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22049748 poker-strategies-and-poker-tools

Digital Poker Book a k a Electronic
             or E-Book

              Written By,
            Jason Narog of
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22049748 poker-strategies-and-poker-tools

  1. 1. Digital Poker Book a k a Electronic or E-Book Written By, Jason Narog of http://www.Pokermoneyclips.com and http://www.FreeTexasHoldEmSecrets.com 1
  2. 2. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No part of this report may be reproduced or transmitted in any form whatsoever, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any informational storage or retrieval system without express written, dated and signed permission from the author. EARNINGS AND INCOME DISCLAIMER We make every effort to ensure that we accurately represent these products and services and their potential for income. Earning made by our company and its customers are estimates of what we think you can possibly earn. There is no guarantee that you will make these levels of income and you accept the risk that the earnings and income statements differ by individual. As with any game of chance, your results may vary, and will be based on your individual capacity, experience, expertise, and level of desire. There are no guarantees concerning the level of success you may experience. Each individual’s success depends on his or her background, dedication, desire and motivation. There is no assurance that examples of past earnings can be duplicated in the future. We cannot guarantee your future results and/or success. There are unknown risks in poker and on the internet that we cannot foresee which can reduce results. We are not responsible for your actions. 2
  3. 3. Preface I originally wrote all the strategy guides for From Goldfish to Piranha back in June of 2005 while working on the first ever batch of the Poker Money Clip which are available for purchase at http://www.pokermoneyclips.com/ordermoneyclips.shtml. I was pretty good at poker at the time but nowhere near where I am at now. From Goldfish to Piranha was started as a work in progress on my own theories on playing winning poker and will never be 100% complete as my opinion on how to play and win the game will continue to change as I progress as a player. Everything written in this book comes from my own head, its ideas and concepts should not be thought of as concrete or even as right when it comes to playing poker. The game of poker can be played and viewed many different ways and people’s opinions vary greatly. This guide should also not be seen as an answer to making money-playing poker. I cannot give you a winning strategy to winning money while playing poker. Bankroll management is the most important strategy and only playing with what you can afford to lose while in a sober state of mind are the only ways to ever be a real winner, regardless of if you win or lose at the table. Always gamble responsibly; never use this strategy guide as a rule of thumb on playing poker but more as a book of entertaining thoughts and concepts to think about throughout your day. I do not encourage you to go out and gamble, if you want to play poker play with your friends, family, and coworkers with cheap plastic chips for no money at all, just enjoy the game. I am not responsible if you lose money trying any of the strategies within the pages of this book. If you employ any strategies found within this book you are doing so at your own risk. I am not a professional poker player nor have I ever claimed to be one, I just enjoy playing the game. Please learn your local laws to stay within the boundaries of the law; the last place you want to wind up is inside a courtroom. 3
  4. 4. Table of Contents Rules of Texas Hold Em Pg. 6 Betting Variations Pg. 8 Hand Rankings Pg. 12 Strategy Introduction Pg. 16 Pre Flop Strategies Early Position Pg. 19 Middle Position Pg. 23 Late Position Pg. 26 Big and Small Blind Pg. 28 Flop Strategy Pg. 29 Turn Strategy Pg. 32 River Strategy Pg. 35 Betting, Raising, Checking, Calling, and Folding Pg. 37 Bluffing Pg. 41 Starting Hands Chart by Position Pg. 43 The 106 Starting Hands You May (or may not) Want To Play Pg. 47 The Trick To Placing In A Freeroll pg. 49 AA Hand Matchups pg. 51 AK Hand Matchups pg. 55 Outs, Odds Against, and Pot Odds pg. 59 Implied Odds, Bet Odds, Investment Odds, and Best Case / Wose Case Scenario pg. 61 4
  5. 5. Odds For The Following Events Pairs, Trips, Full Boats, and Quads pg. 64 Straight Odds pg. 66 Flush Odds pg. 68 Types of Players pg. 69 How To Beat A Tight Player pg. 78 Strategy For Beating A Loose Player pg. 81 Strategies For Beating A Passive Player pg. 85 Live Tells pg. 87 Online Tells / Betting Patterns pg. 90 Starting A Home Game pg. 92 Finding A Home Game pg. 94 Poker Games and Casino Poker Games pg. 96 Poker And The Law pg. 102 FAQ Q and A pg. 103 Math Equations pg. 104 Acknowledgements pg. 106 5
  6. 6. Rules of Texas Hold Em The following rules apply to any form of Texas Hold Em regardless of betting limits. Depending on the betting limit of the game you are playing there may be caps on the amount you can bet during a specific round. For more on betting caps check out betting variations. Before the cards are dealt. Before dealing the first hand of the tournament or home game each player is dealt 1 card face up. Depending on whether low card or high card deals was selected either the lowest or highest card will be the dealer (have the dealer button) in front of them for the first hand. Normally it is high card is dealer but this may vary in different areas. Once a dealer is chosen. The player sitting to the direct left of the dealer will be in the Small Blind. The Small Blind is a forced bet that the player must put into the pot before receiving any cards. The Small Blind puts half of what the current minimum bet is into the pot. Directly left of the Small Blind is the Big Blind. The Big Blind is a forced bet that must be put into the pot before receiving any cards. The Big Blind puts the current minimum bet into the pot. The dealer then deals 2-card face down to every player starting with the Small Blind. Action will start on the player directly left of the Big Blind. They have a decision of whether to play their cards or fold. Action works its way around the table in a clockwise fashion until everyone in turn (do not bet or fold if it is not your turn to act) has called or folded. The first betting round is over when (in an unraised pot) the Big Blind has checked to see a flop or (in a raised pot) everyone to the right of the player who made the raise has called the raise or folded. The Flop. The dealer places three up cards in the center of the table for everyone to use. It is a good idea to place all three cards up at the same time as opposed to one by one to avoid any players giving away a "tell" on which one or more of the cards have helped their hand. The first person to bet or check on the flop is the person directly to the left of the dealer who still has cards in front of them (if the Small Blind didn't fold the then the Small Blind is first to act, if the Small Blind did fold the Big Blind is first to act, and so on). The round is over when every player has either called the bet or folded. The Turn. The dealer places one more up card in the center of the table for everyone to use. The first person to bet is the same person that was first to bet on the Flop. The River. The dealer places one final up card in the center of the table for everyone to use. The first person to bet is still the same person who was first 6
  7. 7. to bet on the Flop. After everyone has bet each player reveals his or her hole cards, in order to see who has the best five-card hand. If a player has a better hand than you and showed it before it was your turn to show you may throw away your cards without showing them. The Winner. The winner of the hand is the player with the best hand using any 3, 4, or 5 cards in the center of the table used in combination with their 2 down cards. Burning Cards - Depending on where you play / who you are playing with you may burn 1 card before dealing to every player as well as burn 1 card before placing the flop cards, turn card or river card. For the flop cards you will only burn 1 card for the 3 cards, not burn one play one, burn two play two. 7
  8. 8. Betting Variations H/L (8b) No Limit Limit Pot Limit Spread Limit Mixed Limit Ante Bring In Kill Game Half Kill Game Wild Card/Joker H/L (High/Low) Games A High/Low game is a split pot game with a low hand qualifier (the typical qualifier is 8b meaning if you have 5 different cards of 8 or below your hand has qualified for the low) where the high hand takes half the pot and the low hand takes the other half. Your hand will not qualify for the low if you do not have 5 different cards that are low (having 3 2's and 2 3's is not a low hand). A pair will disqualify your hand from being low. Straights and flushes do not work against your low hand. The best possible hand to win both the high and the low is called The Wheel. The Wheel is A5 suited. 26 suited is definitely good enough to win most high and low pots but would lose the low to anyone with A 2 3 4 5 off suit or A 2 3 4 6 off suit. No Limit The most popular form of poker played today. No limit simply means that you can bet all of your chips at any time during the hand when it is your turn to act. There is a minimum bet, however, in No Limit. The minimum bet is whatever the big blind is. 8
  9. 9. Limit The amount you can bet or raise is determined by the X/Y. In the first rounds of betting (for Hold Em, Pineapple and Omaha its pre flop and flop) (for any 7 card game its any cards prior to the 5th card if no pair was on board or no one doubled the bet when the pair was on board) (for any 5 card game its the first 3 cards) (in Lowball is before the draw, Triple Draw its before the draw and the first draw) the bet/raise is whatever the X is assumed to be (in a 2/4 game the first rounds of betting would be call 2 raise 2.) There is typically a cap on the number of raises allowed. The most common is 4 for a cap (1. bet, 2. raise, 3. reraise 4. cap). Yahoo Poker uses 5 (bet 2 raise 4 reraise 6 reraise 8 cap 10). When the first rounds of betting are over the limits increase to Y (2/4 betting is now 4). Pot Limit Pot limit is played exactly the same as limit with the minimum bets being designed by what 'street' you are currently on (every card game mentioned above besides Lowball refer to the # of cards out as Streets. Example- Hold Em, Pineapple, Omaha, 5 card, and 7 card all call the 4th card 4th street.) Unlike Limit, however, you can bet the amount in the pot at any time in the game. Spread Limit A spread limit game has a few choices of possible bets during the betting rounds. For example, if the spread is 2-6 and 4-12 you can bet between 2 and 6 on the first rounds of play and between 4 and 12 on the final rounds of play. The spread limit may just be 1 spread for the entire game as well (example 4- 12 on all rounds of betting.) If someone bets the maximum limit (say 12) all following raises must be in increments of that same number (12). Spread Limit is basically an unknown limit game until someone makes the first bet, then it’s a structured limit game (unless they bet the minimum then you can increase it by any increment up to the maximum). The limit is reset after each round of betting. Mixed Limit A mixed limit game is a limit game with different limits per betting round. For example in Hold Em the preflop bet may be 2, flop are 4, turn is 6, and river is 12. The numbers can be mixed up however the dealer chooses. 9
