Friday, April 24, 2009

Winning Advice?

A word to the wise ain't necessary, it is the stupid ones that need all the advice -Bill Cosby

Below is some advice which I recently read, and thought it would serve as a good review of some high level NLHE concepts. I find that it is very useful to occasionally take a step back from the fine details of a problem or project and check that the fundamental 'bigger picture' details are in place and working properly. This is especially important when the problem is something of great complexity... or if it's success means the difference between making a salary or not!

Winning Tips for Texas Holdem players

Texas Holdem is a popular casino game. Though simple to learn, it is difficult to master. Here are some winning tips for
holdem players.

1. Texas Holdem game is basically a high card game. Whoever holds the two good high cards has the best chance for the best hand or a draw to the best hand after the flop.

2. It is important to play strong hands, as only strong hands are able to withstand a raise(s), from early betting positions.

3. At later positions, it is better to play medium strength hands, especially, if you have a good chance of seeing the flop at a decent price.

4. While it is advisable to play strong hands throughout Texas Holdem, it is also important to play aggressively.

5. Take all the raises you can get, as if you don’t rid yourself of competition, your chances of winning will reduce considerably.

6. Moreover, your aggression before the flop adds significant weight to any strong play you might want to use on the next round, especially if there is a bad flop and you want to attempt a steal.

7. In Texas Holdem always ensure that you are ready to fold your high pair if you get a lot of action with a hostile flop.

There are several points from above that I'd like to expand upon. As always my advice is geared towards 6-max NLHE, but still holds for full ring games.

#2. While this is true in lower limit games where there are only 100bb stacks, this advice needs to be relaxed when the stacks get deeper and the games become more tricky. If you can exploit an opponent by playing a hand like 53s that they would easily go broke against in the right situation, you should play that hand (providing you can do so cheaply).

#3. This should read "play medium strength hands as well as premium strength hands [in later positions]". When the price of playing is mentioned, don't forget to take into account any raises that can come from players still to act behind you. If you are going to be forced to fold if someone raises, and such a raise is more likely than not, it is best to fold now and save yourself the money of call-folding.

#5. This is linked to the previous point advising aggressive play. While I agree that aggression is important, sometimes it is a lot safer and economic to call rather than raise if doing so doesn't cost you any advantage. For example, say you are last to act in a hand with 2 opponents where the board of Ks 9h 4h Ad contains a flush draw and nothing else and you hold top 2 pair with Ac Kc. If player 1 (a tight aggressive opponent) bets out and player 2 (loose passive) calls, and you are sure player 2 has a flush draw and will not fold to a raise, it might be a good idea to simply call in this spot with your 2 pair. While you want player 2 to put as much money in the pot as possible with their flush draw, the fact that player 1 might easily have a set and re-raise allin means you should err on the side of caution here and wait for the river before committing more money to the hand.

#6. This is true, but only if your preflop aggression is occasional. Someone who raises and re-raises every other hand will not be given respect for a strong hand by the other players, and many of them will start to call down your bets on later streets with more marginal hands. So by all means be aggressive, but be aggressive only in specific spots.

Hopefully this advice is helpful, but as with all advice consider it carefully before you use it, and if any of it doesn't work for you then feel free to discard it. All the best.

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