Three things are needed to play poker; cards, chips, and people. If the cards are the bun, and the chips are the all-beef patty, then the players are the secret sauce and can drastically change the flavor of the game.
When we talk about “the cards,” we are talking about ranges and how they interact with each other. A solid understanding of ranges and how to modify them based on position, stack depth, number of players in the pot, and so on, is a fundamental part of the game. However, fine tuning ranges won’t have a huge impact on your game any more than adding or subtracting a few dozen sesame seeds will change the taste of your buns!
“The chips” refers to the betting game. This part of the game is evolving quickly. For example, I’m seeing more pros open-limping, using smaller c-bets, and larger 3 bets than a few years ago. Most players would do well to spend a lot more time on this part of their game… it really is the meat of the matter!
But the people, ahhhh, the people! Understanding your opponents is probably the most under-rated aspect of the game. It might also be the hardest part of the game to master, because people can’t be boiled down to formulas and equations. The richest treasures are always hidden in the darkest places, and the psychology of poker is more than a quaint legacy of the “old school” players.
“PsyEQ” is the umbrella term I use to describe a range of tools and techniques used to gain an edge over my opponents. PsyEQ involves controlling the information (or disinformation) given to the other players through things like bet timing, strategic showing of hole cards, and gear changes, to name a few. It also includes ways to accurately profile your opponent’s approach to the game, ways to exploit your table image and their’s, and other techniques. Not much has been written about this part of the game… it’s the “secret sauce” of the tastiest poker burgers!