  10. 10. Ante Antes are chips every player is required to place in the pot to receive cards. All stud games are typically played with an ante. Tournament games typically include antes as the levels (the increase in blinds/antes) increase to force the short stacks (players low in chips) into action or out of the tournament. Bring In Typically found in stud games. The Bring In is the bet a player with the lowest card (or in some cases highest card) showing must place to start off the betting action. The Bring In is typically half of what the current limit is (exceptions- in 3/6 games the bring in is 1 just like in 2/4 games to avoid decimals) so it is very similar to a small blind found in Hold Em games. Players following the Bring In may simply call the Bring In bet or Complete the bet (in 3/6 completing a bet would be betting 3 instead of 1, in 2/4 its 2 instead of 1). All raises following a complete bet will be at the current level (in 3/6 its 3, 2/4 its 2, etc) Kill Game A kill game is set up to try and stop a current winning player from continuing on his/her winning streak. For a player to be eligible for the 'Partial Kill' aka 1st Leg of a kill he/she must win a pot without any splits (in H/L must win both the high and the low, in any game all players must have matched the bet as opposed to one player winning a side pot because he/she had more or fewer chips on an all in) and the pot must be greater than 5 times the big blind (in 2/4 the pot has to be 10 or higher). Once the player has the 'Partial Kill Button' placed in front of them they must win the next pot in the same fashion as the last one (outright, 5 times the big blind.) If a player succeeds in winning the 'Partial Kill' hand the limits will increase. On the Kill Hand the Small Blind will still post the small blind amount, the Big Blind will post the big blind amount but the player with the 'Kill Button' will post double the Big Blind. Everyone acts in turn but the level is doubled (2/4 is 4/8, 3/6 is 6/12) so for any player to call the hand they must now place the new X bet into the pot. 10
  11. 11. Variations: In some areas/games (Lowball) a player may only need to win the first pot outright with no qualifier to earn the 'Partial Kill Button'. The qualifier is in play while on the 'Partial Kill Button.' Also the player on the 'Kill Button' may be last to act if those are the rules of the house. Half Kill Game Operates exactly the same as a Kill Game. The stakes do no increase double however, rather 1 1/2 times (2/4 games become 3/6, 4/8 become 6/12, etc). Wild Cards/Jokers In wild card and games using a joker whatever card (or cards) the dealer stated to be wild stand for whatever card you want them to be. In some games such as chase the Queen the Queen is wild and any card immediately following the Queen becomes wild. The Joker is trademarked to Card Company. 11
  12. 12. Hand Rankings The following is the ranking of hands from highest to lowest for MOST poker games. Royal Flush Straight Flush 4 of a kind Full House Flush Straight 12
  13. 13. 3 of a kind 2 pair 1 pair High Card Rankings of High Card (from Highest To Lowest) The Ace may be used as a low in a straight for A 2 3 4 5 (or a 5 High Straight, also known as The Wheel in High/Low games) Other Points Worth Mentioning 13
  14. 14. If 2 players have the exact same hand (say both of them have a pair of 7's) look at their high card. If they both have Ace high, look at the next highest card. If they both have the same card for their 1st and 2nd highest cards look at their final card. If all 3 cards are the same you have a split pot. J Q K A 2 is NOT a straight. (We know you're saying to yourself "Duh!" but someone has actually claimed this in a game before while we were playing so it’s worth mentioning.) There is no such thing as 3 pair. This is another thing we've heard a lot. In EVERY card game you play your best 5 cards. For example if someone has "3 pair" consisting of a pair of 2's a pair of 3's and a pair of 4's they have 2 pair 4's and 3's (use the highest 2 pair) with a whatever their 7th card happens to be as a kicker (because it has to be 5 high or above in this example) Hand Rankings In OTHER GAMES Stud (when determining who brings in) Suits Arranged From Highest To Lowest A to 5 Lowball aka California Lowball (or the best hand you can have in a H/L aka 8b game) 14
  15. 15. Deuce To Seven Lowball aka Kansas City Lowball Soko (Canadian Stud) 2 Pair 4 Card Flush 4 Card Straight 1 Pair Everything else is exactly the same from the chart above. 15
  16. 16. Strategy Introduction The following strategies apply to how to play specific hands out of specific positions Pre Flop and how you should continue on betting for each round to follow. The suggestions found here apply to the cards only rather than the type of opponent you are facing. We have made suggestions on how to play against particular players in the opponent types section. At the moment the suggestions are not very detailed. The true key to poker lies in playing your opponent based on how your opponent views you, the cards and chips are used solely as symbols in the game of player versus player. In lower limit games and against players of lower skill levels (Level 1), however, your cards will matter and fancy tricks such as bluffing, pot odds, and raising the pot to force draws out of hands will not work. These lower level players have no real concept of card value or position and will try to catch their 4 out straight draw regardless of the bet simply because they know if they do indeed catch their card they can win the pot. Bluffs will not work against lower level players because they will call you to either A) make sure you weren't bluffing or B) because they made bottom or middle pair and believe they have a shot at winning the pot regardless of if they make a better hand or not. A lot of lower level poker players will typically fall into 1 of 3 categories - 1) the tight non aggressive player 2) the overly aggressive player with no concept of what hand beats what so they may fold flushes and straights yet hold onto face cards with weak kickers or 3) the calling station/fisherman. The only difference between a calling station and the fisherman is fishermen will fold to bets on the river if they did not catch the card(s) they were fishing for whereas calling stations typically will not. This first type of player is typically the easiest to beat because you can avoid all the pots they play in. Type ones may and can win in games that have quite a few calling stations in them. Type two players are the hardest of the three to beat because they are impossible to place on a hand, especially if you are playing a type two player who doesn't even know what hand beats what. We have played in games with type two players who will go all in with pocket tens against a board holding both an ace and a king yet seen the same player fold flushes and straights because he had no concept of what a straight or flush was. Type three players will lose in the long run but may wind up winning a home game or two on luck alone. Their ability to call large bets regardless of cards almost places them into the Level 2 style of playing against your opponents and not playing with the cards, but not quite. The reason calling stations do not qualify for Level 2 is because they aren't calling all your bets because of the way you are playing, they are calling all of your bets because that is their style of play. Calling stations can't shift gears depending on who they are facing, they will always call bets (unless they don't hold cards they like in which case they'll fold.) 16
  17. 17. Our strategies can be used against a good portion of Level 1 and Level 2 players. Level 2 players understand the concept of poker and can shift gears depending on what type of opponent they are facing. The Level 2 player understands that the value of their cards can shift dramatically from player to player. For example, a Level 2 player may make a raise, regardless of their cards, when they see tight players in the blinds in an attempt to steal the blinds from the tight players. At the same time a Level 2 player may only play the best 24 hands in poker (face card hands mostly) against an aggressive player to give them the edge needed to beat the aggressive player a better percentage of the time. Trying to throw an aggressive player's game back in their face tends to backfire as they are more accustomed to playing with any two cards whereas, you the Level 2 non overly aggressive play any two cards, may not be able to raise or call large bets with the 9 5 off suit. As for the Level 3 player, their game is played based on how they believe their opponents view them. This is where the concept of mind games in poker comes from. A skilled level 3 player may be able to fool their opposition into believing that the only pots the skilled player enters into are quality hands when in reality the skilled player is really playing the hands they enjoy seeing flops with. Or the skilled level 3 player may play completely overly aggressive (Gus Hansen did this in Poker Superstars 1) raising with any two cards to fool opponents into believing that their raise is weak when in actuality the skilled player holds a monster and is waiting for its opposition to make a move on the pot. Level 3 players may even play as calling stations to fool opposition into believing that the skilled player is a terrible card player in an attempt to win later rounds, causing its opposition to believe the hands were won on 'luck.' Being able to shift gears is a must in Poker and is very similar to concepts found in The Art Of War. For those of you who haven't read The Art Of War (you can find it in our poker books section) the book covers military strategies for warfare based on size of army and location of battle. The main point the book drives home is that you can have no fear of death in battle. Generals of the invading army are told to burn their ships or line up troops to kill their own soldiers trying to retreat from battle in areas with only one way in and one way out. You must use this no fear tactic in poker if you ever wish to elevate your game to its highest level. The best quote to drive home this no fear concept comes from Patrick Swayzee in Point Break - "Hesitation causes fear. And fear will cause your worse fears to happen." You are the general, your chips are your army, and the table is your battlefield. If you intend on playing a hand direct your troops properly. If the cards shift in your opponents direction surrender the battle by folding your cards and taking your casualties then come back to win the war. There is no sense in continuing on in a battle you can't win, it takes away your ability to win the overall war. Another concept in life that also applies to poker comes from how winners play the game versus how losers play the game. An overall winner is always playing 17
  18. 18. the game to win. They aren't playing to break even, they aren't playing for second best, and they’re playing to win. It's all or nothing. The mentality of a losing player however is completely different. The losing player is playing the game to 'not lose.' The losing player wants to win but doesn't hold the necessary drive or wiring to see the situation as all or nothing. Breaking even is totally acceptable for the losing player as they view this as a victory, even though all they did was waste their time. Don't get us wrong breaking even is much better than losing but no one who plays poker should want to just break even. There is an exception to this, however. A winning player on a current losing streak is playing to break even. The 'break even' concept is different for the winning player as opposed to the losing player in that the winning player is playing that particular game to win and win only, the breaking even part is breaking even from past losses and therefore is an overall concept as opposed to one specific game. 18
