An Introduction The Way To Learn Poker

With poker being played in virtually all corners of the planet, these days there are professional poker tournaments and circuits (much like the World Series of Poker) wherein professional poker players pit their wits and chips against one another for prize money and bragging rights as being the world’s best. If you’re aiming to be one of those players, or are merely trying to find a technique to have an enjoyable time, then you’d be smart to learn poker, amongst the most enjoyable games around. It truly is relatively simple to study, and once you get used to it, you’ll be playing exactly like a pro immediately.

There are a lot of arguments and theories with regards to where and when poker came from. Numerous authorities, including gaming historian David Parlett, believe poker originated from different games just like the French games poque and brelan, the German pochen, plus the Spanish (or Italian) primero. In contrast, in accordance with the book “A World of Chance: Betting on Religion, Games, Wall Street” by G. Brenner and A. Brown, the distinctiveness of poker lies in its betting structure, which is absent from any of its supposed ancestors, thus making poker a distinctive game by itself.

No matter the origin or history the game of poker has, you can be positive that from as being a recreational card game, today it is unarguably one of the most famous games on the earth as well as being enjoyed by huge numbers of people around the globe. To become one of these millions, you need to learn poker first.

Poker tips and tricks can be had from long time game enthusiasts. These players can be found everywhere and they’ll also be able to teach you the different variations of poker and the fundamental issues you need to know before you can even grab your first hand or place a bet. First off, poker is a game played using a typical 52 piece pack of cards. Each player is dealt a specific number of cards with respect to the kind of game. To illustrate, in Texas Hold’em poker, a player is dealt two cards on hand, while in the typical version of stud poker, a player is dealt three.

The different variations of the game won’t mean you’ll be confused should you get to learn how to play poker. It’s because the differences between the different kinds of poker games are merely associated with things such as the amount of cards are initially dealt to the player, the betting structures, and the sort. Fundamentally, understanding how to play one variation of poker offers you a clue concerning the way the others are played.

Gaining knowledge from other poker players isn’t the only way you’ll figure out how to play poker. You can view televised tournaments, you can go through books and various literature on the theme, or maybe you may also use the internet and check out websites that offer poker tutorials for starters. Regardless of the source, you can be assured once you begin playing, you’ll have the time of your lifetime playing poker.

Value Betting When Faced With A Scare Card

Yesterday I discussed general principles of value betting. I explored an example with a relatively safe board. No obvious straight draws and only two cards of the same suit so no flush was possible. In many situations when you hold marginal hands against a loose opponent you won’t be so lucky. A scare card appears that may help your opponent outdraw your hand. Many times there will be potential straights or flushes or even a potential straight flush on the board. The board may pair opening up the possibility for a full house or even quads. You may hold an over-pair to the board and now a card bigger than your pair appears potentially making your pair second best. Now you must decide whether or not you have been outdrawn. There are several factors you must consider before you bet out.

  1. How many opponents are you facing?
  2. What is your position relative to the button?
  3. What is your opponent’s likely range of hands from his position?
  4. How tight or loose is your opponent?

Let’s explore these considerations one at a time.

Condition 1: How many opponents are you facing?

It is a basic rule in Texas Hold’em that the expected value of any playable hand diminishes with each additional opponent. In the case of a multi-player hand, it becomes more likely that a scare card will beat you.

Condition 2: What is your position relative to the button?

Adding position to the mix is critical. Let’s say you are under the gun holding top pair on the turn. You bet and are called by one opponent. The river is a third spade, a card that completes a possible flush draw. In this case you should bet most of the time. If your opponent has a flush and raises you can go away and not lose any more money but more often than not you will be called with a weaker pair and be paid off.

If you are heads-up and in position and hold an over-pair to the board and a card comes that completes a straight and your opponent has been check-calling and now makes a large bet in front of you the correct move would be to fold to a tight player and call a looser opponent. You may be outdrawn but it is likely against a looser player that he is bluffing and your call will scoop the pot.

If you are in position in a multi-way pot and a scare card comes that has the potential to outdraw your hand and the board is checked to you then checking is best thereby avoiding a trap. If you are in early position, check as well. There is no reason to stay involved in a hand that may now be better than yours.

Condition 3: What is your opponent’s likely range of hands from his position?

It is always a mistake to not think about what hands your opponents are calling or raising with. When a scare card comes on the river this condition becomes even more important to your decision making process. Players in early position will generally play a tighter range of hands than players in late position. The exception to this rule is the maniac who plays any two cards from any position but the maniac is usually transparent with his bets as well betting quite small when he actually has a big hand. If you are in early position and a card appears that is an over-card to your otherwise top pair it is correct to make a smallish bet for value, about one-third the pot. The exception to this suggestion is when an ace comes on the river. Your opponent with position may be worried that the big card hit your hand and fold if it didn’t hit his. He may raise if it did allowing you to walk away minimizing your loss.

