Poker Wizard Extracts
The Secret of Adaptation
I do not think of myself as having a particular style because I adjust my play to fit my opponents. I think of my style as trying to give my opponents as much trouble as I can and make their decisions as hard as possible. I want to force my opponents to play a style they’re not used to. If they’re playing too many hands, I will make them pay to play. I am going to put pressure on them and make them shift to a style where they’re going to want to see a lot fewer hands. So, in effect, I am going to play around them. If they’re playing too few hands, once again I will put pressure on them and raise more often, but if they come into a pot, I’m more likely to let them take it. In essence, I’m saying, “Play more hands, steal the pot,” because that is a style they’re not used to.
If my opponent folds his blinds too often, I am going to raise him frequently. I am going to try to force him to play pots against me and defend his blinds more. Now, he is playing a game he is not comfortable with. If he defends his blinds all the time, I am going to tighten up slightly. I am going to tell him, “Well, you should throw those weak hands away because when I come in I have a good hand.” I am forcing him to change his style to play a little bit more conservatively. If he is always raising me and trying to steal my blinds, I am going to start playing pots against him. I am going to punish him for raising me with those weaker cards by playing more hands.
If he does not want to play a lot of hands, and is not raising enough, I will let him steal my blinds. I’ll only play my best hands. So again, in one sense, I am trying to force him to play a style he is not used to; or I am punishing him if he does not change. To me, that is a win-win situation. If he does not change the way he plays, that is fantastic because I am really taking advantage of him. If he does change the way he plays, now he is playing a game he is not used to. He is playing a style that he does not want to play. It is not his natural style and the fact that he is going to be slightly out of his element is going to be an advantage for me. So I think you could say my playing style is really geared to my opponents. I try to adjust to them as much as possible.
Intellectualizing Gut Feeling
Gut feeling - intuition and reading your
opponents are very important skills in a poker game. Subliminal input is a good way to describe gut feeling. It is something that is very hard to quantify.
Once you quantify it, it is not a gut feeling anymore. Once you understand why you feel that way, it is an intellectual decision. I would rather make the correct intellectual decision than go with my gut.
Gut feelings can be wrong, so you have to be able to adjust them. For example, if my gut feeling is wrong five times in a row where I thought an opponent was bluffing, I have to understand why I thought he was bluffing. If I don’t figure that out, he is going to keep taking advantage of my gut feeling until I intellectualize that feeling. Why did I think he was bluffing? What is he doing? Oh, maybe he has a big hand when he does this. Or perhaps you could also argue that my gut feeling will adjust. Eventually that will happen, but I think it happens faster if you intellectualize it.
I also use my opponents’ gut feelings against them by making them think something that is not true. I do this by putting an idea in their mind that is false.
Chris 'Jesus' Ferguson
Career Tournament Earnings Exceeding $7.7 Million
Winner, WSOP No-Limit Hold’em Main Event, 2000
Winner, WSOP $2,500 Seven-Card Stud, 2000
Winner, WSOP $1,500 Omaha High-Low, 2001
Second place, $3,000 WSOP Pot-limit Hold’em, 2002
Winner, WSOP $2,000 ½ Limit Hold’em ½ Seven-Card Stud, 2003
Winner, WSOP $2,000 Omaha High-Low, 2003
Second place, WSOP $3,000 Pot-limit Hold’em, 2003
Winner, $2,500 No-Limit Hold’em Winnin’ o’ the Green, Los Angeles, 2004
Second place, WSOP $5,000 No-Limit Deuce-to-Seven Draw, 2004
Second place, National Heads-up NLH Poker Championship, Las Vegas, 2005
Winner, WSOP $10,000 No-Limit Circuit event, Harrah’s San Diego, 2005
Winner, WSOP $10,000 No-Limit Circuit event, Harrah’s Las Vegas, 2005
Second place, WSOP $2,000 Pot-Limit Omaha, 2005
Second place, National Heads-Up NLH Poker Championship, Las Vegas, 2006
Winner, WSOP No-Limit Circuit event, Harvey’s Lake Tahoe, 2007
Winner, NBC National Heads-Up Championship, Las Vegas, 2008