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Old 09-30-2005, 08:41 PM
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Post The Truth about Some Myths

I play a lot of poker. If youíre reading this article, I imagine you do as well. And why not? Poker is a great game that entails all of the mental energies of sports such as concentration, strategy and patience.

While at the table, I see a lot of myths when it comes to no-limit holdíem strategy. So for this weekís strategy column, I thought it would b a good idea to address some of them.

No-limit hold em players in general are attracted to tournament poker. Why is that? Well, perhaps its because there are just so many of them. Also, there is nothing quite like the satifcation of knowing you beat 100s of other players and taking a big some of money for a modest investment. However, cash games are much different than tournaments. Weíll discuss some of those differences.

An opponent once asked me an interesting question. In a no-limit hold em game with $25-$50 blinds, how would my play be different in the two scenarios. To answer, I need to explain where the differences come from. The first is the ratio of blinds to chip stacks. In a tournament, a player most frequently has from five to 40 times the amount of the big blind. In a cash game, he most frequently has 40 to 100 times the big blind. These differences have a huge impact on strategy. But once you specify a set blind structure and stack size, at least 95 percent of these differences between tournament and money play go out the window.

Of course, there are specialized situations in a tournament that affect strategy when you get into or close to the money. Is the event a winner-take-all satellite or a graded payoff? Is someone short-stacked who has to take the blind soon? Do I have enough chips to play a big pot and still stay in the event? But unless you specify such a situation, I do not see a difference in strategy. If such a difference came into play at all, it would be present only on a very close decision.

One common theme is the same for both games. You should avoid risking all of your chips in a big pot if at all possible in a tournament unless of course there is a rebuy period. I do not want to risk all of my chips in a big pot if I can help it, when playing in a tournament. In a cash game, itís more acceptable because you can also get more money But if you have to play a hand for all of your money, you grit your teeth and do it. Often times, players make bad decisions when they donít want to be knocked out of a tournament. They are afraid to put their stack on the line when doing so can take down the pot right then and there out of fear, they donít bluff enough, etc.

I believe when you have proper odds or logically you should put all of your money in, you should do so, even in a tournament. The top players in the world play this way, you see it on TV all the time. To place in the money, they need to take some risks, period. For example, I do not buy this stuff that says if you are getting 4-to-1 pot odds in a situation in which you are only a 2-to-1 or 3-to-1 underdog, you are supposed to muck your hand in a tournament. Thatís ridiculous. Most of the money to be won comes from the top few spots, not squeaking into the money. Think about it, if you donít amass lots of chips, when the blind structures rise later, you will eventually be blinded out. Not taking risks is generally weak poker.

Early in tournaments, lots of players like to see lots of flops because its cheap to do so. Iím somewhat on the fence for this one. I will show you why I think this is a bad idea.

You are in early position with the 7h-6h . You call in horrible position because of the cheap blinds. If you happen to get raised and have to muck, you just threw away chips with no chance of winning a pot. Letís say no one raises and you hit the flop. How hard did you hit it? Unless you flop a straight or full house, both unlikely, you are in jeopardy since you are first to act.

Chances are, you caught something that would put you at risk. Letís say one of the 3 flops comes:

  • 6s 4d 2h, giving you top pair and a gutshot
  • K-5-4, giving you a straight draw
  • Ah Qs 8h , giving you a flush draw

Sometimes you can do better than that, but ďbetterĒ is still hands like bottom two pair or a flopped flush hands with which you can still lose with. Here is my advice regarding below average hands like the 6h-7h. If you get dealt such a hand, consider your position. If you are in the cutoff or button seats, and no one has raised, see a cheap flop. But in the early position, donít waste your money. Playing this type of hand is always risky, but you can play one if you are in good position. No-limit is a game where position is the most important factor. Donít lose sight of that. Do not play small connectors without excellent position.

The second myth I will address is that of the check-raise. Believers in this myth think that if you hit a flop in early position, the best thing to do is to go for a check-raise. The truth is, you are supposed to change your style with your good hands here and there. If you flop a huge hand, you should be looking to double up. If you can get all your money in without an overbet of the pot, going for a check-raise is reasonable. If the money is so deep that you canít get all in so easily, it may be right to come out firing.

The check-raise myth also is applied by some to good drawing hands, like a nut-flush draw or a straight and flush draw. I have to admit that I like to lead at the pot with these hands if I do not have too many opponents. Checking will often get you into a spot where a blank comes off after everyone checked, meaning your big drawing hand that you were willing to play for all of your money with two cards to come has shrunk into a little drawing hand because there is only one more card coming. I prefer to bet my draws while they still have better odds.

I hope you find these explanations useful.
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Old 10-14-2005, 04:39 AM
card4 card4 is offline
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Everyone should take notice of the check raising advice. Way too many online players fall in love with the check raise when they hit a good hand. Some times a check raise is a good tool if you are up against a really agressive player but often times you a better off betting out even when you flop the absolute nuts. The more people in the pot, the better chances are someone will call. Also, when you bet the whole way, an opponent will often call you down because he can't get away from his hand. If you check raise the flop though, you send a message to you opponent that you are strong and may not get any more money out of him that hand.
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Old 11-23-2010, 07:06 AM
PokerBratRocks PokerBratRocks is offline
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very nice article..... i loved this....thanks for sharing....if you don't mind can i copy paste this article on my blog???
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