Poker Tips & Strategy
Testing your opponent's
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
AK against a
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.
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.
Poker on TV
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.
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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