Minimising Losses

Poker is a game about maximising profits and, just as importantly, minimising losses

Whilst everybody seems to remember the first half of that equation the second is quite often forgotten. Or, worse still, ignored. Be honest, have you ever called a hand that you were pretty sure you had lost? This is why discipline is such a key requirement of any good player. You must be able to walk away from a hand when you think it is second-best.

Maximising your wins is fairly easy. Slow playing and trapping help fatten pots, but the reality is that any fool can win a decent amount when he/she has a good hand. As Kenny Rogers famously said – you got to know when to hold them and know when to them.

Winning Poker

What generally separates a winning poker player from a losing one is how the two players lose their hands – unfortunately you can’t win all the time. The winning poker player knows how to dump his second-best hand while the loser will call it down, lose at the showdown and accordingly lose money.

That’s why, at No-Limit, it’s best to play the nut-like hands more. In other words, pocket pairs go up in value because of their ability to hit a set and so do connecting cards because of their ability to hit straights. Ace-suited goes up in value too because of the nut flush, but people are generally very aware of the flush potential and will shut you out at the flop when you hit a flush draw.

Since these hands go up in value, what goes down? AQ, AJ, KQ, KJ, etc. These hands are the ones that can get destroyed at No-Limit Poker. These hands will win small pots with top pair, but will lose large ones when someone else hits a set or a straight. By the same token it is advisable to raise AA, KK, QQ before the flop to prevent someone out drawing you.

Working Example

For example, let’s suppose that you just limp in with A-K early and nobody raises behind you. There are 3 other players in the hand, including the blinds. The flop comes out A-7-8 rainbow, which is a very good flop for your hand – a pair of Aces with top kicker. The 3 other players check to you, and you make a pot-sized bet. The small blind folds, but the other 2 players stay in.

The turn comes with another 7. Both players check again, and you bet about the size of the pot. Only the big blind calls. The river comes with another 8, so now the board looks like: A-7-8-7-8.

This time, your single opponent puts the rest of his stack in. At this point, you should be dropping your hand. You only have one pair of Aces plus a community pair of 8s. Unfortunately, time and time again, online players will call in this situation.

I realize that you are justified in wanting to call with this hand. You had a darn good one on the flop, and what kind of idiot would have called your bet on the flop with only a 7 or an 8? The answer is: online players! And don’t forget you could be also now be up against a set or a full house.

Many of your online opponents will make a weak call, even when they’ve only flopped middle or bottom pair. They figure that if they hit the right turn, they can make two pair or a set and crush you. While that may happen sometimes, this logic is severely flawed because it’s just not going to happen often enough to warrant calling your significantly sized bet. Plus, they are out of position.

While experienced players can understand this deductive reasoning, you’ll have to start putting yourself in your clueless opponent’s shoes in order to beat him.

Hopefully you should already have some information as to what sort of opponent your opponent is by having watched them. You do want them to be the type of loose player – but remember even bad players can catch cards.

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