  19. 19. Pre Flop Strategies by Position Early Position You are in early position if you are next to the big blind, or next to the person next to the big blind, or the person next to that person. The earliest of position is required to act first preflop and (at best) will be required to bet third on the flop. Being in early position leaves you at a major disadvantage because you have no idea who at the table holds a weak hand, monster hand, etc. so you have to choose your starting hands sparingly to avoid wasting chips. The reason you only want to select quality hands in Early Position is because the likelihood of someone at your table raising pre flop is good and you don't want to be throwing away chips every time you're in early position trying to limp in and see a cheap flop. Examine our starting hands chart for Early Position. You will notice that every single hand on that list adds up to 20 in blackjack (except AA which would be 12 in blackjack but this is poker) and the only 3 cards we put on the unsuited side were AK, AQ, and KQ. Even though having suited cards doesn't make you a shoe in for the victory having suited cards is a major plus when entering a hand because it leaves you with more outs. You will also notice that every hand on the list is either connected or contains a 1, 2 or 3 card gap (the only 3 card gap hand on there is AT suited). The reason behind this is because connected cards leave you with more outs as well. Unfortunately by nature you are not going to have many open ended straight draws with these cards (except JT) but with the proper flop you could have 12 outs just for completing your straight or flush draw. Betting Strategies for playing out of early position: Unless your table has a lot of overly aggressive pre flop raisers do not simply limp in with hands like AK, AQ, or KQ suited. You must raise with strong hands in early position even though it will chase out the majority of the players in the hand from calling. That's just one of the downfalls of acting first. But, if you do not raise with your quality hands then players in Middle and Late Position will be able to limp in with weak hands and possibly bust you out of your entire stack. Never, ever, under any circumstances limp in with AK, AA, or KK. QQ and JJ are other cards you should never limp in with but too large of a raise may turn your great starting hand into your coffin due to the fact you've become pot committed and there's an ace and a king on the board. Limping in with AA, KK, and AK is simply a recipe for disaster, especially considering how difficult it is to lay down AA, KK, and AK. The biggest reason you should never limp in with any of these big hands is because they simply do not do well against multiple opponents. Letting a player limp in with 9 3 off suit could spell trouble if they flop trip 3's on the flop. Your larger hands only do well in pots against opponents holding similar large hands. Even if the board is low AK will be a huge favorite over AQ, KQ, or QJ. You can, after all, win a 19
  20. 20. pot with Ace high.. As for your suited connector drawing hands its best just to call out of Early Position then, if someone does bet, determine either the pot odds or the investment odds (whichever you prefer playing by) and go from there. Drawing hands do best against a full table where there is enough money in the pot to justify calling bets in hopes of catching your straight or flush card. Advantages of being in Early Position: If you are seen as a tight player (this will most likely not work for a loose player) a Preflop raise may pick you up the blinds because most players won't raise out of early position without a strong hand. The disadvantage to this is a player in late position may be holding a monster and reraise you (or slow play and call) putting you, once again, at a disadvantage on the flop by having to act first. Opponents in late position may call your large bet simply to try and steal the pot from you in the later rounds of action. For the most part it is a good idea to only call with hands that total 20 or better in Blackjack and stick to mostly suited cards (except for the 3 mentioned above.) Even KQ can get you into trouble if you are up against AA, AK, AQ, KK or QQ. The hand that gets most players into trouble, however, is AQ off suit. Calling an all in with AQ off suit is risky because your opponent may be holding a pocket pair or even worse AK, leaving you with 3 outs in the deck to pick up the victory (unless you get a lucky flop and wind up with an inside straight draw.) Folding AQ off suit to an all in bet can be the right move to make. Against any pocket pair AQ is about 32% to hit on the flop, then goes downhill from there (you have 6 outs unless you pick up a lucky flop.) Take full advantage of our possible flop odds charts to get a feel for what constitutes a good hand and what the probabilities are of picking up certain hands on the flop before going crazy and calling all ins left and right. Playing Out of Early Position using Investment Odds: Investment odds will allow you to add a few (or few dozen) hands to the early position playbook. If you are holding say a medium sized pocket pair or T 9 suited and have decided the investment odds are in your favor to play this particular hand then you can ignore all suggestions of what hands to play out of early position and go right ahead and play your hand. Using investment odds can allow you to play looser than the typical Hold Em player and will allow you more freedom over starting hand choices. The trick to investment odds is knowing your opponents. If you do not know how your opponents think and play (and what they think of you and how you think and play) then investment odds are going to be totally useless and you are going to throw away a lot of money on bad calls. But if you do know how your opponents behave, say you know player X likes to raise only with AT and above, and you've figured out that he thinks you are a tight player who won't call his weak double the blind raise with weak cards, then your investment odds will be much greater because player X's raise and your call will signal to him that you have a good hand thus making him more likely to call 20
  21. 21. your bets when the flop comes 8 7 6 because he has put you on over cards while he holds over cards. If you are just learning how to play Hold Em we would suggest not playing with investment odds and sticking to the Early Position playbook to keep your losses to a minimum. As you become a stronger player you can start incorporating Investment Odds and other tricks to your game to increase your winning percentage. There is a major advantage to being a beginner at Hold Em as well. Look at Chris Moneymaker. We suggest not playing like he did, however, (going all in over and over with the worst of it and magically getting lucky time after time) because in the long run you will lose all your money (look at Moneymaker today, he’s in Dead Last on the Poker Superstars Invitational Tournament). Good players tend to overlook the new player and will not give them credit for a good hand. Thus, sticking to the starting hands list will rake in pot after pot for you while at the same time allowing you to avoid costly rookie mistakes of playing way too many hands and losing all your chips quickly. Strong Raises versus Weak Raises: Strong raises are 4x the Big Blind and above. This type of raise will (typically) force players with weaker starting hands to fold. The point of raising is to force opponents out of the pot so your hand has a better chance at winning. Weak raises serve absolutely no purpose and will (likely) not force anyone to fold, or at least not anyone important (exception: players in the Big or Small Blinds may fold to a weak raise because they were dealt a garbage hand like 4 2 off suit and had no intention of playing the hand anyway after checking pre flop to see a flop). Weak raises should only be used when holding a drawing hand and you want to increase the pot size. The reason you would use a weak raise in this scenario is because you've determined the Bet Odds to be great and know that no one, maybe one or two, players will not call and in the future you will have reasonable pot odds to call larger sized bets when drawing to your straight or flush draw. Other Suggestions for playing out of Early Position: If you see 2 unsuited face cards that are QJ or below, fold them. You do not have a great shot at picking up the pot, or at least not enough information to know whether or not you have a good shot at picking up the pot. Also note that players on the button (the player with the dealer button in front of them) and the player in the Big Blind are likely to make a raise to the pot. This is known as a Position Raise. It is used to make Early Position / Middle Position limpers fold their less than great hands. If you are holding any of the cards on the Early Position starting hands list you may want to call this raise. The only reason(s) you wouldn't want to are A) You have a good read on your opponent making the raise and know they actually have a great starting hand or B) The player making the raise made it large enough to not warrant a call. 21
  22. 22. AJ is a starting hand that will typically land you in a world of hurt. You should definitely raise with AJ suited but not enough to make yourself pot committed. Your best-case scenario is catching a Jack on the flop and (hopefully) no one made 2 pair Jacks and whatever. Depending on the skill level / looseness of your opponents a pair of aces may be the best hand but could be the 3rd worse hand behind AK and AQ. Do not call an all in with AJ. We told you above that it’s most likely a bad idea to call an all in with AQ so it’s definitely a bad idea to call an all in with AJ. Being the aggressor with AJ is one thing, but risking all your chips on a hand that only has 3 outs against AK, AQ, KK, QQ, and JJ is a terrible idea. And if you're up against AA you better pray the board goes runner runner Jacks or you catch a straight / flush draw on the flop. Tournament Suggestions: If you are playing in a tournament and are on the short stack, however, you should definitely make a strong raise (possibly all in if you don't have enough chips to play the flop and survive), especially if you haven't seen any better hands lately. A bad play would be making a small raise or calling with a hand like AK then going all in after your opponent has seen the flop. If you hold something strong like AK before the flop and are short stacked its best just to go all in and wait for the call. The likelihood of being called is good (unless you've been folding for the past half hour and your opponents have picked up on this or there is no one at your table holding a pair of 2s or better who was just waiting for you to go all in so they could take you out of the tournament) but then again you really don't mind being called when holding face cards and on the short stack because you may double up and be a threat at the table again. 22
