Levels of Poker Thought and Types of Play - isnortbooze Typsy Tips Video 041417

In order to excel, you must think on levels in poker starting with an understanding of the game, your card strength, your opponents cards and then what your opponent thinks of your cards. 250 Thank You Ticket Inside.

Hey guys,

isnortbooze here with another edition of Tipsy Tips.

Still working on improving the quality, but there is def some useful info in this one.

Today's discussion will be about thinking and levels poker gameplay:

Level 0: I know the basic rules of poker
Level 1: I am thinking about what hand I have
Level 2: I am thinking about what hand he has
Level 3: I am thinking about what he is thinking about, I am thinking about.
Level 4: and so on

You always want to be one level above your opponents thinking.

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Let me know what you think! I will choose 3 comments to win 250 guaranteed freeroll tickets! Entries will close Wednesday at 10:00am EST.

Levels of Poker Thought and Types of Play

Arbitrary Play - Level 0: I know the basic rules & mechanics of Texas Hold'Em.

Knows: Basic rules & mechanics of poker, hand rankings, how action proceeds around table, when it's their turn to act, and so on. Understands basic bankroll management, but may not employ it. Grasphs fundamental realities of poker (e.g. poker is high-variance game; luck dominates in short-run, skill in the long-run; most players are long-term losers, etc.)

Doesn't Know: Strength of their own hand, when to enter a pot or when to fold. Doesn't know odds or how board texture affects hand strength. Doesn't have a strategy to win. Tilts easily.

Goal When Playing: Win every pot.

Example: I have a pair of fours. This looks like a good hand. Sweet! It's my turn, so I'm shoving all-in!

Straight-Forward Play - Level 1: I know the absolute strength of my own cards.

Knows: Level 0 skills, plus absolute strength of their own hand. Understands and uses basic concepts & skills like position, starting hand, pot odds, bet sizing, reading board texture and continuation betting. Understand basic villain types and selects good games to play in. Recognizes & avoids anger- and pain-related bad beat-type tilts.

Doesn't Know: What cards opponents are playing or their strategies.

Goal When Playing: Make a hand and get paid off.

Example: I have a pair of fours in late position. There's been a raise in front of me. I'm getting better than 15:1 implied odds. My starting hand chart says to call in this situation, so I will and hope to hit a set. If I miss, I'll fold if villain bets.

Straight-Forward Play - Level 2: I know what my opponent's card are and the relative strength of mine.

Knows: Level 1 skills, plus how to read opponents hand ranges & line. Knows strength of own cards relative to that range. Chooses line & varies bet sizes to maximize EV. Adjusts play as opponents adapt. Plays patients & focused. Keeps good records of their play and performs detailed reviews of hands and sessions afterwards. Plays with discipline.

Doesn't Know: What opponent thinks Hero's cards or intentions are.

Goal When Playing: Win hands via combination of Value and Bluff betting.

Example: I have 44 in CO. Only 3 players left to act; looks like they'll fold. My nit opponent raised UTG. He probably has ATs+ AQo+, 77+. Effective stack size is 100bb. I.O.=22:1 and V c-bets one-and-done when he misses flop. I'll call & set mine. If I miss and the board doesn't hit V's range, I'll float one street and try to take it away on turn.

Deceptive Play - Level 3+:I know what my opponent thinks my cards are and what my line is.

Knows: Level 2 skills, plus what opponent is thinking about hero's cards & strategies. Adapts & adjusts deceptively. Levels opponents & exploits meta-game, planning future hands. Mentally prepares before playing. Coaches others off-table. Is mentally & physically fit. Recognizes & avoids ego-related tilts. Plays with heart & class and is ambassador to game.

Doesn't Know: -

Goal When Playing: Maximize EV every hand.

Example: I have a small pair. Villain knows that I know he's in EP and has raised, so he thinks I think he's strong. From last three hands I played, he thinks I'm a weak-tight player. If I 3bet PF small as a bluff, he will likely give me a lot of respect and think I'm very strong. He should fold out the bottom of his range. If he 4bets, I can re-evaluate IOs. If he calls, I can c-bet semi-bluff and fire multiple barrels on turn and river. Therefore I'll raise 2.25x villain's bet & re-evaluate based on his reaction.

What level do you get to in your game?

Good Luck!


