Poker Corner: online Poker Rules, News, Learning Poker Corner: online Poker Rules, News, Learning

Advanced Poker Tips & Strategy

Calculating Pot Odds & Bet Odds Testing your opponent's hand
Are they bluffing?
Betting
When To Bet
Folding AA
Playing AK against a raise
The Raiser
Poker on TV
Concealing your tells

Testing your opponent's hand

Why should you take big risks when playing Texas holdem? The idea behind this move in no limit Hold'em is to put the other player to the test, risking their whole stack, without risking yours. For example, suppose there are two of you in a pot, the opponent has 1000 in chips, and you have twice that.

Suppose that there are 1000 in chips in the pot. If you bet 700 chips, your opponent can’t really call and see what comes on the next card, then fold if it’s not favorable. The pot will be too big compared to the size of his stack – he's become “pot committed.” However, if you bet 700 and he raises all-in, if you have no hand at all then you can still fold. So you’re essentially asking, “Are you willing to get your whole stack in?” and you’re only paying 700 to ask, not your whole stack.

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Is he/she bluffing?

One of my favorite aspects of No Limit Poker is bluffing, when you have misplayed a hand and have a large portion of your chips in the pot you can often escape by bluffing. Online you can really only bluff using your chips as you cannot physically see your opponents (obviously).

Here are a few examples of bluffing situations to look for:

The busted flush draw bluff

Players love to chase flush draws online, so much so that they often commit to heavily to them and are forced to bluff at the pot when they don’t hit. The flop comes down K,4,2 with two hearts, you have A,K (no hearts) you make a pot size bet and your opponent just calls. The turn comes 9(not a heart) you make another pot size bet, your opponent just calls again. The river brings an 8 (no heart) you make another large bet but your opponent goes “all in” over the top of your bet…. This is an obvious “busted flush bluff” attempt; you should certainly call the all in for this scenario. The only hand to worry about in this situation would be pocket Kings because your significant preflop raise will have made smaller pocket pairs fold. The likelihood of the player having pocket Kings when you are holding one is very very slim.

The blatant over bet

This is a fairly common bluff attempt as players tend to get overly committed to hands like AQ, AK, JJ, and AK suited. You are holding A10 soooooted and the flop comes 10, 5, 2 (rainbow) you make a pot size bet and your opponent calls. The turn brings a 7, you make another sizeable bet and your opponent goes all in over the top of you (resulting in a much larger than pot sized bet). The only 2 hands that concern me here are JJ or possibly a weakly played QQ, the reasoning here is that if they had AA or KK they should be reraising preflop. More times than not the player will hold two over cards such as AK, AQ or AJ. There is a chance that the player will spike the J,Q,K but that will only be about 15% of the time.

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Betting

The 20% Rule

When playing at a full table (8 or more players) your average flop percentage seen should never be higher than 20%, 17% is considered optimal. So you should only be playing (seeing the flop) on average 1 out of every 5 of your starting hands. Play around with the statistics function in the DL version to help track this.

Minimum 3X bet

When betting or raising it is best to bet at least 3 times the big blind or actioned bet. For example if the big blind is $50 and you decide to raise try and bet $150. This bet size will push marginal hands off and help ensure that you minimize your opponents while also giving you a better understanding of what cards they might be holding.

So to summarize - play about 20% of your starting hands and when you do play a hand don’t be afraid to raise at least 3 times the initial bet size.

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Betting part 2 (When To Bet)

In a previous tip, I talked about not betting marginal hands in a holdem poker game, playing about 20% of your hands, and betting a minimum of 3x your bet. So when should you bet?

When you have a very strong hand, you should bet.

If you hold 44 on a board on KQ432 you have a very powerful hand and should bet to extract value from hands like KJ or even KQ. You can also consider betting if you have a horrible hand, one that almost certainly won’t win if you check. An example would be jack-ten. You’ve missed your straight draw, but your opponent checks to you on the river. You have almost no chance to win by checking, but you may be able to bluff your opponent out if she holds a hand like 77, QJ, or just AJ.

