In the same situation with a marginal hand, you should be both raising and limping. What you choose depends on the table, the hand and your table image. If you're trying to make your table image more aggressive and active then these are the types of hands you want to be raising.
Otherwise you want to be limping. Until you are able to consistently outplay the other players on a table there is no reason to play rags. Rags have almost no equity ; therefore they are a losing proposition unless you have reasons for wanting to play them that trump winning the current pot. This is one of the most important and difficult strategies to master in pre-flop play and it's where the Gap Concept comes into play.
Poker can get a little counterintuitive when there are pre-flop raises. Unless you have reason to believe otherwise, when someone raises you have to assume they have a premium hand. This means that calling with marginal hands containing high cards can be a very big mistake. For a beginner, it can be less disastrous to call a raise with a rag hand than to call with a high marginal hand. If we assume the original raiser has a premium hand then you would make a call against them strictly to try and "crack" the hand they have.
So three of the five most probable hands the raiser holds have you absolutely dominated. If you're against KK you're in better shape than against any of the last three hands, but you're still a major dog. The only hand you have a chance with is JJ. Now, on paper suited against all five of the premium hands is a serious dog. The difference is it's cheap. On paper you win more hands with A-Q than with suited. The difference is that you win smaller pots with A-Q and lose your entire stack when it goes bad.
With suited you win very large pots or lose almost nothing. At a full-table cash game with a tight table image, in the long run you can make more money with the suited hands than with A-Q. What if you have a premium hand? This is where serious money is lost and won at poker tables. It's possible but very difficult to fold KK pre-flop. When KK runs into AA, one person usually ends up very upset.
The calls or folds you make in these situations are what separate a good poker player from a great one. It's different every time; every hand is up for debate. But, as a general rule:. With KK behind a raise, most of the time you will come over the top. The rationale for doing so is the same as that for making the original raise: to increase the pot size because you're assuming you have the best hand at this point and to isolate. You don't want any players behind you to call. If you're the last player to act pre-flop, and you're already isolated, it's not a bad idea to smooth-call and hide the strength of your hand.
The disadvantage to this play is that you get no more information from the opponent. If he holds AA, you are in a world of pain. If he has QQ, you're one happy sunnuvagun. By re-raising the original raiser pre-flop you will learn a lot about his hand. Against weaker players, AA will push all-in or immediately call.
Anything else will usually fold or have to take a long think before they make any play. Note: Every hand, table and player is unique. These are guidelines, not rules. The gap concept applies even more strongly to overcalling then to calling an original raiser.
Once there is a raise and a re-raise, as a tight-aggressive player it becomes very difficult to do anything but fold. Calling a raise and a re-raise pre-flop with a hand such as suited is also usually a mistake. A raise and a re-raise usually mean you'd be cold-calling six big bets. It also means that the betting has been reopened.
The original raiser is going to call, fold or push all-in. Unless it was a strict bluff the original raiser will almost never fold in this situation. If he does have AA he will most likely move all-in. Players can make that move with all five of the premium hands as well as with some marginal ones. This means you're running a very large risk that you're throwing away the call. If the original raiser moves all-in you're forced to muck your hand, losing the chips invested in the original call.
Another powerful move you can make pre-flop is the limp re-raise. Having a premium hand in early position it can pay well to limp with the intention of coming over the top of anyone who makes a raise. This works best at a very active and aggressive table. Out of Position. Factor in Stack to Pot Ratio. Another consideration is stack to pot ratio, or SPR.
You should also think about your own SPR on the flop before putting in the chips. Although these considerations will vary depending on the context and your own. Recent Posts. Patch 4. How to Beat Tough Cash Games. Poker Legends: Phil Ivey. Poker Legends: Doyle Brunson. Looking Back on Listen to Your Opponents at the Poker Table.
If you have a weaker opponent that just plays their hand, you might still take a stab here as they will be folding often. You also will want to take a look at the texture of the board. If the board is very draw heavy that could have hit your opponents range, you should lean towards just giving up. Another consideration is this: delayed-bluffing can be more profitable versus immediate bluffing.
Yes, our only chance to win this hand is to have our opponent fold to our bet — but who says that bet needs to be on the flop? Note: If you want to learn more about our postflop game plan, check out the Postflop Engine! Click the image below to learn more. Signup today for free poker strategy, exclusive discounts, and be the first to get notified on new updates. This is Dynamik Widget Area.
Matt Colletta Poker Strategy May 20, About the Author. The large grey area of decision between A-A and , as described in the first section of our Pre-Flop Strategy guide can be remarkably deceptive to master. It takes practice and it takes discipline and it takes patience.