On the other hand, in the same situation, if the over-card also completes a straight or flush, you should most likely check. In this case the scare card is much more likely to complete a drawing hand. It could make a bigger pair, complete a straight or a flush any one of which spells disaster for your hand.

Even more scary is when the river puts four to a straight or four to a flush on the board. Unless you hold the top end of a straight-flush, you should probably not bet or call a bet in this situation.

The only real exception to this is when the river also pairs the board and you were holding a set on the turn. Let’s say your hand is 8d-8h and the board is 8s-6s-5d-4s. This is a potential for disaster for someone. Let’s say you have two opponents in this hand both likely to be either drawing to a flush or have a made flush already. They may also be drawing to a straight or if they hold a seven have a made straight. If the board pairs, however, you make a full house that beats anything but a straight flush. If the river comes 5s you complete your full house and if either or both of your opponents have a straight or flush you have the potential to scoop a huge pot. I would try to get all my chips in the middle in this case.

Condition 4: How tight or loose is your opponent?

If your opponents are loose you should be more willing to bet for value than if your remaining opponents are tight. The looser your opponents are the more likely that your value bet will win the pot. Looser opponents are more likely to be holding a wide range of cards, are more likely to be on a bluff and are more likely to be aggressive, defending their marginal hands. A river value bet of around half the pot is warranted against your looser opponents.

Tighter opponents have a much smaller range of playable hands and are, therefore, more likely to be playing to strong draws or made hands. Staying involved with tight opponents with a scare card on the river should mostly be avoided. I generally will muck around 80% of the time in this situation but if all I do is muck then I will be bluffed off the best hand 100% of the time, therefore I will call or raise a bet in front of me around 20% of the time.

Variations on a Theme

You should generally value bet more against opponents who are unlikely to check-raise when they hold a good hand. Some opponents are afraid to check-raise unless they hold the nuts on the river. Some are too “polite” to check-raise. These opponents are vulnerable to a bluff bet for value on the river unless they hold the nuts and even then I have watched an opponent muck a small straight-flush on the river to a bet around half the size of the pot out of absolute fear that their opponent held a bigger straight-flush.

You should bet for value against players who are unlikely to bluff or bluff-raise on the river than those who are. If your opponent checks to you on the river and is unlikely to raise a bet then go ahead and make a bet for value on the river. If called you may lose but you may also watch your opponent throw his hand in the muck.

Finally, if the pot is huge a bet for value is always warranted. Your opponents are likely to see such favorable pot odds that they will lower their calling standards in the hopes that you are bluffing. In the case of a larger pot, a bet for value must be big enough to put pressure on your opponents with weaker hands. A bet of from two-thirds the size of the pot to a pot sized bet is generally good enough to induce a call from a player with a marginal hand to call and big enough to chase away any broken draws. Sure, sometimes you will lose with this play but over the long haul you will earn additional profit and gain a significant edge over your adversaries at the table.

About the Author:
Roger Fischel began playing poker with his friends in high school. Seven Card Stud and Five Card Draw were the games of choice back then. Over the years, Roger turned to Texas Hold ‘em as his game of choice. During a long career as a teacher, Roger learned the value of sharing what he knows with others as a way to give back to the community in which he shares, thus, Rags to the River Poker was born. Come visit us today.

Winning Poker As A Way Of Life

In previous posts I wrote about not paying attention to winning, rather play your best possible game, making correct decisions and observing carefully how your opponents play and winning will follow. So why am I writing about making winning poker a way of life? Simple, follow a few simple ideas and winning will simply become a fact of life. Not winning every hand, every session, or back to back sessions, rather winning consistently over time.

Making Correct decisions

Your first correct decision is to select the game that is right for you. Choosing a game that you can consistently beat and that is within your bankroll management requirements is a matter of discipline. Making the wrong choices will, I repeat WILL, cost you money in both the short and long-term. Being in a game with players of weaker or equal skill to your own will provide you with an opportunity to earn profits as opposed to being in a game where you are easy money to more practiced players. Choosing the right game is a critical correct decision upon which all other decisions rest.

Your second critical correct decision is to never let losing put you on tilt. Losing generally has two main sources in poker. Either you are in a game in which you are outmatched or you are doing something in your own game that is inviting losses. The first problem is fixed by following the suggestion above for selecting the right game. The second requires careful analysis of your play to see where you are making incorrect decisions. Analysis, not steaming, is the correct path to follow when you are experiencing losses. When you allow yourself to go on tilt you rob yourself of the precious ability to analyze your own play, a mistake that will cost you money.