 Filed under: Poker, Levels, Tipsy Tips


StareYouDown: That moment you bet a little
Fri, 04/14/2017 - 16:42

That moment you bet a little under his stack and not put him allin, alot of people see that as a bluff though....how fast did you bet? maybe that river bet size put you down to level 0 :)

isnortbooze: Great question Rene
Fri, 04/14/2017 - 17:11

The beauty of betting fast and people thinking you are bluffing is that when you do have something, they still call your huge bet. Perhaps next week I will choose a hand from yesterday's heads up match to demonstrate. The idea, though, is staying balanced.
In this case, however, a thinking player would realize there is only 5-10% of my range I could be bluffing with and accept the loss and move on.

StareYouDown: Only if you choose the AK <
Fri, 04/14/2017 - 17:49

Only if you choose the AK < A5 hand lol but i am just saying the dude called, dont put him down to level 1 just because you got caught on a bad play....if you had a combo draw you probably put that thing before the river and dont just call twice...10J folds turn bet....and some bad diamond draw also folds it....he was on level 4 and you were out there on your typical tipsy level 2

isnortbooze: A play isn't good or bad based on results
Fri, 04/14/2017 - 18:00

If I was on level 2 and he was on level 4, I would have won. The key is to be exactly 1 level ahead. My only considerations were how to get him to fold his 2 pair or set. That puts me on exactly level 3. Whether he was on level 4 or level 1 could be up for debate. Would you call off 100% of your top 5 stack vs an unknown player with 3 tables left in a mtt with $9k for 1st place with a hand that literally only beats a bluff? Probably not. While I clearly made mistakes, as stated in the video, and it is debateable whether he was on level 1 or 4, there is no debate on whether he made a profitable call. He did not.

StareYouDown: Shit happens when you out of
Fri, 04/14/2017 - 18:10

Shit happens when you out of position.

player10: Trying to get him to fold a monster?!?
Sat, 04/15/2017 - 01:50

moving forward in hand confident they have a monster trying to figure out how to get them to fold a monster seems like a pretty bad plan for any hand.... especially when you are putting in a half pot bet on the river to someone who most likely feels pot comitted.. and you think he shouldn't call??? Some players may fold here.. but to say its not profitable to call someone who could have a pretty wide range of hands is not correct..

I wonder what I would have done if I was him... I think I probably would to have called also.. but of course I'm still kicking myself for making a huge fold in that 5k we were down to the final 2 tables, about a week ago.. after that hand I decided late in tournaments sometimes you just have to be pot committed and go with it.. especially against and unknown / tricky player... I think he played his hand perfectly to be honest.. if it was a pot sized bet I might feel differently..

ciobanuionut: I probably was giving call
Fri, 04/14/2017 - 17:13

I probably was giving call preflop
good pot odds for a call
also with top pair on the flop and turn was giving call
but definitely save the 24 bb river bet that I consider totally wrong
why? because just call preflop leads me to a small pair or suited connectors like 55 type J10
2 bets after the flop and turn over 50% of the pot and flush the river and there straith definitely has set a minimum if not color or river straith
hand played perfectly to the river where it came from rookie mistake I say

isnortbooze: That's some good level 2
Fri, 04/14/2017 - 17:20

That's some good level 2 thinking, cio. Obviously he had top pair crushed, as explained in the video. The idea was getting him to fold the better hand when the straight or flush that he could not have hit came through on the river. Didn't work out here, but definitely a profitable play at this buy-in level.

StareYouDown: so UTG minraise and this dude
Fri, 04/14/2017 - 18:08

so UTG minraise and this dude just calls...some of his calling crap is 55,QKs 10Jdiamonds A10 diamonds AJ diamonds....and you block zero draws to not even put him on that, and he is still gonna triple barrel all that to river even if he missed, and he probably knows you just dont call again on turn with a simple bad FD or 10J cus its a terrible call...you fucked up and he picked up on it as usual....you were not thinking and he was...end of story. You dont even block 10J diamonds which is the only draw that you are excused to have for you to still be there to the river...so he can still have it. bad play scot.

isnortbooze: I understand
Fri, 04/14/2017 - 18:16

I understand that in $5 mtts people call with a set there but at higher levels abc poker isn't enough. Your decision tree is much larger and you have to use more advanced plays. Perhaps you should start a video series aimed at people who are disinterested in moving up from micros.

