The Basics of Poker EV - The Poker Bank
Announce Your Actions - This is best for you, the dealer and the other player so everyone knows what your intentions are.
Betting is one of the most important and difficult skills to learn in poker.
Aggression refers to how you bet. An aggressive player bets and raises way more often than they check or call.
Passive refers to how you bet. A passive player checks and calls way more often than they bet or raise.
How to play holdem aggressively.
Why It Pays To Be Aggressive In Poker - Evan Jarvis (Gripsed Poker Training)
In poker, aggression is good. What do we mean by aggression? I mean betting and raising instead of checking or calling in most situations. Since you are playing strong cards for the most part, you want to bet and raise the hand instead of just calling.
Here is a quick tip: You need a stronger hand to just call a bet than you do to raise.
Read that sentence again, it is important. Don’t be afraid to raise…raising is rarely a bad thing. Certainly sometimes you are raising into someone that has a better hand but they might not realize it. Raising gives you the opportunity to win the pot right there, you don’t have to have the best hand.
Sometimes it makes sense to check (when the flop totally misses you and you are early to act against a lot of opponents) and sometimes it makes sense to call. Like when you are on a draw with suited connectors. Calling one bet ‘just to see what the next card is’ is normally a bad idea if you are not on a strong draw.
Texas Holdem Hand Example – A common Rookie Error
You have A5s in late position. The flop comes A 10 9 rainbow.
Position 1 bets, 2 calls 3 raises and 4 folds. Now, it is to you.
Your options are Call, Raise or Fold. What do you do?
When I first started playing I would call just to see what my next card was, maybe I’d get another A or possibly hit my 5 for 2 pair. This is WRONG. Do not be that guy (unless you happen to be sitting at my table).
Fold or Raise. Those are your options.
In this situation I would consider that I am beaten by someone with an Ace with a bigger kicker or possibly 2pair. You are unlikely to be best here, so I fold this hand most of the time.
This is an example of tight and aggressive.
If you raise and are re-raised you know that you are behind and should fold. If you raise I’m pretty sure some of the early positions will fold possibly isolating you with the original raiser. Depending on what type of player he is he might be on a draw and trying to see a free card on the turn or he might have 2 pair already with A/10 or 10/9. If one of the early position players calls or raises you, they most likely have an A, but you can at least see how they will bet it on the turn. You can read this article on more common texas holdem mistakes and how to avoid them.
This is a very tricky hand to play and every time you are in this situation the outcome will probably be different. If you fold this hand now you could see that someone did have A/10 already and you were pretty much drawing dead, or they could hold K/Q and were hoping for the J to make the straight. Regardless of the outcome, play aggressively if you are going to play.
How much should I bet?
Continued from basic strategy section.
There are three main betting formats for Texas Hold Em poker games: limit, no limit, and pot limit. We’re going to ignore “spread limit” because it’s rarely, if ever, used at the top poker sites. Here’s a quick breakdown of each structure:
Limit (or, Fixed Limit): This betting format follows the blinds. The first two rounds of betting are held at the small blind and the last two betting rounds are held at the big blind. For example, the opening bet and flop bet for a $5/$10 limit game would be $5; the bets following the turn and river would be $10. Unlike no limit and pot limit, you have no choice regarding the amount you bet.
No Limit: Online Hold Em poker games following this betting structure are not for the fainthearted. The only limit to the amount you can bet is your chip stack. That means you can go all in with pocket Aces pre-flop, or throw a Hail Mary post-flop to go all in with a pair of twos. The action is volatile. If Fixed Limit represents the slow lane on the highway, No Limit is the fast lane on the Autobahn.
Pot Limit: This betting format is a variation of No Limit. The only difference is that there’s a cap on the amount you can bet during any given betting round. That cap is the amount already in the pot.
There are four rounds of betting in Texas Holdem. Round one occurs after the players receive their hole cards. Round two after the flop, round three after the turn and round four after the river. Once the fourth and final round of betting has been completed, all remaining players in the hand turn over their cards and the best five card poker hand wins. Here are the poker hand ranks.
Please note that this page covers the very basics of texas holdem betting, this is not texas holdem betting strategies and tips, although we do offer those poker strategy articles as well. Just click the links there and you can read through our free poker strategy articles, videos and links to tons of tips and bonuses.
Here is a list of Texas Holdem Poker variations to give you a better understand of the games we will be talking about.
