Friday, December 30, 2011

Betting Checklist

Before acting on your hand there is a list of questions you should ask yourself. But there is no one right way to play a given hand.

- The size of your stack is one of the most important issues to consider. Its size (relative to the blinds) determine the options you have.
With a very small stack your options are limited to folding and all-in.
A bigger stack (at least 30-times the big blind) gives you the posibility to raise and re-raise before the flop.

- The second issue to consider before you bet is your position on the table. There are some blogposts about that.

- The third item to consider is the size of the blinds and the amount of money in the pot. Remember: when you bet you tell a story. If that story does not make sense no one will follow it.
For pre-flop bets a good rule of thumb is a raise about 3 to 4 times the big blind.

- The action that happend in front of you. By paying attention to it you can determine the strength of your opponents hands. It helps to decide what type of players your opponents are. Are they loose, tight, aggressive or passive?

This is the checklist which you should go through with every bet. And finally: your bet has to serve a purpose. Do you want your opponents to fold or do you want them to put as much money in the pot as possible?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Betting Guidelines

These guidlines will help you to decide when and how much to bet.

Very important: Every bet you make should serve a purpose!
I.e. to get your opponent to fold, call or raise

Betting is like telling a story. It has to make sense otherwise your opponents wont follow you.

Betting options:
Matching the pot size
Putting more money in the pot than the person before you.
Giving up your hand when the action reaches you.
But dont forget to watch the players who still play after you folded. You can pick up valuable information about they play. Know your enemy!
 You have as much money in the pot and dont want to raise or fold.

If you play in a real casino not online, always announce the size of your bet. The announcement is binding and if you accidently put more or less chips in the pot than you wanted, you can adjust them.

Playing big pairs

Remember: Holding AA, KK, or QQ is no guarantee to win!
But you can improve your odds by following some simple guidelines:

Always raise or re-raise AA-QQ pre-flop.
With that you can narrow down the number of opponents. More opponents = lower odds to win the pot
Especially when you have KK or QQ dont be afraid of running into AA. That can happen but its quite unlikely.

 Post-flop it is important to accept that there might be better hands. In that case you may have to throw away big pairs.
In a tournament this might be especially frustrating but depending on the size of your stack, there is most likely a better spot to play.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Playing A-K

AK is a very good hand pre-flop. Nevertheless people tend to overvalue its strength after the flop.
It is one of the top 5 starting hands => play it aggressively pre-flop.

Facts that are important for playing AK pre-flop are:
-you stack
-your opponents stacks
-blinds and antes

Try to get the last bet pre-flop because either your opponents fold and you win or the pot is very large and you still have good chances of winning.
If your opponent has a smaller pair your chances are about the same. If he does not hold a pair your chances of winning are far higher.
But against multiple opponents your hand becomes far less valuable in post-flop!

Suited Connectors

Suited Connectors are probably the most overvalued hands in poker.
They are not bad hands, but you need the right circumstances from them to be powerful. The odds for these circumstances to occur are very low!

You can almost every time play them if you are in late position and action folds to you. Otherwise only play them if the flop will be cheap.

As suited connectors are not premium or solid hands folding should be considered when:
- Action in front of you
- You missed the flop
- No draws
- Flopped bottom pair

In general: don't overvalue suited connectors like most beginners or amateurs and proceed cautiously when playing them.

Playing from the Blinds

The question in the blind positions is always: Should you play your hand, or let it go?
Many players don't want to loose their invested blinds and tend to play more hands than they should.
Don't hesitate to throw your cards away!

Remember: Pre-flop your position is the best. Use the gathered information to your advantage!

Late Position Hand Selection

In late position your hand range widens when you're the first into a pot.
Of course it is still not recommended to raise with junk hands. But you should increase your aggression in the late position.

When you're not holding premium cards, folding to a pre-flop re-raise is OK.

In general: When action folds to you on the button, it's acceptable to raise up to 80% of your starting hands.

In case you want to bluff you have to consider the following:
-Stack size of your opponents especially the blind positions
-Your style of playing and how your opponents notice it. If you raise very often it might not be a good idea to bluff.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Middle Position Hand Selection

The middle position allows you to open the pot with a wider range of hands.
Because fewer players sit behind you it is less likely that someone has a very good hand.
When action is folded to you in middle position your opening hand range becomes wider.
- 55, 66
- KQ, KJ suited
- A-10 suited

You can even consider to call an opponents pre-flop raise with these starting hands.
Always be aware of your opponents images and stack sizes.

In middle position you have to ask yourself these questions:
- What if a bigger stacked opponent re-raises you?
- Will you call if a short stack opponent shoves?
- Which players at your table are loose, which are tight?

Remember: Its always better to be the raiser than the caller!
An early position raise usually signifies strength. => yourcalling hand range becomes smaller.
Dont be to attached to your cards after the flop!

Early Position Hand Selection

The relative strength of your hand is very dependend on your position on the table.
Especially in early position you have very little to no information at all about the hands of your opponents.

You have to ask yourself the question if your hand is strong enough to call a raise or even strong enough to reraise.

When you decide to enter the pot it is a good idea to raise because:
1. Your opponent knows you have a strong hand.
2. Eliminates weaker opponents
3. Gives you the lead in the hand

In the early stages of a tournament, limit your early position starting hands to only the strongest range of starting hands. Later in the tournament you can open up your range because players are more likely to fold.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Importance of Position

Position at the table is critical and dictates how and when you play your starting hands.
It is so important because when you have an early position you have less information on other players, because they have not yet acted. If someone raises in preflop for example you do not wanna play a speculative hand. But you dont have this information if you sit on an earlier position on the table.
More information => better judgement => higher chances to win!

Selecting your starting hands

As a beginner choosing good starting hands is the first thing to learn. Categorize them, rate them and play them carefully especially in the beginning. Also avoid playing hands just because they are suited! They only increase your chances of winning by 2% to 3%.
Your position and the actions before you matter as well. These topics will be discussed in later lessons!