Flop Strategy

April 23, 2013:: Posted by - Poker Tips :: Category - Poker Tips

Tip 22 – Strategy for Playing Your Cards after the Flop

After starting hand selection, the flop is the most important betting round in Texas holdem poker. The 3 cards on the flop can make or break any starting hand. Reading the flop correctly is an essential skill for any poker player.

Flopping a monster hand

A monster hand means you hit a straight or better hand on the flop. This is the ideal time to slow play against aggressive players. You want to get as many players as possible into the bet to ensure the biggest payoff.

You need to be careful with straights and flushes though, you want to make sure you have the highest straight or flush. This is why we muck our low suited cards and low connectors preflop, it is dangerous when you hit your flop but you are drawing dead to a higher flush or straight.

So generally you want to slow play monster hands after the flop and make it more expensive for other players to stay in the pot on the turn and river.

Flopping a set

If you hit your set (3 of a kind) on the flop, it is a great opportunity to slow play the hand. Especially if there is a high card like an Ace on the board that you think helped another player.

There are of course times when you need to raise the pot if you do hit your set. Especially when there are strong straight or flush draw opportunities presented by the flop to other players, like suited or sequential cards. In this case it would be a far better move to jam the pot and win the hand there and then before someone else draws out to you cheaply.

Another case where you want to bet large is when you flop a small set like a set of 3’s or 4’s. Even though you are most likely ahead, the chances are there that someone who paired on the flop could draw a bigger set.

This is an ideal opportunity for a check raise if you think another player connected. Always bet and raise with small sets.

Flopping 2 Pair

If you hit two pair on the flop, it is advisable to jam the pot and bet big. Two pair is strong, but a lot of hands beat it. The rule of thumb is to take the pot as quickly as possible and you do not want to slow play two pair. Be aggressive.

Flopping top pair

If you had a pocket high pair before the flop, and your pair is an overpair after the flop (a pair higher than any other card on the board eg. QQ is an overpair on a J68 board), you should bet hard after the flop. You are most like ahead unless someone hit a set. That is why we bet large with these hands before the flop, to drive out small pairs who might make a set cheaply otherwise.

If you hold two high cards, for example AK and either an Ace or King comes on the flop, you want to bet aggressively as well. With a high kicker, you have a very good chance of winning if someone else also paired but holds a smaller kicker and can’t get out of the pot.

Top pair top kicker is a very strong hand, but not strong enough to slow play. You should always bet with this hand.

Flopping a small Pair

Now we are moving into dangerous territory. If you hit middle or bottom pair on the flop you should bet if it is checked to you. The chances are good that someone hit top pair if there is a strong bet before you, in which case you should most likely get out of the hand.

Another reason for betting here is to test exactly how strong your hand is. If someone calls your bet, be prepared to check and fold on the turn.

Flopping a straight or flush draw

Here pot odds come into play. You only want to check or call small bets to see if you can hit your drawing hand.

Fold your hand if the amount to call is too big. This is also a great opportunity for a semi-bluff if you’re up against another player who you think missed the flop completely. Even if they call your bluff, you still have the opportunity of making your straight or flush.

Any other hands

All other hands should be either checked or folded, including inside straight draws.

If you would like to learn more, you can read this previous tip that I wrote about playing the flop.

Texas Holdem Odds

November 27, 2012:: Posted by - Poker Tips :: Category - Poker Tips

Tip 21 – Get to Knew the Odds at Texas Holdem

Note: If you control the odds, you win much more often.

This is a simple fact – but to accomplish needs perseverance, patience and determination. Do you have it in you? Read how to calculate the odds of Texas Holdem as you play and improve your overall winnings. If you would like to play poker online, you can visit Carbon Poker to put your talents to the test.

Texas Holdem is played with a deck of 52 cards and the odds of a certain type of card appearing can be mathematically calculated. You don’t have to know the exact odds but rather only the round figures. These will come in handy when you have to decide whether to play or to bet.

What do you do if you aren’t very good at counting cards?

I suggest you make a real effort because the better you can count the better you can calculate the odds. And the better you can calculate the odds – the more money you will make! Finally – it all rotates around one clear statement – know the odds wins money.

All you have to do is divide the number of cards you need to improve your hand with the number of hidden cards. The result is what is called pot odds. This is compared to the profit you stand to make. You decide according to the higher ratio.

