Taking the aggressive route in no-limit Texas Hold’em

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These days in no-limit Texas Hold’ em then if you have to choose between a passive route and an aggressive one then the aggressive route is usually best. Let us look at an example here to show what I mean. It has been limped by an early position player and it has then been folded around to you on the button with 5-5 and now you have to decide what to do. Do you limp or do you fold because of the poor implied odds? Well if you want to play the hand then with only one opponent in the pot why not take the aggressive route and raise?

This strives to take the initiative in the hand and often when you limp then a player behind you may try and take the initiative by raising and so your play is punished to a certain extent and so are your implied odds. I like raising over limping if I do decide to play the hand. Aggression is always rewarded in poker even though it may not be always rewarded in each individual hand that you play. Let us look at another situation and here we are playing in a six handed game.

It has been folded around to the hijack who open raises in a NL200 game and you have A-J on the button. Folding is definitely wrong and in stronger games then calling the raise can often be punished by a re-raise from one of the blinds. If you re-raise and that raise gets called by the original raiser then you know that they are not messing about as not only have they raised but they have also called the re-raise. Players with aces and kings will often just call the re-raise looking to trap over zealous aggressive players who are abusing their position.

So an opening raise followed by the calling of a re-raise is a powerful betting line and especially if the hand is heads up! Raising with the A-J also allows you to clarify where you stand in relation to other hands that are on the table. You ideally want to know if you are against AK or AQ. If you merely call the raise and the flop comes A-9-5 rainbow and you are out kicked against someone who has A-Q then you are going to lose a lot of chips here. You will expect your opponent to fire a c-bet regardless and so you cannot fold on the flop.

Likewise on the turn because most players will fire a second barrel on the turn if their flop bet gets called on a bluff. So this leaves the A-J hand in a difficult money losing situation. You cannot fold on the flop as that is too weak and probably would be too weak on the turn as well. So taking the aggressive route can often save you a lot of money in no-limit Texas hold’em by forcing other players to fold and also helping you to find out exactly where you are.

Playing Pocket Pairs in Texas Holdem Poker

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Playing Pocket Pairs

After playing for years, the masters of Texas Hold’em, have perfected their skills at bluffing, strategy, slow-playing and reading other players. But the one thing it doesn’t take an expert to know is that the pocket cards in Hold’em hold all the power.

This is the time of the game where the most important decisions are made. Position, whether the game is loose or tight, the skill level of the other players, and the number of players who have already called and must be taken into account in deciding if one should play their hand or pass.

Because five of the seven cards dealt in Hold’em are community cards, the game is about the cards in the hole, not about chasing pairs. The reason? If one improves, their opponents usually will too. No matter how many years you’ve put in at the tables, if your opponents are consistently starting with better cards, they will often come out on top.

If you draw pocket pairs, where odds run 16-1, consider yourself lucky, and in good position to grab the pot. But it still takes knowing how to play them correctly, whether you’re sitting with a pair or deuces or a monster pair of aces.

High Pairs

High pairs consist of pocket Jacks or better. They should be played aggressively by raising preflop if no one has raised yet, or reraising if someone has. But remember that depending on how the community cards fall, a high pair hand can lose value quickly. If an overcard falls, tread carefully. If the flop has three of a suit or cards close enough in sequence, caution should also be exercised. Otherwise, bet it up if for nothing else than to gauge the strength of your opponents’ hands. But, always be cautious of playing a strong second best hand. As discussed, the big pair is a good hand, but it’s not a great hand.

Low Pairs
It is important to understand the value of small pocket pairs. These hands fall under the category of playing well with very few (heads-up) or several (6 or more) other players. When playing a small pair, the ultimate goal is to flop three-of-a-kind. Without a set on the flop, it is time to start thinking of an exit strategy. The idea is to think economy class when getting to the flop, make sure it is as cheaply as possible. The cost to see the flop with a small pair should be no more than a single blind bet. As with any hand, position makes a difference on how to play a low pair as well. Since they’re not strong raise material, early position hurts. Middle is OK in a loose game and, a raise from late position is good if no one else has entered the pot.

The most important advice when playing pocket pairs? “Never marry small pocket pairs.” This means one must be ready to fold if they do not make a set on the flop.

