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What does A-Game mean in poker? E


Whether you are a novice player who has read the term “A-Game” and wants to know what it means, or an experienced poker player who is looking for information on how to improve your mental game, in this article we will try to explain all about the A-Game, its lower levels, and how to realize that you are not expressing your best poker.
Let’s go straight to the main issue:

What is the A-game in poker?

A-Game is a way of defining the best way a poker player can play, taking into account his skills. In other words, the best performance at the tables that player can do.

We emphasize that the A-Game is relative and personal; it is not simply “the perfect way to play poker.” We are not all Phil Ivey or “LLinusLLove“, we have our current level and a limited amount of knowledge, and the A-Game is when we apply all of it to the highest level possible.

A player who has just discovered the pot odds might apply his or her A-Game by simply setting about calculating when it is appropriate to call or fold, without acting on instinct, whereas for an experienced player it may occur when he or she implements his or her best size and frequency strategies.

What are B-Game, C-Game, etc.?

If with the A-Game your game is at the highest possible level, the scale continues in alphabetical order, and the further you go, the more you indicate a worse and worse game.

There is no well-defined scale, especially considering that the A-Game does not have obvious and defined characteristics either. It is more of a personal and subjective assessment, usually in retrospect (but hopefully in real time!).


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Grossly we could say that B-Game is when you play average well, C-Game is when you play poorly. Other letters are rarely used except for hyperbolic self-criticism.

In any case, it makes little difference to divide the quality of the game into two or twenty-five sections, since the goal, as we are about to see, must always be A.

Why is the A-game important?

“To win at poker, you must always express your best game.”


This is more than a motto, it is an immortal corollary that will never be denied in the future.Poker is a skill game as we know, which unlike chess for example also has an unpredictable random component. That is why in poker the best in the world will not win every hand he plays, but he will win a higher percentage of them, enough to make him successful in the long run.
However, if the best in the world plays distractedly, unfocused, and lowers the quality of his game to a B-Game, the second strongest in the world will be able to beat him with his A-Game. And probably also the third, fourth, fifth and so on.
It is a bit like Bolt running with a backpack full of weights, or Carlsen playing chess without the rooks. They would surely beat all of us, but not their common opponents.

Playing catch-up is the thing to do

As a rule, the “natural selection of poker” leads you to play at the level you are best at: higher if you are strong, lower if you still have something to learn. If you play “disadvantaged” against opponents of the same level as you, they will presumably win, and you will lose.
It is obvious why the A-Game is so important, but it should always be remembered that even more important is to increase one’s knowledge and continue to grow and improve, so one’s B-Game will be a little more solid as well. If you are not doing anything about it, you should take a look at the stak-coaching Top1percent.

What are the reasons for a B/C-Game?

Except in rare cases, in a mental game like poker, the reasons why you can under-perform are almost exclusively psychological.
At the end of the day, it’s about not fielding all the weapons and strategies you know. Somewhere in the head they are found, yet they do not come up. Why?
Fatigue and difficulty concentrating are the two most common enemies because they are often direct derivatives of hours spent grindin’. Remember that the mind needs a break now and then, even a short but fairly frequent one, or it will struggle to handle that amount of information.
Another unfortunately all too common reason is tilt. When the emotions of an unlucky hand take over, they may corrupt our strategy by deluding us into thinking that a move is exceptionally correct when it is not. We may play lighter unconsciously hoping to catch up, or more closed fearing to lose again.
Complete the list everything that crowds your mind when there should be only poker: distractions, thoughts, people around, work, tight schedules, hangover. Especially the telephone is a great hidden enemy with its social media.

How do I know I’m in the B-game?

Earlier we said that we realize we are in B-Game usually in retrospect, but that ideally we would realize it right away.
We do not always realize that we make mistakes, unless they are really egregious, and sometimes our brains refuse to admit that we are wrong and prefer to justify and blame it on bad luck.
Then the next morning you look back on the session and realize that you did not perform very well.
If we notice right away that we are playing so-so, we can find an answer, whether it is a short break, a long break, taking the session off completely, or whatever. This is a good time to point out how cash gamers are luckier than tournament players in this regard.

A proper routine is essential for a professional player

The “how to” is unfortunately not simple. The best way is to review one’s plays with a cool head, perhaps increasing the length of a break to do some review (we recommend taking off early and doing review before starting again).

In this way, objective errors can be noticed, but the obstacle remains when we try to justify a play at all costs.

Try to be as objective as possible, ask yourself whether in reverse cards playing that way against you would work and why. If you have done adjusting ask yourself if it is the ideal one on the person.

Remember that it is important to be honest with yourself, because the alternative can be costly.

Watch out for those B-Game details that are harder to see, for example if you start folding too much from the blinds or not opening enough from some positions. Usually more striking hands are noticed, but even small, continuous mistakes can be very costly.

How do I know I’m in the B-game?

This question has the same answer as “How can I be 100% focused and attentive all the time?”
Of course, this is impossible. Everyone sooner or later slips to the B-Game or even lower, but the goal is to maximize the time spent in full concentration when we play poker.
To achieve this, we need to do everything possible to keep ourselves clear-headed, rested and in the fullness of our mental faculties.
First of all, we play only if we feel like it and not by forcing (perhaps to meet a game schedule). The tables will also be there tomorrow.
Then we cultivate our peace of mind with all the methods we have. Everyone is made in their own way, and to find out what works one would have to try many of them.
Among the most popular and functional techniques: a good sleep and routine, healthy eating, meditation, physical activity, and plenty of breaks. A good tip is to reduce the time spent in front of monitors, but playing online we recommend restful glasses and screens. When you can get out of your chair and activate your body a little.
In this way we can raise the time spent in A-Game. The second part is to decrease the time spent in B-Game or not, and to do that we have to train ourselves to recognize the situation and take a break as soon as possible.
Apply these tips and don’t take the mental game lightly, and you’ll see that your poker will benefit greatly!

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