StareYouDown: Your comment is pretty
Fri, 04/14/2017 - 18:21

Your comment is pretty fucking stupid , ive played all stakes and i guarantee you theres higher level thinking players on a freeroll thn you... i commented what i thought, you defend yourself with your dumb comments if you want.

simvait: levels are real.
Fri, 04/14/2017 - 18:29

you are level 0 - I think that I can teach others.

isnortbooze: Your comments
Fri, 04/14/2017 - 18:29

Your comments work for the exact situation where you prove me wrong. If he folds, like anyone decent does, I look like genius. The point of showing this hand is there are many intersecting facets to it. The only correct thing either of us did basically was my river bet.

StareYouDown: Thing is , he also has
Fri, 04/14/2017 - 18:32

Thing is , he also has 10Jdiamonds A10diamonds AJ diamonds in his little flat range that he did preflop and also 3barrels it . and your 10 doesnt even block that....stop trying to look like a genius, because you keep looking like a fool.

isnortbooze: No he doesn't
Fri, 04/14/2017 - 18:38

No he doesn't. Those hand ranges for him are eliminated on the turn. Name calling doesn't make for a good poker debate, but if that's all you got, keep it rolling!

StareYouDown: Why are those hand ranges
Fri, 04/14/2017 - 18:56

Why are those hand ranges eliminated because he doesnt want to take a free card and give up position so you can take the lead? seems dumb...but i understand no poker player likes to admit when they wrong, and you have proven that many times.

isnortbooze: I literally said
Fri, 04/14/2017 - 19:02

I literally said everything I did except that bet was wrong. I put a hand I lost and played incorrectly out there for everyone to see so i could show the mistakes we both made. This isn't about pride. Poker is a game of creativity and there are many different ways to end up ahead. There is no doubt you are great player and more importantly, a great friend. Thank you for the feedback.

StareYouDown: Thank you welcome for my
Fri, 04/14/2017 - 19:04

Thank you welcome for my feedback, i still think he didnt make a mistake :)

isnortbooze: Well that's why
Fri, 04/14/2017 - 19:05

Well that's why they make different flavors of ice cream.

FistOfGod: Pride definitely has to take
Fri, 04/14/2017 - 21:02

Pride definitely has to take a backseat while playing this game. Seconds separate a genius mastermind move from the stupidest "why the hell did I do that" move. Who knows what the villain is feeling emotionally at the time. Maybe his boss just called and told him he has to work the weekend. So now he's pissed and feeling like he's being dominated by a superior. So now at the table he's going to take a stand no matter what. Even if he was given bad pot odds or if he would have been out of position or both. Maybe if he hadn't talked to his boss or his wife or his girlfriend, then he might have laid down to your move. Look, sometimes you get caught with your hand in the cookie jar...and you should. It happens, sometimes the villain latches on to a hand like a pitbull on a kitten and you can't make him let it go no matter what. You have to make moves in this game. Accept the loss for what it is and play on. Was it a bad play? Hindsight is 20/20. But if you would have pulled it off....how sweet would that have been? Sometimes we over think things and out level ourselves.

isnortbooze: Well said
Fri, 04/14/2017 - 21:52

Well said, Fist. Even if it was a good play, it wasn't a good play this time because of who I was against. Whether he made a bad call or had a great read on me, if he is a player who won't lay down there, I shouldn't make the move.
I apologize for getting into it with syd. We have an interesting friendship that is both competitive and troll-y and sometimes it gets out of hand. There was no need to let it get that far.

StareYouDown: I enjoyed it! its all about
Fri, 04/14/2017 - 21:58

I enjoyed it! its all about dropping the way we think of the hand.

player10: Close.. but maybe he is on level 4?!???
Fri, 04/14/2017 - 23:07

This is why you need to know your players.. Maybe he was on level 1.. or maybe he was on level 4!!
the bet out here looks solid like a flush or straight but it also looks like exactly what you have a weak top pair you are trying to over play for a fold (or possibly K9 you aren't confident is good so you are over betting).. a ton of ppl fold the turn with their flush draws and expecially with their straight draws.. and the fact you put him almost all in (especaily if he has you pegged as that type of player) kinda sends the message you want him to fold (wouldn't you bet something that would be more callable if you had it)..

