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Making Tough Poker Decisions Easier

Making Tough Poker Decisions Easier

You are playing a 6-max no-limit Texas Hold’em (NLHE) cash game with $1/$2 blinds and a $200 stack (all your opponents have similar stack sizes as well). Two players fold and you look down and see Ac Kd in the cutoff position.  You open the pot with a raise to $7, the button folds, and both the SB and BB calls.  The pot is now $21 and the flop reads Kh Th 6c.  Both blinds check and you make a standard continuation bet of $15, but the SB raises you to $40, and the BB folds.  You think about it for a few seconds, but notice that the timebank on the online poker software you are playing is flashing and you hear a beeping sound alerting that it is your turn to act. You only have a few seconds to act before it folds you automatically. The pressure is on – what will you do next? Do you fold, call or re-raise? You are not sure what to do next…  Have you ever encountered a similar situation while playing online poker and faced with a tough decision? If so, it is best to plan ahead and craft a proper strategy so that you can act accordingly. Here are some valuable tips to help you.

Get a read

After playing a few hands you should have a general idea whether the villain is loose or tight, passive or aggressive, conservative by nature or prone to making bluffs.  You will need to pay attention to the villain’s playing style and tendencies.  Did you just see him check-raise earlier in a similar spot or play aggressively when out of position? If so, he may be a maniac and spewing chips.  Maybe he is known to play tight and always check-call when out of position. In that case, you can respect his raise and safely fold. In order to make accurate assumptions about the villain, you must first observe how he plays, especially in hands that you are not in.

Opponent’s Behavior

If the SB was recently losing a lot of money, he may be on tilt, and prone to trying to chase his money back. It is imperative that you observe his behavior to see if he is playing optimally or playing on tilt. If the villain is on tilt, you can capitalize on his mistakes and slow play your top pair, top kicker hand.

Hand Range

You must put your opponent on a range of hands and act accordingly based on that. In this particular example, the villain may have a variety of hands from a set, two pair, top pair, a strong semi-bluff drawing hand like straight or flush draws, one pair or a bluff. Based on your opponent’s hand range, you can properly decide what to do next. If you feel your hand is stronger than your opponent’s hand range, you can move forward by calling or re-raising. Obviously in this example, it is best to just call and see what he does next on the turn card.

Stack sizing

In this example, you both have approximately 100 bigblinds so it is best to be a little bit more conservative as you do not want to lose your stack with just one pair. However, if the villain has a shallow stack (i.e. less than 30 big blinds), it is ok to re-raise allin or just call and plan to commit your chips on the turn.  Your opponent stack size is an important factor in deciding what to do next.

Thinking ahead

The majority of players think about their action only as it happens, however, to be a successful winning poker player – it is necessary to always have a plan for the hand. Before taking any action, whether it is to check, bet or raise, always try to plan ahead on what you will do next. You must put together your strategy as early as possible in the hand and consider all the possible outcomes that your actions could result on each street ahead of time.  This will give you a considerable edge against your competition, and help you avoid tough decisions because you are already prepared for it.

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