Last modified on 14 May 2009, at 15:59

Poker/Ten commandments

Ten Commandments of PokerEdit

Ten commandments of poker (as from the ten commandments site) are guidelines to help you play better poker. This is not rocket science, but surprisingly many players violate them every day in playing.

Fixed LimitEdit

The first three Ten Commandments of Fixed Limit Poker are: 1. Play the right hands 2. Handle your aggression 3. Play draws

First Commandment: Play the right handsEdit

Some hands in Texas Hold'em seem alluringly good, although they actually may not be. Of course, one problem is that other players around the table may hold better cards and, therefore, may have a better chance of winning.

If the only problem with Texas Hold'em was whether you had better hands than your opponents, you could just sit and wait for pocket rockets, knowing that you had good odds. However, the problem with doing this is: - the blinds will cost you - the opponent will soon know that you hold AA when you play and will not pay you off suitably.

Another issue is your position at the table. If you are playing out of position, your cards decrease in value. The First Commandment of Poker says that you should only play hands with sufficient value for your position.

Some hands have the potential to directly make a good hand, such as AK (or AA of course!) which tend to make a top pair. Other hands can also make strong hands, but are rarer. As these hands frequently have to be thrown away on the flop, you need to have a big enough pot when you make a hand or else pick up a draw to pay off.

These speculative hands include pocket pairs and suited connectors, which share the same characteristics. To be profitable, you need to have people in the pot. The only way you can be sure of this is to only play these hands after a number of callers are already in.

Second Commandment: Handle your aggressionEdit

A lot of money is won or lost in the second and third bet during a betting round. Just calling a single bet can allow your opponent to make a too easy decision. For this reason, it is very important to understand the mechanics of the raises.

A very common mistake is to call a raise too frequently. If you do this, you will lose money. On the other hand, if other players do this, you can exploit it for yourself. If a player before you raises, you can interpret the move in one of two ways: - Either you think they have a good hand, in which case you probably should fold - You think that you have a better hand, in which case you should probably raise to isolate them

When you have a strong hand, such as an over pair on the flop, it is very important to play aggressively to get money in the pot and to avoid getting drawn out. It is, however, important to understand the value of draws. Against several opponents, you will not bet for profit but, rather, to scare them off. There may be many drawing hands involved and, in these situations, the draws will profit the most.

Third Commandment: Play drawsEdit

In a loose game, playing a draw is often a good strategy as, with a lot of players in the hand, the implicit odds generally make it profitable. However, it is important to note that the draws are of different strengths.

A flush draw is a strong draw. You need approximately 1:2 to call the draw on the flop, providing you get odds to pick a new card on turn and will not run into a higher flush or an even stronger hand.

A straight draw is not as strong as a flush draw. There are fewer outs and there is a possibility that you will run into a flush. You need approximately 1:3 to call the draw on the flop, providing you get odds to pick a new card on turn and you will not run into a higher straight or an even stronger hand.

A gut-shot straight draw can provide very weak outs. First of all, there are only four cards to help you. Secondly, even if you make your straight, there is still the chance that someone else will make a higher straight, flush or possibly a full house, which can be costly.

The situation gets worse when two cards of the same suit on the flop gives another player a potential flush draw. This reduces the number of outs to 3.

However, it is not correct to say that you should never play a gut-shot straight draw; it just demands higher odds. It is called a Gut-shot for a reason, as it is somewhat concealed and you’ll get action when you hit the straight. There are three main reasons to play the gut-shot straight draw: - the odds admit it. You need approximately 1:9 in odds to call one card. You need to be aware that you will not normally get odds to call on the turn, meaning that you only have one card to make the straight. - You have more outs. Two over cards potentially makes another 6 outs, although be aware of the possibility that someone else may make a straight when you hit a pair on turn. - The potential odds from bets in later betting rounds will compensate.

Ten Commandments of No Limit PokerEdit

The first three Ten Commandments of No Limit Poker are: 1. Understand Preflop Play 2. Play large bets 3. Know how to play draws

First Commandment: Understand Preflop PlayEdit

Preflop play in no limit poker is different from preflop play in limit poker. In limit, you play to get money in the pot and to prepare for taking the betting lead on the flop and beyond. In no limit poker, preflop is more about concealing your hand. There is a small paradox in the game of poker which becomes apparent in preflop play. When you have a good chance of winning, you want to get as much money in the pot as possible; when you don't have a good chance of winning, you want to put as little money in the pot as possible. The problem is that, if you do this consistently, your opponents will soon realize this and fold to your bets.

If you are differentiating your bets excessively, you will give too much information away. When trying to conceal this, it is better to bet too much with lesser hands than too little with good hands.

While in no limit it is still the case that you should avoid playing too many hands, here the rules are somewhat different. As the implied odds are so good in no limit (compared to fixed), you can use this fact to play more hands. However, as you try to conceal your cards, it is important to ensure that you don’t bet medium cards into re-raises, as this will end up costing you more.

Second Commandment: Play large betsEdit

Making large bets is a key factor in distinguishing between no limit and fixed limit poker. It is important to master both placing bets and deciding when to call them.

When calling a big bet, you can view the situation by considering three possible hands at play: 1. What your opponent may have. This hand must be worth betting or raising according to how they have acted in the hand. Actions in previous rounds, as well as information on player behaviour, should be considered. 2. What other hand your opponent can see at the table that is beaten by their hand, but is still strong enough for you to bet on. If the player cannot possibly believe you hold a hand less than the one you have, he/she would not have bet against it unless he/she has you beat. 3. What hand you actually have.

If you cannot locate all three of the hands outlined above, you could be in trouble if you call.

Here is an example: You make the flush on the river, but there is a pair on the board. You place a medium sized bet which is raised. What your opponent suspects you have is now pretty obvious, and there is a good chance that their hand actually beats it with a full house. As the three hands are not there, you should fold unless you suspect that they are bluffing.

If, on the other hand, you hold the full house, you can call (or re-raise) as it is possible that your opponent thinks that they can beat a flush.

It is important to master the skill of placing large bets, as you don't want to place yourself in a situation where you can only be called by a stronger hand.

Third Commandment: Know how to play drawsEdit

Draws must be played differently in no limit to fixed limit poker. - In no limit play, the implied odds are much greater. When you make your hand, you could potentially win your opponent's entire stack. However, as no limit is more complex than fixed limit, trapping your opponent is more improbable. This is because in no limit, your opponent is less likely to bet on the possibility that you didn't make a flush or straight, compared to fixed limit. Hence, you may not be paid off as much as you would hope. - You can never be sure that you will be provided a fifth card when drawing on the flop. In no limit poker, one method is to bet in a way that ensures it is unprofitable to continue calling. When calculating your odds on the flop, you must be prepared for a situation where the turn bet is big enough to scare you off.