If for instance the pot odds are 40/4 (which come to 1/10); and if you win you stand to make $400 by wagering $10 (which comes to 1/100). You need to compare the two – and since 1/100 is relatively bigger than 1/10 – you should call. (If it’s vice versa – you should fold or be aware that the odds aren’t in your favor.

But always bear in mind that you will lose even by becoming an expert at Holdem odds. Losing is an integral part of online gambling and it’s futile to fight against it. But that doesn’t mean you should give up. Have patience and you will be successful.

You shouldn’t rely only on your cards but also try and guess what your fellow Holdem players are ‘hiding under their sleeve.’

Basic Texas Holdem Odds

Pre-Flop

The probability of being dealt:

  1. Pocket aces – 220/1 – 0.45%
  2. Either pocket kings or pocket aces – 110/1 – 0.9%
  3. Pocket pair – 16/1 – 5.9%
  4. Ace/King suited – 331/1 – 0.3%
  5. Ace/King offsuit – 110/1 – 0.9%
  6. Ace/King either – 82/1 – 1.2%
  7. Two Suited cards – 3.3/1 – 24%
  8. Pocket Kings, Pocket Aces or Big Slick – 46/1 – 2.1%

The Turn

The probability of making:

  • Full house or higher from a three of a kind – (7 outs) 5.7 to 1 – 15%
  • Full house from 2 pairs – (4 outs) 11 to 1 – 9%
  • Flush on the next card – (9 outs) 4.2 to 1 – 19%
  • Straight on an open ended straight draw – (8 outs) 4.9 to 1 – 17%
  • Straight on a gut shot straight draw – (4 outs) 11 to 1 – 9%
  • Pair with two over cards – (6 outs) 6.8 to 1 – 13%

Flop to River

The probability of making:

  • Full house or higher from a three of a kind – 2/1 – 33%
  • Full house or higher from 2 pairs (4 outs) – 5.1 to 1 – 17%
  • Flush on the river (9 outs) – 1.9 to 1 – 35%
  • Backdoor flush on the river – 23 to 1 – 4.2%
  • Straight on an open-ended straight draw – (8 outs) 2.2 to 1 (32%)
  • Straight on a gut-shot straight draw – (4 outs) 5.1 to 1 (17%)
  • Pair or higher with two over cards – (6 outs) 3.2 to 1 – 24%

It is always recommended to play with the odds. Without these odds, there is no reason to play. The odds give you more confident feeling when betting.

Handling Guarantee & Excess

November 07, 2012:: Posted by - Poker Tips :: Category - Poker Tips

Tip 20 – Handling the Guaranteed and Excess Winnings at the Poker Tables

Preset an Amount of Money

OK, we’ve settled on a win goal of 70 percent. The next page tells you what to do with your profit, so right now we’ll touch on the reason you set a goal in the first place.

How the deuce can you determine when it’s time to leave a table if you don’t preset an amount of money you should get ahead based on your session money?

It all goes back to the reason you’re gambling in the first place – money.

My friend E.Z. Lyer is an out-and-out liar. He tells his wife he’s gonna play until he has enough to take her to a nice restaurant for dinner. E.Z. Lyer gets ahead $600 with a $100 buy-in and starts chasing every pot as if he is destined to go undefeated for the afternoon.

His win goal is reached, passed, and ignored as this goof thinks he’s the first person to hit a scorching hot streak. He originally wanted to get ahead $60 but now he’s closing in on $600. He’ll see $60 profit again, but on his way back to zero as he runs into a string of bad cards.

Does he stop at the $60 profit the second time around? No way, now he wants to get back to $600. This guy hasn’t got a goal in his head; he has a hole in his head. E.Z. Lyer lies when he says he’ll quit when he gets ahead $60. He doesn’t have the guts to quit.

Do you see yourself somewhere in that story?

Here’s what he SHOULD have done!

The Misconception People Have About Discipline

That dope E.Z. Lyer should have set his win goal and when he reached it, jumped into the discipline move of guarantee and excess.

Let’s say he agrees with my thinking and sets 70 percent as his goal. I ain’t telling him to leave the game, which would be stupid.