– Cap Limit Texas Holdem Poker
– Fixed Limit Texas Holdem Poker
– No Limit Texas Holdem Poker
– Pot Limit Texas Holdem Poker
Texas holdem betting works like this:
We’ll start by explaining how the betting works pre-flop and go from there. The first thing you need to do is locate the dealer button and the dealer.
The first step in understanding the betting in Texas Holdem is to understand the role of the dealer position. Whether a dealer is provided or not, it is standard to use a dealer button to mark which player is or would be in the dealer position.
A round plastic marker called the dealer “button” is placed in front of the player who is or would be dealing. In a casino or Atlanta Poker Club bar tournaments, a house dealer is provided, so the button is used to mark the player who would be dealing.
In games where the players deal themselves, it’s not necessary, but still good practice to use a dealer button. Most still like to use it, because the dealer position may affect how you play your hand, so knowing where the dealer is at all times is important. If the player sets the cards down after dealing, it’s hard to tell which player is the dealer. Use the dealer button to remove any doubt. The dealer position is the most important position at the table because it designates which players post the small blind and big blind, it designates which player receives the first dealt card and it designates which player bets after the flop and when.
The button is moved one seat clockwise after each hand has been completed.
The first dealt card goes to the player one position to the left of the dealer. This player also posts the small blind and is the first player to act after the flop, turn and river (if still in the hand). The big blind is posted by the player two positions to the left of the dealer. See blinds below.
Instead of using an ante where everyone puts money into the pot before the hand starts, Texas Hold Em uses a small blind and a big blind. Only two players contibute to the pot before the deal. Each player will have their chance to post the blinds, as the dealer button moves one seat clockwise after the completion of each hand in Texas Holdem.
The Small Blind is the smaller bet (normally half the big blind) posted by the player one position to the left of the dealer.
The Big Blind is the bigger bet (normally twice the small blind) posted by the player two positions to the left of the dealer
The betting process goes like this…
Assume a $1 small blind and a $2 big blind.
Post the Blinds – before each player is dealt their two down cards, the player to the immediate left of the button, called the Small Blind (sb), is forced to bet $1. The player to his left and two seats to the left of the button, called the Big Blind (bb), is forced to bet $2.
Pre Flop – Betting Round 1 – each player is then dealt their two hole cards, the small blind receives the first card off of the deck. After all players receive their cards, the action is on the player to the left of the big blind, they are first to act. If this is you, you can either call the $2 big blind, raise or fold. Your betting options are
The betting action continues around the table clockwise. Normally the action will end on the big blind. The blinds money does count in the pot already so if it is not raised the small blind only owes half a bet to call and the big blind may simply tap the table and check to see a flop.
The blinds can can also call, raise or fold. They already have money in the pot, so if they decide to fold, they lose that money. If they decide to call or raise, their blind counts towards their bet. The big blind is then the last to act. They also have the ‘option’ to to call any bet, raise or fold.
Keep in mind that in the event of an early position limper (someone who calls the big blind but does not raise pre-flop), if someone after him raises, then the betting is re-opened to him and he will have to act again in the same betting round.
The Flop – Betting Round 2 – the dealer turns three cards up in the center of the table. This is called the Flop. Now, the first player to act is the first player to left of the dealer button They can either check, bet or fold meaning you do not have to bet if you are first to act after the flop. You can check and keep your cards and see what everyone else does first. We see rookies all the time mucking their hand if first to act after the flop, when no bet is on them.
If a bet occurs, all other players can call, raise or fold. If no bet occurs, the remaining players can check, bet or fold. Action continues around until everyone has the opportunity to call bet raise or fold.
The Turn aka Betting Round 3 – the Turn card is dealt. Betting follows the same process as in Round 2, action starts to the left of the button.
Betting Round 4 – finally the river card is dealt. Betting follows the same process as in Rounds 2 and 3.
After all bets are placed, the players still in the contest reveal their hole cards and the highest 5 card poker hand wins the pot. The hand can end at any time if everyone folds except one player. The one player still in the hand wins the pot.
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These are just the basics. Betting will differ slightly based on the different Texas Holdem game variations. Be sure to also read through all of the Texas Hold Em Rules to get a better feeling for all the different nuances that are involved in this great game.
Jack Keller 3 Bet Theory
It was easy as a kid telling your parents you were at your friend’s house the whole night and getting them to believe it when you were out having your first taste of a Budweiser six-pack. Bluffing in poker isn’t always this easy. However, if you read the table correctly, it can be even easier.
“The best horse doesn’t always win the race.”
When should you bluff? That answer is dependent on the texture of your game, but here are some typical reasons to consider bluffing.
