Posts Tagged ‘pot odds’

Playing against Loose Poker Opponents

Saturday, August 10th, 2013

One of the most common styles in poker is that of loose players. A loose poker player is somebody who plays a large number of hands preflop. There is an even greater distinction here because there are both loose-aggressive and loose-passive grinders.

A loose-aggressive (LAG) player not only plays lots of hands, but they enter pots with a big raise. Loose-passive players normally limp into pots and frequently call bets. It’s important to know the difference because each type of loose opponent requires a different strategy. That said, here’s a look at some general strategy for dealing with both types of loose players.

Playing Loose-Passive Opponents

The key to beating your loose-passive opponents is to see cards cheaply and keep players in the pot when you hit a strong hand. Since loose-passive players are defined by their willingness to call, you simply need a good knowledge of what bet sizes will keep them in the pot.

So you can enter a lot more pots with limps and small raises while hoping to hit sets, flushes and straights. Once the flop hits, you can use your pot odds and implied odds to continue chasing drawing hands. Value betting becomes your friend if you do get a strong hand, and previous observations of opponents will be really important here too.

Also remember that the pots will be much smaller when competing against a number of loose-passive players, so don’t expect to collect huge winnings.

Playing Loose-Aggressive Opponents

When pitted against LAG’s, you shouldn’t be playing too many hands. The reason why is because the majority of these grinders bet big and thin out the field. So it’s best if you can gain a preflop advantage and make large bets.

After the flop, many LAG’s will continue betting big, whether their hand connects or not. The idea here is to either force an opponent out of the pot, or build the pot if their hand does hit. Because of the nature in which these games go, you won’t have an opportunity to see many free cards.

However, you can often take control of hands by betting first when you feel that opponents are on a draw. By wagering enough, you’ll give these players bad odds to call, which is positive expected value for you.

Both kinds of loose grinders can put you up to some difficult situations. But with enough practice and observation, you have a solid shot at beating these players and making some money.

Avoiding Tough Poker Hands

Friday, August 19th, 2011

As we all know, not every online poker hand we’re dealt is going to be pocket aces or kings. In fact, the large majority of the time, you’re either dealt garbage, or hands that put you into difficult postflop situations.

For example, let’s say that you’re dealt T-9 in late-middle position and two limpers are out in front. With two limpers already in the hand, this presents a good time to limp in with your connectors, and hope for a draw and good pot odds on the flop. However, you also have to consider that if somebody raises the hand in the cutoff, button or blinds, you’re going to be forced to make a very tough decision. And if the raise is large enough to make you fold, you’ve just wasted a bet calling with a marginal preflop hand.

Of course, this isn’t to say that you should avoid playing solid drawing hands like T-9 from middle position because they can lead to bigger hands later on. But you also have to think ahead in this situation, and consider what your table is like. Are there any fish who would actually give you action if the straight did come through for you? Are there any tight players left in the pot that would fold to a bluff if you completely missed the draw?

These are some of the things that you need to think about when deciding if it’s the correct decision to play a tough poker hand. And tricky poker hands only become tougher to play when you’re in early position. In any case, always be thinking ahead with those tough poker hands, and don’t be afraid to fold them until you’ve gained enough information on other players at the table.

Set Mining Strategy

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

One of the most important concepts for trying to take an opponent’s stack in Texas Hold’em is set mining. Basically, all set mining involves is playing a dominated pair in hopes of turning it into a set. And most of the time, you will have the best hand after hitting a set, which gives you a great chance to extract extra more money from an opponent(s).

But the main problem with the whole concept of set mining is that you only have around 8:1 odds of flopping a set. This being the case, your pot odds of hitting a set are always going to be bad, so you need to rely on implied odds. In addition to this, you should be in a deep-stacked situation because there needs to be enough money involved to make playing for a set is profitable.

Going back to the implied odds, you really need to know the opponent who you’re set mining against. If the player is likely to fold, even with top pair, as soon as you make a pot-sized raise against them, there’s little point in set mining. However, if you are up against somebody who has shown a willingness to put their stack in with kings or aces, set mining becomes a lot more profitable.

To illustrate how set mining works, let’s say that you have pocket 8’s and the flop comes up 2s-5h-8d; also, your opponent has pocket kings. In this situation, some players will play their pocket kings to the fullest seeing as how A) they don’t want the opponent to hit a flush draw without paying, and B) they likely don’t expect you to call their preflop raise with a low pair. And if they believe you are the type of person who would play a flopped top pair in this instance, it further increase your chances of making money.

Raising with Drawing Hands

Saturday, May 14th, 2011

One seemingly crazy play that a lot of high stakes poker players make is raising with drawing hands. And what’s puzzling about this move is that most poker strategy suggests only calling with drawing hands when you have good pot odds and/or implied odds. But when you take a closer look at the logic behind raising with drawing hands, the move makes a lot more sense.

But before we get into the logic behind raising with a straight or flush draw, realize that you should avoid doing this until you know your opponent’s range pretty well. Assuming you do know the range of hands that your opponent is willing to play, you can get a better idea of when is and isn’t a good time to raise with your drawing hand.

Now, getting to the reasons why raising with drawing hands can be profitable, the biggest benefit is that you disguise your hand. For example, while holding 9s-Ts on a flop of Js-5h-As, raising here indicates a strong chance that you might have top pair rather than a flush and/or straight draw. Maybe your opponent has A-Q non-suited and they’re wondering if you have A-T, so they cautiously think that they have you beat. In any case, you’ve disguised your drawing hand, and have a strong possibility of extracting maximum value from it later on.

Another huge benefit of raising with a drawing hand is that you can make somebody with a better hand fold. Using the same situation from before, your 9s-Ts combination is easily beaten by the A-Q non-suited combo at this point. But with a raise, maybe your opponent thinks you have a two-pair, set, or even A-K. With all of these thoughts running through their head, you are more likely to make them fold the better hand.

Bet Sizing Tips

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

One intermediate concept that you learn about later in poker is bet sizing. As the name implies, bet sizing simply refers to the size of bet that you make in a given situation. For example, if you have pocket aces preflop and you shove your whole stack in, the bet size was your whole stack in this instance. Okay, that was a horrible example, and it’s exactly what you want to avoid with the bet sizing concept.

Instead, your goal should be to make appropriate bet sizes based on a given situation. Taking the aforementioned pocket aces preflop example, most people suggest raising just enough so that you isolate one opponent, yet not so much that you make everybody fold. This helps maximize your advantage with pocket aces, while keeping drawing hands out of the equation.

Depending on the stakes and dynamics of the table you’re at, this amount will differ in every instance. But for the purpose of this article, we’ll say that you are in a $0.25/$0.50 game, and a 4 times the big blind raise should isolate one player without encouraging others to call.

For another example, let’s say that you’re holding As-Qh on a flop of Ad-7h-Jd against one opponent; in this instance, you have top pair and a good kicker, but you are vulnerable to a flush draw (assuming you don’t already think your opponent has a set or two pair). This being the case, you don’t want the opponent to see cards for cheap if they’re on a flush draw, so you should size your bet to offer bad calling odds.

To do this, consider that the opponent has around 4:1 odds of hitting their assumed flush draw, so you need to raise enough to make this a profitable play for you in the long run. If $20 is in the pot, you need to make at least a $6 raise to give them worse pot odds (3.3:1 pot odds).

As you can see, sizing bets properly goes a long way to helping you reach a desired result on the poker table.