Too often, players feel the overwhelming need to raise prior to the flop. Surprisingly, many skilled players are guilty of this tactic. Sure, it’s possible to win and profit by making this move, but it may also jeopardize additional profit that could be acquired from weaker opponents waiting to act, who may be intimidated and not play their substandard hands.
Impressive. Prior to the flop, you only have two cards in your hand. Unless they’re superior, your next step is questionable. Yes, it’s acceptable to jump in with a raise before the flop. But, it isn’t something you’ll want to do on a regular basis, unless you’re in late position. When playing from an early position, you are at a distinct disadvantage. Your actions pre-flop will often influence your actions after the flop, and on remaining rounds.
by George “The Engineer” Epstein
The late poker guru Lou Krieger recently wrote an informative three-part column on Expected Value, “EV,” applied to drawing hands in Texas hold’em. This concept derives from probability mathematics to describe the long-term average outcome of a given scenario. To calculate Expected Value, take every possible outcome, multiply each by the probability of that outcome happening, and then add those numbers together. As an example, Lou calculated the EV where you hold four-to-the-nut flush on the turn. This involves the odds against catching the flush on the river (4-to-1 against); how much you lose if you call and miss (as will happen about 80% of the time), and how much you could win (about 20% of the time). The result determines whether the situation provides a positive or a negative Expected Value. Then call with +EV; fold with -EV.
by David “THE MAVEN” Chicotsky
Players raising from stealing position is such a common occurrence that we must use all options at our disposal in order to try and defend our blinds. Re-raising pre-flop is an effective way to deal with loose players that are keen on raising in position. Another way of going about it would be to call more often and try and win the pot post-flop. When I say “win the pot post-flop,” notice I didn’t say “try and hit our hand in order to win the pot.” Somewhere around 70% of the time we’re going to miss the flop with a typical hand we’re holding, so we need to be able to win the pot often enough when we do miss, to make calling pre-flop profitable. Simply put, we can’t justify passively calling out of position pre-flop if we’re not willing to turn off the passive switch post-flop.
This doesn’t mean we have to try and win every hand that we play from the blinds, though we must figure out a certain mix of instances to go after or give up on the pot. Just like with any pot, whether or not we’re isolated against a single opponent will be a major factor in deciding the best path to take in the hand. Many times when there are more players in the hand, we’re able to play more passively preflop. We’ll be getting better pot-odds, and the fact that there are more players, in essence, will help our implied odds increase as well.
by Shari Geller
I’ve been having trouble writing again since my friend, co-host and former editor Lou Krieger passed away in December. When something hits you for a loop, it’s not easy bouncing back. But that’s what we all must learn to do, take what comes your way and don’t let it stop you. This is not just good advice for life, but also crucial advice to poker players. How you deal with adversity is much more important than how you handle when everything is going your way.
The bad beat. We’ve all had them. We love to regale our bored friends and families with the outrage of that miracle card that gave some jerk the hand that should have been ours, conveniently omitting any time we were the lucky recipient of a miraculous suck out. Losing a hand that we are convinced “should have been ours” has a way of taking over our brain. It burrows in there laying seeds of doubt, frustration, and resignation. We lose focus and feel compelled to replay that hand over and over as if on repeated plays we can eke out a different result.
by Russ Fox
The end of one year and the start of a new year is always a time for reflecting back at the year that was and looking forward to the year that begins. Everyone should do this periodically; this is especially true for poker players.
I did not have a particularly profitable year playing poker. Indeed, adding up my wins and losses from my log, I found I won a grand total of $4. I won’t bore you with the hourly rate; suffice to say, it’s not pretty. So why didn’t I reach my goals (and what I thought I should win)?
In checking my results across games, I found I won all my money in cash games, and broke exactly dead even in tournaments. I can exclude winning in cash games and losing the profits in tournaments (or vice versa).
There were a number of outside changes in my life in 2012. I relocated from Orange County, California to Las Vegas. The games in Las Vegas have a far different feel than the games in Los Angeles. Perhaps it took me some time to adjust to the games?
by Barbara Connors
CORRECTION: I gave an example where you call to see a flop with A-7 suited, but you’re concerned an opponent may hold a bigger ace. I explained that if you could push that opponent out with a raise, the remaining aces would become good outs for you, and thus you would gain three more outs. Oops. Obviously if you have an ace, and your opponent has an ace, you would gain no more than two outs with that move. I had a good education so we can’t blame the school system. Mea culpa.