Bluffing is an integral part of your poker-playing arsenal. Learn how and when to bluff, and more importantly when not to bluff can greatly increase your bankroll. If you are never caught bluffing you probably aren’t trying it enough. If you are constantly caught bluffing you’re either bluffing too much, bluffing at the wrong times, or both. Deciding whether or not to bluff varies from situation to situation, just like most decisions in poker. There is a good article on when to bluff playing holdem for a more in depth study of when is and when is not good times to bluff.
Plain ole Bluff:
This is just betting with absolute nothing, just because you think your opponent will lay it down. This is probably the riskiest form of the bluff because if you are called you have only a miniscule chance of winning. This can be effective, especially in No Limit. Daniel Negreanu has utilized this style of play very effectively. He will put you all in with nothing based off of reads and his feel of the situation. If he doesn’t think you will risk your entire stack with top pair, he will put you all in. In most cases, this is probably unwise for most of us. Bluffing because it is the only way you would win a pot is a desperate move, and will rarely work.
Bluffing from the Button:
This is making a bet on the button because everyone has checked it around to you. Especially in higher stakes games this tactic is utilized. In general, this doesn’t work for most low limit holdem games, the bet simply isn’t respected, and more than that, most low limit players are loose and passive. They call a lot in general. Save this type of bluff for late in tournaments or in higher stakes games.
Representing a hand:
This is a bluff that is more common in the higher stakes games. This is where you ‘represent’ a hand by your betting actions. Examples being, betting out large when the 3rd of a suit hits the board. You act as if this card completed your hand and now dominates the two pair or set that your opponent is representing. In lower limit holdem, it is normally unwise to utilize this tactic. Simply because a large percentage of your opponents don’t give a second though to what you might be holding, only what they have in their hand. They will call you down without hesitation because they don’t even realize that you could have just made your flush, they just know that their two pair of kings and sixes is a pretty good hand! Chris Moneymaker used this to perfection in one of the biggest heads up pots in the 2003 WSOP, when Sam Farha folded top pair after deliberating for nearly 3 minutes. Sam even said, “Missed your flush eh…?” He sure did Sam… he sure did.
Stealing the Blinds:
Blind stealing is normally done from the button or one seat before. It is simply raising the bet with the hope that the blinds fold. This isn’t normally a wise idea in loose tables unless you have a fairly strong hand. Where it does come in handy is when the blinds get large enough later in tourneys and you’ve picked up that certain players are playing way too tightly. Do not attempt a blind steal if there are 2 or more opponents already in the pot before you, they will nearly always call you. Even if your blind steal attempt isn’t successful you’ve got good position to play after the flop. This is a good attempt to continue the bluff if there is little action in front of you. You raised pre-flop so your other opponents might think you have a strong hand.
Small number of people competing for the pot:
It is easier to get a small number of opponents to fold than a large number. With fewer hands out there, chances are better that no one has made a reasonable hand. This is a fairly common tactic and many players will not respect this type of bluff. Especially in the lower limits people will stay in the hand just to “keep you honest.
When you’re up against very tight players:
Tight players fold easily, oftentimes too easily. Bluffing here will not only give you the chance to win the pot, but it will be an excellent source of information. By bluffing pre-flop or on the flop against a very tight player gives you a wealth of information, as well as the opportunity to win the pot right there. If the tight players do not fold you should think twice about trying it again on a future round. They have something. You have to figure out if they have a made or drawing hand. If you are confident it is a drawing hand, you can attempt the river bluff. If it is a made hand, it is time to lay it down and worry about the next hand.
If the river card doesn’t complete any draws it can be an excellent opportunity to consider a bluff. Lot’s of players live by the motto: “The moment you know you can’t win, throw in your cards”. It is often a good idea to bluff with a weak hand, like ace-high or lowest pair with these kinds of bluffs
You have excellent position, and it is checked around to you:
This play is depends heavily on the texture of the table you are playing at, as well as your table image. If you are a tight player and have not been caught bluffing recently, this type of bluff might be respected. If you are against 3 or 4 players in the field, it is quite likely that someone will keep you honest. We see this tactic employed in higher stakes games with success.
Already Bet Pre-Flop, but totally missed the flop:
This is more of a continuation of your aggressive play pre-flop. You raised it pre-flop representing that you have a good hand, even if the flop missed you it might have missed everyone else also. Even if it didn’t, you have a good idea of who you are up against by betting again on the flop. Callers in this situation either have a good hand already or are drawing to a great hand (or are very passive/weak).
