Category: Poker Strategy

Shorthanded Texas Holdem

Adjusting your play – An introduction for beginners

This information is not a template for a winning game. It is on the contrary an explanation of the factors that matters when you only play a few players and what the game at shorthanded tables looks like. Will you make a profit or a loss? Well this is mainly up to your ability to read the game and to change and vary it and of course pick the right opponents. Therefore it is recommended that you do not play any NL games before you have played for quite a long time and thus have gained some experience.

The major part of this text applies to fixed low limit shorthanded Holdem although it to some extent also applies to NL.

When the number of players at a table has gone down to about 6 or fewer you start talking about shorthanded play. Playing FL Texas Hold’em like I earlier have been recommended at full 10-tables is a completely wrong method to manage well. When playing shorthanded you are more or less forced to play more hands to be successful at the poker table. Rule of thumb: The fewer players the more played hands by you (If the blinds aren’t smaller than usual). You should also play more aggressively.

This in the first place is due to:

That the blinds go quicker around the table. If you do not play they will finish your stack. In other words – what you spend on blinds will not be covered by the occasional winning hands you get by playing tightly.
That you have fewer opponents. Thus luck or chance affects fewer opponents. This of course minimizes the risk that a fairly high pair with a pretty good kicker card will be beaten by somebody else. At a 10-player-table it is fairly easy to take down a cocky player who plays bad starting hands as the player frequently will meet high cards or high pairs. When playing at shorthanded tables this is not as obvious.
That you have bigger chances to blind steal. The blinds are generally more valuable when playing shorthanded.
That players are more afraid of opponents who raise often. More players than you expect can join in up to the river card without calling your bluff after the river card. Calling stations are welcome, that is the players that from the odds point of view play wrongly by being too much in love with their high cards and call all the way without having at least a pair on the hand.
Some background to make the above way of thinking more complete:

Let’s say you are playing heads-up, fixed limit at a $2/$4-table at an online poker room such as Bodog Poker Canada.

You pay the Small Blind ($1) and your opponent the Big Blind ($2)

You raise before the flop and plan to go on playing if the flop will give you anything. This means you are prepared to pay $3 to win the $3 that already are in the pot.

If your opponent call you 50% of the times this means that you already at this stage have an advantage as you are the one who decide if you want to go on, that is if you have got a good hand. You always fold if the flop does not give you anything after first having checked your opponent and he then has made a bet.

If your opponent call you less than 50% of the times you have the best chances to make a profit. This is partly due to the fact that he is folding his Big Blind to you and partly that you sometimes win more hands after the flop.

Now to the extra nice part. If your opponent only calls, for example 33% (1/3) of the times, this means that you win $3 two times out of three and lose $3 the third time. This means that you on average make a profit of $1 per played hand. Add further profits that you make when flopping a good hand and go on playing.

Countermeasures to this way of playing are of course, as you already might have guessed, calling and raising more frequently. This is not a recommendation – it is a must!

The winning concept is often: Raise or fold frequently.
Very often it is better to raise than just calling when you have a playable hand and when the table consists of few players and these are passive. By doing this you take the initiative and can use this in different ways – disguise your hands, bluffing and get some good action when you have the nuts. This is particular suitable when you are in a position for blind steal when players aren’t defending their blinds strongly enough.

Selecting tables – Aggressive play
Passivity is a sign of weakness when you play shorthanded. That is why I look for tables with LOW flop percentage when I want to play aggressive shorthanded. This is in other word completely opposite to what I look for when I play fixed limit with full tables.

Selecting tables – Passive play
It is of course possible to play fairly tight Hold’em at these tables but in order to make this work satisfactory you would like to have 5-6 players around the table and a high flop percentage. The rule of thumb “Call more hands when playing shorthanded than at full10-player-tables” is however always valid.

Starting Hands
In most cases it is enough to have a fairly high card in combination with a fairly good kicker card (7 or higher) to call or raise. Overdoing the aggressive play can sometimes pay off at certain tables but it can also make you lose a lot if you do not notice that your opponents have started slowplaying or that they simply cannot be defeated easily – cause they know that you know how to defeat these tables…

A starting hands table will not be shown here. These hands are far too dependent on the playing conditions at the table.

and something about FL odds
When the flop has been dealt you should see to it that you always have something on your hand when calling somebody. Making a a draw for something else than a flush (when you have 4 cards to a flush) or straight (when you have an open straight draw, for instance 9-T- J-Q) is from an odds point of view a completely wrong decision if you are sure that the opponent has a stronger hand than yours and you also know that he will not give up. And very often it is much better beeing the agressor in those hands.

