Online Poker Tips : Poker Winning Hands

Beginner Poker Strategy

Now that you know the rules of Texas Hold’em, it’s time to devise some strategies to help you win consistently. We’ll start with the basics and then build on them with strategies for the different poker variants you’ll find online.

 

Beginner Poker Strategy

Whether you play cash games or tournaments, poker basics are universal. You’ll build upon these basics in every form of Hold’em.

 

Position is Everything

When learning starting hand strategy, it’s important you understand position in poker. Position refers to your location at the table relative to the dealer button.

The hands you choose to play will be influenced by position. When you’re in earlier position, you’re forced to bet in subsequent betting rounds. As such, you’ll want to open or raise with stronger hands. Players in later position have the advantage of seeing the actions of opponents ahead of them. This allows them to loosen their hand requirements.

Here’s a quick rundown of position categories. This is based on a full ring game or 9-handed table:

 

  • Early Position – The two to three spots to the left of the dealer button
  • Middle Position – Four to six seats from the dealer button
  • Late Position – The two to three seats before the button

 

Starting Hands

To win at Texas Hold’em, you need to play the right hands according to your position. While gaining experience, sticking to a solid starting hand strategy will help you win more often. Here’s a quick guide for starting hands based on position.

 

Early Position Hands 

Since you’re first to act on later streets, you want to play stronger hands in early position. Hands like Aces, Kings and Queens as well as Ace-King suited and Ace-Queen suited are great hands that you should raise with.

You don’t want to be limping in with hands in early position very often. Hands like pocket Jacks or Tens are a couple of exceptions, but overall you should be looking to only play the best hands early.

 

Middle Position Hands

If action folds to you in middle position, you can open up your requirements a bit. Add pocket Jacks and Tens and hands you’ll want to raise with.

Other hands you may want to consider coming into the pot with are A,J and A,10 suited as well as pocket sevens through nines. Suited face cards (K-Q, K-J, Q-J) are also acceptable here, provided action is light.

 

Late Position

When action folds to you in late position, you want to start opening up your hand selection. All pocket pairs as well as suited Aces and all face cards are worth opening with. Raising from late position is going to take down a lot of pots.

However, don’t go crazy and play any two cards. As you gain experience, you can play a few other substandard hands, but not when you’re first starting.

 

Tournament Poker Strategy

 

With online poker tournaments, you can realize a return of 20x or more on your initial investment. Unlike cash games, you have to place in the top spots in a poker tournament to make a substantial return. Here are a few quick strategies to get you to the top more often.

 

Early Levels

In the first few levels, the blinds are small and everyone is playing deep stacked poker. This allows you to expand your range and take more flops, especially with hands in position.

Even though you’re playing deep stacked, you don’t want to be playing big pots with speculative hands. A good betting strategy to employ is keeping the pots small until it’s time to value bet. Your goal should be steady growth during the early levels.

 

Middle Levels

When you start reaching the middle levels of an event, relative stack sizes are dramatically reduced. Many players are in short stack territory and some are beginning to tighten up their play to try and make the money.

This is the point where you want to stay away from many speculative hands and focus on playing hands in position. Whenever possible, you want to put pressure on the passive players and the shorter stacks at your table. Middle levels are where effective blind stealing is crucial to keeping pace with blinds.

If you’re short stacked, look for spots where you can target other short stacks or medium stacks that may be playing passively. You need to find a spot where you can try and score a double-up.

Middle stacks need to stay out of big confrontations with big stacks unless they have a strong hand. Pressure the small stacks, but don’t play many marginal hands that can’t stand a raise. You don’t want to slip into short stack range.
The Bubble

Many players are going to tighten up and slow their pace of play as the bubble approaches. This is a great spot to pick up chips from players who are just trying to squeak into the money.

If you’re one of the larger stacks at the table, consider raising more often to take advantage of the free chips. Stay away from confrontations with other big stacks, as there’s no reason to tangle for large pots without anything less than Aces or Kings.

Medium stacks should stay away from confrontations with larger stacks while applying pressure to short stacks. You’ll find that many short stacks will gladly give away a significant portion of their stack during the bubble period in order to cash.

If you’re a short stack at the bubble, you can still make a deep run, but you need to make a move. Try and get yourself into a situation where you can shove against another short stack or a medium stack. This move works if you’re sitting on 10 to 20 big blinds. Opponents will get out of your way, figuring that you woke up with a premium hand. While a double-up is preferred, stealing a round of blinds may be enough to get you through the bubble period.

Post-Bubble

Directly following the bubble, remaining short stacks are going to go into double-up or bust mode. Don’t start calling these shoves light, but feel free to try and pick a couple off with reasonable holdings like suited Aces, A-8 and up and most pocket pairs.

Once the pace slows down following the bubble, you start making the run for the final table. This is where you want to use selective aggression to take down pots and steadily build your stack.

The remaining players will be more experienced or will have larger stacks, so you don’t want to play too many speculative hands. Continue playing your position and take advantage of premium hands when possible.