You Don’t Have to Play in this Game

You wake up with a headache, you didn’t get a good night’s sleep, you have something pressing on your mind, it makes no difference what puts you off your ability to concentrate, to focus on your game, if you are experiencing something that interferes with your concentration then, by all means, don’t play poker this day. Wait until the distractions pass and then resume.

You are sitting at a particular table and you can’t seem to gain any traction with your opponents. You aren’t catching a fair share of playable hands, your opponents are outplaying you, you aren’t concentrating. Get up, take a break, go to the bathroom, but no matter what, when your concentration wanes at the poker table it is time to do something else. Whether doing something else is a 20 minute break or you cash in your chips and leave the poker room, you don’t have to play when you are not at your best.

In fact, any time you determine that you are not playing your best game, no matter what the reason, it is time to quit for now. You can always come back and play later but only when you are mentally ready to concentrate. You cannot play effective poker if you are tired, unfocused, or otherwise not engaged fully in the game. Learning to recognize these problems and acting on them is a correct decision.

When Players are Weak Keep Playing

Your bread and butter playing poker are players that are weaker than you are. They are easy money. If you are playing at your best, even if they are playing at their best, they will be lured into making mistakes by your play. Profits in poker are the sum of your opponent’s mistakes less your mistakes. If you are at a table where your opponents are making more mistakes than you, by all means, keep playing. It is likely that you will collect a large portion of their stacks.

Encourage your weaker opponents to stay at the table. Never call them donkeys or otherwise berate their play. Because you have a winning expectation playing against weaker players you want to keep them around. By the same token, don’t encourage them to play better. I never discuss strategy with them at the poker table. I may answer their questions but only on a superficial level. I won’t complement them on a well played hand either. You want your weak players to like you and want to play with you but you don’t want to give them the idea that they have holes in their game that need fixing.

I like to talk about hypothetical hands that weaker players won with absolutely awful starting hands. This talk is never directed at particular players at the table, rather I am talking in general but the idea is to give my weaker opponents enough rope to hang themselves as they play weaker than normal starting hands with poor post-flop play. This table talk will add to your profits if you play your best game.

Playing Your Best Game

All of this boils down to the idea that you must play your best at all times. This is harder to actually do than it is to talk about it but part of growing up as a poker player is to internalize a discipline that allows you to recognize the warning signs of not playing at your peak and then having the courage and discipline to do something about it. Playing at your competitive best takes discipline, practice, study, analysis, and a mental attitude that breeds success.

About the Author:
Roger Fischel began playing poker with his friends in high school. Seven Card Stud and Five Card Draw were the games of choice back then. Over the years, Roger turned to Texas Hold ‘em as his game of choice. During a long career as a teacher, Roger learned the value of sharing what he knows with others as a way to give back to the community in which he shares, thus, Rags to the River Poker was born. Come visit us today.

Playing Poker For Free

Most online poker sites have a feature allowing you to play for free using play money. In the United States, because of the misplaced morality of the religious right and their lackeys in Congress, poker sites advertise that you can play for free and learn the game and have fun in the process. Well, sorry to disappoint you but you can’t play free poker and have fun at the same time. It doesn’t make a bit of difference how many toothpicks, matchsticks, paper-clips or play dollars you win, in the end you have nothing to show for your efforts. Accumulating a bankroll of fake cash leaves you no richer or poorer than you were prior to playing. This simple truth changes the game so much that you cannot hone your skills playing for free. You cannot bluff because there is absolutely no risk. Raises mean nothing because there is no risk. Everyone can be a maniac and when you go broke all you have to do is reload and keep playing. Your unlimited access to play dollars removes rationality from the game, thereby draining all the fun from participation in the masquerade. The essence of poker is money pitted against skill and a bit of luck. Without money skill simply doesn’t matter. So don’t play for free. Learn to be comfortable playing for real cash. At the same time don’t play in games in which your unable to sustain a loss. Choose blind limits within the range that your bankroll can sustain.

Finding the Right Stakes for You

If you want to play Texas Hold’em you must first determine whether you will play in fixed-limit or no-limit games. Fixed-limit games are less volatile than no-limit but they require entirely different skills to play effectively. No-limit is far and away more popular but it carries greater risk in any given session. I play in both limit and no-limit games depending on my mood and desire for taking larger or smaller risks with my money on any given day.