If you have an A with a fairly good kicker card without anything else worth mentioning I do not say it is wrong to raise as you with frequent raises can force a player with a mediocre pair to fold. This is more common than the fact that you will hit an A on the turn- or river card… This however to a large extent depends on how scaring the flop is to your opponent and your own certainty that your opponent does not have anything that is favoured by the flop.

Even if you join up to showdown and lose your way of playing might have created good conditions for coming hands when you really have a strong hand. As mentioned before it takes a lot of reading and thinking/planning when playing shorthanded compared to playing longhanded (10 players).
Shorthande playing contains lots of hands that goes all the way to showdown with an A as the highest card with a low kicker card after loads of raises which might be good to know (there is of course a big difference between playing against 6 players or against 3 players – so be wise!). You keep your game balanced.

Risk of trouble

The shorthanded tables are probably the place where the players tend to use bad language and cause trouble the most ;-). If you learn to play winning shorthanded you should not expect to hear that you are good player. It is more likely you will be booed at and asked to go to a place which is slightly hotter.

You have to disregard this and merely establish the fact that these comments come from players who do not know what they are talking about and who play too tightly. That is why they literally hate your raising standards with QTo (well, it should’t be standard raise either – it depends on the table…) and even worse hands. Calling the flop in this way is not a problem but going on calling is wrong unless you have something of value.


Does this sound simple? Unfortunately it is not. Reading the players and picking the right opponents is incredibly important in order to beat these tables which is the difference from the low limit-tables where you in the long run nearly make a profit automatically by playing very tightly and by using your positions ( if many players call the flop and play their hands too far).

Be aware that your bank roll will be exposed to BIG fluctuations.

The rake

Playing shorthanded or heads-up without rakeback is a big waste of money. Even at the limit tables the pots will be raked for hundreds of dollars each month. This is an amount that you could have yourself.

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Value Betting the River in Texas Holdem

If you read any types of advanced poker ebooks or strategy articles at any of the online poker sites, you’ll learn that one of the biggest flaws amongst even winning players in the micro-stakes games is that they don’t value bet the river properly.

Unfortunately a lot of regulars butcher the river. They either don’t value bet the river enough with strong hands, or they value bet in awkward situations where they would be much better off checking for value and taking the safer route.

Think about this one for a second. Have you ever caught yourself with Ax or mid-pair and decided to raise the board after a check only to get bluff-raised off the pot and fold? Well this is precisely what I’m talking about when I say that most players don’t play the river profitably enough or exploit enough value from the regulars.

There are no rigid safeguards or rules for how you play the river. In fact, the river encapsulates what Texas Holdem is all about. Getting the meta-game right, understanding your opponent’s playing style and narrowing down his hand range is the only right way to playing the river. If you are having to guess at these stage whether your opponent has something or not then you’re probably not at a very good player yet.

Against calling stations and weak TAG players you should be value betting lightly more often, since they are more likely to call with dominated hands. Against decent LAGs and solid players however you should only be value betting with strong hands.

Value Bet or Check the River?

You only want to value bet the river when you’re ahead. Typical hands that I will value bet the river with will be 3 of a kind, the nut flush/straight or top two pair. For example, if I have K10 on a board A-K-4-9-K then it is 99% likely that you are ahead.

Your aim should be to extract the maximum value possible from the board, however knowing how to do this will depend on your opponent’s playing style and how he played the flop and turn. If he showed some aggression by betting the flop and continuing by betting the turn then he’s probably got the Ace and will be calling you down.

On the other hand if he checked both the flop, turn and river then he’s very unlikely to call any sized bet on the river. He might have even had a drawing hand like JQ and missed it on the river. Against these types of players you need to make much smaller value bets to encourage them to call. I’d make a ¼ pot value bet for example rather than a 50% bet which I’d do if my opponent had the ace.

Most players fail to recognize dangerous boards and value bet when they are not 100% confident that they are ahead. A bad time to value bet the river for example would be when you have 78 on a 9-10-J-Q-4 board. Although you have a very good hand you could easily be drawing dead to the nut straight. Hence, if your opponent checks to you then you are better off checking for value and seeing a cheap showdown.

To explain why checking is the best option let’s say you value bet for instance. By value betting 50% of the pot you are only likely to get called by hands that beat you since there are 4 cards to the straight on the board. What’s more, if you value bet the river then there is a greater chance that your opponent will try to bluff-raise you by representing the nut straight. Hence, checking for value is the best option in the long term.

