Three universal Hold’em Concepts

Three points about hold’em are universal, and so we present them first.  You must always keep these in mind, at every stage of the hand.  These are:

  • Your playing style: some ways of playing are profitable, while others are not
  • The great importance of position in hold’em
  • The significance that pot odds have on your decisions]

The first three tips deal with these universal concepts.

Tip 1
A tight-aggressive

Adopting a tight-aggressive playing style is a winning strategy in all forms of poker.  You would have a hard time finding a poker game in which this is not the case.  To play a winning game of hold’em, you should (and must) adopt this style of play.
  How do we define “tight-aggressive”?
  Tight means entering fewer pots than most of your opponents.  Being selective by playing only quality starting hands is the key here.  “Quality starting hands” is a relative term – sometimes hands that are good in one situation are quite weak in another, and vice versa.  As this book progresses, you will learn to read situations and how your read influences which hands are playable, and which are not. 

  Aggressive means that when you do decide to enter a pot, you play the hand for all it’s worth.  You place an emphasis on betting, .  Checking and calling just does not get the job done most of the time.  There are some raising, and check-raising situations in which this is the correct play (and the text will identify these situations for you), but they are the exception.  By the way, an aggressive approach does not mean that once you decide to play a hand, you jam your foot on the gas pedal and don’t ease up until the pot has been played out.  Like most things in life, hold’em requires discretion, and that will come from experience.

How the World Poker Tournament Has Affected Poker Play

One by-product of the recent popularity of the World Poker Tournament (WPT) is that a whole new breed of poker player has been created.  If you watch the show with your goal being to learn how to be a world-class poker player, you may be in for a rude awakening when you go to play.  The problems with using the show as a learning device for live game limit hold’em are numerous.  Right away, realize that you are watching a different poker game.  It may look the same; after all, the players are dealt two cards, and there are blinds, flops, turns, and rivers.  That is where the similarities end, though.  What you are witnessing is the end of a no-limit tournament, in which the blinds are high, the game is shorthanded, and the program has been edited to showcase the more interesting hands.  This books talks about limit hold’em, which plays completely differently from the no-limit game.  Also, when you play in  a brick-and-mortar cardroom or online, unless you are in a tournament, the blinds are not large compared to your stack size.  You probably in a nine-or ten-handed game.  And you see all of the hands dealt, not just those that some producer thinks might turn out to be interesting.

  Loose-aggressive play seems to be a winning style on the WPT.  The successful players are in there dancing around with hands that you toss into muck without a second thought.  And the thing is, they are correct (most of the time)  to play these hands, and you are correct to throw them away.  The reason for this is that we are dealing with totally different circumstances.

  As a newer player who has not yet developed a good under-standing of the game, you may think it self-evident of emulate the style of play you witness on television.  After all, T-2 is good enough for a world-class player, it should be good enough for you.  So, as a new “television era” player, you may enter the game playing an extremely loose-aggressive style, and believe that to be a winning strategy.  In reality, what you are doing is playing final table no-limit short-handed poker in a full limit hold’em game.  You will not win playing like this, unless your opponents are all doing the same (only doing it worse).

The Tight-Aggressive Edge

So, how exactly does a tight-aggressive approach give you an edge over your opponents?  If you have played much low-limit hold’em, you have probably found the games typically to be loose (with four or more opponents seeing the flop on average), and for many hands to go to the showdown.  This means that to win you must show the best hand most of the time, as bluffing is difficult in these games (one more down side to being a TV student).
  The Tight part of tight-aggressive means that you play fewer hands than your average opponent.  Thus, it stands to reason that the quality of your starting cards is typically higher than those of other players, which in turn means that a higher percentage of the hands you play reach the showdown as the best hand.  Since bluffing is typically not a viable option in loose low-limit games, playing is typically not a viable option in loose low-limit games, playing hands that often end up at the river as the best hand is obviously a desirable strategy.  This book teaches  you which hands are worth playing and which are not, based on the situation.
  By playing good cards aggressively, you win the maximum amount from your winning hands.  If your opponents wish to stay in the pot against you with inferior cards, you should charge them as much as possible to do so.  An added benefit of aggressive play 9and a key one ) is that you will win some pots that your more passive playing  opponents do not, by inducing opponents to fold hands that ultimately would have won the pot.  You can’t win these “default pots” by checking and calling.