Texas Holdem preflop hand rankings

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Texas Hold’em Pre-Flop Ranking of Hands

Premium Hands
The very best of the best starting hands. It’s viable to raise or re-raise these hands in any position.
• AA
• KK
• AKs (the s refers to both cards of the hand being the same suit, which suit doesn’t matter for this discussion)
• QQ

• JJ

Good Hands
These hands are often worth a raise if you’re the first one to enter the pot. With some of them, it will often be right to just call or fold with them if someone raised in front of you.
• AK,
• AQs, AJs, ATs
• AQ, AJ
• KQs KJs, QJs, JTs
• TT, 99

• AT, KQ
• KTs, QTs

Solid Hands
These hands should generally be limped pre-flop, and should usually be folded to a raise
• 88, 77
• J9s, T9s
• 98s, 87s
• Ace with any other card of the same suit as your Ace

• KJ, QJ, JT

Decent Hands
These hands that are best played only in late position, usually only if there are several limpers in front of you.
• Low Pairs (66 or lower)
• Suited Connectors like 76s, 65s, 54s (don’t usually play anything lower like 32s)
• KT, QT
• K9s, J8s

Hands not mentioned are generally trash hands and should only be played in situations where you have a big advantage over your opponent. For example, when you’re trying to steal the blinds, or are up against a very weak player.

While narrowing your starting hand selection is important, doing so is just the tip of the iceberg. After choosing which hands to play, you next have to know how to play these hands, before the flop, on the flop, and further on into the hands. You have to decide whether the best play is to call, bet, raise, or fold at each stage of the hand. As you progress and learn how each of these options works best, your chance of winning the hand increases tremendously.

After you have strengthened your fundamentals through each stage of the hand, you should be looking for other ways to win hands. This could include things such as bluffing, reading your opponents, and using your table position to your advantage. Adding these tools to your arsenal will greatly improve your chances of winning hands and, eventually, the size of your bankroll.

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Texas Holdem Poker – Texas Holdem Poker Strategy – How to play

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Texas Hold’em uses what is called a dealer button to indicate the theoretical dealer of each hand. After each hand is completed, the dealer button moves clockwise to the next active player. This player will be considered “the dealer” for that hand. In this way each player has equal opportunities to be in early, middle and late position. The two players immediately to the left of the dealer button place “blinds” to start the pot. The player to the left of the dealer button posts the small blind (usually equal to half the lower stake). The player to the left of the small blind is required to post the big blind, equal to the lower stake limit. All the blinds in Hold’em poker are considered live bets and the players who posted them will have the option of checking, calling, raising or folding when the betting returns to their position.

Once the blinds have been placed, two cards are dealt face down to each player (“hole cards”), after which the first betting round starts. The player to the left of the player who placed the big blind starts the betting for this round.

Each player now has the option to place his bets in the first round, which is set at the lower limit of the stakes structure. (For example in a $10/$20 Hold’em game, the value of each bet is $10 for the first round. Therefore, when a user makes the move “bet,” this is equal $10, and “raise” is $20…a raise includes a call on the previous bet placed and one additional bet.)

Bets can be placed by playing Bet, Call or Raise. These options are available depending on the action taken by the previous player. Each player always has the option to fold. The first player to act has the option to bet or check. Subsequent players have the option of calling or raising if a bet has been placed, or betting or checking if not. To call is to bet the same amount as the previous player has bet. To raise is to match the previous bet and increase the bet.

Every player participating in the hand should have equal amounts of money bet as the previous players. Until the time all the players have placed equal amounts in the pot, the betting will continue. There is a limit on the amount and the number of bets a player can place during a betting round (four bets for limit games).

After the first round of betting is over, the Flop (the first three community cards) is dealt. The community cards are common to all the players participating in the hand.

After the Flop (and in each subsequent betting round), the first active player left of the dealer button is first to act. The second betting round also limits the value of bets and raises to the lower limit of the stake structure. So in a $10/$20 game, the value of each bet is $10 for the second round.

After this the fourth community card is dealt; this is known as the Turn. The betting limits now increase to the higher limit of the stake structure for the remainder of the hand.

After betting on the turn is complete, the fifth and final community card is dealt; this is known as the River. Betting continues as on the turn.
Once all the bets have been made, there are two possible outcomes: either all the players but one have folded (and hence that person wins the pot), or the remaining players reveal their hands and the best hand wins the pot.

The game play remains same for both No-Limit and Pot-Limit Hold’em game with a few exceptions to the rules mentioned above:

In limit Hold’em a maximum of four bets are allowed per betting round. This includes a (1) bet, (2) raise, (3) re-raise, and (4) cap, but in No-Limit Hold’em and Pot-Limit Hold’em there is no limit to the number of raises that a player can make. The only limit is that you cannot raise yourself. If all the other players in the hand only call or fold, the player would not get an option to raise, because the last raise was done by him.

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