All The Aces Daily Poker Column

Poker: The Raiser's Edge

Can you cut it as a poker player?

The Raiser's Edge
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Always take the time to watch for betting patterns among your opposition. They can sometimes offer you easy–to-spot intel. A majority of players betray what’s happening in their hand simply by the way they bet. If a player calls the blinds pre-flop, then bets on the flop, bets again on the turn and checks at the river you can pretty much see what’s going on. Obviously the player made some sort of a hand at the flop (hence the first bet) bet the turn but having failed to land two pair or a set, checks at the river. The upshot is you know pretty much what they’re holding from the betting pattern. Probably a high pair with a good kicker. Railbird a while on a few games and you’ll see it happen in real time and be able to check the outcome. You’d be amazed at how many players operate on automatic and constantly repeat old patterns.

Q: I’ve been throwing away a lot of low pocket pairs lately. Is that the right thing to do?
Usually it’s good discipline, although of course any pair always tempts a player when they land right off the bat. The trouble is you only need a handful of players acting behind you to give you trouble.
Let’s say you actually flop three of a kind and you have three other callers alongside you. The likelihood is one of them flops a bigger set than you as you’re starting with low value cards. If you then bet down to the river you’re probably going to drown.

Q: I see lots of outrageous and loose play by the big names on TV poker shows. What’s all this advice about playing tight, disciplined Hold’em?
A: Excellent question and there’s a simple answer. TV cameras want excitement and they tend to film games at the final table of a big tournament. By that stage the professionals involved have to take big chances because of the huge blinds that are in play. What you don’t see on screen is the hours of tight tactical play that gets the heavy hitters to the final table. That’s where the good poker is played but of course it makes for BAD TV.

ALL THE ACES poker column:
Monday January 30, 2006: 
Poker: The Raiser's Edge