  23. 23. Middle Position There you are smack dab in the middle of the table in spot number 4, 5 or 6 waiting for the Early Position limpers to call so you can take the pot up another notch and watch them fold away their QJ suited while you hold something ugly like 8 7 off suit (we definitely wouldn't suggest this move out of middle position but it made for a good opening.) You've seen what a few players have done, now it’s your turn to act. What cards should you play, you ask? Well, anything from the Early Position playbook as well as a good number of hands you would have quickly mucked had you been in Early Position. Your playable hands now include pocket pairs from AA-66, Ax suited (except A7 and A6 because they have weaker straight draws and make lower pairs), and a couple others that you can check out at our play list chart. You are still at a disadvantage in the hand but you aren't as bad off as the players in Early Position. Come flop time you will be somewhere around the 6th to 8th person to act, leaving you in great, but not the best position to act. The majority of hands on the play list now consist of drawing hands so you are more of an implied winner than a real winner. Depending on which hand you are currently holding will determine whether or not you should raise. Raise with AK-AT suited or off suit, KQ suited or off suit, Pocket Pairs down to JJ, and if you really want to QJ suited. Depending on which of these hands you hold you'll want to raise varying amounts with the pocket pairs, AK, AQ, and KQ being the larger raises. As for the rest of your drawing hands and middle pairs it’s probably best to call and hope no one raises (or at least doesn't raise too much to take away your pot odds.) Kickers will definitely come into play when the king flops and you start betting wildly with KT off suit against an opponent holding KJ off suit. Raising pre flop won't rid you of players holding the KJ either. Your best-case scenario with the KT is to either catch a straight draw or catch two pair. Flopping two pair could spell disaster though as well if someone is on a straight draw or worse, caught the straight on the flop. Raising from Middle Position is also dependant on how other players view you at the table. A loose aggressive player is much more likely to be called pre flop than a tight player. The great thing about being in Middle Position, however, is that a lot of players know that Middle Position is where you are supposed to start playing those middle pairs so a small pre flop raise from Middle Position (3x the big blind) will tell everyone at the table you hold a middle pair and set you up for a bluff known as "Representing The Flop" come flop time. Representing The Flop means making a large raise on the flop when something along the lines of a 7, 8 or 9 shows up and you act like you've made trips. Don't do this too often though because opponents are sure to catch on to your rouse and start catching you on your bluffs. A good percentage of the hands you'd call with from Middle Position you'd never call a raise with. Basically every hand that is a drawing hand you should fold 23
  24. 24. unless the pot odds or investment odds tell you to do otherwise. The trick to playing drawing hands successfully is being able to see cheap flops and folding them when you do not flop an 8 out straight draw or better. Don't throw away unnecessary chips preflop hoping to get lucky and bust out your opponent. It might happen occasionally but in the long run you're going to be down money and upset with the world. Also calling large raises with hands like Q T and K J will cost you more chips than it'll win. You have a semi-strong kicker and your opponent doing the raising most likely has a better kicker with the high card as you. Playing 1 card gapped straight cards aren't as great as they sound either. Check out our straight odds to see for yourself. The problem with the 1-card gappers is they will typically flop more 4 card straight draws than 8 out straight draws. 4 card straight draws are typically costly and don't reap the reward the player was seeking. You should (most likely) muck your 1-card gappers to any raiser, unless it’s an aggressive player. Even then, the play is most likely a fold because you should never call a raise with cards you wouldn't raise with yourself. We would suggest breaking the Middle Position playing list into 3 parts then playing 1, 2 or all 3 parts depending on where you are in Middle Position. If you are the 4th to act in the hand (1st person in Middle Position) play 99-88, A9-A8 suited, T9 suited, AJ and AT off suit, KJ, QJ, and JT off suit. If you are the 2nd person in Middle Position add 77, J9 suited, 98 suited, and KT off suit to the list. If you are the 3rd person in Middle Position play the entire list. The reason for this is because as each player acts your cards become stronger starting cards. Still stick to not raising with anything below AT, KJ, or QJ. Avoid calling large raises as well. Small raises are fine and are actually welcome as this will make your drawing hands more powerful when it comes to pot odds. Do not rely too strongly on pot odds however. Just because you have the correct pot odds to make a call does not mean you should chase every straight and flush draw you have. Each event is independent from the previous event just like in Roulette. If the Roulette wheel is black 25 times in a row that doesn't mean it has a better chance of being red the next time just as your straight and flush draws will not improve to straights and flushes based on the number of times you have missed them. The easiest way for a player to go broke in poker is by drawing to every straight, flush, and 3 of a kind when they hold a pocket pair. The odds against these events happening are there and should be seen as a warning to those who wish to chase their money away. The other reason you should not constantly chase is because your opponents will label you as a 'Fisherman.' If they know you always fish after straight and flush draws they will alter their betting patterns to A) give you better pot odds to increase the amount of money in the pot when they hold a favorable hand or B) give you worse pot odds to pick up pots right off the bat. Your opponents 24
  25. 25. may also make a bet favorable for you pot odds wise on the flop, then if nothing hits, raise an insane amount at you to destroy your pot odds and take your chips from you 1 turn card at a time. Of course you can use the exact same strategy against an opponent that you have determined to be a Fisherman. 25
  26. 26. Late Position This is the favorable position to be in, especially if you are on the button. The button is the dealer button and indicates who was 'dealing the hand' at the time. The dealer button is used in casinos or other establishments where there is a designated dealer. You are assumed to be in Late Position if you are the 7th or 8th person to act Pre Flop. You will also be the 9th and 10th to act on the flop, allowing you to determine how each player is going to play their hand before making any decisions as to what you want to do. If you are not on the button there are only 3 out of 9 other players (33%) who can raise up the pot on you if the pot has not been raised prior. If you are on the button the only 2 players who can ruin your chance at limping in for a cheap flop are the blinds themselves. The reason you want to be in Late Position is because you now have a good idea of who is in the hand and based on past expieriences / understanding what cards any said player is liable to play out of a specific position, you can better determine your course of action. Typically the play from Late Position is to either raise (regardless of what cards you hold, known as a Position Raise) or call in hopes of catching a lucky flop. Raising is usually the favorable play if there are a lot of players in the hand already and you know by betting (Bet Odds) a good portion of them will fold to a strong raise. The others who stay in the hand will have to act before you on the flop so you will know whether or not to drop your hand or bet strong at the pot again. Raising with any 2 cards is definitely the wrong move over time, however. Any cards that's face value totals 19 or higher justify a decent sized raise (3x the big blind) but nothing too wild. As with Middle Position a medium sized raise will remove limpers and put the thought of small or medium sized pockets in the minds of your opponents allowing you to Represent the Flop when you are last to act on the flop. Drawing hands are also more powerful in late position because you know whether or not you can limp in cheaply. The players in Early Position have to worry about up to 9 possible opponents raising Pre Flop whereas Late Position players only have to worry about 2 to 3. This means you know 66% more about your opponent’s hands than the person in Early Position. Areas where you may land yourself in trouble by raising pre flop from Late Position: A) Opponents who typically limp in with large hands in hopes of an opponent raising for them (a wolf in sheep's clothing.) B) Opponents who protect their blinds (Phil Ivey is an example of this kind of player, he will typically call raises when he is in the blind to take the pot away from you on the flop even though he's first to act) C) Opponents who love to reraise every raise. Your raises from the Button will be tested from time to time so beware if you plan on making a habit out of Position Raising. Getting caught once may be 26
  27. 27. to your advantage, however, as your opponents may believe you are making the exact same play when you really hold a monster. There are a good number of hands for you to play in Late Position, over 80 on our chart. You do not want to play all 80 hands when you are in Late Position. Sometimes the play will be to limp in with 65 suited in hopes of catching a lucky flop, other times the correct play is to fold. It all depends on the types of hands and styles your opponents are using AND what they think about you. If you are playing at a very tight table where opponents fold to almost every bet than it’s a good idea to limp in with 65 and buy a cheap pot. If your opponents are raising wildly with any two cards then it is a terrible idea to start playing weak hands against maniac opponents. They will take your money quickly because they are good at throwing large sums of money into a pot, losing big, winning big, and then losing all over again (or winning even bigger.) You do not want to be throwing your money towards a maniac with weak drawing starting cards. Maniacs most likely have some sort of face card with a weak kicker and are raising because they saw a picture card (picture card=good.) Now if your opponents believe you to be one of these maniacs raising on the button with 65 suited or limping in with any 2 cards you can then betting away at the flop you are much more likely to be called than if they believe you to be a tight player. Tricking your opponents into believing you are a tight player when you are actually a loose player is the key to playing weak drawing hands well. With K8-2 suited you are mostly hoping to catch a flush or flush draw rather than make top pair to take the pot. If you flop a pair of kings that's alright but don't go drop your son's tuition money on it. K8-2 do best when they flop, or turn, two pair. Most opponents will not put you on two pair Kings and 3's so you have a better chance of busting out the guy holding K9 or KT. The same applies for the Q's and J's although you can make a straight with all the Q and J combinations listed with the exception of Q7. 3 card gappers are not very powerful and the amount of flops that will give you an 8 out straight draw are just as small. Beware of opponents who hold the Ace or King of the suit you are fishing for on the flush draw. Sure you may make a Queen high flush but whose to say your opponent doesn't have a King high flush? Q high and J high flushes are best when there is already an ace and a king of that suit on the board so you know your opponents don't hold any cards that can beat you. As for playing the Tens and below suited and connected cards you should only limp in with them, never raise unless you know your opponents think of you as a tight player. Tight players get away with buying pots unchallenged. Loose players do not. If you do not flop at least 4 to a flush, a straight draw, or top pair you should drop your weak drawing hands immediately because they are no longer drawing hands, they're dead hands. 27
