Just created my account on Yachting Poker : http://www.mypokeracademy.com/poker-room-bonus/yachting-poker
Join the tournament !! Let's make it an interesting one ! .. Interesting for me anyways, i'll be winning :D
Poker player bloggers specially selected by our members and the crew at poker academy. Follow us as we make history, learn more about the game we all love. Create your own team to take part in our leader board and play in our monthly poker showdown challenge on Yachting Poker.
You'll often hear players talk about "mixing up their play." It really is an important aspect of becoming a successful and unpredictable player. If you play each and every hand the same way, it makes it that much easier for your opponents to get a read on your play.
The problem is that there is no textbook that will give you a formula for mixing up your play. So much of it depends on your opponents, what's happened recently, and their impressions of you. In order to mix up your play effectively, your memory of your own play has to be as good, if not better, than your recollection of what your opponents are doing.
The simplest example of this would be the following: Let's say you have just been caught three times in a row trying a check-raise bluff on the river. Well, if your opponents are paying any attention to the game at all, they are going to be very suspicious of you if you make that play again. So, you'll want to avoid that play for a little while, and if you are going to check-raise on the river, you have to be aware of the fact that you will get called because of your table image, so you had better have a strong hand!
Now, that was a pretty simple example, but I want to look deeper into a few tricks you can use to help mix up your play:
1. Lead with draws, check-raise with draws: If you are playing limit hold'em and have a drawing hand and are out of position, it's sometimes a good idea to just bet right out, hoping to pick up the pot with a semibluff. Or, you can even check-raise the flop with a drawing hand to make it look more powerful.
How you play a flush draw on the flop should depend on who your opponents are in the hand. If you know, for example, that the original raiser will bet every flop but fold to a check-raise unless he hits the flop, you might decide to go for the check-raise. Conversely, if your opponent would look to "save face" and call the check-raise with a wide variety of hands, you may be better off trying to win the pot by leading out.
There is a third option, of course, and that's playing it slow by checking and calling. By sometimes betting, sometimes check-raising, and sometimes check-calling with your drawing hands, it makes it more difficult for your opponents to know what you have.
2. Lead with top pair, check-raise with top pair: Similar to the previous example, you can also add texture to your game by mixing up how you play hands such as top pair, or even two pair or a set. Once again, let's say that you are playing limit hold'em and are in the big blind with A-J. A player raised coming into the pot, and you take the following flop heads up: Jh 8h 3s.
This is a great flop for your hand, so now you have to decide how to proceed. If you are up against an aggressive player, he will likely bet this flop regardless of his holding. Knowing this, you might decide to go for the check-raise.
Or, if your opponent would check a hand such as K-Q behind you, it might make more sense to bet. Now, those are the two basic thoughts that should go through your mind when deciding what to do.
Once you've had a playing history with your opponent, though, there are more variables to think about. What does he think you would do with top pair? What does he think you would do with a draw?
The best way to answer those questions is to go back into your memory bank and think of what your opponent has seen you do. Let's say he has noticed that you like to check-raise with made hands, but either check-call or lead out when you flop a draw.
If he reads your lead bet as weakness, you should go ahead and lead out at the flop. With the Jh 8h on the flop, there are lots of hands that he might convince himself he can beat. If he has 5-5, for example, he might put you on a hand such as 10-9, a flush draw, or even Q-10, and call you down having only two outs.
Once he calls you down in this spot, you've effectively nullified his "read" of your play and you will have him back on his heels guessing. At that point, you can really start to mess with his head and go back and forth randomly. That way, when you lead out at a flop, he'll know you do that with draws and with made hands. So, effectively, he will have no clue when you are semibluffing or when you are protecting the best hand!
These are just two examples of how you can mix up your play on the flop. There are many more examples and ways in which you can keep opponents guessing, and that is one of the most fun aspects of the game.
In no-limit hold'em, you might trap an opponent by just calling before the flop with A-A. Or, you might bet out at the flop with the nut flush and then check the turn. You could even try one of my old favorites: bet the flop with top set, check the turn, and then surprise your opponent with a raise on the river.
I just have to add one warning, though, and that's to avoid FPS and focus on making sure that you aren't veering too far from fundamentally correct play. Fancy plays work best when you use them sparingly. There is a fine line between mixing up your play and just using it as an excuse to play badly!
There's been much written on the subject of playing small pairs in Texas Hold'em. Small pairs consist of 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5 and 6-6. With so many words devoted to the topic, it's obvious that there are opposing theories regarding the best way to play them.
Here are my suggestions.
Unlike higher pairs, small pairs should not be played in all situations. Several factors determine whether you should enter a pot with a small pair: position, chip count, number of players, and cost to play.
In a typical ten-handed game, playing a small pair from early position simply won't show you a profit at the end of the year.
Your chip count and your opponent's stack size are also important considerations when deciding to call. If a player raises to 600 and only has 500 left, it's just not worth trying to catch trips on the flop, since you'll only be able to win an additional 500.
If, however, both you and your opponent have 30,000 in front of you, it makes more sense to see a flop for 600. If you're lucky enough to catch a set on the flop, you'll win a monster pot.
The number of players needs to be a considered, too, especially in a structured, limit game. Small pairs fare fine against one opponent, but generally don't do well in three or four-handed pots. However, if there are five or more players, you'd be getting excellent value. Go ahead and try to hit your set.
Small pairs want to see the flop as cheaply as possible. If someone just calls the big blind in front of you, then you can limp along for the minimum bet, hoping to capitalize after the flop. However, if the blinds are, say, 100-200, and an opponent raises the pot to 1,500, that's just too large a bet for you to stick around.
Once you've actually gotten to a flop, how you proceed depends on the number of opponents in the pot. If there are several players remaining, you should only continue if you flop three of a kind.
Against one or two opponents, though, you've got my green light to take one more shot at winning the pot. When choosing to do that, flop texture is of the utmost importance.
Suppose you're in a three-way pot and the flop comes Qh-10d-9h. This is a horrible flop for your lowly pair of fives; if anyone bets, fold. Even if they don't bet, you shouldn't try a bluff here, since it's far too likely that one of your opponents has something to go with that flop, like J-10 or Q-K.
A better texture would look something like Q-Q-3 or K-7-2.
With these flops, you can go ahead and bet your small pairs. Your opponents will probably fold unless they have a queen or king. If you consider yourself an aggressive player, you might try raising with these hands on occasion.
The best time to raise is when you're looking to steal the blinds. This strategy only works if no one has entered the pot before you. Also, being in late position increases the chances of the play being successful. If you raise from early position, there are too many hands to act behind you that might call.
When you raise with a small pair in position, you must play it strong after the flop. If an opponent in the blind calls your raise, then you must bet on virtually any flop -- even a flop as ugly as A-K-Q! Because you raised pre-flop, he'll think that you improved your hand. If he has a hand like Q-9, you'll probably win the pot with an aggressive bet.
Here's my rule of thumb: When playing small pairs, play them cheaply if you can, and only continue after the flop if you hit your trips.