POKER GUIDE PART II: THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE JOINING A TABLE


Betting limits
Pick a table that you can afford. Remember that you'll be posting blinds in at least 20% of the hands if the table is a 10-seater, and more often if the table seats less. If your bankroll is $50, you wouldn't really want to play at a $5-$10 table.


Limit vs No-Limit Tables
Getting sucked into a drawing hand can be devastating to your bankroll at a no-limit table. If you're drawing to the nut flush holding the Ace and another suited card, against someone on a set, you can end up calling some expensive bets only to miss the flush on the river. You may even end up having to go all-in - and bankrupt. At a fixed limit table you're protected against this.


Table texture
Before you sit down, take some time to watch the action, and learn about the players. Try and spot the really loose players, the maniacs, the tight aggressive ones. Knowing whom you're up against can prove invaluable in a showdown.


Pick your seat
Once you've got an idea of the players at the table, try and get a favorable seat relative to the different types. You'll want the unpredictable, wildly aggressive players on your right, so that you can get out of a marginal hand before it becomes too expensive. Timid and passive players are great to have on your left, as the former will fold when you bet aggressively as a bluff, and the latter will call anything, but will seldom raise.


Have time on your side
Don't rush in for a quick half-hour session. You won't have the time to study the players before joining the table, and, if you play a tight game, you'll probably end up posting a few blinds, maybe having a look at a few flops, and possibly winning a hand. More often than not all you'll be doing is adding to the pot for others to win. Budget on at least an hour.


Be positive - but be prepared to lose
There's an old poker truism: "you can't play with scared money". Before you go join a table accept that you may lose the money you take with you. If you can't accept that, you'll end up playing a more timid game than you should, and if your opponents pick up on this, they'll regularly drive you out of pots you could win by intimidating you with their stacks. You need to play sensibly, but in order to win, you must not be afraid to lose.


Disciplined state of mind
Your greatest ally at the poker table is discipline. Conversely, ill discipline will separate you from your money faster than anything else. If you've taken the trouble to learn about starting hand standards, you'll know that you'll be folding the majority of hands you are dealt. Nothing is more frustrating than throwing away a poor starting hand only for the flop to bring a pot-winning set, had you held on. What you have to remember is that this will happen less often than not - statistically you will lose money by holding on to poor starting hands in the hope of catching the flop. You need discipline to stick to your game plan, so prepare yourself for this before you join the table.


PLAYING SOLID TEXAS HOLD'EM


Before you rush into playing Texas Hold'em online, it might be wise to take a few basic things to heart. This will not only improve your chances of winning, but will allow you to avoid wasting your money hoping for an improvement on a hand you should never have played in the first place.


Have an idea of starting hand standards

Not all opening hands are created equal. There are obviously certain hands that have more of a chance of standing up. Get hold of Sklanksy's guide to starting hands as a guide to what to hold and what to fold.


Be aware of your position
Position is vital in Texas Hold'em. There is less margin for error when you're sitting in early position (closer to the dealer button) than if you're last to act. If you bet with a marginal hand pre-flop from early position you can easily end up being raised or even re-raised by players betting after you. This puts you in the unpleasant position of immediately having to decide whether your hand is worth the extra two bets in order to see the flop, or whether you should fold and lose the bet you already made. In late position you can see it coming and fold without having to waste a bet.


Fit or fold

If the flop doesn't fit your hand, that is, improve it, then don't hesitate to fold. You'll be tempted to hold on past the flop in the hope of improving your hand on the river, but you'll end up missing more than you'll catch, and lose money overall. You will of course have to endure watching other players make winning hands on the river with hands that weren't helped by the flop, and will have to resist the urge to hold on to drawing hands for longer. You'll also see flops that make the hand you've just thrown away, but this happens less often than you would think. Once you've folded, forget about the cards you had.


Be disciplined

This is possibly one of the most difficult aspects of playing poker. It means throwing away hands that you might prefer to hold on to in the hope that the flop will give you a shout. It also means folding after the flop if it doesn't fit your hand, or if it brings cards that threaten what you thought was a good hand. If you're holding a pair of Jacks and the flop brings an Ace, you can be pretty sure someone has another. At this point your pair is most likely not the winning hand so have the discipline to discard them - you'll lose more money than you'll win by holding on and hoping for another Jack on the turn or river.


Be able to read the board
As soon as the flop hits the board, work out what the best potential hand is, and compare what you have, or what you think you might get, to this hand. If you don't do this you run the risk of spending money drawing to a hand that is already beaten. This is known as "drawing dead". Even seasoned players fall victim to tunnel vision brought on by having drawn the nut flush, and miss the fullhouse that beats them.


POKER ODDS

 

 

 

Hand

 

Number of Ways to Make Hand
(Number of 'Outs')

 

Odds Against Making Hand
with 5 Cards

 

 

 

Royal Flush

 

4

 

649,739 / 1

 

 

 

Straight Flush

 

36

 

72,192 / 1

 

 

 

Four of a Kind

 

624

 

4,164/1

 

 

 

Full House

 

3,744

 

693 / 1

 

 

 

Flush

 

5,108

 

508 / 1

 

 

 

Straight

 

10,200

 

254 / 1

 

 

 

Three of a Kind

 

54,912

 

46 / 1

 

 

 

Two Pair

 

123,552

 

20 / 1

 

 

 

One Pair

 

1,098,240

 

2.4 / 1

 

 

 

Highest Card

 

1,302,540

 

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