  28. 28. Small Blind Being on the small blind is a terrible place to be. You've already invested money into the pot regardless of what your hole cards are and you are going to be first to act on the flop. Because you already have half the blind put into the pot we've added pretty much every single hand that has up to 3 gaps for a straight to the playable hands list out of the small blind. Is it a favorable call? Not really but because you already have money invested in the pot you might as well pay the other half and see if you get lucky. In the long run this will be a losing strategy but when the blinds are relatively small compared to your chip size this style can produce some pretty interesting wins with hands you would never have played otherwise. If you're short on chips or simply don't like the 3 gap straight card you are holding then fold it. Also fold to any incoming raises as they will act after you regardless of their position at the table. Big Blind Being in the big blind is another terrible place to be because you've already called to see a flop regardless of your hole cards. And to make matters worse there are 9 players at the table raising in an attempt to take away your already purchased right at the flop. If the table goes fold, call, with no raise being in the big blind is a powerful position because you can raise the pot (another Position Raise) and force some of those limpers out. Of course if you plan on raising you should hold cards that justify such an action because 1 or more players may call you on the simple fact that your raise is a common one out of the Big Blind. Do not fall victim to the 'Protect Your Blind' by calling large bets syndrome with any two cards. The money you invested as the Big Blind is already lost to you, its no longer your money so there is 0 reason to try and protect it with 4 2 off suit. On the flip side to that do not surrender your blinds too easily either or players will raise the pot every time you are in the blinds simply because they see you as an easy target to take money from. If a player raises the blind on you and you have a playable hand either call the bet or reraise the bet. If you don't have a hand worth playing then muck it. Just to throw your opponent who keeps raising every time you're in the blind throw a reraise back at them regardless of what cards you hold, if you can afford it, and see what happens. Your opposition may be even weaker than you and won't be able to make a play back at you. The point of reraising your opponent is to show them that you won't be bullied out of your blinds and cause them to change their behavior. Even if you lose that particular pot the message is still sent. Also players who win with cards they typically would not play otherwise refer to their win as the "Big Blind Special." 28
  29. 29. Flop Strategy So you've made it to the flop, eh? Did it help you? If not this is the time to fold. You have already seen 5 out of the 7 cards that will make your hand. That's over 70% of all the cards used to make your hand. Sure you might wind up lucky and go runner runner to catch your miracle cards but that doesn't happen very often. Don't believe us? An open ended (8 out) runner runner will only happen about 3% of the time (we round the number up) and a gut shot runner runner will only happen 1.5% (we round that up as well). As for making a backdoor flush you only have about a 4% shot (real number is 4.17%). Those are terrible odds to play if you want to be a winning poker player. Only 1 out of every 25 hands will your backdoor flush hit. What cards should you hold onto if you don't catch on the flop? High cards if the flop comes low (unless you are playing against an extremely loose opponent who may have already made two pair on the flop) or any hand that has 4 outs or better. It's usually best to drop your gut shot straight draws though (4 outs) unless you are getting great Pot Odds or Investment Odds. Keep in mind that Investment Odds are Implied Odds so those chances should only be taken when you have enough chips to take chances and are sure you know what your opponent has. Occasionally Investment Odds won't pay off, for example, you are trying to catch three of a kind when you flopped middle pair. In some cases the opponent betting at you may also be betting with middle pair and is trying to catch the exact same three of a kind only they hold a better kicker than you. Hands like this can be costly, especially if you do not reraise them out of the pot on the flop. Betting and raising should typically be your strategy, never calling. The only times you want to call an opponent's bet rather than raise it are A) You know reraising will put your opponent all in and you want to see the next cards B) You are setting your opponent up, i.e. slow playing your hand or C) You are unsure whether or not your hand is the best so you call (this does not apply to the flop.) Let's start with A. A typically happens against opponents who hold high cards like AK and refuse to lay them down no matter what. This is a scenario where reraising with a straight or flush draw is going to test all of your chips, thus taking away your Pot Odds and ruining your Investment Odds. Your chances by the river may be 30% by the river but as each card comes your chances divide in half. A 17% shot (about 1 in 5) is not a great risk to be taking on the chance that you may bust out your opponent if the right card(s) come. Your opponent can win with ace high after all and you've just taken a huge loss to your chip stack. The type of opponent we are talking about will typically bet small on the flop, turn, and river anyway giving you cheap calls the entire way through making it a worth while Pot Odds investment. Or (this is the second type of 29
  30. 30. opponent, there's only 3 types) your opponent will bet large on the flop to try and scare out all its potential opposition even though they did not hit their hand. This type of player will usually check the turn in fear of being beaten by a smaller or larger pocket pair giving you a free look at the river (or an opportunity to bluff them out of the pot.) They are great for playing with Investment Odds because you know they are tied to their hand yet know enough about cards to possibly fear the opposition. Check, check on the turn will typically cause them to bet large again on the river, even after you have already made your winning hand. The final type of opponent will bet large at you on the flop, turn, and river regardless of if they made their hand or not. This type of player takes away your Pot Odds as well as your Investment Odds. You typically have to be a gambling style player to call on draws against them but, for the most part, only want to call along if you've made a pair or better. As for B, the slow playing technique, you only want to use this if there are no cards on the board that may hurt your hand. Terrible times to slow play include flops that contain 3 cards in order (4 5 6) showing an obvious straight, 3 cards of the same suit when you've made 3 of a kind (because a player may have a high card of that suit in hand and is hoping to catch another suit for the nut flush), or 2 cards of the same suit / in order (4 5, 4 6, 3 6, even 2 6) because your opposition may be on a draw and is trying to see a cheap turn card. When there are 3 cards on the flop that may possibly beat you it's best to represent the Flop as though you've made your hand even if you only hold two pair or three of a kind. The reason for this is to eliminate players who are on draws and show you (by their reraise) any opposition that may have already made their hand. In some cases the reraise will signal that they are on a draw. An opponent who bets out at you without even taking a second to decide how much to bet is typically on the draw. An opponent who takes a second or longer to decide whether or not to reraise typically has the hand and you should fold (with 2 pair you have an 8.5% chance of hitting on the turn and basically the same percent chance to hit on the river, as for 3 of a kind you have a maximum of 10 outs on the river to make a full house or four of a kind to beat their straight/flush.). If there aren't any scare cards on the board you can continue on with your slow play but in the long run may not wind up with as many chips as you would have had you just bet from the start. Slow playing is incredibly useful when you flop something like the nut full boat or four or a kind and are waiting for an opponent to catch a hand so you can extract chips from them. Or catching the nut flush on the flop (if you don't hold the ace of that suit, you do not hold the nuts and should not slow play your hand. An opponent with the ace of that suit may be trying to see a cheap turn or river card to win with the nut flush.) Straights on the flop are a hard thing to slow play as well. Typically if you check a straight and someone bets at you they've made two pair or three of a kind and simply don't believe someone flopped a straight because it only happens about 1% of the time. 30
  31. 31. When playing top pair on the flop you should always lead out with a good strong bet to protect your hand from opponents drawing to a better hand. No minimum raises either. Minimum raises will always get you into trouble when opponents hit something better in the later rounds. You don't always have to bet the pot but you should still always make large raises into any pots you intend on playing. The reason for this is because you want to make hands costly for opponents to draw against you so they will at least have to second guess their decision on whether or not they want to call for the next card. Do not use this betting strategy against calling stations and fishermen as it can backfire on you if they do catch their miracle cards. The best way to deal with calling stations and fishermen is to take their chips from them 1 card at a time. If you are in a pot ONLY with a calling station/fisherman bet strong but not as strong as you would against a real opponent. As you see more cards and determine their chances of winning the pot start increasing your bets until you finally bankrupt them on the river. Fishermen will be harder to bankrupt on the river, however, seeing that they will only call bets up to the river then fold. For fishermen make a larger bet on the turn than you would against the Calling Station to make up for this potential loss of profit. 31
