Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Tired of River Beats in No Limit Texas Hold’em Poker?

The most frustrating part of a poker players life is getting called down by some idiot that is on a draw, only to make his hand on the river.

Is there truly a way to prevent this? The short answer is NO!
However, there is a way to minimize your losses and potentially stop bleeding chips to calling stations and donkeys that can not lay down a draw.

Project your image and know your opponent’s image:

First, recognize who is at your table: identify your calling stations, aggressive players, and donkeys.
Next project your identity at the table, if you are playing aggressive, you are more likely to be called down.
If you are playing tight, there is a less chance of being called down, and if you are a calling station, you will quickly get taken advantage of by superior players.

Your image at the table is as important as the images of your opponents, so make sure you project a good table image. Projecting a tight image will allow you to make a timely bluff or steal without the risk of someone calling.

Keep the pot size manageable:

This is very crucial! Keep the pot size relatively low enough until you are sure you have the absolutely best hand. Here is why: generally speaking, people are GREEDY, they will chase a rainbow for the pot of gold more often if they believe there is a HUGE reward. Let us say you are in a $1 - $2 cash game, and it is a limped pot with 4 other players. You hold AJ of hearts in middle position, you limp as well. Flop is A of clubs, J of spades, and 3 of hearts. There is $10 in the pot, SB (small blind) checks, BB (big blind) checks, UTG (under-the-gun) checks, and your turn with one person after you to act, LP (late position). What do you do?

A.) Bet the pot, $10, the pot is now $20
B.) Check to see what late position does.
C.) Bet ½ the pot, the pot is now $15.
D.) Overbet the pot ($20) to keep anyone from drawing, the pot is now $30

If you have identified all your opponents, you will make the correct decision. Currently only 3 hands can beat you (pocket J’s pocket Aces and pocket 3’s)

Let us say SB and BB are fairly tight players, UTG is a calling station, and LP is aggressive.

Do you know what your opponents are holding? You can be certain that UTG and LP are not holding any of the hands that can beat you, because of their style, they would have raised pre-flop. What about SB and BB? Would they have limped in with pocket pairs? (most likely given their tight style they could have)

Know the FUTURE hands that can beat you:

Now consider the implied hands that can beat you by the turn: 10 Q (any K for a straight), 10 K (any Q for a straight), J 3 (any 3 for a full house), A 3 (any 3 for a full house), X 3 (10 hands, any 3 for trips) , any remaining pocket pairs (10 pocket pairs can make a full house), for a total of 27 hands that can beat you on the turn.

Knowing that 27 hands can beat you on the turn how much are you willing to risk with a calling station and an aggressive player in the hand?

If you picked A or D, you have made the pot quite attractive to anyone holding the 27 hands that could beat you. If you picked C, those 27 hands will still call you, but you have minimized your risk. If you pick B, you are currently only risking $2 to this pot. The ideal way to make money in poker is to minimize your risk with maximum returns, just like any business investment.

Take a look at the investment and return on your investment (ROI)
Choosing A, you have invested $12 to win $6 (minus the rake of $2)- potential ROI 50%
Choosing B, you have invested $2 to win $7 (minus the rake of $1) – potential ROI 350%
Choosing C, You have invested $7 to win $7 (minus the rake of $1) – potential ROI 100%
Choosing D, you have invested $22 to win $6 (minus the rake of $2) –potential ROI 28%

Clearly, you can see that B and C are the wisest investments. However, you may say, well I do not make much money that way. You are correct, but Poker is not always about making money, it is also about NOT LOSING! If you believe you should win every time you are ahead, you need to STOP playing poker and take up a more suitable hobby like fishing or bowling, those sports also have competitive tournaments where you could try and win big cash.

Winning in No Limit Texas Hold’em is based largely on making the correct decision at the right time. Too often people with strong starting hands feel they should win all the time. In reality, there is no hand that is a 100% preflop winner. Use these three tips: table image, pot manageability, and hand possibility to avoid bleeding chips. Again, you are never going to avoid all river beats, however, you can control the amount of your losses. For more great tips read this post on poker strategies.
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