Free Poker Strategy Articles

A collection of poker posts written by poker players for poker players

Small Ball Poker Strategy

Small Ball Poker: The Pros & Cons

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Small ball poker is a playstyle where your aim is to get involved in many cheap pots and keep those pots small – unless you hit a monster hand and then you build the pot as big and as quickly as possible. This was largely popularized by Daniel Negreanu, and to a lesser-extent Harrington’s books, and is a style adopted heavily by players evolving from fishy play.

As you watch this video or read this entire guide, note that the goal is not to insult players that use this style. Heck, I used to implement a small ball strategy, and my training videos before 2014 reflect that. Instead, the goal here is to explore the pros and cons of small ball poker and get you thinking more deeply about both playing this strategy and exploiting other players that use it.

Why Poker Players Like Small Ball

The overall concept of small ball is a mixture of three things: getting involved in lots of cheap pots preflop, avoiding getting involved in big pots postflop without monster hands, and trying to get monster hands paid off for maximum value.

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Paired Flops Turns And Rivers

Paired Boards & Textures Poker Strategy

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Paired boards are an interesting board texture that all poker players need to understand. First, these textures are more common than you might think. Secondly, players tend to craft their strategies in very predictable ways on these boards. And third, knowing how to choose the best lines when the board pairs will help you become a well-rounded player.

Every board texture brings something unique to the table (do you see what I did there?), so let’s break down this particular texture…

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Should You Balance Poker

Range Balancing In Poker

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Range balancing in poker is the act of ensuring you have a proper number of bluffs and value hands when you bet or raise. If you never bluff, your range is unbalanced and your opponents can easily fold marginal hands whenever you get aggressive. On the other hand, if you bluff too often, your opponents are more likely to call you with any pair because your range is unbalanced with too many weak holdings.

So balance is clearly important. We don’t want to do anything too often, nor too rarely, and allow our opponents to make simple profitable adjustments.

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Poker Pocket Pairs Guide

Small Pocket Pair Poker Strategy

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Small pocket pairs tend to create lots of confusion for players preflop. But because these pairs are…well…pairs – players rarely consider folding these hands preflop and end up stacking up lots of unnecessary losses. To simplify this and avoid getting lost in the minutia, let’s agree to put 22 to 55 in this category. While these pairs may have some showdown value of their own, their true value is primarily in flopping sets and stacking opponents that won’t fold second-best hands.

Small Pocket Pairs

This explanation could make one think that playing pocket pairs is easy, but that would only be true in an ideal setting where you could dictate all the action and give yourself just the right pot odds to get involved. In real-life situations, though, you often have to play these small pockets with lower stack depth or facing big raises or 3-bets from your opponents – which changes your strategic adjustment dramatically.

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7 Best Poker Audiobook

The Best Poker Audiobooks (Updated In 2019)

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Over the years I’ve transitioned a lot of my reading time from traditional books over to audiobooks. The audio format makes digesting information easier, quicker, and gives a deeper learning experience. If you are looking for more high-quality advanced poker guides but can’t stand reading – poker audiobooks are a GREAT option that I suggest you check out.

The following will be a rundown of what I think are the best, most comprehensive audiobooks for poker. I will try to show what can be expected from each book and help you decide if it’s the right book for you. An audiobook breaking down the basic rules of poker won’t be of much use to a seasoned tournament player…

Here are 7 poker audiobooks that I think go above and beyond to teach you different aspects of the game. Pick up the ones that are right for you and enjoy! Continue reading

Poker Inside Straight Draws

How To Play Gutshots In Poker

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Gutshots, also known as ‘inside straight draws’ are just one kind of draw you catch in poker. The typical definition of a gutshot is that you have 4 cards to improve your draw, which is only half of the number of outs you’d have with an open-ended straight draw (OESD).

To visualize this, say the flop is QT6. On such a board, 87 is a gutshot that needs a 9 to improve to a made-straight. And AK is also a gutshot, but it needs a Jack to improve to a made-straight.

Two Gutshots On The Flop

Note that gutshots can also have other qualities (for instance, AK has a gutshot straight draw AND two overcards on QT6). And in some cases, a starting hand can actually have a double gutshot (aka a double-belly buster). 98 is a double gutty here since a Jack OR a 7 would make their straight. 

In this guide, we are going to look at how to play gutshots through the lens of Ace King. This material comes directly from Chapter 11 “When AK Flops A Gutshot” in the book Optimizing Ace King. So without further ado, let’s get into the strategy…

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Limping Behind Preflop

Overlimping: When & How To Limp Behind Preflop

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Overlimping, or limping behind, is the act of choosing to limp AFTER one (or more) players have already limped preflop. Not to be confused with open-limping (being the first person to enter a pot preflop by limping in), overlimping can have some serious advantages when done properly.

And while aggression in poker has increased exponentially over the years which has led many players to think that raising/isolating limpers is always better – there are plenty of spots where overlimping proves to be a MORE profitable approach.

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Thin Value vs. Fat Value 101

How To Value Bet In Poker (With Examples!)

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There are three main types of betting in poker: value betting, bluffing, and betting for protection. While bluffing is important and protection is a bi-product of understanding equity – knowing how to value bet in poker is an essential part of improving your winrate whether you play ABC poker or another style. In this guide, I want to discuss what a value bet is, why it’s so important, and some useful ways to improve your value betting strategy.

First, what is a value bet?

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The EV Of 3-Bet Shoving Preflop (With Examples!)

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Aggressive poker is winning poker. But still, most players aren’t super comfortable going all-in preflop with less-than-premium hands. This is an effect of not understanding the EV of shoving preflop, especially since the EV (expected value) of going all-in can sometimes be a bit counterintuitive. So let’s go through a few examples together and see when getting it all-in preflop is totally profitable!

3-BET SHOVING WITH J9

This hand comes from Tim who wants to review this hand played in a tournament. In this hand we have J9s, there’s a $40 ante, the blinds are $150/$300, and in this exact situation there’s a raise from DIOGEN, it folds around and Tim decides to rip it.

So what is the EV of 3-bet shoving here? What even goes into calculating the EV in a poker hand? Continue reading