  32. 32. Turn Strategy Or Better Known As 4th Street Strategy If you've made it to the turn then you have to fall into one of the following categories: A) You made a pair (or better) on the flop / are holding a pocket pair B) You hold two over cards to a low board C) Are on a draw D) Plan on pulling a bluff to steal the pot away from 1 or more players E) are sitting at a table where everyone checked. We'll start with A, you've hold a pair or better and are now looking at the turn card. If you are holding top pair now would definitely be the best time to force out any players who called your flop bet on a draw because their odds were just cut in half. A good portion of poker players use the "By the River" percentages when deciding whether or not to call on the flop so they believe their odds of catching their card was a lot greater than it truly is. By the River means they have two different cards in which their draw may hit, but now that we're on the turn (and they didn't hit) their odds are much worse and your odds are much greater. Before making any large bets with your top pair examine the board. Make sure there aren't three cards that would give someone a straight or flush. When we say any three we mean any. Some players like to play with two gapped cards because they make less obvious straights. A board with 4 5 7 is just as likely to have someone holding a straight as 4 5 6. Of course if you do not see any straight or flush possibilities out there make your bet, and make it large enough to force out the draws. An opponent on a flush draw or straight draw wants about 4 to 1 (5 to 1 for an 8 out straight) return on their money so keep that in mind when determining how large of a bet to make. If you're holding two pair, three of a kind, a full boat, or even four of a kind you can and should make a much larger bet at the pot than the player with one pair is able to do. Bet the pot if you hold the nut three of a kind or better. This will remove all the draws from calling, or at least leave them at an unprofitable disadvantage. If you hold three of a kind or two pair and don't hold the nuts throw out a large bet anyway just not as large as the nut three of a kind would. When you aren't holding the best possible hand you should still bet big, but not big enough where you will become pot committed (can't lay down your hand.) Your bet is to find out if any opponents do indeed hold a better hand than you. The size of your bet should still force out draws just in case the opponent calling you doesn't hold a better hand but rather a hand they are drawing with. In the event that a card to finish a straight or a flush pops up on the turn your bets with top pair, three of a kind, etc are likely to be met with a reraise. Players on draws will call pre flop, call on the flop, then either check the turn and reraise or lead straight out with a bet. A few may slow play until the river at which point their betting pattern would go call, call, check call, check raise 32
  33. 33. or simply bet on the river but it should still be easy to see which of your opponents have indeed hit their draw. The check on the turn is used in an attempt to slow play or 'be sneaky' by hiding that they have in fact made their hand but their bet later on is a dead give away as to what hand they really hold. If you fall into the B category (holding two over cards) you've either just paired or you haven't. If you haven't you're now down to catching a pair one out of every eight times. Those are terrible odds especially if someone has already made a pair or worse yet has made a pair and holds one of your over cards as their kicker. Unless you are convinced that none of your opponents hold a pair or hold bottom pair and will fold to your bet (putting you in category D) you should fold your hand. As for category C (the draws) we'd hate to tell you this but the odds aren't really in your favor anymore. Being that you already know 86% of your hand the other 14% may not help you much, especially if you're on a gut shot (4 out) straight draw or are hoping the fourth suited card falls on the river because you hold the ace (or King if there's an ace on board, Queen if there’s an ace and king on board). The 4 card flush draws (excluding holding just 1 of that suit) will lose 4 out of 5 tries, the 8 out straights / 4 card flushes (holding 1 of suit) 5 in 6, and the gut shots about 11 out of 12. Hopefully the other players at the table will let you check to a free river card or at least make it profitable pot odd / investment odd wise to justify calling the bet. Better yet they might let you fall into the D category and pick up the pot without even having to worry about making your hand. Good ole category D, the skilled bluffers. Hopefully you set up this maneuver from the start (pre flop or flop) otherwise it doesn't have that great of a chance at working, unless a scare card pops up. Set ups for this would include raising pre flop from Middle or Late Position to represent two over cards or a small / medium sized pair and thus by betting on the turn you are Representing the Turn as though you've just made top pair / trips. If you are using the scare card tactic the best cards to hit would be an over card larger than anything else on the board (you may run into opposition from Category B) or a card that completes a straight / flush (which may run into opposition from Category C). The main trick to pulling off a successful bluff is being able to put your opponent on a hand and knowing how committed they are to holding onto that particular hand. Some opponents may fold top pair with a weak kicker whereas others may continue on with their pocket threes all the way to the river in hopes of making trips. Keep in mind that it is much more difficult (if not impossible) to bluff Level 1 (weak) players out of pots than Level 2 and 3 players (good) and is a complete waste of chips if your opponents already view you as a bluffer, unless this is part of your grand scheme to lose this particular pot as a way to set up huge winnings when you really make trips on the turn and pull the exact same maneuver. Also you should not try to pull a bluff in a 33
  34. 34. pot with multiple opponents, especially if two or more of them have already been betting at each other. Even with one player driving the betting it may be difficult to bluff that particular player out, but then again you won't know until you try. Finally category E, a bunch of players checked to see a turn card. Sometimes this can be the most disasterous scenario to be in. One or more of your opponents has (most likely) made a hand by now or made their weak pocket pair turn into a very powerful three of a kind. You probably should have bet on the flop if you had any intention of winning this pot because your opponents hands are completely unknown at this point and the likelihood of someone slow playing a monster or just now making a monster are great. Unless you were the one slow playing, just made a monster, or just made top pair with a strong kicker it’s probably best just to fold to any incoming bets. 34
  35. 35. River Strategy Were you Rivered? If you're going to bet on the river you'd better be prepared for at least one opponent if not more to call you, otherwise you're just throwing your money away. Before we get into any scenarios we should start by repeating what poker pros have been saying for years. If you think you have the best hand on the river you need to throw out a bet. Opponents who didn't make their hand or believe their hand to be weak will fold and opponents who do think they have a winning hand will either call or raise you. Checking the river because you are unsure of the quality of your hand leaves your opponents with extra chips in their stack that should be in your stack. Also you should know by now the quality of your hand and have made up your mind as whether or not to bet or fold, not check. If you are on the other side of the coin and think you have a winning hand but aren't sure and an opponent has bet at you the correct play is to call rather than raise, unless you smell a bluff / weakness. If you smell weakness you should probably raise. We say probably because some opponents may be wolves in sheep's clothing, displaying weakness when they're strong. Depending on how good of a read you have on your opponent's style of play will tell you if you should just call or raise. Now that you're at the river card its best to make sure that the board hasn't completed any flush or straight draws before you bet with your top pair or better. If you don't see any then go right ahead and bet. If you do see any bet a little smaller than you would if you hadn't as a feeler bet to see if any opponents have the intention of reraising you. Depending on the size of the raise, the speed of the raise, and any other possible tells the player gives away as well as your read on how your opponent plays will tell you whether or not their reraise is legit or if its just a bluff to pick up the pot on the river. The problem with the river card is that some players may have just made two pair to your one pair. Checking your top pair won't help you find out which of these players has made such a hand, however. They'll bet at you and you'll still call losing to their two pair. This is why you should always bet the river. If an opponent has made their two pair then they will either raise you or call you. If you were on a draw and it didn't hit its probably best just to fold unless you've been driving the betting on every previous round then the correct play would be to bet again, unless you want to cut your losses short and surrender over the pot. 35
  36. 36. Bluffing on the river may win you a pot here or there but can be costly as well. As with pulling off bluffs at any other point in the hand this all depends on your opponents and their opinion of you. Opponents that you could / should be able to bluff out of the pot include: anyone on a draw that did not catch their card(s); opponents with middle or bottom pair who were hoping to make three of a kind or two pair; and opponents holding top pair with a weak kicker. The size of your bet and effectiveness will vary depending on which opponent we are talking about. Opponents in the draw category will fold to any sized bet whereas opponents in the other categories may or may not be tied to their hand. What else can we say? There's not a lot to say about the river being that everyone has either made their hand or hasn't and there's no need to make protection bets so opponents can't draw to better hands. 36
