Play or pass: Marcel Luske

Dutchman Marcel Luske is known as one of the nicest players on the circuit, but don't let that fool you, this guy is a tournament powerhouse

Since bursting onto the scene in 1999, ‘The Flying Dutchman’ has proved to be one of the most consistent performers on the circuit. In fact, he has just won the $3,000 no-limit hold’em event at the Five-Star World Poker Classic in Las Vegas. With almost $3 million in winnings, Luske is a huge success.


It’s nice to find Aces on the big blind, especially when there’s an all-in – that’s an automatic call. Occasionally, as long as you have chips, you might want to limp in to conceal the strength of your hand. However, let’s say, for example, that you raise three times the big blind and you get three callers. Somebody calls behind you, somebody calls in front of you, and then the flop comes 7-8-9. You have to forget about your Aces and lay them down to a big raise. The minimum you’re up against if they haven’t hit a set is J-10 or a pair drawing to the straight.


A-K is the most overly played hand. It makes people lose money just because they can’t bring themselves to throw it away. It seems too strong to throw away because you’re only the underdog against someone with Kings or Aces. In every other case, you’ve got more than a 50% chance of winning the hand, but why would you want to put all your money in on a 50/50 shot? Make a small raise with it – for example, if the blinds are 200/400, you would raise 800 with A-K. You’re hoping that you get the small blind or big blind to call with a bad Ace. If you’re up against a made hand such as pocket 9s or pocket Jacks, you’re already 10% behind and drawing. And if it’s not your day, you’re not going to hit it.


Aces with small kickers are only good in heads-up play, so throw them away when you’re in early position. However, if you’re on the button and you’ve only got about ten times the big blind left, you know you have to make a stand. Don’t wait for someone to get a hand and then take you on: take the action to them. Raise up to five times the big blind. If the other players have A-K or A-Q, they’re going to call, but if they also have an Ace with a small kicker, they usually won’t and you can pick up some valuable blinds and build your stack.


Small pairs will only be good if you’re in position and you have two or three limpers. Maybe they’ll only cost you 200 out of your 10,000 stack. However, if you have to pay 10% of your stack knowing that you have to hit the set on the flop, you should just muck it whether you’ve got 2s, 3s, 4s, 5s or 6s. Some people feel they automatically have to push all-in with a low pocket pair like 3s when they’re on the short stack. Let’s say, though, you’re in middle position and have one caller in front of you. You know whatever you do they’re not going to fold their hand because they have an overpair or overcards. That’s not the right time to go all-in. Remember that you’re going in to win the pot, not to force someone to fold.

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