From a positional point of view the general rule is that the closer you are to the button last to act then the closer you are to the sweet spot of information you will gain on every betting round before you have to act. This information allows you to play your hand more effectively to maximize the amount you can win or often more importantly minimize the amount you lose.
Its better to isolate these players immediately to give yourself a better chance of being outdrawn by others who see a single raise as a minor inconvenience to their own intentions but would see a raise followed by a re-raise more of a potential threat.
The chips you lose pre-flop is more than made up for by the activity AFTER the flop if you make your hand and the chips you save by not raising is even more important. If you can get in for the Big Blind instead of 2, 3 or 4 times the Big Blind then that translates into a lot more flops you can see, and therefore a much better chance that you will make your hand.
A-A and K-K withstand multi-way action fairly well, but Q-Q and J-J do not, so be prepared to dump these hands if things get unfavourable on the flop. Pre-Flop Strategy is your ability to recognise the potential value of the pocket cards you are dealt and then act accordingly.
There are many factors to consider when playing your cards. These are… in order of importance:. Apart from GROUP 1 hands see relevant section in book which play themselves from most any position on the table you must be aware that the value of your cards differ vastly in relation to WHERE , in relation to the button, you are sitting.
Hand values increase the fewer players there are to play against. Also the more people that see a flop means that its much more likely that someone, other than yourself, will hit cards relative to their needs. More competition means stiffer competition.
Are you prepared to potentially put all your chips at risk with Jack high if a big bet came in?
However, if you make a bad decision before the flop, you may well set yourself up for a big loss by getting yourself into a sticky position or missing out on a potentially rewarding hand. Start as you mean to go on in every hand. Make quality plays at the beginning and continue throughout the rest of the hand. Therefore after you have been dealt your cards preflop, it is important to take your time to evaluate all of the different variables in the hand, and not just make decisions on the cards that you are holding.
It is important to consider your position and the type of opponents you are playing against, as well as know the correct starting hand requirements. So make sure you think very carefully before every flop and build the foundations for a profitable hand by making the correct preflop strategy decision. Choosing which hands to play and which hands to fold is fundamental to playing a winning poker game.
The best hands to play in Texas Holdem are:. These particular combinations of cards have the best chances of winning than other cards, so if you stick to these you will find yourself in more profitable situations after the flop. It is possible to play other combinations of cards successfully, but if you are a beginner player then it is advised to stick with the big cards until you find your feet at the poker table.
Your position in the hand is an incredibly important variable that you should be aware of in every hand , yet it is something that is all too often forgotten about. The dynamics of play are slightly different in the preflop betting round, as the small and big blind will be last to act, whereas they will be the first to act on every other betting round. However, the general principles of position will remain the same, as you want to try and play more hands where you have position over your opponents than in positions where you do not.
This means that you should avoid playing too many hands in the blinds or in an early position , as being one of the first to act in each hand can make things very difficult unless you are holding a premium hand. It is far safer to let marginal hands go rather than to call raises with half a holding and play out of position for the rest of the hand.
Your position can often play a more influential role than the strength of the cards that players are actually holding, so try and keeping the upper hand by combining good position with good cards. The cards listed above in the starting hands selection section can be played from almost any position, but you should try and tighten up your starting hand selection in the earlier positions.
So as a general rule, you can play with a wider range of the top starting hands in later positions than you should in the earlier positions in the hand. When the action reaches you before the flop, you will be faced with the decision to either fold, call or raise. This is generally not a good play, as if you are entering any pot in Holdem you will want to be making a raise and show aggression.
If you are limping in with a hand, you are either entering the pot with a sub-standard hand or you are playing a premium hand too weakly. The majority of the time you should either "pump it" or "dump it". Avoid limping in by simply calling the big blind. If you decide that you are going to enter the pot, you should be looking to make a raise of about 3 or 4 times the size of the big blind.
By making a minimum raise you are letting opponents with marginal hands come in cheaply, and you are almost defeating the object of making a preflop raise. The idea of a preflop raise is to reduce the amount of players who follow you to see a flop, as it is easier to make profitable decisions when there are fewer players in the pot. So make sure to come in with a strong 3 or 4 BB raise, and increase the size of the raise if you find that a lot of players are still calling these raises with marginal hands or if other players have limped in before you.
If there has been a raise before you, you must now consider whether you should fold, call or raise. If you have a poor or marginal starting hand you should look to fold. If you have a good starting hand like the ones mentioned above you should be happy to call and see a flop. Whether it be to trap an opponent, or a fear of playing large pots, choosing not to 3-bet your stronger holdings is a mistake for several reasons.
