Texas Holdem Poker Tournament Strategy – Starting Hands

By Rick Braddy

Welcome to the fifth in my Texas Holdem Poker Strategy Series, focusing on no limit Texas Holdem poker tournament play and associated strategies. In this article, we’ll examine starting hand decisions.

It may seem obvious, but deciding which starting hands to play, and which ones to skip playing, is one of the most important Texas Holdem poker decisions you’ll make. Deciding which starting hands to play begins by accounting for several factors:

* Starting Hand “groups” (Sklansky made some good suggestions in his classic “Theory of Poker” book by David Sklansky)

* Your table position

* Number of players at the table

* Chip position

Sklansky originally proposed some Texas Holdem poker starting hand groups, which turned out to be very useful as general guidelines. Below you’ll find a “modified” (enhanced) version of the Sklansky starting hands table. I adapted the original Sklansky tables, which were “too tight” and rigid for my liking, into a more playable approach that are used in the Poker Sidekick poker odds calculator. Here’s the key to these starting hands:

Groups 1 to 8: These are essentially the same scale as Sklansky originally proposed, although some hands have been shifted around to improve playability and there is no group 9.

Group 30: These are now “questionable” hands, hands that should be played rarely, but can be reasonably played occasionally in order to mix things up and keep your opponents off balance. Loose players will play these a bit more often, tight players will rarely play them, experienced players will open with them only occasionally and randomly.

The table below is the exact set of starting hands that Poker Sidekick uses when it calculates starting poker hands. If you use Poker Sidekick, it will tell you which group each starting hand is in (if you can’t remember them), along with estimating the “relative strength” of each starting hand. You can just print this article and use it as a starting hand reference.

Group 1: AA, KK, AKs

Group 2: QQ, JJ, AK, AQs, AJs, KQs

Group 3: TT, AQ, ATs, KJs, QJs, JTs

Group 4: 99, 88, AJ, AT, KQ, KTs, QTs, J9s, T9s, 98s

Group 5: 77, 66, A9s, A5s-A2s, K9s, KJ, KT, QJ, QT, Q9s, JT, QJ, T8s, 97s, 87s, 76s, 65s

Group 6: 55, 44, 33, 22, K9, J9, 86s

Group 7: T9, 98, 85s

Group 8: Q9, J8, T8, 87, 76, 65

Group 30: A9s-A6s, A8-A2, K8-K2, K8-K2s, J8s, J7s, T7, 96s, 75s, 74s, 64s, 54s, 53s, 43s, 42s, 32s, 32

All other hands not shown (virtually unplayable).

So, those are the enhanced Sklasky Texas Holdem poker starting hand tables.

The later your position at the table (dealer is latest position, small blind is earliest), the more starting hands you should play. If you’re on the dealer button, with a full table, play groups 1 through 6. If you’re in middle position, reduce play to groups 1 through 3 (tight) and 4 (loose). In early position, reduce play to groups 1 (tight) or 1 through 2 (loose). Of course, in the big blind, you get what you get.

As the number of players drops into the 5 to 7 range, I recommend tightening up overall and playing far fewer, premium hands from the better positions (groups 1 – 2). This is a great time to forget about chasing flush and straight draws, which puts you at risk and wastes chips.

As the number of players drops to 4, it’s time to open up and play far more hands (groups 1 – 5), but carefully. At this stage, you’re close to being in the money in a Texas Holdem poker tournament, so be extra careful. I’ll often just protect my blinds, steal occasionally, and try to let the smaller stacks get blinded or knocked out (putting me into the money). If I’m one of the small stacks, well, then I’m forced to pick the best hand I can get and go all-in and hope to double-up.

When the play is down to 3, it’s time to avoid engaging with big stacks and hang on to see if we can land 2nd place, heads-up. I tend to tighten up a bit here, playing very similar to when there’s just 3 players (avoiding confrontation unless I’m holding a pair or an Ace or a King, if possible).

Once you’re heads-up, well, that’s a topic for a completely different article, but in general, it’s time to become extraordinarily aggressive, raise a lot, and become “pushy”.

In tournaments, it’s always important to keep track of your chips stack size relative to the blinds and everyone else’s stacks. If you’re short on chips, then play far fewer hands (tigher), and when you do get a good hand, extract as many chips as you can with it. If you’re the big stack, well, you should avoid unnecessary confrontation, but use your big stack position to push everyone around and steal blinds occasionally as well – without risking too many chips in the process (the other players will be trying to use you to double-up, so be careful).

Well, that’s a quick overview of an improved set of starting hands and some general rules for adjusting starting hand play based upon game conditions throughout the tournament.

Until next time, best of luck to you at the Texas Holdem poker tables!