You are Scary:
If you just won a hand through good play, the players who say “nice hand” are the ones who now respect you. They will more likely fold to your bluff if you play it right. Play the bluff the same way you played the strong hand. It keeps your opponents guessing and you currently have the respect (fear) of the table.
Some flops probably don’t help out the competition. Pretend that it helps you out and bet if you haven’t been caught bluffing recently. If you are called or raised, it would probably be a good idea to slow down this bluff on the Turn and River, someone has hit something and doesn’t believe that you can beat them.
When the board pairs:
A pair on the board scares most players. If the pair is 88 or lower it is an excellent opportunity to bet first out into this board. It is likely that these cards have been folded or are still in the deck. If you are called you need to proceed VERY carefully. If someone was holding A/7 suited and the board pairs 7’s, they will often just call on the flop so they can raise you on the turn.
Many times, bluffing will simply not work out to your advantage.
Busted bluffing recently:
You got caught trying to bluff a pot with 7 2 offsuit from late position. No one respects you, you are going to have to showdown a couple of winners before you see any decent hands fold to your bets. Play it straight up for a while, and wait for a better opportunity. In online poker this is very hard to do, simply because players come and go quickly, and many of them don’t even realize that you just got bluffing, or that you’ve been playing straightforward for a while.
Flops that hold an Ace, or two overcards are likely to have helped someone out. These cards tend to make it beyond pre-flop. Also, players tend to continue to play their Aces. Even with a weak kicker, lots of players will go into a check/call mode with a pair of aces
Lots of competition:
Someone will keep you honest. Save your bets and your reputation. There are much better bluffing opportunities on the way.
Against bad players:
Many players don’t give a second thought to what you have in your hand. They are happily playing their cards and will simply call you down with nearly anything. They’re much more likely to “keep you honest” because they don’t realize what a money-loser that is. It’s much more profitable to play straight up in these games. Bluffing is only effective from a “fear” perspective in this case.
Just lost a huge hand, or have been on a bad streak:
You’re on tilt, and someone knows it. Patience young jedi.
Since you haven’t shown aggression pre-flop, your post flop bets don’t garner the respect they would if you had raised pre-flop. Lot’s of players will put you on a drawing hand, or on a bluff. If you decide to limp in, it is probably best to play your hand straight up unless you have an excellent read on the table and think that your opposition will lay it down.
The semi bluff is when you bet with a hand is currently weak but has the chance to draw to a very strong hand. Flush and Straight draws are excellent examples of an opportunity to semi-bluff. These are generally good opportunities to attempt a bluff, because even if your bluff doesn’t scare anyone away, your hand very well might improve to be the winner at showdown anyway.
Bet It Like You Got It:
The best semi-bluffs occur with the player raising pre-flop. This will chase out any limpers and will give the table the impression that you hold a strong pocket hand. These types of bluffs are best accomplished in a late betting position but can also be successful in an early one. The whole idea here is to get the table to think you have a high pocket pair or an ace with another face card, possibly suited. Let’s take a look at a couple of excellent semi-bluff situations.
For Example: You are dealt on the button: 2H 2S.
5 people call the big blind, 2 fold, the bet comes to you. Here, you raise a considerable amount. I recommend either the maximum allowed on a limit table, or in pot limit or no limit, at least 3 times the blind cost. Here’s a good example of what will likely happen:
Small blind folds, big blind calls, two other people call, all else folds.
Now you have a considerable pot here. The flop comes: Jh 3s 4d
This is an excellent flop to bluff with. Chances are, the only hands you need to worry about here somebody who holds AJ, KJ, QJ, JJ, or a pocket pair. Anybody else would have likely folded to the pre-flop raise. Now, it is very important to carefully watch how people bet prior to the bet coming to you. The table is already conscious of the fact that you pre-flop raised and they might be leery of throwing out any more of their chips and having you come over the top-which is exactly what you’re going to do. Once again, unless somebody bets really big here, you’re going to want to bet it hard. If you’re in limit poker, I suggest betting/raising to the max until you’re re-raised. If you’re in pot limit or no limit, consider your stack size at this point. If you’re short-stacked, you may want to go all in. If you have a large stack, Bet It Like You Got It. If you get called, you still have a few outs on turn and the river. However, I have found that if you keep betting like you have a big hand, eventually everybody will believe it and the only callers you’ll get are other people with big hands who won’t be folding regardless. The idea of the bluff is to get out the mediocre hands that probably beat you but don’t know it. If someone is holding JJ with this flop, there is no way they would fold this hand. If someone is holding A/4c they are very likely to let this hand go even though it beats your pair of 2’s.
