

I notice these things, because I’m trying to pay attention to every possible detail. That is what permits me to gauge more accurately how my opponents are playing.

We have all seen a tight player suddenly loosen up. Or a loose player shut down and play tight. Of course, if somebody goes on tilt, they are very unlikely to fold, and much more likely to reraise rather than just call. You can also judge if an original raiser seems displeased that somebody called their raise.

If you see this, you might recognize that is a better-than-average opportunity for a squeeze play to work. The list goes on, almost endlessly.

The point is, being patient does not mean folding weak cards, even though you have found a profitable opportunity. Being patient means folding even reasonably strong cards, IF you judge that the particular situation, with those cards, is a losing play.

You can be patient, and still be correct to shove all-in preflop with a marginal, or even a very weak, hand. For example, if it folds to your small blind with about ten big blinds, and the player in the big blind is somebody who will fold fairly often, you should be going all-in with any two cards.

So yes, always be patient, and always fold if playing the current hand is a losing proposition. But also, pay attention, consider the entire situation, and play any hand, even a weak hand, whenever you can profit from it.

Again, just remember to be dispassionate and honest with yourself in your evaluation. It is very easy to let your impatience sway your better judgment. It is easy to play a hand in a losing situation, because your boredom and/or frustration has let you fool yourself into thinking the current situation is a profitable one.

Have fun, and play smart! ♠

Greg Raymer is the 2004 WSOP world champion, winner of numerous major titles, and has more than $7 million in earnings. He recently authored “FossilMan’s Winning Tournament Strategies,” available from D&B Publishing, Amazon, and other retailers. He is sponsored by Blue Shark Optics, YouStake, and ShareMyPair. To contact Greg please tweet at him using @FossilMan or go to www.FossilManPoker.com.