Sunday, December 17

Poker–Texas Hold'em

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Poker Betting Strategy—Texas Hold’em

Hold’em is a great game and a very popular one. It is played in casinos, online, in homes, and on television. Many players have “learned” how to play the game by watching games on television. What they have supposedly learned is nearly always wrong, but the usually think they are being very astute and playing just like the professionals on television. When they are dealt a king and a queen, they make a very large bet blind. “Well, the analysts on TV say that is a very good hand”. What they have is potentially a good hand, but for starters it is just a couple of big cards. Most of the hands on TV are played, after the blind, head-to-head, and that greatly distorts the odds. King-queen is very good against one player. Against eight players it is not much. The TV analysts can see every hand, as can the viewer, but I assure you that will not happen in a real game. If you know what each of the other players is holding, you know exactly what you should do. The real world is not like that.

Betting big with a couple of face cards will lose a lot of money in the long run, if you insist on doing it when you are in first seat. If there are only two people left when your turn comes up, it is a better proposition but still not really strong. Until the flop comes out, you do not have a hand; you just have a couple high cards.

One more point about this game. When you play no limit (which is the game I prefer) going all-in blind is suicide. You may win the hand that time, but if you do it enough, you will eventually lose. When you are all-in, you only get to lose once. No hand is worth betting it all blind. Some people go all-in every time they are dealt a couple of good cards. They ALWAYS get knocked out of tournaments, usually fairly early. Many get themselves wiped out on the first hand.

If you go all-in blind, there are three possible outcomes. First, somebody calls and you win. Hurray! You win a big pile. Second, somebody calls and you lose. Oops, you are toast. Bye. Third, everybody folds and you win the little bit that is in the pot. If your object is to win tiny pots and you think everybody else will fold, by all means go full speed ahead with your all-in strategy. But if your goal is to make your pile of chips significantly bigger you need to approach it a little differently. Even if you have “the nuts” (which is the best possible hand) making a bet other than all-in will usually result in winning more chips. If you bet 300, for example, other players are more likely to call than if you bet 3,000. If you just like the adrenaline rush of betting it all, go ahead. But just remember they did not get the money build all those fancy casinos in Vegas by paying off big bets. They got that money by collecting bets that did not turn out well for the bettor.

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