  37. 37. Betting, Raising, Calling, Checking, and Folding Betting. When Should You Bet? You should bet whenever you have a hand or a draw. Slow playing can lead to disaster unless you've flopped the nuts and have no possible way of being beaten. The second a card pops up that shows a possible disaster scenario for your hand you need to bet and bet enough to either scare your opponent off their newly found draw or to make it costly enough for them that if they do call and don't hit they've lost a huge stack of chips. Minimum bets do nothing for you unless it’s a feeler bet. When you have middle or bottom pair with no draws on the board and you simply want to test the waters to see if your opponents are going to reraise you then a minimum bet may do the trick. If there is a draw on board and you want to at least get rid of the draws (as well as top pair with a weak kicker) then you have to bet enough to force out the draws. Minimum bets and twice the blinds are not enough. (Internet players tend to whine about how their AK suited lost to 52o when they only bet the minimum or something relatively small in relation to the size of the stack of their opponent.) The reason you should always bet is because it forces opponents to do 1 of 3 actions: 1. Reraise you costing them additional chips above and beyond your already made bet 2. Simply call and risk having to call again and again risking chips. 3. 3. Fold. Betting. When Should You NOT Bet? You should not bet against a calling station when you do not have a pair. They will keep calling you and possibly win with a pair of 2's or 3's. You should not bet with bottom pair against a tight player when the board has an ace and a king on board and you have a pair of 7's. You should not bet when your hand is solely 2 live cards and a loose aggressive player is in the hand with you for they, much like the calling station, may have a pair or two. Raising. When Should You Raise? By Raise we mean preflop and beyond that it means ReRaise being that Bet and Raise mean exactly the same thing. When it comes to raising preflop you should always raise with good cards to avoid limpers coming in and flopping 3 of a kind 2's (happened to one of our editors at his first casino tournament when he failed to raise with AT as the big blind, flop came A 2 2, opponent had limped in with Q2 off suit.) You can also raise in late position or as the big blind to at least narrow down the field of possible competition in the hand on the flop. Raising in Early Position usually signals to the table that you have a very strong hand and will most likely not be called by 37
  38. 38. anyone unless they have AA, KK, QQ, AK, etc. Raising in Middle Position is risky unless you have the cards to back it up. Some players like to protect their blinds and will call then raise you on the flop or will reraise you preflop just to test you and your commitment to your hand. As for flop,turn, river reraising you should reraise an opponent if you are on a flush or straight draw to take control of the hand. If all your opponent had was top pair they are much more likely to go into check mode in the later rounds of betting. Also reraise opponents who do exactly what we just told you to do above if you have 2 pair or trips and there is not a straight/flush on the board. If there is a straight or flush on the board and you bet with 2 pair/trips and were reraised you should most likely fold your hand. As for 2 pair vs. trips if you are the one holding 2 pair and bet, then are reraised and you reraise again your opponent will either fold or reraise again. Most people when they make trips won't settle unless they double up on the hand. By you reraising them you can test their commitment to the hand. We never said reraise all in, we just said reraise. Don't put all your chips on the line when you are simply trying to feel out your opponent. If you've been paying attention to how they play you will also have a better idea on whether or not they have the trips or are simply on a steal bet with their reraise and play accordingly. Raising. When Should You NOT Raise? When you have weak cards and are playing against a loose player, a calling station or have a tight player in the hand against you. You should also not raise when you know your hand is dominated. Calling. When Should You Call? When you want to limp in from middle or late position with a powerful drawing hand or if you are slow playing an opponent and know your hand cannot be beaten. (note. 4 of a kind is not unbeatable. we have a friend who was at a casino in may of 05. he had AK hearts his opponent had pocket jacks. flop came jack of hearts ten of hearts and some other card. the opponent bet and our friend called. turn came the remaining jack in the deck. both players checked. river was the queen of hearts and the guy with 4 jacks went all in, was called and lost to a royal flush.) Make sure you know how to read a board WELL if you plan on slow playing. A bad read of a board (for instance not noticing the inside straight draw or assuming your opponent would never be going for an inside straight draw) can cost you all of your chips. You may also want to consider calling when you know you're beat on the flop but have a lot of chips and feel like taking a stupid risk that may or may not pay off. In this situation raising would be the wrong thing to do. Let's say you have 76 suited hearts and are up against AK suited diamonds. The opponent with AK suited is weak so they only made a minimum pre flop bet (which told you he had either AA, KK, AK etc.) and you called to see the flop. Flop comes Ah 7c 5h. You know he has an ace but feel like testing your luck to see if you can catch your flush. Reraising the weak player here would be the wrong move because they would simply move all in on you and you don't want to risk that 38
  39. 39. many chips on a 30 something percent flush draw and middle pair. (weak players tend to bet small until they feel intimidated and will then go all in with their AK, AQ, etc regardless of if they have a pair or not.) So you call their small bet that they for some reason believe removed all the necessary competition to leave them up against someone with AJ or AT. Turn card comes 8s. Now you're 4 to the flush, 4 to the straight, and have middle pair. All your opponent has is an ace. 9 outs for your flush, 6 outs for your straight (yes we know it should say 8. 2 of your straight cards are already included in the flush), 2 cards to make trips, and 3 cards to make 2 pair. Wow, that’s 20 outs. At this point you could reraise your opponent being that there aren't too many cards in the deck that can hurt you (20/46 will help you, 26/46 will hurt you) but being that your chip commitment is still relatively low in the hand it's safer just to call based on IMPLIED ODDS. Implied odds simply means that you know your opponent will go all in on the river after you make your hand because to this kind of player AK is unbeatable except by AA. So you catch your river card and the AK bets into you with top pair and you reraise them all in taking a huge chip stack by calling. Of course if you didn't catch your river card you could have just folded and lost a small pot rather than risking all your chips on the draw. Knowing how your opponent plays told you in this example to call rather than raise. Calling. When Should You NOT Call? Any time you have a hand and want to have a chance of winning. By simply calling along the whole time you have no idea if your top pair aces with a 6 kicker is good or not. You're risking chips with absolutely no information about your opponent’s hands. They could be on a flush or straight draw and simply betting to try to get rid of you. Or they might even be bluffing. If you're just calling you will also never have any control over the hand. Keep calling along on straight and flush draws and watch your stack drop to nothing when you don't catch. Professionals always say the difference between a pro and an amateur is an amateur always calls, a pro bets or folds. Checking. When Should You Check? When you're the big blind and have horrible cards and don't want to throw any more away trying to pull off a stone cold bluff. You also want to check when you didn't catch anything on the flop or are slow playing trips on the flop, turn, or river into an aggressive opponent that you know will bet AND there are no draws, straights, flushes or anything similar that could beat your hand. Checking to try and get a free look at the turn or river to finish your straight or flush works as well but if someone bets you need to reraise them or fold, not call. Checking. When Should You NOT Check? If you flop trips but there is a possible straight/flush draw out there DO NOT CHECK. You are giving your opponents a free look at the next card to beat you and take all your money. Never check with top pair, two pair, flopped straights or flushes, etc because it gives your opponent a chance to beat you. Checking a flopped nut boat or four 39
  40. 40. of a kind is totally acceptable but checking a hand that is not the nuts is a surefire way to throw away chips in later rounds of betting if you know you're not going to fold. Folding. When Should You Fold? When you have low pairs, small draws, or anything else you wouldn't raise with in Early Position; when you have weak cards in Middle Position; when you have extremely weak cards in Late Position; when you have weak cards in the blinds and someone raised the pot and you aren't a blinds protector kind of player. You should fold any time you think you are beat and don't want to raise the pot (unless of course you're playing against the type of player we suggested calling against). Most of the time its either fold or raise. Folding. When Should You Not Fold? Cheap limp ins, inexpensive draws, checking to the river, etc. Do not fold when there are no bets coming to you unless you were in the big blind and know your 7 high won't win the showdown at the river. 40
  41. 41. BLUFFING Should You Use Bluffing In Your Game? Absolutely. If you never bluff then your opponents (if they are paying attention) will be able to put you on a hand every time you bet. Types of Bluffs: Stone Cold Bluff - You have rags and start betting knowing you have 0 chance of winning the hand Semi Bluff - Betting on straight draws, flush draws, with middle pair or any other hand that may or may not improve by the river. You have a chance at winning the hand you just haven't clenched it yet. Representing The Flop - You throw out a big bet on the flop when there's a high card, 3 to a flush, an obvious straight, etc. Your bet makes your opponents think you flopped something better than their hand. This style of bluff is usually executed with a pre flop raise followed by a bet on the flop. This can also work on the turn and would have the same title only the word flop is replaced by turn. Again you would want to throw out a pre flop raise (medium sized raise to cause opponents to think you have a medium sized pocket pair), check the flop then raise the turn. When Should You Bluff? Execute Stone Cold Bluffs when you are in Late Position and no real betting has taken place. Or try executing a Stone Cold Bluff when a "scare card" comes. Examples of scare cards would include a card that is larger than everything previously on the board, an obvious straight draw or a flush draw. Inside/Gut shot straight draws are harder to represent because a good deal of opponents won't even see the straight draw and will discredit your raise. Throwing out a large bet in Early Position is likely to get you into trouble unless you've been seen as a tight player, then opponents will most likely (unless they're bad, have a really good hand, or have a read on you) fold to you. As for Semi Bluffing do that when it’s your turn to act OR check then reraise an opponent who throws out a bet. Representing the flop or turn should also be done in Late Position that way you know all of your opposition is weak and will (most likely) fold to your bet. Trying to represent the flop in Early Position may land you in a stand off with someone who really has cards on the flop, or they may give your pre flop and flop raise credit and drop the hand. When Should You NOT Bluff? You should NEVER under any circumstances try to bluff a bad player. The reason being is that bad 41