You shouldn't be bluffing every time in that situation (because, of course, someone will suss out what's going on). However, in this particular situation, it's a spot where you can strongly condering bluffing.

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Folding AA before the flop

Is it correct to fold aces before the flop in a no limit Texas hold ‘em tournament?

Suppose you’re playing in a $10 one-table tournament with 10 players. First place pays $50, second is $30, and third is $20. On the first hand, you’re in the big blind with AA, and amazingly, everyone goes all-in before you act. Should you call? At first it seems like you obviously should – you’ve got the best hand in poker. But look deeper. If you call, assume you win 40% of the time. In actuality, it will be significantly lower, but assume it’s 40%. If you call, you’ll win $50 40% of the time, and the 60% that you lose, you’ll split the second and third place money nine ways, which is $50 / 9, or $5.56. Forty percent times $50 plus 60% times $5.56 is $23.33.

If you fold, you’re guaranteed second (as long as there is not a tie for the pot), which is worth $30, plus you might get lucky and pull out an unlikely first. So, not that it will ever come up, but if you find yourself in this spot you should fold AA!

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AK against a Raise

In a tournament of no limit Texas hold ‘em poker, it's easy to incorrectly play AK against a raise. This is one hand that can make you or break you. Your play should be determined by the size of your stack. If your stack is between two and five times the size of the pot, you generally want to raise all-in. You may take down the pot right away, which would be a nice pot for you, and if you get called, you’re only in bad shape against KK or AA, two hands that have become less likely because you hold an A and a K in your hand.

If the stacks are too deep to move in, you have a decision to make between calling and reraising. Against a player who will likely call a reraise with hands like AJ or KQ, reraising starts to look better. If you’re going to be in bad position after the flop, you should be more willing to overbet and get all-in pre-flop to avoid having to play the hand out of position. Finally, AK is very different from AA. There are times you need to fold AK before the flop, sometimes before you even put a chip in. If you never fold AK before the flop, you’re going to find yourself busted too often.

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The Raiser

You've played them. The frequent raiser. It’s hard to deal with a player who raises a lot. What you’re going to need is to figure out (or guess) whether they’re “slippery” or “stubborn.” This can be hard if you're playing online poker, because you can't judge the person's body language.

When you're playing poker online, if there’s a player who has raised before the flop many times, you know he’s raising some marginal hands. If you think the player is slippery, go ahead and reraise him with a marginal hand yourself, like 66 or 78s or what have you. Since it's likely they have a bad hand, they’ll usually fold.

On the other hand, you're opponent may just be stubborn, which means they won’t throw away their junk hand. Against this player, just wait for a real hand. They’ll raise, you’ll reraise with your big pair, and you’ll get all of the chips against their mediocre hand.

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Poker on TV

Have you ever watched poker on TV and wondered why the pros seem to always be playing these wild hands, or that they're not folding nearly as much as you do when you play? When you watch poker on TV, there’s often a dirty little secret they’re not telling you. Only the interesting hands get shown.

Ever notice that sometimes it looks like the same person is the big blind twice in a row? Nope, it’s not a crooked poker game. All of the hands in between have just been edited out.This is why pros look so crazy on TV. You don’t see the ten times that Daniel Negreanu folds his trash hand; you only see the outrageous bluff that leaves his opponent wondering what happened to his stack.

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Concealing your tells

One of the most common question is - How do I avoid tells? If you play online poker and you’re about to start playing live poker, or even if you’ve never played online, it’s good to know something about tells. Tells are those little tics, or inadvertent signs that you give away which may indicate a bluff or a strong hand. In your first live games, don’t worry too much about trying to read tells from other people. Primarily concentrate on following the betting action and making good betting decisions. Next - concentrate on concealing your tells.

You want to be consistent whether you have a good hand or a horrible one. Try to take the same amount of time with your decisions. Pick a place that you’re going to look at while you’re making decisions. If you’re not comfortable talking when you’re bluffing, and think your conversation may be giving your hand away - it’s best stick with a personal policy of keeping quiet.

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