Slot Online POKER ROOM

Last time we talked about what kind of starting hands you look for – and what kind you look to avoid! – in Texas hold ’em. In this column, we’ll discuss the various betting options you have in Texas hold ’em. (First, though, let me repeat that I’m not showing a particular bias in favor of hold ’em. No more of a bias, anyway, than most public cardrooms show these days. While it’s true that you’ll still find many low-limit seven-card stud games in casinos and cardrooms, most of the action these days is in the hold ’em games, which is why I’m using that game to introduce you to casino poker. If seven-card stud is your game, simply read George Percy’s 7-Card Stud: The Waiting Game, and you’ll get everything you need to get started in stud.)

Okay, you’re playing hold ’em, and you’ve got a playable hand. Let’s say it’s a pair of queens. You’re the first to act after the blinds, and you have three choices: You can call, fold or raise. You’re obviously not going to fold this powerful hand, but if you’re like most beginning players, you might be tempted just to call. Don’t do it! This is a big hand, one that you’ll see fairly rarely. It’s important to play strong hands strongly. So now we come to a simple strategy for success in low-limit hold ’em: When you get the goods, bet the goods. You don’t have to be terribly fancy or tricky to play solid, winning hold ’em. All you really have to do is wait for good cards and then raise.

With these queens of yours, you’re hoping that everyone will fold, including the blinds, and you can win the pot right there. Even if they don’t all fold, you still have a hand that’s better than almost anything your opponents could have at that point. Only two hands, in fact, A-A and K-K, could be better than yours before the flop.

Now here comes the flop, and with it comes new information. Did you hit a queen? Then you’ve got trips and you’re driving! When it’s your turn to act, you can bet (or, if someone before you has bet, you can go ahead and raise.) But suppose the flop contains an ace, a king and a six, all in the same suit, a suit not matched to yours? Now you’re in some danger. Any one of your Slot Online opponents could have a bigger pair (aces or kings), or a flush draw, or even a made flush already. If there’s a lot of betting, you have to say bye-bye to your queens. Throw them in the muck before they cost you money! So now here’s another piece of distilled poker wisdom for y’all: Fit or fold! If the flop doesn’t help your hand – fit – and it looks like it helped someone else’s, don’t get caught chasing. Instead, get out now!

A lot of times, the flop seems neither to help you nor hurt you. With your queens, for instance, you might see a flop of 5-2-T of mixed suits. Your queens are now an overpair, a pair higher than any of the cards on board. You can go ahead and bet in this circumstance. And don’t be afraid to bet! Poker, especially hold ’em, is a game that rewards aggression. I’m not suggesting that you become reckless and throw bets around like confetti, but you should be prepared, as I’ve already pointed out, to play strong hands strongly. For reasons we’ll discuss in a later column, this helps your table image, and puts you in a position to really take over the game.

So let’s say you got a fairly friendly flop and you made a bet. A couple of people folded and a couple of people called. Now here comes the fourth card, the turn card, and it, too, is an unhelpful card (known in the vernacular as a brick.) What should you do? Bet again! Same thing with the last, or river, card. Unless you have reason to believe that you’re beaten, go ahead and bet. Many of your opponents will think that you’re bluffing, and it’s a flaw in most players’ games that they feel they must “play sheriff” and “call to keep you honest.” Here’s another shorthand strategy for low-limit hold ’em: Don’t bother bluffing. Just bet when you think you have the best of it, and profit from your opponents’ natural tendency to call too often.

But what if the turn card or the river card is not a brick? Suppose there are two hearts on the flop and a third one comes on the turn. Should you slow down? Keep betting? It’s a problem, isn’t it? The solution to the problem lies in knowing your opponents. Are they the kind of players who play flush draws? Will they bet even if they don’t have a flush at that point, or will they only bet if they’ve already completed their hands? These are the sort of questions that can only be answered by studying your opponents and learning their habits and tendencies. That, of course, takes time, and in the heat of the battle, you might not have all the information you need. In that case, just do what the cards dictate. It’s okay to slow down if the board looks scary. Go ahead and check, and see if anybody bets. If they do, you can then decide whether they’ve made their hand or they’re just trying to push you off yours. To make this decision correctly, you must know your foes, so here’s another quickie hold ’em tip: Study everyone and everything. Watch every hand at the table from beginning to end. Even when you’re not in the hand. In fact, especially when you’re not in the hand, because then you can watch things more closely. Hold ’em requires many tricky decisions, but you can make all those tricky decisions less tricky simply by studying the other players and getting a line on their play.

If this sounds like a complex “dark art,” it’s not, really. Many players are very obvious about what they do and how much they like their hands. Simply observing them in action will give you reliable indicators, or tells, about their future behavior.

Okay, we’ve walked through one hand of poker – one out of the millions you’ll play in the course of your poker career. Obviously you have a lot to learn, but the good news is that at this stage of your poker career, your learning curve is quite steep. You can learn a great deal about poker with just a modest amount of study. They say that poker is like chess, in that it takes an hour to learn and a lifetime to master. Maybe it’s true. After all, there are really only a few actions you can take in poker: fold, check, call, bet, raise or re-raise. Within this limited universe of choices, of course, there is infinite variety.

And that’s where poker gets interesting!



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