When it comes to bluffing, a lot of people think that this involves throwing caution to the wind, all your chips into the pot, and hoping everybody folds to your 2 7 off-suit. This is not at all the case, although I have seen many poker players do this and have success-albeit more failure than success. A good bluffer knows the players on the table, knows his or her own reputation, and will use this knowledge to prey on the table itself or specific opponent’s weaknesses. A good bluffer is willing to bet all of his or her chip stack when they know their opponent(s) don’t have the best possible hand on the table. A good bluffer knows when they’ve been caught. Finally, and the bottom line to a bluff that works, is one that is respected.
Poker is a game with mathematical concepts and strategies. If you look at our odds pages you can get an idea of how some of these odds work and develop strategies to maximize your bankroll by using odds.
It’s always good to look at poker from a mathematical perspective, and that even applies to bluffing. You can determine finite amounts and percentages that can tell you if it is a financially feasibly good time to bluff. This is particularly useful when there are only one or two players and the pot is rather large.
It’s good to do these calculations with potential straights or flushes that appeared on the river, that you were going for but you didn’t make. It’s nice with a flop that starts with Heart, Heart, Spade, and ends with Spade, Spade. You had two Hearts. Or a flop like Five, Seven, Eight, and ends with Ten, Jack. You had a Six. It’s also good because they might have been on the same draw, which leads them to believe (also from on odds perspective) that you were not on that draw.
Let’s say that one of the above cases occurred in a $5/$10 game and on the river there is $140 in the pot. Your only opponent checks to you. If you check, you know you’ve lost. So you bluff. The reasoning is that if you invest another $10, you’re getting 14 to 1 odds. As a percent that’s around 7%. If they fold more than 7% of the time, you make money in the long poker game of life. If not, it’s a losing venture.
You still have to evaluate the player, but from a purely mathematical standpoint, you get the picture. You can also evaluate it by reasoning that they missed their draw more than 7% of the time and will fold.
If two players were involved in the pot, it cuts the odds in half. With three, it becomes 1/3rd of 7%, etc. You can see why you want to bluff against fewer players. This can be unreliable though, as some players will stay in purely based on pot odds. So when bluffing you cannot ever use just odds. Get a feel for your opponents, and act accordingly.
There are some concepts and things to look for when you think there is a possibility that someone is bluffing. This is not focusing on any tell that might have given the person away, such as a fake yawn or nervous twitch, but situations in a game where you could see your opponent attempting a bluff. You will never catch every bluffer, and you certainly shouldn’t try to but knowing how to spot a bluffer can have a great impact on your bankroll.
Being able to accurately spot a bluffer is more than just about tells, it is understanding from your oppositions point of view that it might be a plausible time for them to bluff.
Bet the Flop, check the turn:
This is a sign of weakness and should be exploited whenever you are confident that your hand is has the best chance of winning. Many players will bet on the flop from an early position hoping that no one will stick around, but will then check on the turn if they have callers. Generally this means that they were hoping that most everyone would fold.
Pot Odds are in their favor:
If the pot is small compared to the size of their bet it doesn’t make sense for drawing hands to call the bet. Also if the pot is fairly large but an obvious draw was missed you can expect someone to bluff at the pot just because of the size of the pot. If the size of the pot is large enough, it is often a good idea to call these bets with even marginal hands.
If the flop is lots of low cards many time the first person into the pot will win the hand because it probably missed everyone and aggressive action is normally rewarded in poker. It’s also important to remember that many time a paired board is considered ragged, and when you hit trips which are different from a set, that your hand can still be vulnerable.
It’s just the two of you, and it is always easier to bluff one person than two. This is where you really need to evaluate all the previous information you have about your opponent and make your decision. If you think he is bluffing you should re-raise him and put him to the test.
This is a scary flop, because if someone does have the third of the pair he has a fairly strong hand. Especially if it is all low cards on the flop it is highly unlikely that someone has either trips or 2 pair, and a bet out into this board is hard to call.
No draws on the flop:
Many times people will bet out into a flop that doesn’t have any obvious draws to eliminate anyone holding even a backdoor draw. This is probably less common than our above reasons, but if this happens from the button or late position it is possible that they are trying to bluff.
=> Execute correct strategy based on your training.
=> Make better decisions! To do that learn how to calculate odds and probability in poker.