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Consider the moment when a strategic decision is made during a hand. The brief time before and during this moment finds a player assessing the relative merits of his playing options and choosing the one he deems best. Recently it occurred to me that an intermediate level player could benefit from seeing a comparison of what goes through the mind of an average player and an advanced player during these moments.(* I realize that there is no widely agreed upon definition in the poker world for “intermediate, "advanced, ” and “average.” Here I use the terms as rough categories.

Certainly each makes some sort of assessment. What separates them is the amount and nature of the information each processes in doing so. What follows is a series of comparisons in which I attempt to illustrate this difference. Each is a situation arising in the play of a hand along with examples of how an average, and an advanced player might think about it. Note that the thought sequences attributed to the players are not intended to represent literally what goes through one’s mind during a hand. Much of the thinking that I illustrate would not actually be put into words.

Rather, some would take place too quickly to be verbalized to oneself, while some would exist simply as background knowledge or awareness incorporated into the decision making process, requiring little or no additional time expenditure. Nevertheless, everything that I show (and often more) would in some way be included in these “thoughts.”

“ Intermediate” refers to a player who is somewhat better than average in skill but still has much to learn.“Advanced ” refers to someone who is much better than average (but not necessarily an “expert ” or a “great ” player). “Average, ” as I see it, is a relatively unthinking, modestly losing player of only slightly developed skills. Note also, that in any of these instances, different “average” players may well have different thoughts. I merely provide what I believe would be some of the more likely possibilities.

The same, of course is true of the advanced players, though not to the same degree. There are generally fewer ways to play a hand well than to play it poorly. Finally, the “advanced” thoughts illustrated do not approach representing the highest levels of thought involved in expert online poker. The hands are not unusual in nature, and the thoughts illustrated are fairly routine, unremarkable thoughts for any very good player. Moreover, the example I provide do not necessitate much of the faster thinking that characterizes much higher level expert play.

I have tried to illustrate decisions which require little more than greater knowledge of the game than that possessed by situations at the table. By using routine examples, I hope to make the difference between how average and advanced players think during play easier to understand.

The Strategic Moment in Hold’em / One Way Not to Fold /

Beating the Berserko: Preflop Against a Maniac /

On Into the Storm:  Playing the maniac After the Flop

 One Reason to Reraise a Maniac / A Simple Read / Countering a Good Reader

Thinking About What They’re Thinking / Out On the Edge

Considerations in Two Blind Stealing Defense situations

Easing the Transition to the middle Limits: Part I

Easing the Transition to the middle Limits: Part II / Multiple Changing Images

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