It’s one of the most famous axioms in poker: drawing hands play best against a large field of opponents. When you’re drawing to a big hand like a straight or a flush, you want lots of other players in the hand with you, so you’ll get paid off in case your draw hits. But in poker, where everything is situational, even the truisms are relative and this seemingly universal rule doesn’t always apply. There are times when you actually want to thin the field with a drawing hand. For example, when you have the opportunity to buy outs.
Say you call to see a flop with A-7 of spades and the flop comes down J-8-3 with two spades. You have nine outs to the nut flush, which is pretty simple and straightforward, except that the flush is not the only draw you have going for you here. You could also hit one of the remaining three aces, which would give you top pair. Problem is, your top pair would be married to a mediocre kicker. If one of your opponents has a better ace, say ace-king or ace-queen, your three ace outs are tainted, because spiking an ace will only bring you heartache and an expensive second-best hand. But if you think a wellplaced raise can push this particular opponent out of the pot, you’re effectively buying three more outs for your hand, giving yourself a total of 12 good outs to win. But before you decide to push out that raise and buy yourself a few more outs, you need to look for certain conditions. First and foremost, you want a large pot. If the pot is still on the smallish side, those extra outs aren’t worth the price of your raise. When the prize you’re competing for is still just a piddling pile of chips, the extra equity you gain by giving yourself a few more outs is not worth the cost of putting in a raise. But when the pot is hefty because somebody raised preflop—as tends to be the case when one of your opponents holds a big ace—that’s a different story.
by Ashley Adams
I spent two days playing poker in the Gulf Coast of Mississippi—in Biloxi and Bay St. Louis. My first port of call was the IP, the first place off Interstate 10 coming from New Orleans, Louisiana. I wrote about it in my last article. Across the street was Boomtown, a small locals casino with the distinction of not having a hotel. No matter, they had a poker room, and so I enjoyed myself.
Boomtown’s poker room, the only smoking room in the area, is on the second floor of the modest casino. They pride themselves on their $1-4-8-8 spread limit hold’em game. When I arrived at 7:00 PM on a Saturday night, it was filled. The game has a $4 maximum rake with a $2 drop for bad beat jackpot and other extensive promotions. Players earn $1 an hour for live play and are provided with free hot dogs and popcorn.
Today’s word, “win,” relates to poker in ways that aren’t clearly understood by many players. In fact, what the word means to them is dangerous, so dangerous that it actually keeps some wouldbe professionals from winning. Confused?
Well, when we’ve finished with this selfinterview, you won’t be. This stuff is important, so I’d consider it a personal favor if you zoomed in and focused on what I’m about to share.
Question 1: I don’t get it. How can players be confused about winning?
When you win, you win, right? Maybe you’re the one who’s confused. You aren’t exactly making yourself endearing as an interviewer. What’s your question?
Question 2: I thought my question was clear. Winning is winning, so why are you telling me that it isn’t?
There are different kinds of winning in poker. Some of them cost you money.
by A.C. Clark
In north central Washington, the poker room at Okanogan Bingo Casino has been hosting a Thursday no limit Texas hold’em tournament series with its final tournament to be played on January 9th. I played in the last of the big Thursdays on January 3rd and was pleased with the rather new poker room and pleasant staff. In addition, there’s a fine group of locals who enjoy plenty of action on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. This small, but clean and spacious poker room is loaded with eager gamblers, ready to play. Any visitor can expect a steady game of $3-6 limit with no limit Texas hold’em tournaments on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays at 5 pm, and Saturdays at 11:30 am. The poker room is conveniently located in the bar and offers excellent service by a warm waitressing staff. I felt very welcome and enjoyed visiting with players and dealers. Anyone can order from the bar, and manager Tony Posey is poker knowledgeable, friendly, and very hardworking, helping behind the bar or dealing at a table. You can reach the poker room at 509.422.4646 or visit their website at www.colvillecasinos.com.
By Barbara Rogers
Back by popular demand, Belterra Casino Resort in Florence, Indiana, welcomes the Heartland Poker Tour. The chance to play with the pros, be on television, and win an anticipated six figure first place payout for less than a hundred dollars (by qualifying through events) is just about irresistible, and will surely be attracting players from all across the US. The nationally televised Heartland Poker Tour plays out at Belterra Casino Resort March 15th through March 25th. You can play special qualifiers from February 15 - March 14th. For more information, see Belterra’s ad on page 7 of this issue of Poker Player [PDF].