I follow a simple guideline for determining the blind limits I will play in cash games. I buy-in for an amount equal to 5% of my entire bankroll or less. For tournament play I pay tournament fees no larger than 2% of my entire bankroll or less. I am generally comfortable buying-in to a limit game for 40 to 50 times the big blind and in no-limit games for 100 to 200 times the big blind. Let’s say, for example that I have a bankroll of $1000. Five percent of that bankroll is $50. That is my maximum buy-in for a cash game. This means that playing online in a no-limit game I can comfortably buy-in to a .25/.50 game. For a limit game my bankroll allows me to buy-in to a .50/1.00 game. As my bankroll grows my limits can increase and as my bankroll shrinks my limits decrease. Disciplined bankroll management is critical to playing winning poker.

Often, playing in smaller stakes games is much like playing for free. Because not much is at risk, players are often far less rational than when their risk is greater. Many opponents you meet in small stakes games, anything under a big blind of $5, are less skilled and far less averse to taking risks than players at higher stakes levels. In some micro-stakes games you are playing against opponents who play much like they would if they were playing for play money. It is less likely that your skills will make much of a difference. Playing in small stakes games also provides less earnings per hour than do higher stakes games. If you are a solid player winning 2 big blinds per hour in a micro-stakes game where the big blind is, say, ten cents, you can earn no more than twenty cents per hour. In a one dollar game you would, assuming the same winning rate, earn a mere two dollars per hour. Building a bankroll which allows you to play in more expensive games must be a priority for you when you are starting out.

In order to effectively build your bankroll it is important that you play at stakes that motivate you to play your best poker. You should do this at any level but when there is little pain involved in losing it is difficult to stay focused and motivated. If you play at games in which you never feel a risk then you are apt to do crazy things and lose money. When you play where the stakes are to high for your comfort level you are apt to play far too conservatively and give up profits you might otherwise earn. Playing at a level in which the pain of losing is enough to make you uncomfortable but not so much that it will keep you from taking calculated risks and playing with aggression is the right level for you. When coupled with solid bankroll management and stop-loss game plans you will be able to play your best rational game.

About the Author:
Roger Fischel began playing poker with his friends in high school. Seven Card Stud and Five Card Draw were the games of choice back then. Over the years, Roger turned to Texas Hold ‘em as his game of choice. During a long career as a teacher, Roger learned the value of sharing what he knows with others as a way to give back to the community in which he shares, thus, Rags to the River Poker was born. Come visit us today.

Analyzing The Flop

Perhaps the most difficult decision you must make while playing Texas Hold’em is whether or not to bet or call a bet in front of you on the flop. When you miss the flop completely the decision to muck is easy. There are times, however, when the decision is borderline and you must analyze the strength of your hand relative to the board texture and to the likely range of hands your opponents are likely to hold. If you only play your cards you are likely to miss something that leads to your making a mistake. If you only consider your opponents’ likely hand you are likely to undervalue your hand which leads to a mistake. If you only consider the texture of the board you are likely to underestimate both the strength of your hand as well as the relative strength of your opponents’ hand making your decision nearly impossible and you will play too timidly. Remember, in poker everything depends on everything so play accordingly.
Open-Ended Straight Draws
So you decide to speculate pre-flop with an 8h-9h. There are a number of things to consider if you then flop an open-ended straight draw.

  • Two Suited Cards: If the flop comes 7c-Td-4d you must consider the flush possibilities in this textured board. If you hit your flush and another diamond shows up then your otherwise good hand may be second best. Not so hot. With a flush possibility your straight draw suddenly becomes unprofitable. If no one bets and you are in late position you might want to fire a bet for information but if someone bets in front of you it is probably time to muck your hand and wait for a better opportunity.
  • The Board Pairs: With your open-ended straight draw a paired board spells disaster. The flop came Tc-Js-Jd. Your draw has 8 outs making your draw a 2.2:1 underdog with two cards to come. You can be beaten by a full house or quads. In either case you are drawing against a strong made hand. If your opponent has a pair in his hand, say 8-8, he now has two-pair and has the same number of outs to make his full house, 8 so you are even money against him. If, however, that pair gave him quads you are drawing dead. If his pair, say T-T, turned into a set with the non paired card on the flop he has a full house and you are drawing dead. If his pair, say J-J, made quads you are drawing dead. This is an impossible board for a straight draw. Muck your hand.
  • You hold an Overcard: Say your hand was Kh-9d and the flop was 7d-8c-6s the overcard becomes important because it provides you with three additional outs. On this board there are no flush possibilities and you have the high end of the straight draw. Against a hand like 9h-Th you have a potential chop but you will loose to the made straight if any five shows up on the turn. If a king comes on the turn you now have a pair but are drawing dead against the made straight. This board is dangerous but your action will depend on how your opponent plays. If he is a known trapper then any slow play on his part is suspect. If he is overly aggressive than a big bet on the flop should also set off alarm bells. If, however, he is a solid player and checks you should bet your draw and if he bets you should call.