Now, obviously there will be much more difficult situations to assess on the river. Let’s say that you have JQ for example and board shows 6-J-K-2-7. If you’re opponent checks over to you then your decision to bet the river should be based on your opponent’s tendencies. If he c-bet the flop but checked both the turn and river then he could have hit the bottom or even mid-pair.

You should value bet against this opponent since there is a high chance they will call with an inferior hand. On the other hand, if he raised pre-flop, bet the flop and the turn but then checked the river, then there is a greater possibility that he has the K. Since he showed so much aggression earlier in the hand I will check behind a check under these circumstances and avoid an ugly re-raise.

Razz Poker

Poker is big family of card games. Many of these card games have been popular at different points of time. Razz Poker is one such poker game that has achieved popularity very recently.

It is basically a stud poker game that is also called low ball poker, meaning, the lowest hand wins. The aim of the game is to make the lowest possible hand of five cards, out of the seven cards that are dealt to a player.


As is the case with most of the poker games, the history of Razz is not very clear. Where and when the game started is yet to be ascertained, but it is believed that the game started soon after 7 card stud became popular in the early 1900s.

Razz was included in the first World Series of Poker (WSOP) in 1971, and has been included in every WSOP since then except the one in 1974.

The game was never very popular, and Seven Card Stud and 5 Card Draw took the limelight for the rest of the 20th century. However after 2004 WSOP, when the event was televised, Razz started getting popular.

Razz Poker Rules

The game is played with a standard 52 card deck amongst a maximum of 8 players.

The game starts with the players making their ante bet, which is the opening bet. After this, every player is dealt two cards face down. These are called the hole cards. Also they are dealt one card face-up; this is called the door card.

Now, the player who has the highest door places the first bet called the ‘bring-in’. In case two players have the same ranked card then the decision is made based upon the suit. The rank of suits in descending order is spades, heart, diamonds, and clubs.

The bring-in is usually half or one third the amount of a regular bet. Bring-in can also be equal to the regular bet. If it is a fraction of the regular bet then the next player can either complete the bet, or he can call the same amount as the first player.

After that the betting takes place in increments of the regular bet. After the first round of betting, each player is dealt another card face-up. Betting begins from the lowest possible hand. The process goes on till the fifth card is dealt.

After the fifth card the betting amount doubles. The seventh card is dealt face-down and then the call-out begins with the player who started the betting after the sixth card was dealt.

If 8 players are playing, and all of them play till the end, then 56 cards will be required. Since Razz is played with a standard 56 card deck, this is not possible. In such cases, the dealer deals the seventh card on the table face up. All the players are able to use his card to make their hand. This is the only time when a community card is used in Razz.

Razz Strategy

You won’t find many high stakes poker games that include Razz. This is because most players don’t play this game with a really serious attitude. Therefore, Razz is usually relegated to small ring games or the occasional poker tournament.

Many players have commented on the fact that Razz provides a good player a better chance of winning. This is because there are a lot more chances for a player reading the hands based upon the cards present on the table. Here is a look at the strategies for various hands while playing Razz.

Starting hand: In Razz you are trying to make the worst poker hand possible. That is why if you get first three cards between an ace and a five then you are in luck. If your hand has three cards between an ace and a six, even then you should complete the bet. You can think about raising it as well.

Also, remember that other players’ door cards are also visible to you. So you should take them into account as well. For instance, if you have an ace three and a five, and your opponent’s hole card is 6, then irrespective of what his other two cards are, you will definitely have the better hand.

Keep track of the cards: It is very important that you know which cards are on the table. For instance, if you have a two, a three and seven, the hand would be considered nothing better than mediocre. However, if you see that there are three 7’s on the table, then the chance of you getting a pair reduces drastically, making your hand better.

3rd and 4th street: As discussed above anything from an ace to 5 is a good starting hand. However, 7 high and 8 high are not good hands and should be folded if the other door cards are low. But if they are higher than your 8 high then you can bet. The fourth street is where the game starts to get more interesting. Now if you get a card which ends up improving your hand then you have to become more aggressive.

In other poker games you would play to entice your opponent into betting more. However, in Razz you use a technique called ram and jam. This technique simply means that as soon as you get a good hand you should raise the bet. This is because if you do not, your opponent will fold irrespective of what you bet.