By 3-betting opening raises with strong hands, you will extract more value from your opponents by increasing the size of the pot early in the hand. As demonstrated in the Aces example above, the equity of strong hands sharply decreases when there are multiple players in a hand. By 3-betting your strong hands, you are often able to isolate the original raiser and see a flop heads-up. Consequently, the equity of your hand is preserved, and you increase the likelihood of having the best hand at showdown.
AK has But what about a heads-up pot? There are a couple things to be aware of when 3-betting pre-flop. Flatting opens with a wide range can sometimes be reasonable from later positions, especially from the button. Many players do not call enough from the big blind, in particular versus opens from the small blind. Given that you are last to act pre-flop, and will often be offered very good pot odds to take a flop, you can play much looser from the big blind than from other positions.
Against this 2. You are guaranteed to act last post-flop from the button, which gives you an informational advantage over your opponents. You are also able to put pressure on the blinds when action is folded to you, and can often steal dead money in the pot. However, many players tend to either raise too many hands on the button, or to not raise enough.
A leak such as this one can slowly but continuously damage your win rate, so be cautious to not over-raise from the button. Note: This is more of a problem when playing online, as live players are typically less aggressive from the blinds. Conversely, some players are too tight from the button.
Failing to capitalize on these circumstances will certainly hurt your win rate. The looser and more likely to 3-bet the blinds are, the tighter you should open. If the blinds are nits unwilling to play pots, ramp up the aggression and steal that dead money! When it folds to you in the small blind you should often be raising. Many players fail to do this because of the unfavorable post-flop position the small blind is in.
However, there are two main reasons why raising from the small blind is a valuable strategy:. Many players choose to either limp some hands or play very tight in small blind versus big blind confrontations. These can be reasonable adjustments against some opponents, but raising often is a more effective baseline strategy. Many players also have a tendency to fold the button too frequently.
Because of the value of acting last post-flop, you can justify taking a flop with a wide range of hands when given the right price. This is especially relevant to live poker, as live players generally do not play so aggressively from the blinds. Playing too passively in the small blind is a very easy mistake to make. While it might seem reasonable to just call from the small blind because of improved pot odds, making it a habit is bad for a couple reasons:.
The player in the small blind should want to 3-bet their entire value range to build a pot and isolate the pre-flop raiser. For this reason, you should try to avoid calling in the small blind in most instances, and choose instead to 3-bet when appropriate. When constructing your small blind 3-bet range, be sure to include some lighter hands like suited connectors to prevent the big blind from exploitatively folding their medium-strength holdings to your 3-bets.
Employing this aggressive strategy has several benefits:. While that is a drastic oversimplification, Tony has a point. Players often overvalue weak, offsuit broadway holdings. This is especially dangerous from middle positions, where players raising before you can be expected to have a tighter range, and therefore stronger broadway holdings than you.
For this reason, it is better to play a hand like 98s over KJo in these situations; suited connectors will rarely be dominated, and can make nutted hands capable of winning big pots. This problem is more prominent in live games, where large opening sizes lead to excessively large 3-bets that get as big as 18—20BB compared with the 10—12BB seen online. Calling in these spots may also be an ego-related problem that happens when a player does not want to be perceived as weak at the table. Against huge 3-bets, you are getting terrible pot odds to call.
Check out the pot odds calculation against a standard 10BB 3-bet after we opened to 3BB:. Also, if you observe a player making the mistake of calling large 3-bets too often, you should consider exploiting that player by implementing the large 3-bet into your game. All of the above mistakes culminate in the mistake of having only a loosely constructed plan for the hand, or having no clear idea of what to do pre-flop at all.
For example, is the board likely to have improved your hand or your competitors? Is the board likely to change very much on the turn or river? Another consideration is how many players made it to the flop.
If the flop is heads up only you and your opponent the strength of each hand is much better than if five or even six people made it to the flop. The more players that see the flop, turn, and river the less likely you are to win a showdown with a weak holding such as one pair.
For more information on the differences between multiway and heads up pots, head over to pokernews. Before we discuss post-flop poker strategy and board composition in detail, we need to make sure the notation is clear to everyone. In some cases, pictures will be used to show board textures, but often just text will be employed. When describing the board with text i. To take an example, the board:. It is sometimes shortened further to 5K5r. When the flop has a flush draw i.
There are many types of boards, but in general, they can be broken down into two types: dry board textures and wet board textures. Why are these boards considered dry? The most important factor is that neither of these two board has many straight-draw or flush-draw possibilities. The lack of draws means that if you have a hand like A5 on the K55 board or 44 on the board you are very unlikely to be beaten by your opponent if he is behind on the flop.