Flush Draws
You entered the hand with As-Js and the flop came 3s-Tc-7s. Wow! You have a nut flush draw with two overcards to the board, 12 outs, making you a 1.2:1 underdog (virtually even money) to complete your draw. There are no obvious straight draws, although you do have a backdoor Broadway draw which adds some outs to your draw but I tend to discount those outs to zero in this case. The board is not paired so at this point quads or a full house are not in the picture. Your problem is how to extract the greatest value from this flop, one that is not likely to provide much action unless your opponent holds A-A, K-K, Q-Q or some sort of flush draw himself.
If the table folds to you put out a probe bet, something like one-third to one-half the pot. The probe bet will only seem suspect to a seasoned professional player but someone with a pair or a flush draw will be tempted to at least call your bet if not raise in this situation. You may take the pot then and there with the probe bet but more frequently you will get some added action so that when you hit your hand you’ll win a larger pot. I believe that the probe bet play is good to use around 20% of the time you have a big flush draw with at least one overcard to the board. The other 80% of the time I tend to play in a more standard manner by betting and raising or betting and calling, Either way you will either get action or win the pot immediately with your semi-bluff.
Three Suited Cards
If the flop comes with three suited cards you should exercise extreme caution unless you hold made hands like two pair or a set on the flop. If you are in late position and there has been a bet in front of you, muck your hand. If you are in late position and the table has checked to you and you have a made hand a bet of about half the pot is in order. If your probe bet is called or raised go no further; check if called and muck if raised. If you happen to see a turn and you make quads or a full house then you have made the nuts and your opponent with the flush will want to push the action…Let him! If you hit a blank then muck to any bet. If your opponent gives you a free river card take it and reevaluate at that point.
Caution Prevails
In the examples above the flops were highly textured toward straights or flushes or big hands like full houses or quads. If you are facing highly textured flops then caution should prevail. Think about what your opponents’ likely range of hands might be and compare that range to your hand strength and the texture of the board. What can beat you is the question to ask, and is what can beat you falling within your opponents’ range of hand selection. If it is then you should err on the side of caution and choose a better spot to pick a fight.
On the other hand, if the board is uncoordinated with no obvious straight or flush possibilities then your drawing hands obtain greater value and should be played accordingly.

About the Author:
Roger Fischel began playing poker with his friends in high school. Seven Card Stud and Five Card Draw were the games of choice back then. Over the years, Roger turned to Texas Hold ‘em as his game of choice. During a long career as a teacher, Roger learned the value of sharing what he knows with others as a way to give back to the community in which he shares, thus, Rags to the River Poker was born. Come and visit.

Loose, Tight Or In-between

How you play poker has a significant impact on how others play against you. In a rather famous quote, Doyle Brunson said, “If you want action you have to give action.” If the goal of playing poker is to earn a profit then you must create a strategy that invites action yet still allows you to bluff from time to time. Tight players are more likely to be bluffed but are more likely to be able to bluff while loose players are more likely win small pots with loose raises while almost never being bluffed. I suggest that playing on the extremes is less profitable than playing somewhere in the middle.

Playing too Loose

If you have an image that you play almost any two cards, you are in more than 50% of the hands dealt, your opponents will only call you or raise you with premium hands. You are, in effect, constantly bluffing, seeking to intimidate your opponents and your more alert opponents, even the loosest of them, will soon realize that without a premium hand it is better to let you win the small pots while being able to aggressively take big pots away from you. The problem with playing against the ultra loose player is that even a blind squirrel finds an acorn once in a while and when they do they crush an aggressive opponent.

If your loose opponent telegraphs his hand through his betting patterns it is even easier to play against him. If, for example, your loose opponent calls with mediocre hands and raises with solid hands pre-flop an observant player will quickly see through this and play accordingly. On the other hand, if your loose opponent doesn’t easily telegraph his hand because he never varies his pre-flop bet, it is better to wait him out and pounce when you have the best hand.

Playing too Tight

Not seeing enough flops also creates an action problem. The tight player plays fewer hands from early position and expands his range through middle and late position but plays fewer than 20% of the hands dealt. The overall range of playable hands in hold’em runs from around 28% to 33% of the 169 possible hands dealt. Playing less than that invites your opponents to bluff you off of anything but the best hands. Conversely, playing too tight allows you to bluff your opponents because they will often believe you and let you win a small pot rather than gamble. In the case of the tight player the picky squirrel only gathers prime acorns leaving the rest to rot.

Tight players may also telegraph the quality of their hand with their bet size but in their case, almost any bet indicates strength so it is unlikely that they will get any action at all.

