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Poker Strategy

Poker Strategy

This page has heaps of tips on how to play Hold'em. Remember though, being a truly great poker player is not just about knowing odds or reading players; one aspect alone won't win you a game. Use the NPPL tournaments to develop all aspects of your game - reading player body language, betting patterns, understanding your odds, reading faces, looking for tells, noting personal playing styles and favourite hands, plus using that little bit of luck to your advantage. Not every player plays by "the book", so you will always need to adjust your playing style against different opponents.

Shorthanded Texas Hold'em Strategy

An important step to becoming a winning poker player is to understand how to play shorthanded games (tables of 6 or fewer players). Most post-flop play in longhand games involves understanding critical shorthanded concepts. If you play on the Internet, you will discover that shorthanded games are extremely popular in online poker rooms. In fact, most higher-limit games are played shorthanded.

Starting Hands Pre-Flop

So what types of starting hands should you look for when playing shorthanded pots? Here is a brief summary of what are playable hands, but many articles have been written about this and some differ in opinion.

One thing to remember is that hands can be good in certain situations and worthless in others. Values are relative to each hand. For example, if there has been a great deal of action, like a raise, a re-raise, and then someone calling the re-raise, then a cap, it is best to fold anything besides AA,KK,AK,QQ, or JJ. Remember, hand values are relative. Always think about what the other player has and guess if you have the better starting hand than the player before entering a pot.

Hands to raise with, non-raised flop: paired cards, A10 or better, KQ,KJ, QJ, J10 suited

Hands to call a raise with: high paired cards, AK, AQ, AJ, KQ, KJ, A10(maybe), QJ suited

Hands players should re-raise a raise - This depends on the raiser. Re-raise a lunatic with any pair or A9 or better because you'll probably be winning at the flop. This sort of player could easily be betting with A3, so you would want to isolate him even with a hand like 55. Otherwise, re-raise with strong hands like AK, AQ, AA, KK, QQ, or JJ (although you may want to smooth call with JJ). You should consider just calling with AK or AQ, however, because it does very well 3-4 handed. There is also a good chance you will get paid off if you hit top pair with one of these hands if the pot is 3-4 handed.

Small pairs and suited connectors are only playable in certain conditions. It may be possible to limp in with these hands and play multi-way pots if players are not aggressive. There will not be any multi-way pots if there are four or fewer players in the game. So when the game is very short, suited connectors have hardly any value. You want to play a heads up pot with small pairs if the game is very shorthanded. Therefore, you usually should raise with them on the button if everyone else has folded to you and fold small pairs in early position.

Tips For The Flop

If you have a made hand, bet it. Often, when you have a hand that is top pair or stronger you will just bet. If your opponent raises you, you should probably respond with a re-raise. Your opponent may be trying to buy himself an extra card on the turn by raising you. Your opponent may also have a weaker hand and is trying to raise for value. Nevertheless, usually the best strategy is to bet or re-raise with top pair, good-kicker and better hands.

However, you have a decision to make when you have a pair, but it's not top pair. The decisions you will need to make will be exceptionally situational, but here are some general tips. First, you must analyze how strong your hand is in relation to the board. If the board is 972 and you hold A7, it is improbable that an opponent will hold the 9. You should bet this hand if it is checked to you, and probably call if someone bets at you. However, if the board is AQJ and you hold J8, your hand is exceptionally weak. You should fold this hand on the flop. Basically, measure how well your hand is against other likely hands that will fit the board.

Another important tip revolves around when to fold your hand. If you are going to fold, do so earlier in the pot.

Drawing hands and pot odds

Always know your number of 'outs' i.e. number of cards that will make you a hand that you are confident will win. However, do not be too moderate with counting your outs. If you hold AJ and the board is KJT, you cannot count your ace as an out. An opponent could easily have AQ or hold a queen. Therefore, you should use pot odds when calling, but don’t be too moderate with counting your outs.


Flop bluffs - a very good time to bluff is on the flop when you are the pre-flop raiser. Suppose you raised with QJ. It is heads up and the flop is A94, and your opponent checks to you. Bet! You have nothing but the other player probably has nothing, too, so go ahead and try to steal.

Semi-bluffing - this is betting when you are on a strong draw, but don't have a made hand yet. For example, betting a flush draw is considered semi-bluffing. Suppose the flop is A83. You have KJ suited and there are two of your suits on the board. Go ahead and bet. Not only do you have a good chance of hitting, you also can steal the pot. Semi-bluffing is only effective at higher levels, because at lower levels players will call you with just about anything.

Other Bluffs - These don't work too well at limit, but they do work at certain times. If the flop is checked and then another big card (like a queen) comes on the board, go ahead and bet. More than likely your opponents will fold unless they hit a draw or they have a hand themselves. Please realize though that some opponents will call you down with ace-high. Do not bluff much against those players. Instead, value bet often. You will win lots of chips whenever you have any sort of hand against them.

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