Want to be a poker God? Take a few tips from Chris Ferguson – also known as Jesus
PUMP ’EM OR DUMP’ EM
|If your hand is strong enough for a call, it should be good enough for a raise too
In no-limit Hold’em normally a good rule of thumb is to never just call as the first player to enter a pot before the flop. Either pump up the pot with a raise or dump your cards in the muck. If your hand is strong enough for a call, it should be good enough for a raise too. And if you always raise by the same amount (three big blinds is recommended in no-limit) it keeps your opponents guessing and you’re not letting the big and small blinds see more cards for free.
PICK AND MIX
Selective aggression is the key to poker, but playing in a very straightforward manner when you enter a pot is going to cause you problems against all but the weakest opponents. Therefore you need to mix it up, playing A-A slowly once in a while and pushing the action with suited connectors occasionally to keep people guessing.
Information is available all the time, not just when you’re in the hand or it’s your turn to speak. Every bet and piece of action can help you understand how your opponents think about poker and how they’re likely to play in the future. Watch what the best players do to see how they play against the table and keep an eye on the worst to figure out how to get chips from them. But don’t forget about the guys in the middle either!
Poker is all about making the correct decision in a variety of situations. And key to this is watching how others play in tournaments, especially at the critical later stages. For example, if you have a large stack on the bubble, you’ve got some licence to show aggression, looking for opportunities to push fearful short and medium stacks around and build a lot of chips for the fi nal; normally at this stage, even the other big stacks won’t want to get involved in a face-off with you. Similarly, when you’re one player away from the final table this opportunity arises again as nobody wants to miss out on the chance of moving up a few places in the grand finale!
Poker is a game where the best players can lose to the worst players on any hand on any day, so it’s important not to assume that you know more than your opponents. Also, don’t hastily decide that you’re better than them as no-one knows everything about poker. In the end complacency and thinking you have nothing left to learn will only land you in trouble and result in you losing your chips.
CALL MY BLUFF
Obviously if you have the best hand you want to get called and if you have nothing you can only win with a bluff. But betting on a middling hand builds a pot when you might not be best, so it’s often easier and wiser to just play it slow. This is especially true on the river where the only reasons to bet are for value or as a bluff.