Finding the Middle

If between 28% and 33% of pre-flop hands in hold’em are playable by solid, conservative standards then playing somewhere between this range is one in which you project an image of being willing to gamble. In short, you are giving action and you can expect action in return.

I actually track quite closely the percentage of hands I am willing to enter and I try to keep my range at around 30%. Because I am willing to enter hands pre-flop with less than premium hands, I must be willing to give up those hands if I don’t hit around 80% of the time. I randomize my bluffs by folding 80% of the hands I don’t hit and continue on 20% of the time. Using the second hand on my watch, I muck between 1 and 48 seconds and play between 49 and 60 seconds. I vary this strategy depending on whether the flop is textured or uncoordinated but then only by 4 seconds. I am more likely to bluff with an uncoordinated board but then only 25% of the time.

By playing with an image that I think of as semi-tight, I invite action. My post-flop play, however, is the key to my success. I play aggressively in no-limit hold’em because solid aggression tends to be rewarded and I am willing to muck hands that simply are not worth continuing on.

What about Limit Hold’em

In limit hold’em you are more likely to maximize your profits by creating a calling image rather than a raising image. In limit hold’em aggression is generally punished because there are more multi-way pots than there are in no-limit. Hand values diminish in multi-way pots and you are more likely to be outdrawn even when you get your money in good on the flop or turn. Keeping a tighter, more passive image works well in limit hold’em.

About the Author:
Roger Fischel began playing poker with his friends in high school. Seven Card Stud and Five Card Draw were the games of choice back then. Over the years, Roger turned to Texas Hold ‘em as his game of choice. During a long career as a teacher, Roger learned the value of sharing what he knows with others as a way to give back to the community in which he shares, thus, Rags to the River Poker was born. Come and visit.

Limit Hold’em: Solid, Tough, Fun

Before the poker boom began around 2004, limit hold’em was often the game of choice for most players. Limit hold’em is a complex game, offering opportunity for steady profit with solid play. Limit hold’em requires patience, self-discipline and solid judgment at the poker table. It is a far less volatile game than its currently more popular no-limit version which is quite good for bankroll management. When I play, I often look for a limit game before I commit to a no-limit table especially when I have hit a streak of bad luck and my bankroll is shrinking playing no-limit.

Differences between Limit and No-Limit Hold’em

If you cut your teeth playing no-limit poker, then switching to limit hold’em will be a shock to your system. Aggression is the foundation of no-limit hold’em. Aggression is rewarded mainly because the aggressor controls the price of a call. This simply is not the case with limit hold’em. Aggressive no-limit players must gear their aggression down without a hand. Bluffing in limit happens but it is not often rewarded with scooping a pot. This doesn’t mean that you don’t play your big hands strongly, it simply means that you are far more selective about entering a pot.

Multi-way pots are common in limit hold’em. Players are far more willing to risk a small bet to see a flop than they are to commit chips to a pot in no-limit. With more players seeing the flop the value of your hole cards is reduced. While AA plays well against a single opponent winning around 85% of the time, against two or three opponents the value is significantly diminished. More hands go to showdown in limit hold’em than do in the more volatile no-limit game. This means that it is unlikely that a pre-flop raise will steal blinds or win small pots. Remember, the limit game restricts your maximum bet to increments of the big blind. In the early rounds your bet can only be a small bet and your raise can only be one more small bet. The turn and river increase the limits to increments of one big bet. It isn’t too expensive to chase a big draw under these circumstances.

Solid Play is the First Key to Limit Hold’em Profits

The biggest mistake that players moving from no-limit to limit hold’em make is in hand selection. No-limit, because of its aggressive nature, allows for a wider range of pre-flop hands to bluff at the pot. In limit bluffing is rarely successful and so is rarely practiced. This means that hand selection is now crucial. You are going to face two to three and, on occasion more, opponents in every hand you chose to enter. This means your hand plays with a diminished value when against multiple players as opposed to playing heads-up. Since hands play with less value it follows that stronger hands should be selected as starting hands in limit poker.

In addition to reigning in your hand selection choices, it is important to read your opponents’ hands, to assess where you stand in relation to other hands in play. Watch for tells, especially the tell that comes from patterns of play. Careful observation of your opponents’ play in given situations such as flop texture, position, and how they play against specific players are all weapons in your arsenal. Physical tells are also important, but against good players they are often done to deceive opponents and are, therefore, less valuable than patterns of play. In fact, the most valuable tell at the poker table is how your opponent plays the game making your observational skills far more important than looking for physical tells.