 

Final Table Strategy

Once you get to the final table, it’s time to start planning for the win. Short stacks need to quickly find a spot to try and secure chips or a double. Targeting other short stacks or medium stacks is preferable, but any action will do.

Medium stacks should work on growing their stacks through selective aggression and attacking short stacked players. Big confrontations with the chip leaders should be reserved for premium hands.

If you’re the chip leader, you have the option of trying to let your opponents eliminate the shorter stacks, or you can continue applying pressure and building your stack. There’s nothing wrong with sitting back and letting the field shrink down from nine to six, but you can’t fold your way to a bracelet.

The top three spots pay the majority of the prize money, so that’s what you’re aiming for. Once you get three-handed, you’re going to want to loosen up your requirements due to the speed of the blinds and because hand values rise dramatically.

In the final levels, the aggressive player usually wins the tournament. Keep the pressure on your opponents, especially when in position. Force them into a mistake and take advantage when that happens.

 

Cash Game Poker Strategy

 

Cash game poker is the simplest form of poker. You sit down at a table with your buy-in and continue playing until you leave or the game breaks.

 

Be Mindful of Position

When playing hands out of position, you’re at a distinct disadvantage as you’re first to act. Play stronger hands in early position and open up your range in later position.

For example, playing Ks,Jc is a weak holding in early position. However, if you’re on the button and action folds to you, the same hand may be worth a raise as it’s likely better than either hand in the blinds.

Also, since most players miss the flop, playing hands in position can allow you to take down the pot on later streets.

 

Aggressive Poker is Winning Poker

Since blinds are static in cash games, a passive approach will often price players into a pot. When you come into a hand, you want to play it aggressively.

Aggressive poker puts your opponents on the defensive and gives you a second way to win. In addition to winning a hand at showdown, aggressive play will result in players folding to you more often.

 

Pay Attention to Player Tendencies

Even online poker players reveal tells regarding their play in the form of betting patterns. For example, Seat 3 may only bet the flop when they catch a pair. Knowing this, you can bet and take down the pot when they check to you.

Betting patterns can also alert you when you should fold. If Seat 5 only raises pre-flop with pairs or A,K and A,Q, then you can let go of your Q,J in late position.

Most low stakes players will fall into predictable patterns, so pay attention and take advantage.

 

Known When to Quit the Game

There are times you should quit a cash game, even if you haven’t been playing long. The most common reason is when you’re unable to turn a reasonable profit. This can occur when bad players run out of money or more experienced players start filling up the table.

Another reason to leave a cash game is when you find yourself unable to make profitable decisions due to fatigue or tilt. It’s better to come back tomorrow rather than risk your bankroll by making poor decisions.

 

Poker Odds Strategy

If you want to increase you online poker earnings, you need to know how to calculate pot odds and use them to make smart decisions. Don’t worry, you don’t need to be a math genius to learn pot odds.

 

Counting Outs

First, start by figuring out which cards you need to make your hand. These are your outs. Subtract any cards in your hand or on the board of that rank or suit to come up with your number of outs.

For example, you’re holding Ah,Kh and the flop is 6h-2c-5h. Let’s assume that you can win with any Ace, any King or any heart. There are three Aces, three Kings and nine hearts remaining in the deck to give you 15 outs total.

 

Calculating Odds in Hold’em

Now that you know your outs, it’s time to figure out the odds of making your hand. Start by figuring out the number of unseen cards in the deck. In the above example, exclude the three cards on the board and two in our hand, to give you 47 unseen cards.

Take those 47 cards and split them into two groups, winning cards and losing cards. There are 15 cards that can give you a winning hand and 32 that are losers. This ratio is 32 to 15 or just a little better than 2:1 odds.
Figuring Out Pot Odds

Next, we need to figure out whether we should continue in the pot. We can do this by comparing hand odds to our pot odds.

Let’s assume the pot at the flop in our example is $80. Your opponent bets $20. This makes the pot $100 and you need to call $20 to continue. Quick math tells you that $20 is 1/5 the size of the pot. You’re getting 5:1 on a call in this case.

The odds of you making the hand are 2:1 and you’re getting 5:1 on a call. You definitely have odds to call.

 

Using the Rule of 4 and 2

A quick alternative method to figuring out pot odds is using the rule of 4 and 2. It’s a method developed by former pro poker player Phil Gordon for quickly estimating pot odds. This method uses percentages to estimate pot odds.

If you’re on the flop, you multiply your odds by 4. On the turn, you multiply them by 2.

In our example, our odds to make our hand would be 60% on the flop and 30% on the turn. If the percentage of your call to the pot is less than these figures, it’s safe to continue. Percentages aren’t exact, but the differences aren’t great enough to prevent this from being a useful tool.

 

Put Your New Skills to Work

Now that you’ve got some basic strategies for playing poker, it’s time to build a bankroll. Why not sign up and play at Ignition Poker? They offer excellent cash games and millions in tournament guarantees every month. The best way to learn poker is by playing poker and with the strategies above, you can start playing winning poker today.