Under The Gun: Inside the mind of Jim Reid

Jim Reid smiles and flashes a peace sign at the 2023 WSOP
Mo Afdhal
Posted on: February 17, 2024 23:15 PST

Toronto's Jim Reid was at university in Halifax when Chris Moneymaker won the WSOP in 2003, and played his part in the ensuing poker boom by founding the university's first poker club. A lifelong love of games of all types, coupled with the discovery of poker, set Reid on a path he's still happily traveling today.

As a longtime listener to the RecPoker podcast, Reid was well-placed to step in as host when the call came. He's also a poker coach, regular online player and a member of the PokerOrg Player Advisory Board.

Reid is based in Ontario, where you'll find him most Sundays playing a full schedule of big-field MTTs.

What’s one bit of essential prep you do before a big tournament or cash game session?

"On the morning of an online event, I prep with a PokerTracker review session, filtering my past hands for whatever concepts or spots I am trying to be most mindful of that day, for that specific event. If it's a live event, I prep by drilling pre-flop ranges with Range Trainer Pro for whatever stack sizes and pre-flop action I want to be most aware of for the event that day.

"And of course, no matter where the event is, I ALWAYS start by 'shaking the spewies out', jumping up and down and flailing all my limbs around for 3-5 seconds. Aside from warding off evil spew spirits (and asserting 'crazy person' physical dominance over any other players in the area) it also helps me loosen up!"

What piece of strategy advice did you get when you started playing that you wish you’d ignored?

"I spent WAY too much time balancing ranges and building my strategies around standardized bet sizes, etc, and I didn't realize the most important aspect of studying: opportunity cost.

"We all have a limited amount of time to play and study poker, so for every hour you spend studying something, that's an hour you don't get to spend studying something else. For the low-stakes games I was playing, particularly early in my own poker journey, I would have seen bigger, earlier gains from studying how to exploit ABC players and calling stations than I did from studying how to have an unexploitable cold-calling-a-3-bet range and making sure I had enough combos of bluffs on every turn runout to balance my value bets. Those spots don't come up often enough to be worth valuable study time. Especially at first, study the spots that you will encounter the most often."

What’s the dumbest thing you’ve seen/done at the poker table?

"People playing when they shouldn't, period. Tilted, blackout drunk, angry, stuck, addicted, asleep: whatever their reason or excuse, playing when you are not at your best - particularly for a recreational player - is just...plain...dumb.

"Listen, I've done it! We all have, and we were all dumb, and here's why: you should be playing poker for at least one of two reasons, to have fun, and/or to make money. If you are a recreational player and are learning or having fun, it's not the end of the world if you aren't making money. Similarly if you are a pro and you are making money, it's not the end of the world if you aren't having fun.

"But to not be doing EITHER?!? I don't care WHO you are, you can spend your time at the tables better, or you can spend your time better by being away from the tables. But you should think about either changing your mindset or taking a break. Paying money to be unhappy isn't an experience you need to invite into your life."

Jim Reid focuses on the action in a WSOP 2023 tournament Jim Reid Joe Giron/Poker.org

What’s your most memorable hand?

"Oh, this one's easy, although probably not that interesting strategically. I entered PokerStars' 'The Biggest $22' about 10 years ago, for Carnival. There were over 15,000 entries, I think, and it was the first day I had ever used PT4.

"An unknown player with 60 bigs raised from MP and I called on the button, covering them with A♣9♣ and the BB called as well. The flop came A-9-8 rainbow, the BB checked, the original raiser in MP bet about 2/3 pot and I raised about 2.5x with top two. BB folded and MP called.

"The turn came the 5♠ bringing a backdoor flush draw, and completing the straight for 7-6. MP bets super-small, I raise to about 40% of their stack and they shove for the rest. I honestly have no idea how often I am good here against their value hands - maybe they are playing a worse two-pair this way? maybe? - but it's usually a set or a straight, right? So they would have to be bluffing with some pair+draw hands for me to be ahead here. Aaaaaaaaand...they we’re not.

"I called, they showed the 7-6 for the straight (of course), and I berated myself for blasting off most of my stack when I didn't need to. BUT then the most amazing thing happened: the river paired the ace on the board, filling me up and busting my unfortunate compatriot.

"A few hours later I ended up going into the final table with a big chip lead, and thanks to some continued sun-running I won the whole tournament for a little over $35,000! I kept $5K in the bankroll, and Mrs. BLUFFSTORINI and I used the rest for a downpayment on our first and only house. And the rest is history! So that hand has always stuck with me. Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good, I suppose."

What’s your best piece of advice for poker players?

"Well, of course by FAR the most important thing is to find some friends to study with. But once you've done that (seriously, go do that first), if you are considering making a bet or a raise, ask yourself why. You should always know whether it is a bluff (you want them to fold) or if it's for value (you want them to call).

"If it's a bluff, what is a specific hand that is better than yours that you think you can get them to fold (or has enough equity against your hand that you'd like them to fold), and what is the smallest size you could use to make them fold that hand?

"If it's a value bet or a value raise, what is a specific hand that is worse than yours (or has very little equity against your hand) that you think you can get them to call with, and what is the biggest size you could use to make them call with that hand? If you can't think of many specific hand combos, maybe you should just check here instead of betting.

"The idea is to always have a 'target' for your bets. This notion of bluff-targeting or value-targeting is not my idea, I can't take credit for it, but over the years it's something that has helped me a lot to bet and raise with purpose and precision."

If you owned a poker room, who's the first player you'd want to sign as an ambassador and why?

"Caitlyn Arnwine. It's clear that Caitlyn has a passion and drive to accomplish great things - not just in poker, but as an advocate for many people that have struggled on their way to success. She's a great player, she's naturally sociable and engaging, she's actively working to advance good causes on and off the felt, and I think she would be a fantastic influence as a poker room's ambassador."