Patience in poker is always a virtue. In limit poker it rises to the level of sacred duty. A random deal of any two cards means that the vast majority of hands you are dealt are unplayable. You can’t even bluff with a strong suited connector like 8h9h because you have no way of driving someone with a big pair off his hand. You must develop the discipline to muck hands you don’t like and the patience to wait for one you really like. While it is tempting to play a hand once in a while when you have been throwing all of your hands into the muck, you must develop the patience to resist playing until your hand is actually playable. Patience is easily developed and practiced when you are winning. The trick is to make it habitual especially when you are losing.

One of the crucial skills for solid play is making the decision to play or not to play. Winning or losing money in any particular session should have absolutely nothing to do with this decision. If the game is good, you are playing well and you have solid concentration then stay in your seat and play. By a good game I really mean one in which you are favored to win against the players in the game. The minute your concentration begins to fade, you go on tilt, or something else is interfering with your ability to maintain your play at the highest level it is time to take a break for a while or just give up for the night. Playing when not at your best leads to inferior play and inferior play translates into significant losses.


Playing limit hold’em is something like going to work and being paid by the hour. Gains are measured in big bets won per hour. It follows that the more you play the more money you’ll make. Grinding out a living at the limit hold’em table is not very different from grinding out a living as a salesman, a carpenter or anything else for that matter. You show up for work, buy-in to a game (chips are your inventory) and play. Like any other job, if it is worth your time and effort then it is worth your best effort all the time. Make no mistake, anything less is a sure road to big losses.

About the Author:
Roger Fischel began playing poker with his friends in high school. Seven Card Stud and Five Card Draw were the games of choice back then. Over the years, Roger turned to Texas Hold ‘em as his game of choice. During a long career as a teacher, Roger learned the value of sharing what he knows with others as a way to give back to the community in which he shares, thus, Rags to the River Poker was born. Come and visit.

Poker And Random Events

For all intents and purposes, cards that are dealt on any independent poker hand are random, are independent of the previous hand dealt and have no influence on the next future hand to be dealt. It is a mistake to look for patterns in independent events. Statistically, there is no such thing as a streak of either great hands or poor hands. Your brain, however, is hard wired to identify patterns from independent occurrences.

We are really good at identifying complex patterns. Facial recognition is one of those pattern buffers that functions well in our brains. We recognize people we know even when we have not seen them for a long period of time and they have changed physically because of age or weight gain, or hair style, or glasses, or a beard, or, well you get the point. On other occasions we tend to recognize patterns that simply are not there. Astrological signs, phases of the moon, speaking of the moon, many people recognize a man’s face in the moon while others see a woodsman gathering sticks and still others see a rabbit all created by the random pummeling of the moon by space debris eons ago. There are completely false patterns that may be created through deception. Medical experiments that use a placebo see cures for people taking the placebo. Game theory experiments can be altered by simply telling one side and not the other about what to expect from the other side whether the information is true or not. These glitches may or may not serve a purpose in life, but at the poker table they may, in fact, cause problems.

If not Patterns, What may I Rely On?

Thinking you can identify patterns and base your action on any given hand based on the identified pattern is a road to ruin. Wait, you say, haven’t you written about observation to recognize patterns in your opponents? Of course I have. People are quite good at inventing a pattern of behavior and acting on the fundamental parameters of that pattern. Human behavior is not random. Dealing two cards, however, is a random act, unless there is cheating at the table.

Pattern identification is really nothing more than expecting that what has occurred in the past is a good predictor for behavior in the present. In human behavior that is a reasonably appropriate approach to understanding what your opponent might do in any given hand they choose to play. Transferring that expectation to cards being dealt is a mistake that will, in the long and short run, cost you money.

What you can, in fact, must rely on when events are random in their very nature is the probability of occurrence will occur rather than reading into the independent act of dealing shuffled cards to players at a poker table a non-existent pattern. Knowing your odds and playing accordingly is simply not an option at the poker table. The odds, for example, of being dealt two specific cards are 220:1 against. That means that once in 221 deals you will be dealt AA. I also know that if I am dealt AA those aces will be cracked about 15% of the time. None of this precludes my being dealt AA two or three times in a row. Each deal is an independent event which is completely independent of past events. No deal carries with it a predictive value that has an influence beyond the influence of probability.

Break Your Pattern Recognition Software

The most profitable thing you can do at the poker table is to break your pattern recognition software or, at the very least, turn it off. You don’t run bad or run good. Everybody but you doesn’t always make a draw. Being dealt KK is not a magnet for your opponent being dealt AA. Each of the hands dealt are the result of a random sequence of events that are independent of every other event. Your two cards are independent of every other two card hands at the table. Unless, for example, you hold AA your hand is susceptible to having a better hand being dealt and depending on what two cards you hold there are probabilities that may be calculated for each random occurrence, period.