The other situation on 4th street is that you receive a card that gives you a pair, but to others it looks as though you have improved your hand. In such cases you should bet if your opponent has a bad card.

Razz is a very different game in comparison to Texas Hold’em or other popular poker variants. Also, it is one of those games that you should play when you are at your peak. You need to be aggressive in this game and have to isolate the field if you want to improve your chances of winning.

It is also very important that you do not get carried away if someone is re-raising. The best option is to call and see what the next card holds. Razz is a game that can turn around suddenly simply because the chances of improving the subsequent hands are less.

Fine-tuning your Online Poker Strategy

Online poker is a fast-growing segment of the poker industry. And some are even suggesting that this online game is responsible for the boom in popularity of the game and responsible as well to the growing numbers of players. Convenience can be considered as the main reason why people flock to online poker which in turn increases the population of poker-playing people.

Playing poker online means visiting casinos and poker rooms that are widely available online. But there are some issues here since these venues may intimidate new and interested players. For this reason, the online venues where people can play the game in many poker rooms are gaining popularity.

But there are some issues here too since these venues can be subjected to fraud and collusion so it is important that the interested poker player should be well-aware of possible issues aside from the usual online poker strategies that he may need. Being aware of the possible pitfalls and adopting a well-thought of online poker strategy are important preparations that a poker player can do.

Playing Texas Hold’em poker online has its own merits compared to playing it in person. And with this in mind, your kind of online poker strategy will vary greatly to the kind of poker strategy that a person will usually adopt when playing face to face with other players.

Important Online Poker Strategies

Since the expression on your face cannot be observed, then you have the freedom to be a bit loose and to show some emotion which you cannot do when you are playing it face to face with others.

One important strategy that you can use when you play online centers on tempo; this means that you don’t need to broadcast your presence and let everyone know that you are on the room and playing on the table. It pays to play under the radar.

Your strategy should also include an understanding of the law of percentages. Be ready to fold when the circumstances and the percentages will indicate that folding is the answer to the situation.

You have to be ready to trust your instincts against weaker players and always try to exploit weaknesses of poker players that you play. Many are very easy to recognize just by playing the cards around the table a couple of times. Most people don’t understand how predictable they are playing.

Since you are playing online, then it may help too if you can shape and form your online poker player persona. Having a strong or a weak persona will influence how others will play against you. If you brand yourself online that you are a tough competitor then you can at least have the confidence and newer players online may be intimidated at your online persona. Your strategy online should also include the need to understand your co-players online.

You also need to look out for patterns that can guide you in playing your opponents. By reading their past moves, then you can have an idea what kind of playing style they subscribe to. You need to have a strategy too that deals with leaving the online poker room when it’s time.

At times, the best move that you can make when you play online is by calling it a night when you are in a position to do so. Learning to leave the game and calling it a night when you are ahead is one of the best online strategies that you can hone and adopt.

More Online Poker Strategies

You have to aim for becoming a victorious poker player. You have to be aware of your skills and weak points and learn to adjust to the situations in which you are. New players should avoid playing two hour sessions and must play for a longer period of time.

Keeping the fluctuation limit low is essential for a new player as it will reduce the frustration. In limit Texas hold’ em a number of new players face difficulties with hands like AJ off suit which could be undoubtedly money spinning.

When you play AJ you wish to build a world for that hand which is favorable to AJ. Frequently when AJ knocks a fall down, the payers playing bait cards will not get anything to profit. On the other hand if you do not call for a raise before the fall down there will be little dead money and a small amount of misuse of the profit with the ordinary hands.

Low limit enthusiastic games ought not to appear awful or complex to win. Low limit can be used to win a lot of money. During exceptionally slow games play a lot tighter than your opponent. Whilst performing live, low limit games nearly every player focus on top of them.

You may perhaps be on flames for all they think about. So even if you do not play for two rounds and then call for a raise; you are capable of getting every player after you. In loose games you will get a lot of achievements, therefore just play at the right time and you will succeed.

If you have KQ of diamonds and the fall down is JT of diamonds and the two of spades, and you have ten opponents, you require getting hold of as many chips as you can into the pot at this point. You can do whatever you can to make the opponents do what you want, not only for this hand but also for the hands in future. This is precisely the kind of hand you would like to play in opposition to a lot of opponents.

The excitement in all these games is to play crap cards as well as soon as loads of players come into. This is going towards the back. The additional players you have in the game, the improved hand you require to be trying to make. Encompass the control to stick through strong big cards in addition to strong tentative cards, moreover have the power to play diverse kinds of hands in a different way, plus have the command to handle the ups and downs.

