A lot of amateur poker players completely overvalue their hole cards. The recreational poker crowd either falls in love with a hand or completely dismisses the less attractive cards.
Many professional poker players will preach the importance of playing your opponent and not your cards. That’s a helpful strategy for some situations, but I see plenty of pros falling into the trap of placing too much value in their cards.
That’s where one brilliant professional poker phenom turned logic on its head. How did one tournament send the poker world buzzing?
The pro played the entire tournament without ever looking at her hole cards. Oh, and she won the 180 player event.
Are you overvaluing your poker hands?
Try this insane tactic, and you could start seeing results you’ve only dreamt about until now.
You Can’t See Me
Annette Obrestad set the poker world on fire by playing and winning a sit-and-go event against 179 other players without ever seeing her cards. Those of you that follow the ranks of professional poker are without a doubt familiar with the Norwegian pro’s success.
I’ve watched players go all-in against an opponent in face-off situations. But these bets typically have more to do with bravado or boredom.
It may seem impressive when you see it go down on TV, but it’s nothing more than a coin flip for the player. If the tournament is down to the final two players, the player walks out of the poker room a winner no matter how the individual hand concludes.
The Blind Approach to Tournament Poker
There’s a purpose behind playing blind that goes much deeper than the contest of wills that comes from a single hand. By playing an event blind, you must pay closer attention to the playing habits of your competition.
Because that’s the only information you have available, it acts as a tremendous handicap. But it only handicaps you in the ways that you’re used to playing the game.
In reality, your cards are of little consequence. Each time a hand at the table reaches a showdown, you see all players’ cards.
This information will give you a range of hands to put your opponents on based on how they play the hand. That allows you to gauge whether you should press the betting or pull back and play things softer.
It’s such a brilliant concept on so many levels that when Oberstad accomplished the feat, I immediately began studying everything I could about the young pro. I then started practicing for hours at a time without looking at my hole cards.
I started seeing almost immediate results in my tournament play. From time to time, I’ll begin slipping into bad habits or get lazy in my approach to reading other players.
Whenever I catch myself, I immediately cease all cash play and go back to practicing poker online without looking at my cards. Sometimes I’ll play a few low-stakes events blind to force myself to focus more.
No, I’ve never won an event using this tactic. However, I’ve finished in the cash a few times.
What’s the Point of Ignoring Such a Significant Piece of the Puzzle?
You may still wonder how ignoring such a large piece of the information available to players can benefit you in a poker game. Let me be clear that the idea of playing blind isn’t necessarily to make you perform better in the session or event.
Your goal is to become a more well-rounded player by understanding how table position increases your leverage and getting better at reading your opponent’s actions.
Additionally, this will illustrate and affirm that your cards don’t hold all the power. You have the power as the player.
Will you be beaten or forced to fold hands?
You’ll also see that you can win hands with much less than you might think. That fact seems to be especially true for online players.
It’s important to note that the event Oberstad won by never looking at her cards was a low-stakes online event that was likely full of weak players.
Still, I can’t think of a better example of how easy the sharks have it versus the fish.
How Can Playing Blind Benefit You?
Playing your sessions or practicing blind is almost a guaranteed way to start becoming a better poker player.
One of the most common mistakes I see players making is paying more attention to their cards than how their competition is playing. Playing against the competition instead of playing your cards is a fantastic way to start paying closer attention to player tendencies.
Those tendencies are going to shine a spotlight on strengths and weaknesses, which will tell you what type of player you’re facing.
Can you become a better poker player by taking a no-look approach?
It’ll be hard not to develop some new poker skills along the way. But you’ll have to work on putting the new principles into action.
Other Useful Techniques to Play Your Opponent
Playing blind isn’t your only path to getting more proficient at reading opponents. Most players are conditioned to alter their play as the stages of the tournament progress.
That makes them predictable, which spells profits for better players. Good players play conservatively in the early stages of tournaments because they don’t have any concerns about the blinds.
The soft players know that as the tournament enters into new phases, they will be facing better players. It’s essential to get the most giant chip stack possible early on to last as deep in the event as possible.
The Downside of Not Knowing What You’re Holding
There are some downsides to not knowing what cards you’re holding. The most apparent issue with playing this way is that you aren’t playing your most decisive game.
You want to be in the mindset that you’re leveraging your cards and table position against the other players.
I don’t encourage you to be in the habit of constantly playing blind. It should be something that you occasionally implement to focus on areas of your game that need a refresher.
Betting Strategies for Playing This Way
There are several areas of poker where you can profile your opponents without taking such drastic measures. Reading your opponents is a valuable tactic in both online and live games.
So, let’s examine ways to begin reading your opponents and turning their tendencies into their most significant weaknesses.
Bet sizing will tell you a lot about poker players. Veteran poker players will bet three times the big blind pre-flop.
That accomplishes several things that novice players completely miss. First, it allows the player to hide their hand strength.
The size of the pre-flop bets made by a good poker player will force out many of the weak hands immediately but won’t cause too much damage if somebody re-raises the pot.
Poor players will seem to pull their pre-flop-flop betting strategy from thin air. You might see a player limp into several pots, then hit you with an all-in.
These players don’t understand how betting works or what bet sizing is meant to accomplish, so they use posturing to mask a weakness as strength.
That pushes all of the weak draws out of the hand. You’re left with players you should watch out for or pure fish, but you’ll easily spot the difference.
Weak players will bet incredibly small when acting first post-flop. It’s not uncommon to see players betting one to two times the big blind after the flop.
Soft poker players tend to take a more passive approach. These players rarely raise and fold many hands before seeing the cards.
Better poker players aren’t afraid to re-raise at any point in a hand. It’s a challenge to beat these players because they are willing to beat you with their cards or by merely pushing you out of pots.
Please pay attention to what your opponents are doing pre-flop and post-flop to get a sense of their playing style and overall ability.
Are You Overvaluing Your Poker Hands?
Trying this insane tactic could put you back in the headspace to start seeing better results in tournaments and cash games. However, I only recommend trying this tactic in freerolls and low-stake games.
Accordingly, you should account for the level of competition you’re facing and take successes with a grain of salt.