Get over your desire to find nonexistent patterns and get on with the program of learning poker odds, probabilities and poker math. You’ll be better off in the long run.

About the Author:
Roger Fischel began playing poker with his friends in high school. Seven Card Stud and Five Card Draw were the games of choice back then. Over the years, Roger turned to Texas Hold ‘em as his game of choice. During a long career as a teacher, Roger learned the value of sharing what he knows with others as a way to give back to the community in which he shares, thus, Rags to the River Poker was born. Come and visit.

The Growing Madness About Online Texas Hold Em Poker

If you haven’t started having fun with Texas Hold em poker over the internet, then you’re one of the handful of individuals in the world not truly taken over by poker ecstasy. The expansive growth of online poker rooms has been nothing short of outstanding. Each day it seems like more and more players are coming to a decision to give Internet poker a try, and Texas Hold em is the most common poker variation on the web.
People are enthusiastic to play online Texas Hold em for numerous reasons. Some truly enjoy the game, while others are just searching for a way to relieve boredom. Some players speculate because they have extra cash, while others gamble because they need extra cash (which is very unsafe and not really helpful). There are online players who select to play Texas Hold-em in a land-based casino, but find online poker to be an respectable and convenient alternative. Then there are players who find real life casinos frightening, and prefer to play almost exclusively online.
Whatever drives Hold em lovers to the world wide web, once they get there, there’s a lot of poker sites to Select from. If you want to join the online poker revolution, there are some things you need to consider before you start depositing money into an online poker account. Be sure to choose a poker site that you know is secure. Secure sites use encryption software to give protection to financial and personal details. Signup with site that’ll promise not to share your personal details with marketers or other third-parties. Look for sites that offer fast payouts and convenient deposit and withdrawal methods. Check out promotions like signup bonuses, and be sure to practice before you start wagering real funds.
The latest surge in popularity of online Texas Hold em can primarily be attributed to the television coverage of poker tournaments like the World Series of Poker on ESPN, the World Poker Tour on the Travel Channel, and the Celebrity Poker Showdown on Bravo. Channel surfers who never would’ve thought of playing casino cards games are now surfing the web. The multi-million dollar prize money that the top players take home in the serious poker tourneys has also added largely to the growth of online poker in general and Texas Hold em especially. In 2003 and 2004, two online satellite qualifiers, Chris Moneymaker and Greg “Fossilman” Raymer, each took home millions of dollars after winning the WSOP No-Limit Texas Hold em main event.
The triumph these online amateur players enjoyed, at the expense of the top poker pros in the world, created an instantaneous and massive interest in online Texas Hold em. People from every country in the world decided it was time to learn how to play. The surge of rookies continues, as it will continue, so if you haven’t started playing Hold em yet, there’s still time to get in on the excitement.

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Texas Hold Em Poker Tips – 2 Tips To Increase Your Winnings

Do you often get frustrated that you lose money playing poker? Well you need to learn these Texas Hold’em Poker tips for increasing winnings.

Learning Texas Hold’em Poker tips is a great way to quickly and effectively improve your poker game. With just a little bit of research and practice you can turn the tides of play and start winning more pots and money.

Texas Hold’em Poker Tips #1 – Play Aggressively

In my honest opinion, the biggest reason why someone would be winning easily and consistently is that they aren’t playing aggressive enough. Playing aggressive is pretty much a requirement these days. If you are at a very top level playing with professionals then checking, calling, check raises etc become viable, but for most people this just isn’t so.

If you are any sort of normal poker player, you need to be playing aggressive. Drastically reduce the amount of times you are checking and calling and you will massively increase how often you win and also the amount you do win. Don’t worry about the extra losses you may take having to pay a little extra to see a flop, for example, as the overall effects playing aggressive will do for your game will more than make up for it.

Texas Hold’em Poker Tips #2 – Utilise Table Position

The next second biggest mistake players make is the play the wrong cards at the wrong time. And by time I mean from the wrong position. When you are in late positions you can play a much larger range of cards than when you are in early positions. In early positions you should be playing a much tighter game.

When you play out of position you stack the odds against yourself. Winning is like an uphill battle. When in position these odds are in your favour, making winning a breeze. If you are having difficulties winning at poker it’s probably because you are accidently, or unwittingly, playing out of position.

Learning Texas Hold’em Poker tips is the fastest and easiest way to become good at poker. If you aren’t continually finding more tips to read and learn, and practice, you will not become good at poker. On the other hand, if you make it a habit of going out and getting your hands on more information on how to play Holdem better you will become a very good player quite quickly. Don’t pass up any chances to get more free tips.

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Alex is an avid Texas Hold Em Poker player. Shoot him an email at

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