Rick

Rick Braddy is an avid writer, Texas Holdem player and professional software developer and marketer for over 25 years. His websites and Texas Holdem poker software helps people become better Texas Holdem players. If you’re a poker player, be sure to visit his Texas Holdem poker poker today and learn how you can play better Texas Holdem poker, too.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Rick_Braddy/2011

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Play Texas Holdem Poker And Win

By Alex Bannon

This article will reveal to you how to play Texas Holdem Poker and win. Read it now to learn how to win every time

Texas Holdem has gained significant ground in cash games during the recent past. The online poker sites offer a variety of games where the beginners can practice for free before starting on the real Hold em tables.

For beginners playing online is the best place to play because the poker sites handle the boring tasks over playing by themselves.

Play Texas Holdem Poker And Win – Before the Flop

If you are a new player of No Limit then you better restrict yourself to playing the AA-22 and the big connectors AK and AQ. This will surely help you avoid the vulnerability and still leave you a chance to make big money.

Play Texas Holdem Poker And Win – On the Flop

This is the most crucial stage of the Texas Hold em. You are advised to assess the relative strength of your holdings and release the hands that you suspect to be the second best.

Always make note of the stack size of yours and your opponents’. If you feel your opponent to be weak then take the lead with a raise. You are advised to fold while facing a bet until and unless you doubt the strength or weakness of your adversary.

Play Texas Holdem Poker And Win – On the Turn

As your target is obviously taking the lead and building the pot, you must stay focused and analyse the psychology of the opponents. Think twice and re-evaluate your hands before firing.

Play Texas Holdem Poker And Win – Strategy

Winning Texas Hold em requires as much skill as luck. But even more important factor is your strategy while betting. Your every move, bet, raise and call are as crucial as the cards in your hands. The strategy you need to adapt also depends upon your relative position around the table.

If you are sitting exactly beside the blinds you get almost no time to think and no chance to see others’ moves. When sitting in front of the small and big blinds, you get to witness others’ moves and get time to think and take appropriate action.

Play Texas Holdem Poker And Win – A Piece of Advice

Select the right table for the game. After all, you want at least 2-3 weaker players on the table when you sit down. Analyse the psychology of the players: who plays small hands, who intends to bluff, who can be bluffed, etc. Be respectful to the big raises, especially on the turn and river because such players usually don’t bluff.

Just use your brain on the right way and follow the info in this article and you too will be able to play Texas Holdem Poker and win every time.

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Alex is an avid Hold Em Poker player. Shoot him an email at alex@mytexasholdempokertips.com with any questions you have about winning Holdem.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Alex_Bannon/357151

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Poker Strategy – Playing Poker Using Profitable Decisions

The beginning poker player often has a hard time progressing to winning poker player. Without a coach to guide the poker player decisions aren’t often evaluated and therefore unlearned. Even with a coach, players might find it not as helpful since every player has strengths and weaknesses including coaches.
Certain decisions will be more profitable than others. For cash games assessing other players is to your benefit. For tournament players, there are three major areas decisions will have a major impact: late entry, the bubble and final table. Performance at these three areas can ensure profitable poker play.
Most people can’t find their own weaknesses. An outside objective partner even if not a coach can often be assistance here. Learning has to be a complete focused experience covering all aspects. This method covers weak areas as well as opens up new strategies making the player more robust than ever.
No one ever fixes everything instantly. And you’ll see flexibility is still important in the game. Assessing a player is weak and raising, you might find they win with a strong hand. Or a three bet with the same hand might not work at one time but work in the same game later.
It’s important to cover each part of the betting area from pre-flop to river and size up decisions. If you can fix the weak areas in your game by identifying the skills needed, you will find your weak areas will diminish and you will have more profitable outcomes.

Three of a Kind Deuces Wins Million Dollar Tournament

Playing poker I often will fold a low pair like a two or three or actually anything less than seven or eight. Often a higher ranking King or Queen will come in a wipe out my hope for a flush. I did adjust the strategy for those potential three of a kind and full house combos. And I found a mixed bag of success. Sometimes, those low pairs might be a winner by themselves and could even lead to a fullhouse or four of a kind.
The strategy is to checkout the first three cards that come up and if it looks good hang in there. For example, I get dealt a pair of deuces. If an opponent raises, I often will call. The flop shows unsuited Ace, Three, Four. I have a potential straight and if an opponent raises I will hang in there for a five. If there is a re-raise and I don’t have anything by this time, I will often fold.
Another scenarios is with a pair of deuces and the flop shows Ace, King, Queen or a potential straight not with my hold cards, I will fold. After all, a three of kind isn’t much to a potential straight.
The other side of the equation is also true. If the flop gives you a three of kind, check out the cards around it. Potential straights not including your hole card might occur. Often flushes and straights don’t happen. Chasing a flush or straight really requires gut instinct . They do happen but less frequently than pairs or three of kinds.
Below is a video of the latter example. The board revealed a pair of twos and the winner had one deuce in his hand. There wasn’t much potential for straights in this hand so it was an instinct move on the winner. The winner in this tourney took home over $250,000 in the Americas Cardroom Million Dollar Tourney in December, 2016.
Three of a Kind Deuces Wins Million Dollar Tournament