Look at how easy it is:

  1. Rat-hole your starting session money, in this case $100
  2. Put aside 50 percent of the profit of $70 ($35), called your guarantee
  3. Continue to play with the other ($35) called the Excess

What’s so hard about that move? You’ve made sure your starting bankroll of $100 is intact, plus you’ve guaranteed that even if you lose the excess, you’ve got $35 to bring home.

Notice I did not take you out of the game. That is the misconception people have about discipline. Setting win goals is merely putting up a point at which you set aside the guarantee that surely goes home with you because it absolutely cannot be touched again.

Once you decide on your win goal you can’t deviate. The amount you set is up to you. Maybe 70 percent is too high or too low, that’s your decision. But what a great feeling to know your starting session money is intact along with a guaranteed profit.

Go back and dwell on the best sentence in this book and how it applies to all gamblers. Do you remember it? Of course you don’t!

“Seventy Percent of all the people who enter a casino get ahead yet 90 percent of that 70 percent give the profit back.”

Memorize it. You may be one of the people starting m that percentage.

Never Leave a Winning Session

Once you hit your win goal and put the guarantee away, I didn’t tell you to leave the table. Never leave a winning session! Stay in action with the other half of that win goal, called the excess.

This money stays on the table as your session amount and since the casinos usually offer table stakes, you cannot dip into that guarantee to put additional money at risk.

If you reach a pot where your excess is down to Zippo, you merely play all in. If you lose, that session is over. You should quit for the day with that guarantee or at least move to another table. The one you’re at is drying up as far as you are concerned, so it’s time to leave.

However, let’s say you are playing with your excess and win a $36 pot. When you pull that profit to you, divide it in half. Put 50 percent ($18) with your guarantee and keep 50 percent with the excess.

Every subsequent winning pot is divided in half. This way you are increasing your guarantee while at the same time increasing your excess. You stay at the table until the excess is gone.

Since you cannot remove a chip or add money or chips to your session amount during a hand, you must rat-hole 50 percent of that winning pot to the guarantee in between deals. Definitely get that money off the table or else it will have to be used during a subsequent hand and I DO NOT want you touching your guarantee again at that session.

Handling the excess is merely the act or art, if you will, of increasing the amount of money you’ll leave that session with. Will you do this?

Show me!

Odds and Percentages

August 15, 2012:: Posted by - Poker Tips :: Category - Poker Tips

Poker Tip 18 – Odds and Percentages vs. Protecting Your Money

Manage Your Money at the Tables

We now slide into the section that is more important than any knowledge you may gain about Hold ‘Em, or for that matter, any form of gambling. A lot of you are nodding and acting like you agree with that sentence. Well then, why don’t you do something about it?

You all admit that you know about money management and want money management and will try to manage your money at the tables. But as soon as you park your carcass on one of those casino stools, it’s as if you’re sitting on your brains.

I could give you 7,643 different examples of different hands that will occur during a poker session but there would still be 7,644 I left out. After a while you’d just be trying to digest all the examples and would start skipping over the analysis, so I won’t bore you with all that gibberish. I’ve read books by sharp, excellent Hold ‘Em players and they give out all types of percentages and odds and examples, and it all seems and sounds so logical.

That Stuff on Odds

poker-chip-managementI disagree with a lot of that stuff on odds. If I’m sitting with KH, QH, and the flop shows JH, 5H, 5C, I now have four hearts to a flush. The geniuses of the world spit out a percentage or odds against your catching that flush.

If there are eight other players in the game and three cards have already been buried, how the heck do I know how many hearts are already used up in their hands? Plus there’s more than a deck left un-dealt that may or may not have a lot of hearts left in it.

How can you calculate your chances without knowing how many other players are sitting with two hearts and also have four of those love cards?

Suppose you’re early in a position seat and you check. In back of you come three successive raises and in a $5 – $10 game, it is now going to cost you $30 to look at the turn card and surely another set of raises. Are you going to call? No way. Regardless of what the odds say, I’m gone. Those two fives scare me, as does the fact that the ace of hearts is unaccounted for. It’s conservative and it’s money management.

Learn the Game, the Basics, and the Theory

Odds and percentages, in my opinion, rate far down the road in comparison to protecting your money. You don’t read a book on how to ride a bicycle and then enter a cross-country jaunt. You don’t read a book on computers, then sit down and build a competitor to the space system. You don’t read a book on sex, and then call Pamela Anderson for a date. And you don’t read a book on Hold ‘Em and enter the World Championship in Las Vegas. You can find a list of US Poker Sites here to help get you some more experience. The more you play, the more you learn and the more you can figure out other poker players.