  42. 42. players don't know you are trying to make a move on them and will call regardless. You should also not bluff a calling station and wait to execute bluffs on the river against Fishermen. Fishermen seem to call every bet regardless of size until they failed to make their draw on the river, at which point you can take the pot from them. You should also never try to bluff a tight player who is in the hand and is BETTING. Bluffing loose players may land you in a world of hurt as well being that they can operate similar to a calling station. You also do not want to bluff desperate players during a tournament. A desperate player is on the short stack and is more likely to take chances to double up than anyone else at the table. If the short stack is in the blinds, however, you may have a much better chance at getting him to lay down the hand depending on the player and their attitude toward any 2 live cards can win a pot. How Do You Keep From Constantly Getting Caught On Bluffs? First you have to bet big enough to scare people out of the pot. This new minimum raise frenzy sweeping the nation will not cut it when it comes to bluffing. You also cannot have the exact same betting pattern/number of chips you throw out every time you are pulling a move. Raising every time you have a straight or flush draw is another way to get yourself into trouble. Sometimes you have to lay down the draws. Variation is the key to winning pots. If your opponents label you as a bluffer they are much more likely to call you in the future. NOTE - None of these techniques should be executed with an 'all in' maneuver unless you have a great read on your opponent and know he will not call you. Going all in puts ALL your chips on the line and can be a costly gamble. Just because Chris Moneymaker did it in 2003 doesn't make it a good play. Most people agree if Sammy Farha had caught on to Moneymaker's tell (He was STARING right at Farha) Moneymaker would have been busted out. 42
  43. 43. Starting Hands Chart Grouped By Position In Texas Hold Em there are 169 possible starting hands if you exclude classifying by Spade, Heart, Diamond, and Club. Depending on your Position at the table you will want to play your hands differently. The value of your cards is also determined by how many chips you have versus how large the blinds are in a tournament format. If you are the short stack you may not want to enter late in position with certain hands but would raise in early position with face cards in hopes of doubling up. Phil 'The Unibomber' Laak suggests short stacks go all in with cards that's total face value is 18 or greater (quoted from E's Hollywood Hold Em where The Unibomber served as the dealer.) Anyone who has ever played blackjack should know what cards total up to 18 or higher (exception: in Blackjack AA is only worth 12 and you would always split. In poker if you are on the short stack you should definitely know the move to make.) Definitions: T=10 Red means raise in that position Early Position Hands Suited / AA , KK , QQ , JJ , TT , AK , AQ , AJ , AT , KQ , KJ , KT , QJ , QT , JT Pocket Pairs Off suit AK , AQ , KQ Middle Position Hands Suited / 99 , 88 , 77 , 66 , A9 , A8 , A5 , A4 , A3 , A2 , K9 , Q9 , J9 , J8 , T9 , Pocket T8 , 98 Cards Off suit AJ , AT , A9 , KJ , KT , QJ , QT , JT Other Notes: Raise with every hand from the Early Position Chart aside from KT, QT, and JT suited. Also reraise with QQ and JJ because someone from Early Position may be trying to make a 43
  44. 44. play at the pot (players usually don't raise from early position unless they're strong or are trying to make a play. Test them on it to determine which of the 2 categories they fall into. Every hand on the list aside from the pocket pairs and A9, A8 have a chance at making a straight. They are either connected or have a 1, 2 or 3 card gap. K9 and AT are the only 2 hands on this list that have a 3 card gap. Late Position Hands Suited / 55 , 44 , 33 , 22 , A7 , A6 , K8 , K7 , K6 , K5 , K4 , K3 , K2 , Q8 , Q7 , Pocket J7 , T7 , T6 , 97 , 96 , 87 , 86 , 76 , 75 , 65 , 54 , 43 Cards Off suit A8 , A5 , A4 , A3 , A2 , K9 , Q9 , J9 , T9 , T8 , T7 , 98 , 87 , 76 , 65 Other Notes: When you are in late position you can raise with pretty much any hand from the Early Position and Middle Position charts. T9 and below suited are questionable at best for a raise but if you raise with face cards you should be in decent shape unless someone was playing Big Slick or AA in early position praying for someone to raise the pot. The main reason you want to raise with a lot more hands in Late Position is to A) remove any Limpers with weak hands from seeing flops B) remove any tight players from seeing flops C) remove players who feel they don't want to risk the extra chips due to chip stack size. Also, because the blinds are forced bets those players may have been dealt 3 2 off suit and have no intention of playing. Or they may have pocket rockets in which case they'll (most likely) reraise you at which point you can fold and save yourself some chips. Aside from the pocket pairs A8, A7, A6, Kx suited, and Q7 all the hands mentioned above can make a straight with the proper flop. Small Blind Suited Q6 , Q5 , Q4 , Q3 , Q2 , J6 , T2 , 95 , 85 , 84 , 74 , 73 , 72 , 64 , 63 Cards , 53 , 42 , 32 A7 , A6 , K8 , K7 , K6 , K5 , Q8 , Q7 , Q6 , J8 , J7 , T6 , T2 , 97 , 96 , Off suit 95 , 86 , 85 , 84 , 75 , 74 , 73 , 72 , 64 , 63 , 54 , 43 , 32 44
  45. 45. You've already partly paid to see a flop, why not pay the whole way? If you can afford it, that is. All the hands on the small blind chart have the possibility to make a straight (except for 72 and T2, those are just fun to win with because everyone can have a good laugh about it, or start a fist fight). Keep in mind that you will be first to act on the flop so if you don't hit anything you have absolutely no information about the other players hands and will most likely be forced to check and fold. If you aren't willing to take a gamble do not call with any of these hands. A good portion of the hands on the small blind chart are controversial at best and don't have a very good chance of winning. Nevertheless, if you do manage to catch something you'll be glad that you didn't fold the small blind. As we said before, only call out of the small blind with these hands IF YOU CAN AFFORD TO. If you're on the short stack in the small blind and have any of the above hands its probably a good idea to fold (or if there aren't many players in the pot possibly an all in stone cold bluff to pick up your chips as well as the big blinds and anyone else who was in then folded). After all, you do have 2 live cards. This will backfire on you if anyone is playing tournament style call the short stack with any two cards system. Know your opponents before trying to pull any sort of bluff. Big Blind Winning with a garbage hand you normally wouldn't play with is known as the 'Big Blind Special.' As the Big Blind you have wonderful position Pre Flop but terrible position on the Flop. You will either be second (if the small blind calls) or first (if the small blind folds) to act on the flop. With weaker starting hands probably safer to check. With a strong starting hand it's definitely better to raise. There are 2 reasons for this: 1) You will remove any limpers who may have caught something lucky on the flop and 2) Players may put you on a Position bet (players who bet on the Dealer Button or the Big Blind are typically assumed to be making Position bets to buy the pot) and if/when your strong hand hits you may end up winning a larger pot due to the assumptions of the other players at the table. Types of Hands and the type of action you are looking for Large Pairs - Best against as few opponents as possible to avoid the risk of being outdrawn Medium Sized Pairs - Best against many opponents to justify making a call Small Sized Pairs - Best against as many opponents as you can get to justify making a call Drawing Hands - Best against many opponents to justify making a call 45
  46. 46. Other Notes Please send us as much hate mail as you'd like for including 73, 72, and T2 on the list of playable starting hands out of the small blind. There are many different strategies on what hands should/should not be played in a certain position. This is just an idea of what you could do, not what you should do. No 2 hands are alike, sometimes your terrible cards in the blind might flop a boat other times your AK suited might not even pair up and lose to some incredibly loose calling station who (because he's a calling station) called your all in bet with 85 off suit. Starting Hands List For A Tight Player (note: do not rely on this list entirely when playing against a tight player. this is a list of the hands a tight player will most likely play. There are a few on here a Tight Player might not even consider playing as well.) This Chart does NOT cover position, only the starting hands a tight player might play (it doesn't really need to cover position, these are the stronger hands in Texas Hold Em) AA , KK , QQ , JJ , TT , 99 , 88 , 77 , AK , AQ , AJ , AT , A9 , A8 , A7 Pair / , A6 , A5 , A4 , A3 , A2 , KQ , KJ , KT , K9 , K8 , QJ , QT , Q9 , Q8 , Suited JT , J9 , J8 , T9 , 98 AK , AQ , AJ , AT , A9 , A8 , KQ , KJ , KT , K9 , QJ , QT , Q9 , JT , J9 Off suit , T9 46
  47. 47. The 106 Starting Hands You May (or may not) Want To Play AAp , KKp , QQp , JJp , AKs , TTp , AQs , AKo , 99p , KQs , AQo , AJs 7 Votes , ATs , 88p , KQo , A9s , A8s , A7s , A6s , A5s 77p , 66p , A4s , A3s , A2s , KJs , QJs , KTs , AJo , QTs , JTs , T9s , 6 Votes K9s , Q9s , J9s , J8s , T8s , JTo , QJo , KJo , QTo 5 Votes 55p , 44p , KTo , ATo , T9o , 98s , 87s , 97s , K8s , K7s Q8s , K6s , 76s , A9o , 86s , 65s , 33p , 22p , K5s , K4s , K3s , K2s , 4 Votes T7s , J9o 3 Votes T8o , 96s , 54s , 75s , 85s , J7s , K9o , Q9o 2 or Q7s , Q6s , Q5s , Q4s , Q3s , J6s , J5s , T6s , 98o , 87o , 76o , J8o , Less 64s , 53s , 43s , Q2s , 74s , 42s , 32s , 65o , 54o , 43o , A8o , A7o , Votes A6o , A5o , A4o , A3o , A2o , K8o , K7o , K6o , Q8o How should you use this chart you ask? If the hand appears in the 7 votes box then that means all 7 of our celebrity judges like the hand and its odds of winning. If the hand appears in the 6 votes box then its still most likely a very good hand. 6 out of 7 is 86%. If it’s in the 5 its probably still a good hand, 4 its turning into a mediocre hand, 3 is worse than 4 and 2 or less are more preference hands than anything. How did you compile the information for this chart? We took 7 already designed playing systems that tell you what to fold in LATE POSITION then threw every hand that wasn't a fold in late position on a giant list and went hand by hand determining how many 'votes' each hand received. Our judges systems ranged from incredibly tight (a whole 29 hands to work with) all the way up to 86 hands. Here's the breakdown: 29; 42; 50; 68; 84; 84; 86. Now these hands don't come with an instruction manual so play them at your own risk. Just because 7 poker systems included the hand doesn't mean it’s the best hand in the world. A5 suited for example was on everyone's list simply because you can make a straight or a flush with it (if you get lucky enough to catch that kind of flop). There is no real order to the list other than how many votes each hand received and was placed on the table randomly solely because we placed each hand according to when we ran across it on our cross out sheet. Keep in mind there are 169 different starting hands in Texas hold em and our list has 106 of them. Pick and choose from the list above and create your own favorite hands list. Study the 106 hands above as well. If your opponent is a statistics player he will most likely be playing with a good portion of the hands above and nothing else. Statistics players usually don't stray into 72 off suit territory making huge raises like some aggressive players do. One of our editors is famous for making huge raises (as well as making incredible straight flushes 47
  48. 48. and such) with 73 in fake money games online. Granted it is fake money but its still funny. 48