I would say you are not on level 3 because you dont even know what type of player he is.. or maybe that would be level 4/5?! idk... its very likely he put you on a k10 k9s type hand from the begining.. his level 4 thought process says i'm not gonna let this donk try to run me over.. I dont care how scary the board is on the river.. I'm confident I have the best hand now.. and I know mathmatically I'm ahead more often than I'm behind.

what I do know is that folding preflop is more than ok, so is folding the flop and/ or turn... for the exact reason we saw.. every hand you can put him on there is quite large.. honestly KQ and 555 are the most likely hands.. I dont think he ever has KJ here (too many people behind that could push, to call that weak) but I have no idea what type of player he is.. maybe he is a level 1 player who calls with kj and Q5s from middle position late in tournaments... but lets be real...

He did consider what you had.. and he out thought and out played you... If you knew(or had a very good idea) he was the type of player who wouldn't fold 555 how would you play the hand? If he was has you pegged as the type of player who would bet out big w 2 pair on a flush draw.. and/ or bet out a weak top pair when the bluff cards come, how would he play you?

seems pretty obvious who was on the higher level if you ask me.. and if he was on level 1.. you most certainly are not on level 3.. because bluffing the unbluffable is about as bad of a play as there is....

Shahista: Interesting hand
Sat, 04/15/2017 - 14:55

I agree with snorts reasoning but I also agree with alot of the stuff SYD is saying...
To sum it up the dude had to make a -EV call on the river which puts snort as a clear longterm winner on average against a good/decent oponent.
Dude shoulda jamed the turn with that set or even check/folded a 9d river.... both options higher EV
than what he did in the hand.
Given all said I do think snort shoulda realised on the turn this dude is a never foldem player and checked river hoping the guy turns over QJ QT

Shahista: dont know why some of my msg dissapeared....
Sat, 04/15/2017 - 15:00

anyway hers the rest: QJ QT

Shahista: oh now i know
Sat, 04/15/2017 - 15:06

QJ QT underK7 A5 (the under sign deletes all further text had to type it) quite concievably all of those hands would played it the same up to the turn but are not calling a river jam. So you cant bet the river for value
(even thin value) and betting it as a bluff wont work often enough to be profitable against that kind of player.
You shoulda took your time on river and put all the pieces of the puzzle together realising the most important part of it is that the line he took isnt really great and as such he probably isnt a winning player and those dont lay down in marginal spots often. but if he is calling be sure he has K with T kicker beat.

FistOfGod: Honestly it seems at times
Sat, 04/15/2017 - 20:41

Honestly it seems at times like a scene from a movie called "The Princess Bride". There's a scene where two men sit at a table with a cup in front of each of them. Poison is placed in one of the cups and the game of wits begins. It's pretty funny. One guy is thinking on level 99...."you think that I think that you think that I think that you think that I think" and so on. He still dies, as poison was placed in both cups. Sometimes it doesn't matter what level of thought you're on. Unless you can use Jedi mind tricks.

daffyD: This is rly a gud tin u doing
Sun, 04/16/2017 - 09:53

This is rly a gud tin u doing isnortbooze. I can see improvement in my gameplay..I l work on this..thanks man

Noname99: My Think
Sun, 04/16/2017 - 20:15

i think we win or lose is 100% lucky or 100% unlucky

enoo: I think you are overbluffing
Sun, 04/16/2017 - 20:19

I think you are overbluffing this spot. If villain "should" fold a hand as good as 55 here, then is this really the line you would take with your value? Even if so, I don't think you have that many combos of value, and you are only betting half-pot, so you can't just turn all your Kx into bluffs without being massively unbalanced. You have at least KxJd and KxTd that would be much better bluffs here.

Sure it's possible that you got stationed by a weak player, but give villain some credit. You got caught in an unbalanced bluff after a questionable float, I don't think the takeaway from this should be "I was thinking at too high a level."

Linux911: Need a ticket
Mon, 04/17/2017 - 13:46

I am a player with level 0 and I can not analyze the distribution deeply ... But on the turn in this situation I would throw off the cards, since the pot-sized bet shows at least a AK card.

isnortbooze: Ticket winners- Levels video
Wed, 04/19/2017 - 14:05

Great feedback! Obviously I chose a very controversial hand, so I should be prepared to be humbled by your responses. I will continue posting controversial situations because they bring about great discussions like this one. Hopefully everyone learns a little something, including me. The most important thing to keep in mind is that there are many different correct and many different wrong ways to play a hand. Everything is situational and depends on who you are up against, but I will continue trying to discuss why I have found certain situations to be +ev or -ev in general.
That being said, the tickets for this article go to
player10, StareYouDown and enoo
You should have your tickets by the end of the day today.
To those who didn't win, keep those great responses coming. Everyone will win eventually.

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