How to prep for the WSOP with PokerStars School

June 05, 2019inPoker

The 50th annual World Series of Poker is on in Las Vegas. In honor of that, why not catch up with the man who inspired hundreds of thousands of poker players around the world to seek their own fortunes in the Western desert? Then pick up some tools so you’ll be better prepared than he was when he began his own quest for glory back in 2003. All that and more this week from PokerStars School…

• Reliving the 2003 WSOP with Chris Moneymaker
• Recognizing the importance of small pots
• Learn when and why to semi-bluff

Reliving the 2003 WSOP with Chris Moneymaker

The fun of revisiting stories you already know well comes from catching details that you might have missed before and looking at familiar events from a new perspective. In an extended interview with PokerStars School, Moneymaker touches a lot of familiar bases but does so from a point of view that’s often overlooked: how he approached the WSOP as a total amateur playing his first major live poker tournament.

If you want to prepare for a big tournament these days, there are live events all over the globe where you can get your feet wet before you learn to go deep-sea diving. But back in 2003, things were a lot different. No-limit hold’em cash games were difficult to find, and tournaments were even more rare.

Such was the situation when Chris Moneymaker won a seat in the WSOP Main Event playing on PokerStars. “My buddy went and bought me sunglasses,” he says. “I showed up four days early just to get some practice. I’d never played live before. I wanted to see if players could read me or I could read them.”

His strategy was simple. “[E]ach day all the way to day 5, [my plan] was just to make it through the day, just to survive, play as least hands as possible. I kept telling the PokerStars representative, ‘I can just fold my way to the money.’ And that was my plan.”

Moneymaker gets into the nuts and bolts of how things actually ended up worked out — including how taking on and even knocking out a world champion like Johnny Chan gave him the confidence that he could compete — in the full interview.

Recognizing the importance of small pots

Small pots like this are far more important than you think, according to PokerStars School’s Pete Clarke.

In order to free up capacity to deal with unfamiliar situations, the human brain is wired to discard memories of common and mundane events. None of this changes when we sit down at the poker table, so we tend to ignore small pots — and that’s a problem if you’re looking to become a profitable poker player, writes Pete Clarke.

“Your mind does not think that these are worthy of your attention because it assumes you have mastered them to the same degree of competence as you have mastered mundane life events such as brushing your teeth or putting your shoes on, but you have not!” says Clarke. “What would you do if you had a massive health setback and had to learn to do everything all over again? If you could no longer walk properly, talk properly, or get dressed on your own, would you spend all of your time worrying about how to survive bear attacks or escape from sinking ships?”

Of course not! And so it should be at the poker table. Read Clarke’s latest article now to learn how to focus more on small pots, get away from the habit of going on auto-pilot, and scavenge extra EV over time to improve your bottom line.

An Introduction to Semi-Bluffing

Giving yourself multiple ways to win the pot — by pushing your opponent out or making the best hand later — is the essence of the semi-bluff.

One tool for winning some of those small pots that Pete Clarke writes about is the semi-bluff — the very topic that Nick Walsh from OP Poker covers in his latest video for PokerStars School.

As Walsh defines it, a semi-bluff is almost always a situation where you bet or raise with a draw with an objective to win the pot by either forcing your opponent to fold or making the best hand on a later street. By giving yourself multiple ways to win the pot, you gain equity that would otherwise be left untapped and you make life harder for your opponents.

Learn all about this powerful tactic in An Introduction to Semi-Bluffing and begin working it into your game the next time you sit down to play. And for a little extra punch, combine it with last week’s lesson on the check-raise.

Other new PokerStars School content you might enjoy

• Question of the Week: How would you prepare to play in the biggest tournament of your life?
• Video: Heads-up Versus a Good Passive Player
• Winners Wall: Cashing in the Sunday Million

Open a PokerStars account today and start learning from PokerStars School. Click here to get started, and then click here to register for PokerStars School.

WSOP photography by Katerina Lukina of


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