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Poker Mental Game & Planning

Fedor Holz Poker Strategy

9,864 Views on 26/6/17

Fedor has to be considered one of the best poker players out there and his game is certainly deserving of a close examination.

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Fedor Holz is the author of arguably the most epic run in the entire poker history. He's only 23 years old, he catapulted himself to the top 10 of the All-Time Money List with more than $22,000,000 in tournament winnings, snatching a WSOP bracelet along the way.

And the best most mind-boggling part about it is the fact that he already retired. In just a few years Fedor achieved what others would need a few lifetimes to do. If that's not the most epic hit and run heater in the history than what is?

Even though Holz's poker career was a flash in the pan, and even though a fair amount of positive variance had to be involved in the process, Fedor still has to be considered one of the best poker players out there and his game is certainly deserving of a close examination. 

Running Hotter Than Hell

Let's start by addressing the elephant in the room. Yes, Fedor Holz was born on the good side of the expected value distribution. I'm sure that he knows it, most of the unbiased poker enthusiast know it and the biased ones (also known as "the haters") will shout it from the digital rooftops every chance they get.

However, this shouldn't really diminish Fedor's achievements. Does it put said achievements in the context? Sure. But no amount of variance can guarantee you years of success - especially of that magnitude - if you're bad at playing cards. Besides, variance doesn't pick favorites, it just is, and it that sense, the playing field is essentially leveled.

Whether you're on the right side or the left side of the distribution as far as expected value is concerned the recipe for success is still the same - maximize your win rate. The hands presented above were not punts that Holz got saved in by variance, they were perfectly respectable decisions that went his way despite the odds.

Instead of pondering the issue of variance he put himself in the position to benefit from it and that should be the best advice for the people who doubt him.

Making the Most Out of Good Situation

With the issue of luck out of the way let's focus on some strategy. Both preflop and flop decisions of Fedor in this spot were fairly standard. Preflop defend might be viewed as somewhat thin in a different context, but here it was a pretty obvious decision. The turn, however, is where the magic happened.

Holz caught a great card - as is his speciality - but instead of getting overexcited about it and going into tricky slow play mode or immediately betting too much, he stayed calm, took his time, sized the situation correctly and made perfectly sized bet given the stack to pot ratio and the hands he was targeting (8x, some medium pockets, some Jx, draws and combo draws). The river served as a proof of the turn sizing perfection.

Holz left himself a perfect amount to target the same kind of hands he was targeting on the turn once again on the river. The clear agony of Smith and his eventual call confirm the brilliance of Fedor's play.

Once again, every recreational player can crack AA with 95o on occasion but in general, it's not enough to just get lucky in poker, you still have to make the most out of it if you want to enjoy a long term success.

But What if You Don't Hit?

Fedor is not invincible and he's not catching every board which this hand from WSOP event was a great proof of. Preflop defend with suited connector might be viewed as relatively loose, but the stacks were deep enough for that play. Same thing could be said about the flop. AQ8 hits the perceived range of De Silva harder than Fedor's range, but float can still be a good idea provided that their dynamic was aggressive enough.

Queen on the turn made the texture much more favorable for the standard preflop defend range and that allowed Fedor to gain the initiative in the hand. The river brought a card that hit every draw imaginable, which again favored Fedor's range and he's a skilled enough player to follow up his line with another bluff using a very disciplined sizing.

Unfortunately for him, De Silva managed to find the call button, though it's safe to assume that many other players wouldn't and this hand is a great proof that Holz is perfectly capable of making his own luck even in spots where there's no luck to be had.


Matt VIP

Matt is predominantly a mental game and planning expert, with a terrific knowledge of science, meditation, practical methods of improvement and of course, a good level of poker skill! Look out for his strategy articles and follow him for hi ... Read More

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