Looking at the QT9s board, there are many cards which will modify the strength of many hands. Also, there are many hand types that your opponent may have hit this board with:. On the s board, however, every Ace has an inside straight draw. Every other board type will be somewhere in between the dry K55r and the wet QT9s.
Understanding how wet or dry a board is and adjusting your strategy correctly is the key skill at play in this scenario. For more information on board textures, see this excellent article. A continuation bet, as its name suggests, is when you follow up on your previous aggressive action with another bet. For example, you raise pre-flop and then continue to bet on the flop. Continuation bets are extremely useful postflop poker strategy for two reasons:.
The rate at which you continuation bet should be, on a very basic level, determined by the wetness of the board. The dryer the board, the less likely your opponent hit and therefore the more often we will want to bet so that we can take down the pot. But we should also be more prone to bet when we have a chance to win the pot when called. In other words, we have pot equity in the form of a draw or overcards. We opened to 3bb from UTG and got one call from the Button.
On the flop of 9h7s3s, we have an inside straight draw and two overcards. Thus this is a good spot for a cbet as a bluff. We expect him to fold hands which are better than ours. However, if he does continue, we have a good chance of making a stronger hand with a J, T or 8.
But in this case, it is almost a perfect situation for a bluff. Both check to us on the flop. This situation is a clear spot to value bet value betting and bluffing are discussed in the next section. The flop is relatively wet, and two players can draw out us with straights and flush draws. Therefore, we want to charge them to see them next card. We can get lots of value and win a big pot by betting; thus this is an excellent spot for a value bet. Cbetting for value is a fundamental aspect of our postflop poker strategy and is one of the primary sources of profit at small stakes.
Ensure you understand and utilize continuation betting fully by reading our in-depth article. We raise a limper with 98s and get a call from the BB and the player who limped. Thus it is not a good spot to continuation bet cbet , and we should check behind and fold to any future bets. Continuation bets can also apply to the turn and the river. For example, we refer to betting the flop, turn and river as a continuation bet.
People often give up when they do not hit anything so take advantage of this fact. Shallow stack poker means we have fewer chips on the table and hence we can win fewer chips from the weak poker players at the table. The shallower your stack depth, the more likely you should be to go all in. Stack depth has a profound effect on your preflop and post-flop poker strategy so ensure you are aware of your stack depth at all times.
For example, it would be appropriate to allow yourself to get all in with post-flop with top pair good kicker such as KQ on K72 if you had a stack depth of 40bb; however, not if you had a stack depth of bb or greater. Always be aware of your stack depth before entering a pot. Before playing a hand pre-flop, you should be checking the stack depth of you and your opponents.
Checking stack depth ensures you understand how many chips are at play. Hence your effective stack size can vary from hand to hand, and you must adjust your post-flop poker strategy accordingly. Betting is the fundamental aspect of poker which makes it an exciting game to play. But it's not all about bluffing as Hollywood has led you to believe. A lot of a winning Texas Holdem strategy just involves getting your bets in when you have a better hand than your opponent.
Before betting, consideration should be made as to why a bet is being made. Can worse hands call our bet and provide us with value? Can we get better hands to fold? If neither is the case, you typically shouldn't be betting. This concept is integral to correctly implementing a solid poker betting strategy. Poker Betting Strategy Tip 1: Always consider when betting, will your bet either get your opponent to fold a better hand bluffing or call with a worse hand value betting.
But generally, you should be just betting with your strong hands; and if you are playing small stakes or especially free poker, keep bluffing to a minimum. People at low stakes or even play money poker do not fold; thus bluffing at these stakes is a complete waste of money. Bet sizing is one of the most complicated parts of NLHE and is one of the most challenging aspects to grasp for a new player.
For simplicity sake there a few rules to stick to which won't lead you too far wrong:. For a more advanced guide on poker bet sizing see: Pokerlistings. A big mistake new players often make is using the same bet size as the pot grows on each street. Your bet sizes should be relative to the pot! As the pot grows so should the size of your bet. Think fractions, not dollar amounts!
Poker Betting Strategy 2: As a general rule always raise at least three times the previous bet or raise. Once a raise has been made, each subsequent player must match the raise in order to stay in the hand. They have another option also: that of re-raising, even though they didn't raise when they first had the opportunity. The game then moves on to the next hand. However, if there is more than one player still left in the hand, the flop is dealt. Now onto:.
You could be advertising your online poker game or casino in this space! Advertising on Texas Hold'em Poker You could be advertising your online poker game or casino in this space!