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Poker Strategy

Poker strategy is important whatever type of game you enjoy. The beauty of online play is it's accessible nearly all over the world. German players have plenty of choice of sites.
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Poker Winners Focus on Power

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Poker is all about picking on the weak. It may be weak hands, weak players, or just weak play (Barry Shulman).

You may dislike Barry Shulman’s position because picking on the weak seems immoral, and it’s certainly not chivalrous. If it bothers you, poker may be the wrong game for you, but Barry accurately described its essential nature. It’s predatory, but so is life in general. The strong eat the weak everywhere, not just at the poker table. Winners recognize that reality, while losers deny, minimize, or ignore it.

Because they are so competitive and realistic, winners focus on power, not luck, justice, morality, personal relationships, or fairness. Poker and life are “unfair.” The best poker player doesn’t always win, nor does the one who “deserves” it for other reasons. Cancer, traffic accidents, and other tragedies happen to wonderful people, while drunken wife beaters win the lottery. That’s the way poker and life are, and you should accept and cope with that painful reality.

Winners constantly strive to increase their power, aka their edge. They want the best seat in the best game, and they wait until they have the right cards and situation. Your edge shifts constantly. You may have had an edge moments ago, but it can disappear immediately. Winners always want to know how strong their position is now.

All-in Odds

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Particularly if you are a no-limit hold 'em player, and especially for tournaments, you need to know the odds of many heads-up all-in confrontations.
Often in no-limit tournaments, you will be faced with a decision as to whether or not you should bet or call when doing so would either put you or your opponent all-in. Forget about implied odds or reverse implied odds, you usually know the exact pot odds you are facing. Now all you need to know is the hand you are facing. These confrontations often occur before the flop. Card combination odds are important to your analysis. But maybe the most important knowledge is how certain hole cards match up vs. other certain hole cards when they are going to be played all the way to the river.

Rebuy Tournaments

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So you might remember we mentioned earlier that the great thing about a tournament is that you know exactly how much money you’re risking up front, and that no matter how badly you play, you can’t lose more than your initial buy-in? Well that’s true for freezeouts, but there is another tournament format that gives you the opportunity to gamble a bit more, and potentially win – or lose – more money.

A rebuy tournament effectively gives you extra lives for more money. So, when you bust your initial chipstack – or dip to a pre-agreed amount, say 50% of your stack – you can buy back in for another stack. And another. And another. Some rebuys limit you to two or three stacks, but the most common format is where you’re allowed unlimited rebuys for a set period (generally the first hour) after which you get the option to add on another set amount of chips regardless of your stack size, before the tournament moves into a standard freezeout mode. Here, as in a standard tournament, once you’re out, you’re out for good.

SNG: Hand Odds

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A very common misunderstanding that most novices confuse is the power of aggression vs. playing passive. Aggression is good as long as there is fold equity. Fold equity is a way of saying that if you raise with a hand, there is a chance the opponent will fold. So your odds of winning a pot if you raise or make the first bet, is the fold equity + the chance you will actually win if you are called. This is very important for the SNG player. Remember, you need an edge. If everyone plays the same ABC poker, you will lose on average 1 buy-in per tourney played.

The second issue most players have is a misunderstanding of the decent strength of any 2 cards. What do I mean by this? Basically 72o vs AK is not that big of an underdog. This is a very important concept to understand to be a winner at SNG’s. I’m not saying its not an underdog – just that its not as big of an underdog as many players think. People think that if someone pushes all-in with 72o, and they get called by someone with AKo, that the AK is a guarunteed winner. Sure enough the 7/2 comes and the guy with AK is babbling about how online poker is rigged. AK has an edge but not that big of an edge. So – before you go raising all-in with 72o– remember that I’m not recommending this. In fact in our strategy there are occasions when this is ok – but these will be addressed. Don’t take this too the extreme and start playing super aggressive. That is dumb and you will lose in the long run. We only bring this up because many players would NEVER go all-in or call all-in with 72o. You must start to understand odds and how these affect your decisions. For starters, you must understand these initial odds for common drawing hands and allin type hands.

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4-Bet Bluffing

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There are several reasons to 4-bet bluff in today's games. In general, people at micro and small stakes games will 3-bet a bit too wide in certain situations, and not re-defend their 3-bets often enough. Some people think it's a strategy that carries with it higher variance, but if you pick your spots well, that's simply not the case. In some volume, of course, there's going to be more variance, but in any reasonable sample you'll show profit if you're picking your spots correctly. Some of the reasons to 4-bet bluff are:

  1. Defend your opening raise. If you're opening a somewhat wider range, then you should expect to get 3-bet more. If you simply fold only the highest end of your range, you're going to get exploited pretty badly by even bad regulars.
  2. Add depth to your 4-bet range. So when you do 4-bet, you may get your opponents to react poorly and 5-bet shove with the wrong ranges against you. If you're only 4-betting 2% of your range, then opponents can play near perfect against you if they are at all competent.
  3. Push people off better hand. If you pick your spots and hands well, you can get people to fold hands like AQo, TT–JJ for example or even better depending on how badly they adjust to your 4-bet range.

No-Limit Holdem: Pre-flop Fundamentals

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If you’re going to be a winning player, you simply must have these basics mastered:

  • You need to be selectively aggressive - wait for good spots and then raise.
  • You must avoid playing dominated hands, especially out of position. Practice sound hand selection. Simple.

Limping is for losers.
This is the most important fundamental in poker - for every game, for every tournament, every stake:

If you are the first player to voluntarily commit chips to the pot, open for a raise.
Limping is inevitably a losing play. If you see a person at the table limping, you can be fairly sure he is a bad player. Bottom line: If your hand is worth playing, it is worth raising.

General Pre-Flop Guidelines by Game Type

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Taking the template we used to define the four basic player types, we can define basic game textures and change our play accordingly.

If the game is mostly loose-passive: You can see quite a few flops in such a game. If it’s costing you the minimum to see a flop, then the implied odds make it correct to see the flop with a wide variety of hands. Furthermore, since the players are playing mostly a loose-passive game, you’ll get cheap draws when you are trying to make a hand, and you’ll be paid off when you have one. You can and almost always should play all pairs, suited connectors, unsuited connectors, suited gappers, and even unsuited gappers. There are some trouble hands you should stay away from such as KT, A9, et cetera. Being drawn out on in a game such as this is always a concern, but with a hand such as A9 you must also be cautious about the possibility that you are dominated. However, I will often see the flop with hands as poor as 86 or even 74s. While the danger of being drawn out on is just as real, if I hit one of these hands, I am likely to be all alone with it and receive full value out of it as well.

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