by David “The Maven” Chicotsky
Playing marginal hands in certain situations will allow you to build bigger chipstacks. Due to progressive payouts in tournament poker, players who are able to build larger chipstacks will cash for disproportionately more than their less efficient counterparts.
Poker is an investing game. I like to look at the other players at the table as other investors. Knowing who to invest against, in what position, and at what time, is truly a conundrum poker players must figure out to turn a profit from their opponents. Playing good cards comes more naturally, but what about playing marginal cards? I find that there’s a general bias for and against certain cards. Cards like 10-9 or 10-8 off-suit seem to be overly disliked and underplayed compared to their slightly stronger, but much prettier peers Q-10, J-10s, or J-9s. A good mental trick to break you of card bias is to think of 10-9 as “J-10 minus one.” I’m not saying it’s the best hand to play, I’m simply stating that it’s slightly worse than a commonly played hand like J-10 and there are definitely times in a tournament that you can pick up chips with marginal cards such as these.
It’s important to be truly versatile and be able to bend the rules of TAG poker by working pre-flop open-raises and reraises with marginal cards into your game.
If you would reraise 20 percent of the time with a hand like Q-10 (in position vs. a loose raiser in stealing position), then you could work in a reraise 5 percent or 10 percent of the time with a hand like 10-9.
The main point to be made is that there will be profitable situations when working in open-raises, reraises, and calling in position with marginal cards will arise. By throwing in a couple of marginal hands with your premium hands, all of a sudden you are less predictable and more effective at the table. Don’t play like a robot and just autofold marginal hands. Even if you are going to fold them the vast majority of the time, be willing to consider all options.
David “The Maven” Chicotsky is the 2008 Online Player of the Year and former #1 ranked online tournament player. David is also an experienced poker coach and can be reached at TheMavenTraining.com