You learn the game, the basics, the theory, and you learn to read players. You practice reading three-card flops then you play a casino game of $l – $3 or $3 – $6 Hold ‘Em. You learn the logical moves by being subjected to them and you learn how to manage your money!

The last part of that sentence says it all…. WERE YOU LISTENING?

Types of Poker Bluffs

August 08, 2012:: Posted by - Poker Tips :: Category - Poker Tips

Tip 17 – 5 Types Of Texas Holdem Poker Bluff

Players who are reasonably new to poker often think that a bluff is just a big bet made with no real poker hand – in the hope that your opponent will fold and let you scoop a bog pot.

As you gain experience the situations and types of bluffing available will start to become more apparent. This article lists 5 common forms of bluffing to help you start winning at Texas Holdem poker today.

  1. The ‘Pure Bluff’

    The ‘traditional’ bluff of a big bet with no hand to back it up. While this bluff has its place in Texas Holdem poker games, over-using it will quickly result in going broke! The key to an effective pure bluff is the consistency of bets throughout the hand.

    A poker hand tells a ‘story’ to an experienced player. If your bets, along with the flop, turn and river, do not ‘add-up’ an expert opponent will often call – a very expensive outcome for the bluffer.

  2. The ‘Semi-Bluff’

    The semi-bluff is a big bet made with the worst hand – however this bet is made with a hand that has a reasonable chance to improve to the best hand if you are called. Common examples are bluffs made with straight or flush ‘draws’ (for example 4-cards to a flush with the turn and river still to come).

    While the bluffing element and the ‘drawing’ element may be unprofitable alone, together they turn this bluff into a winning proposition in many circumstances.

  3. The Continuation Bet

    Probably the most common poker bluff of all, this move relies on the fact that most hands will miss the flop. If you have raised before the flop and were called – then a bet of one-half to two-thirds of the pot after the flop will often win – even if you missed.

    This is known as a continuation bet as you are ‘continuing’ with the strength you showed by raising before the flop.

  4. The Check-Raise Bluff

    Advanced bluffers like to use the check-raise bluff as a defense against opponents who habitually continuation bet. The idea is that you allow your opponent to represent a hand on the flop by checking – then raise them as a bluff.

    The advantage of this bluffing technique is that you will win 2 bets when it works. The disadvantage is that this is more expensive when it does not work.

  5. The Post-Oak Bluff

    If you had a really strong hand by the river in Texas Holdem there are many times you will make a small bet in order to ensure you get paid a few more chips.

    The ‘Post-Oak’ bluff mimics such a small bet, in the hope that an opponent will ‘read’ you as being strong and fold their hand! This should only be tried against thinking opponents and has the advantage of being a cheap bluff to run!

Playing Position – Part 3

July 26, 2012:: Posted by - Poker Tips :: Category - Poker Tips

Tip 16c – Playing Position In No-Limit Texas Holdem Poker – Part #3

In the 3rd article in this series looking at the importance of positional play in No-Limit Texas Holdem Poker – we look at a scenario where your position at the table is not actually as strong as it seems.

The distinction here is between absolute position (where you act in the betting order after the flop turn and river) and ‘relative position’ (where you act in relation to the pre-flop raiser).

While this distinction may seem subtle it is actually very important indeed -awareness of when you are likely to have bad relative position can save you getting involved in many unprofitable situations.

As in the previous articles we will use 2 examples in which you have the same hand – this time Ace-Queen of hearts. Both times you will be seated in the best position, on the dealer button, the difference is the position of an opponent who raises before the flop.

Positioning Examples

Scenario #1: A Player in early position raises and there is a call from a middle position player – you call on the button.

Scenario #2: 2 players limp from early position and the player to your immediate right raises, you call the raise as does one of the early position limpers (the other player folds).

Let us look at what happens after the flop in each situation, assuming that you hit a reasonable (but not great) hand such as second pair on a flop of K-Q-9.

