Category Archives: Beginner Poker Strategy

Should I Call With Weak Hands From The Big Blind?

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You’re in the big blind facing a raise and a couple calls – do you call and close the action with a weak hand? Of course you should give action with a lot of hands here given the pot odds, that you are closing action, and that you should be able to handle being OOP well – but just how wide should you call? Let’s explore that answer through the lens of this hand…

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Should We Ever Fold A Flush?

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There are times to make big folds, but is this the right spot to fold a flush? Hero ends up flopping a HUGE hand not only spiking the nuts – but also having a straight-flush draw to go with it. But when the flush draw fills on the river and villain gets aggressive hero decides to find the fold button. Let’s see if his hero fold is good, or really bad…

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poker blockers test

The Combos & Blockers Quiz

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Facing A Check-Raise With Top Two Pair

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Top two pair is normally a monster – but how strong is it after facing a check-raise on a flushed board? In this hand we dissect an uncomfortable hand where Hero has to make some big decisions with Ace Queen on AQ65. Continue reading

How To Play 2 Pair In A Multi-Way Pot

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In this hand, we’re in the big blind with T6s. There’s a limp, another limp, another limp. And hero decides to check his option. In the write-up, Jay says this: “People here know I play really tight. If I make a decent size raise, most fold. So I wanted to mix it up.” So keep that in mind as we’re going through the rest of the hand.

We started the hand with only 30 big blinds, definitely not something that I would suggest doing, unless you have a really super, super strong strategy at 30 big blinds and you think it’s more profitable for you to play 30 big blinds than it is for you to play a hundred or two hundred big blinds.

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How To Beat Super-Tight Poker Players

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Nits can be found in every single poker game you might play. And it’s important that we at least have some semblance of an idea on how to beat these people more easily and more regularly, and what exactly we should be looking for when it comes to crafting our lines against these players.

First and foremost, what are nits? Well, nits are super-tight players and they’re even tighter than TAGs, which are tight, aggressive individuals. Nits have the discipline to play tight, but they take it way too far, like, egregiously tight when they’re playing. And the honest truth is you can find everywhere and at any single limit. Live and online, they’re there. 6-max versus full ring, they’re there.

You can also find them at any game. You can find them at Omaha and stud. It doesn’t matter, nits can be found everywhere. And it’s important because they’re all over the place that you know how to beat them and you have some easy plays you can slip right into your play book. Continue reading

How Should I Play The Nuts?

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Today we’re going to review a hand sent in by Matthew. This is a hand from 100NL 6max online where Matthew has AQ and finds himself in a pretty interesting spot because he picks a pretty a-typical line. This hand is from Bovada Zone Poker, so there are no HUDs. And he said players are a bit fishy when calling you on these tables. And he just wants us all to know that he does not normally play like this, but he just wants a quick line check on an odd line that he took.

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hand ranges in pie charts

How To Think About Ranges (Now With Pie!)

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Truth be told, I’m a very visual person. I’m also a very mathematically-oriented person. So being able to visualize math-based things is crucial for me when trying to learn and use something.

So when I began studying hand ranges and learning how to exploit various ranges, I created a simple model to help me visualize this stuff easier. And while many things in poker can be complex, I knew my model needed to be simple enough to use in real-time. Which is why I began visualizing poker ranges in pie charts.

Pie Charts In Poker

A pie chart is a simple circle that contains multiple pieces (and each piece looks like a piece of pie!), and when you add up all the pieces they equal 100% of the circle. So my idea was to look at the entire pie as the complete range my opponent has, and then to chunk that pie into pieces representing different kinds of hand strengths.

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Checklist for planning poker hands

Creating A Poker Hand Plan

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In every single hand we play we want to have some sort of plan, even if that plan is simply “We are going to stack this off every time” or “We are not stacking off postflop without the nuts against this player.” However, planning is usually a pretty new topic to many players, so this article will offer a basic checklist to help with the planning process. Here are some things we always want to consider when planning a poker hand:

  • Who is our opponent?: We always need to know who our opponent is. We have vastly different plans versus a nit than a fish, and different plans versus a TAG than an unknown. We also need to think about how our opponent makes mistakes. If we have lots of information and history we can choose very specific and optimal lines. If we have very little information, we might rely more heavily on default lines/ideas versus that opponent type. “Who is my opponent and what kind of mistakes are they likely to make here?” should really be our first question whenever we are building a plan.

  • What is the board?: Assuming that we are postflop, we want to consider what the board is. What texture are we dealing with? Is it wet or dry? How would our opponent react on this texture? And not only do we need to think about the board texture now, but also the future texture when creating lines. Are there lots of clean future cards? Or are many future cards bad for either of our hands?

     plan based on poker flop

  • How does our opponent hit this board?: Thinking about the board texture, we want to consider how our opponent’s range hit this board. We can also think about how this opponent is likely to react on this board (e.g. is he more likely to bluff raise his air hands?). We can use a program like Flopzilla for this, but it does necessitate some range reading ability. If our opponent will likely continue if we bet, we might not bluff this hand. Conversely, if he is likely to continue liberally, our thinner value hands might shift closer to pure value.

  • What is our hand strength?: Depending on how our opponent hit and would continue on this board: what is our hand strength? Does our hand shift closer to value or showdown value (SDV) based upon his mistake-propensities? Does our SDV hand shift closer to a semi-bluff given the range he would call/raise our bet with? We should have some default lines created for each of our four hand strengths, which is why it is so important to classify our hand effectively and efficiently.

  • Is there any history here?: When applicable, we want to consider any history or reads we may have. Just remember that not all notes are relevant (just because a player bluff raised a river in a HU pot doesn’t mean he will raise liberally on a multi-way flop). Reads usually give us a better idea on our opponent’s mistake-propensities, and can help us select more precise and +EV lines.

  • What is our pot size goal?: Based upon all of the above, how big of a pot do we want to get involved in? Many players don’t consider this, and then find themselves in a massive pot with a weakish hand, and no idea how to make profit. We always want to have an idea on pot size goals, as they can help us decide whether we want to bet or check. There are times when a certain pot size would be -EV given our opponent and his logical range in that pot size, and thus we might take a different line. Think about how your own range changes as the pot gets bigger or smaller…

     creating a bet size in poker

  • How can we create a +EV environment?: Keeping all of the above in mind, we want to consider how we can create the most +EV environment. If we bet, do we let our opponent play too close to perfect? Would another line create a more +EV situation for us? If we call this CR do we expect to be able to make money? If we 3bet this tough opponent, do we expect this to make us profit either now or later? As poker players we always need to be focused on creating and maintaining +EV situations, and we need to remember that when creating our plans.

While it may seem a bit clunky to ask ourselves this many questions at every point in a hand, it becomes automatic with time. Eventually, things like player type and mistake-propensities just become automatic (either from experience or understanding the truer meaning of HUD stats). Things like board texture and range contortion become easier with experience, stats, and player types as well. The main thesis here is to always be thinking a step ahead and considering past, current, and logical future actions.