It's past time for a brief refresher on the fundamentals. Deepstack NLHE cash game poker (I define that as a game where the effective stacks are 200+ big bets deep) is a game where a skill advantage can really take hold and generate large profits, simply because the lesser-skilled player's mistakes are more costly. How well you execute and perform to achieve these results is a function of time, luck, and discipline. It's much like the practice of law: you can always control how well-prepared you are, and if you have the requisite intelligence and discipline to put yourself in good situations to succeed, the one variable you have to worry about is luck.
Knowledge is the key to poker.
There are two parts to this. Firstly, there is self-knowledge. An awareness of your own table image and how your actions are likely perceived by your opponents. This is very important and this level of advanced thinking is often a stumbling block for young players in their quest to move up in stakes. You have to develop self-awareness as the games get deeper, tougher and are populated by a higher frequency of thinking players. Against weaker players, you still have to account for what they think of you (if anything). Remember, you can't bluff an idiot.
Secondly, there is knowledge of others. There is no substitute for knowing your opponents' tendencies. Poker is easy when you can read your opponent accurately and narrow their likely holdings to a relatively small range of possible hands. If you have more complete information than your opponent does, you have an edge and can exploit it.
For example, if you know that your opponent doesn't properly adjust their hand values to a 200+BB game and is willing to play for stacks with one pair, you have a huge advantage. You can use this information when you flop 2pr +, or aggressively play other drawing combo hands fast with an equity advantage against their vulnerable holding.
Where does the money come from?
You generate profits in three ways:
1) You get involved in a situation where you run a very strong hand into a strong but second-best hand (for example, a straight vs. two pair). This is a function of luck and patience.
2) You extract value from a marginal situation with an objectively weak hand (for example, a top pair, top kicker hand or a bluff vs. a lower pair, a busted draw, or a weak made hand that can't stand up to pressure). This is a function of skill and patience.
3) You fold. Yes, it's that simple. Yes, I will have a lot more to say about this.
The beauty of deepstack play is that the stack sizes are large enough to support three full streets of pot-sized bets and a raise. In my next post, I'll explore some common situations that arise in deepstack play with an eye back to the fundamentals I've briefly discussed above.