Poker Strategy
Monday, July 22, 2019
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Joe the Pro's advice on playing in the WSOP

Note: Joe the Pro isn't playing in the World Series of Poker's Main Event this year. But that doesn't mean he doesn't have sage advice on how to approach the world's biggest poker tournament.

We asked Joe the Pro to give us some insight on how he would play in the Main Event if he were to gain an entry.

If you're unfamiliar with Joe the Pro, you might want to watch some of his famous YouTube videos before reading this column:
Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3
Episode 4


How to play the WSOP Main Event
by Joe the Pro

What Doyle Brunson and Dan Harrington did to poker by writing Super System and Harrington on Hold'em, I am doing to the World Series of Poker with this column. This information is so juicy, even as I'm thinking of what to write I'm regretting it. I fear that when my pro peers find out that I have revealed insider strategies on how to play the Main Event, I will not be allowed to rail them on high stakes Full Tilt Poker tables for at least a month.

What I have to say is so +EV that after publishing this I can guarantee there will be more people cashing in the Main Event of this year's World Series of Poker than people who cashed 10 years ago.

Anyone can tell you how to play at different stages of a tournament. I'm going to tell you how to play against three types of players. I'll even give you some insight into two of the top pros as well.

For celebrities, money is not as important as recognition of poker skills. They could sell out and do a 20 second commercial spot for Hanes extra snug underwear and make more money than they would cashing inside the bubble. You can exploit this fact by using an exaggerated post oak bluff.

Imagine you have just missed your semi bluff to the nut flush and the pot is $5,000. Now here is your chance to bet $25 and take the pot away. These celebrities have read Poker for Dummies and Caro's Book of Tells, so they know strong means weak and weak means strong. They'll be looking for that, so it's important to look weak by drooling or peeing a little.

The celebrity, after studying you for several minutes, hopefully smelling your urine, will fold because they want to show the world they can make a great lay down, a great read. They'll probably flash you their aces or quads and smirk at you condescendingly and then call their agent to gloat and book a press conference at the Hilton.

If you're an unknown, pros are just going to play ABC against you. So you need to play XYZ poker to counter them. As a pro, it's obvious to me how to play XYZ poker, but I suppose I'd better explain it to you non-pros.

XYZ poker is playing the opposite way that is expected of you. Pros expect you to raise three times the big blind with your big hands and to fold your trash hands, so instead you need to raise three times the big blind with your trash hands and fold your good hands.

While you'll be tempted to flash your aces as you muck them preflop, you'll be giving away your strategy. Don't give pros the edge they want. Just muck and smile because you know you've just messed with their minds.

You can spot fish by their high VPIP. Whereas I would advise a tight VPIP of 30 percent, fish will play 40 to 50 percent. Fish are also calling stations, so you need to get good value off them when you have a hand. This means betting out with Ace high and bottom pair. This means trapping and check raising all in with stronger hands like top pair top kicker.

Phil Ivey's aggressive play and amazing post flop skill will leave you felted. If you're unlucky enough to be on the same table as him you have two options. You could fight with natural counters like fighting rock with adamantium scissors, but he might still be able to outplay you. The other option is to fight fire with fire.

Some people like to check in the dark with pairs as most of the time that is what you'll do anyway and if checked behind you can bet out on the turn. It also disguises when you hit a set.

But what I suggest versus Phil Ivey is, whatever your hand is, in order to be really aggressive, you need to instead check raise in the dark. So even before you get to see the flop, say, "I check raise you four times your future bet in the dark." If that doesn't show power, I don't know what power is.

My advice is simple: play every hand that you possibly can with him. Post flop, if he checks the turn and bets big on the river, call with 8 high.

I hope my advice here will help you make the final table at the WSOP. Always keep in mind that you must make these adjustments along with the tournament stage and your stack size. For example if it is in the late phase of the tournament and you have a short stack you can call Jamie Gold with 6 high. Gamble responsibly.

Joe the Pro is taking the rest of the summer to be a professional Internet poker player, but hopes to have the next YouTube installment of Joe the Pro available to the masses by Halloween.

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