Judgment is Key in No Limit Texas Hold’em

The thing that Texas Hold’em poker is best known for is its unpredictability. Every game presents the players with a new challenge which they have to face off against each other with their wits and skills. All the players on the table are fighting for the same pot.

Of course, luck is involved in this game and the player who wins would definitely have had luck favoring him. No matter how good you are, if it isn’t your day, it isn’t your day. There’s nothing you can do but bluff or fold out.

But the role of making the right decisions at the right time cannot be sidelined. It has just as important of a role as luck does in Texas Hold’em.

From the moment, players enter the casino and make up their mind to play poker they are faced with decision that can almost decide the results of the game for them.

A player must read as much as he can from the entire hand before they are about to make the right judgment in poker.

Why did this person raise this time around when he checked before?
Did he just look at his cards again because he might have a straight or flush draw, but couldn’t quite remember?
How often has this person made a raise before the flop?

Questions like that are what you should be asking yourself.

Unpredictability in Poker

People say in order to be good at poker, you have to be unpredictable. Well what exactly does that mean? Should I fold my pocket tens preflop and raise with a 5-6 suited? That would be pretty unpredictable.

Obviously not. A simple way to be unpredictable is to put yourself on the other side of the questions that we asked before.

Are you going to call, call, call every time someone else bets?
Do you automatically raise when you have a great starting hand?
Does the way you check give something away about your hand?

Mix it up correctly and people won’t want to play against you as often. You can make other people avoid you if you surprise someone in a hand. Getting the blinds for free is one of the best ways to build your pot.

Important Decision Making Strategy

Because if he doesn’t he is certain to lose. Let’s look at 5 of the important decisions that a player has to make in Texas Hold’em

#1 – How much can I lose today? A player must decide his budget as the amount that he can afford to lose. It’s a lot more fun to play poker when things don’t depend on you winning.

Gambling can be racy and in the midst of all the excitement, credit cards can easily go beyond intended usage if your playing online. The number one rule is keeping control.

#2 – Which table should I play? Choosing the table can play a major role is deciding the fate of the game. You should not choose table with resident poker pro sitting on it or else you may face disastrous results.

Easier said then done in an online environment. The advantage of online poker is that the hands go much quicker and you can get a much quicker feel for the players at your table. A good move is to always wait several hands before playing unless you have a very strong hand. Pay attention and it should not be hard to get in the money.

Also, you should not choose table which are entertaining stakes much beyond your budget. If you have $100 to play with, then play ten $10 games instead of two $50 games.

#3 – What kind of hand to I make? After a player is dealt his cards, he starts to think. He thinks about the best hand he can make with the cards dealt to him. Which cards do I need on the flop to help me secure this hand over anybody else playing and are the odds of winning too slim.

Choosing the right type hand and choosing it fast is important to avoid aimlessly picking choices and chasing the bad cards. From years of playing in online poker rooms, I know what I’m going to do within one or two seconds. Its really up to you if you are better at math and want to take a little bit longer to know what the exact odds are rather than get the relative estimate that scanning the situation produces.

#4 – Which strategy should I use? Choosing the right strategy is very important. Strategy is way in which a players plans to make his moves. He may choose to play tight, loose, aggressive or passive according to the cards that a player is initially dealt. This is where mixing up your strategy from time to time throws people off a step.

#5- Should I bluff now? Bluffing is something that a player does when he wants to mislead his opponent. Bluffing is done partly through the expressions and the moves that a player makes. This can even be achieved online where you can’t actually see the other person. Just mix up the amount you bet and how long it takes you to bet or check and you will confuse some people.

Bluffing should not be done at a time when it is obvious, against players who can’t make it out easily and for a limited time. The best time to bluff is when you are the first player to act and several other have folded. People will assume that the other people all got low cards, so the probability of some else having really good cards is better.

It also works better later on in games where people are going in with less strength in their hands. Keep that heads up person on their toes by playing on your terms. This means bluffing at the right times and folding when you get caught. Then fold a bad hand or two without contesting them and come back with a raise.

These types of tactics are what makes some poker players better than the cards that they receive.

Some people prefer to play online poker. This is mainly due to the fact that the person does not have to worry about giving away his facial expressions over the internet. If you looking to get into playing online poker, you may want to check out these online poker bonuses. There are instructions on how to collect a poker bonus from the top poker websites.