In scenario #1 you have last position both in absolute terms (you will act last on each betting round) and in relative terms (the 3rd player in the hand will act between you and the pre-flop raiser). This means you can fold if the action gets too heavy – for example a bet and a raise. You can also use your judgment of opponents to either call or raise the button.

However in scenario #2 the raiser was to your immediate right. Even though you act last you do not act last relative to the most likely player to bet the flop. What commonly happens here is that the first player will check and the pre-flop raiser will then bet. Now you do not know the real intention of the first player – he may be check-raising or he may be about to fold. Your position relative to the pre-flop raiser has made your action unclear.

With a hand as strong as Ace-Queen you will usually stay in the pot – however situations where the pre-flop raiser is to your immediate right will often be dangerous after the flop. If you are sandwiched between the pre-flop raiser and several callers then you may have a difficult decision to make. Raising before the flop (or folding weaker hands) can often clarify a situation that may have been difficult after the flop.

Position In No-Limit Holdem

July 10, 2012:: Posted by - Poker Tips :: Category - Poker Tips

Tip 16b – Positioning In No-Limit Texas Holdem Poker – Part #2

The last article in this series covered how your position at the table affects selection of starting hands before the flop in no-limit Texas Holdem poker. This article continues this theme by looking at why position is important after the flop – how this can help you to win the most chips when ahead and lose the least when behind in a hand, which is the very definition of a winning poker player.

Your Position After the Flop

position-after-flopPosition after the flop in Texas Holdem Poker is defined by the ‘dealer button’. Since several players will have folded their hands before the flop is dealt, the first player to act is that person still in the hand to the left of the dealer button. This means that the player who holds the dealer button position (or nearest to the right of this if the dealer folded) will act last on each of the 3 post-flop betting rounds – a significant advantage.

Acting last or ‘playing in position’ is such a fundamental winning in strategy in Texas Holdem poker due to the critical role of information inherent in the game. If you act first in a hand you do not have any information on the intentions of your opponents or the strength of their hands. If you act last then you have the opportunity to gain some information before you act. Over 3-betting rounds on the flop, turn and river, the information that you gain can be used to build a picture of your opponent’s hand – giving you a massive advantage in the ability to either win the most chips or (just as importantly) lose the least. Some examples will demonstrate this concept clearly.

Examples of Positioning after the Flop

You have a pair of 9’s and call before the flop in early position, there are 2 more callers and then the player in the dealer button position raises a small amount. You call this raise as do the two other players in the pot. Let us consider 2 different flops:

Flop #1: The flop comes down Ace-Three-Four of 3 different suits, if any of your opponents were playing a hand with an ace they are now ahead. If not then your 9’s may be the best hand. If you check then the player on the button (who raised before the flop) will almost certainly bet – you will then be stuck between him and the 2 callers. If you bet then anyone with an ace will likely raise, forcing you to fold your hand.

Flop 2: This time you get a flop of King-Two-Nine, making you trip nines! An excellent flop and one which you stand to win a big pot with. However your early position is still a problem. If you bet then the 2 players between you and the pre-flop raise will be worried about a re-raise – they will only call with very strong hands. Since you only called before the flop the button may not now raise, he will be wondering what you have to make this move in early position. If you check and allow the button to bet then any raise or call by you looks very strong – after all there were two players still to act.

Your early position creates problems, if you do not know whether your hand is good then you probably need to fold. If you hit a monster you have a problem getting paid. Let us compare the same pair when last to act – this time the raiser is the player in early position and you just call with your 9’s before the flop.

Flop 1: Ace-Three-Four, this time the early position player bets out after the flop and one of the 2 callers re-raises. Your action is clear – your 9’s are no good and should be folded.

Flop 2: King-Two-Nine, the early position raiser bets out again and is flat called by one of the pre-flop callers. Now your problem is a nice one to have – how to build the pot so you can get all-in before the end of the hand. Your last position helps you to do this, raising here is likely to get a call by at least one opponent – if stacks are smaller then a flat call might mean any raise on the turn commits an opponent to the pot.

In short your last position enabled you to easily accomplish the two things which differentiate winning poker players and the rest – the equally important aspects of winning the most when ahead and losing the least when behind.

Part #3 of this series will carry on the discussion on position by noting the difference between ‘Absolute Position’ and ‘Relative Position’.

Would you like to learn more about whether or not you should stay in for the flop? Take a look at this article that I found helpful.