Trusting Your Gut Instincts at the Poker Table

“Trust your gut” is a phrase we often hear. It’s the inner voice that often guides us to successful outcomes. Many decisions from top leaders in every profession will tell you their gut instinct drove their decision.
How many times have you been at the poker table and pair of cards no matter what they are jump at you to play. It’s not an ace ace but an unsuited two and three and bingo out comes a pair of threes and a two. Joe blow went all-in with a pair of aces and you walked away with the pot! Gut instinct rules and we all have it. It’s just developing it and tuning into it while playing. One great example of gut instinct is when Fedor Holz went all-in with a seven and eight of spades and won the One Drop Tourney at the WSOP.
Gut instinct is vague and unable to be comprehended in simple terms. It’s when you fold a pair of aces and the winning hand is a flush or two pairs. It’s when you go all-in with a pair of twos and win with four of a kind. It’s all around you at every poker hand. How many times have you debated whether to call and either folded or played and won or lost. You have to believe in your gut instinct and your game will improve dramatically.
Gut instinct hands don’t come very often but you have to be in tune to the board when they do. It’s true by folding you can come out ahead and when many hands are dealt that look and are duds you can lose grip on staying fit for deciding when a hand is a winner. But, you have to . If you want to win the game of poker, you have to tune into each hand good or bad and decide if this is worth playing. Often, it’s not only a high pair that wins pots.
Trusting your gut instinct really depends on repetition. You must play over and over to develop your trust. As you win tournament after tournament you can say “it wasn’t luck at all. It’s really about good, gut instinct decisions.

Gaining Self Confidence at the Poker Table

Learning poker is filled with challenges. In the beginning, even simple things like hand values or raises can be full of anxiety. Nail biting decisions to call on a raise and lose can create a lack of confidence in the players’ ability and turn them off of the game. Confidence at the poker table comes through playing – in poker experience is your greatest teacher. No theory works all the time. Some of the things players do can lead to their dissolution with the game. In the beginning of any venture it’s common to make mistakes. Let’s look at some things that will improve your game and give you greater confidence.

Look at Where You Can Win
Poker is a thought game. If you think you can win, then you probably will win. Most players are looking for the big payday and tournaments larger than their budgets. If they bust out, then they’re out of the game and their confidence takes a hit and they lose money too. With that attitude that you can win, you will find more opportunities for great results. Look at tournaments where you think you can win and you probably will. This might mean lower pots but it is a step in the right direction, rather than shooting for the moon against professional players.
Professional poker players are everywhere but will gravitate to the big money games. Their livelihood depends on winning and they know every trick in the book. Making big raises with a mediocre hand, bluffing, going all-in with nothing, these are the opponents who create common anxiety producing situations for the new player.
Changing this is simple. Check out the results and keep playing. Sticking to one game, you will see the same players over and over. As a result, you can predict how they play. This doesn’t always work but seeing players behaviors over and over, can lead you to making better decisions as whether to bet or not. One players joins the tournament late and is in a rush to get his chipstack up and goes all-in frequently. Can they really have such great hands over and over? Probably not, but you have to have a great hand if you want to challenge them.
Poker is game with two components. One is the betting game and the other the cards themselves. And many raisers challenge everyone to wonder if they hand is good. Try it, simply raise a hand and see how many people fold leaving you with the pot. Few players have bonfide good hands. When doing this, it’s important for you to think you have a great hand since if you get called you have to deliver.
Find Your Game
One of the most important things for a player to do is to find their game. For example, if you can’t be in tournament for many hours, you might find a cash game will do. Or if you can sit for hours and hours and still not get fatigued or have other responsibilities, you might find tournaments will do. On a more focused note, you might like one game that starts at a great time for you. A good idea is to stick to that game for a while. You will be gaining experience often playing with the same people and can master your skills through experience. It will go a long way to do this.
Doing this you need to stick to stakes you can afford. Cover yourself with 3X the entry fee and you should be good to go. Busting out isn’t good but can happen to anyone. But you are here to observe and participate when you can. You will find playing the same game over and over will add experience skill and money to your bankroll.
Get Your Comfort Zone
This is one of the most important things. Once you find your game, you can find your comfort zone. You will know what hands may come up, how opponents might play. You can sidestep or raise more confidently. For example, one player might go all-in only when he has a good hand like a pair. Another player might do the same on basically nothing and hope for a bluff. You see these as you play especially playing the same game over and over. Following these steps will increase your confidence as you play and you can expect improved outcomes.