Drawing Straight: If you flop an open ended straight draw
(e.g. 6c, 7h, 8d and 9s) in Texas Hold'em, your odds of completing your straight on the turn or river are roughly
31.4%. For an inside straight draw (e.g. 6c, 7h, 9s and 10d), your odds drop down to 16.5%. It rarely pays to draw
to an inside straight!
Color Me Up!: If you flop
four cards to a flush in Hold'em, your odds of catching a fifth suited card on the
turn or river is 35.0%. Unfortunately, you will only flop a flush or four to a flush
11.74% of the times you are dealt suited hole cards. So it is often unprofitable
to play low, suited hole cards like 10s, 2s in the hopes of hitting a flush.
Got an Ace?: In a nine handed
Hold'em game, if you are dealt an ace pre-flop, there is a 69.5% chance someone
else will also be dealt an ace. This means playing hands like A-6 off-suit is a
good way to lose all of your chips, especially if you play them from an early position.
Playing the Button: Position
play is vital to playing good Texas Hold'em. Being 'on the button' (having the dealer
button in front of you) means you get to act last on every round from the flop onwards.
This allows you to see how everyone else bets before having to act and makes it
possible to play weaker starting hands; especially drawing hands like suited connectors.
No Limit vs. Limit Poker:
There are significant differences in the way No Limit and Limit Poker are played.
At the most basic level, Limit Poker has limits on the amount each player can bet
each round, while No Limit allows players to bet up to the total amount of chips
in their stack. This means it is generally cheaper to chase and play a wider variety
of starting hands in Limit Poker than in No Limit Poker. Of course, on the flip
side, if you hit your flush or straight, you will not be able to extract as much
value at the Limit table. Also, don't expect to bluff many people out of a low stakes
The Classic Coin Flip: If
you've ever watched a poker tournament on TV, you've probably heard the term 'a
coin flip situation'. This happens in a pre-flop, all-in situation when one player
has a small pair like 5c, 5s and another player calls with two over-cards like Ad,
Kd. In this situation, the odds of the two suited over-cards drawing out to win
are 48.2% for the pocket pair to win. Hence the term "a coin flip situation".
If the second player had unsuited over-cards like Ad, Kh, their odds of drawing
out to beat a pocket pair would be approximately 45%.
Playing on the Bubble: In
tournaments, as play approaches the cutoff, many players tighten up their play hoping
to survive long enough to make it into the money. This is the perfect opportunity
for players with large stacks to become more aggressive. Many times, if you have
a larger stack on the button, you can raise to steal the blinds regardless of your
starting hand. You can also bluff more easily post-flop.
Baby Pairs: When playing
small pocket pairs like 2-2 through 6-6, you have a small advantage if you are heads
up against a single person with two over-cards. These types of hands, however, rarely
hold up against multiple opponents. Furthermore, when a flop reveals several over-cards,
it is often difficult to call a raise unless you have made a set. Thus, it is usually
correct to fold these small pairs in early position, and call from late position,
hoping to make a set on the flop (about 8% of the time).
Short-Handed Play: Whether
at a ring game with a few others or on the final table of a tournament, you will
at times find yourself playing 'short handed,' or with less than a full table of
players. The dynamics of the game can change considerably in a 'short-handed' situation.
To start with, the pace of the game will noticeably quicken since there are fewer
players to act. Acceptable starting hand standards also tend to relax, expanding
the roster of 'playable' hands. Astute players in this situation will play their
opponents and position as much as they play their cards.
Avoid Tilt: 'Tilt' is the
term used to describe erratic play following a particularly big upset loss or unlucky
hand. Good players will learn how to avoid 'tilt' by not allowing the results of
one hand to unduly influence their play in another. Poker is an emotional game and
having a good 'PokerFace' is not just an old cliche, it's a vital component to
success. By being in control of your emotions, you can limit the information you
provide to your opponents and avoid 'going on tilt' and making rash decisions based
on temporary emotional reactions rather than solid decision-making skills.
Know Thy Opponent: In poker, knowledge is power.
The more you know about your opponents, the better equipped you will be to make
the right decisions. Make a habit of observing each hand at your table, even if
you have already folded. Even in online poker, look for 'tells' or unintentional
signals that a player may send that provide you with clues as to what cards he may
have or what action he is going to take. Such 'tells' could include how fast someone
makes a bet, chat remarks designed to mislead you, or an odd-sized bet (e.g., 'over
betting' the pot). Keep notes on players (using the handy CardRoom.com
Notes feature!), recording such things as favorite hands, tendency to bluff,
betting patterns, big wins or costly mistakes. The next time you find yourself staring
across a massive pile of chips at your opponent, your ability to read any 'tells'
that may be available, combined with your meticulous notes, may just make the difference
between winning or losing.
Table Etiquette: A player's
reputation counts a lot toward his or her overall success. Play considerately and
with respect for your opponents and you will find that you are welcome at any table.
By avoiding such indiscretions as declaring your betting intent out of turn, disclosing
your cards while a hand is still in play, intentionally folding to 'help' out another
player, or sharply criticizing the play of one of your opponents, you will help
to promote a friendly card room environment that makes for a more enjoyable game
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