Never Say die

Ah, the stakes are high in poker. You’re playing Texas Hold’em and you’ve got a big stack. Sweet, you think you’re Casino Royale. Before you know it, another pkv games player has joined the game and your tactics need a little work. You reraise, he calls. What should you do?

Don’t say die. Don’t let your opponent know that you’re upset. Usually when something like this happens, the first thing your opponent says is, “What did I do?” It’s a pretty straight forward question. You tell him you need some time to think and you explain that it’s just 10 minutes. Sure, you need some time to think, but you don’t need a time limit.

If you’re playing online poker, then the time limit is generally set by the number of rounds that the blinds go up in. For example, online you have a limit of $1,500 for each round. If the blinds go up 20 minutes into the game, you move all in. Of course, if they’re going to keep on giving you your money, you probably aren’t going to give up a cheap hand. If your stack is going to take a serious pounding, you probably aren’t going to play any hands for 20 minutes.

In a home game, everyone knows the feeling of getting that premium hole card and being able to hold your own against the rising stacks. In a casino, you don’t really have that luxury. For one thing, the chips are cheaper. For another, it’s likely that someone will have a better hand than you. In a home game, you can often get away with a semi-bluff because your opponent likely doesn’t understand pot odds or the blinds or the structure of the tournament. In a casino, there is much less opportunity to use this type of tactic.

The issue of the time limit is much more difficult in a tournament. When a tournament begins, you have no idea how long it’s going to take. Believe me, you’ll find that a tournament will go by a lot faster than most people expect. In fact, the pace of the tournament will often hurry up and take a lot of what you’d normally do in a home game, turn it into a series of urgent decisions.

There’s also the matter of playing with a short stack. Most players fear being eliminated on a hand when they’re down to a few chips. They’d rather wait for a better hand right? Wait. No. That’s exactly what you should be doing. Protecting your chips and attempting to squeeze out as many chips as possible from your opponents. This is why it’s important to wait for a good hand.

So what’s the solution?

That’s the problem, actually. Most of the strategies you may use are either ineffective or, in the case of poker tournaments, they’re ineffective if you’re playing with a short stack. So what do you do?

A counter-intuitive approach might be to loosen up and choose your cards more carefully. You want to be able to survive, particularly if you’re playing with a short stack. As it turns out, though, this may not be a great strategy since many of the strong players will also choose their cards poorly. Even if you win, you’re unlikely to collect many chips.

An alternative approach might be to re-raise pre-flop with a wider range of cards. If you have A-A or K-K in early position, for example, you can call a pre-flop raise with cards such as 2-7 off suite.

This strategy is still not that great if the raiser is skilled. You should probably choose either 7-7 or 5-5 to play heads up out of position. If you have A-A or K-K you also want to re-raise, but you don’t want to become pot committed. A suited connector such as 8-8 is probably the best hand you can have heads up. This gives you a strong two pair back up against any potential hands your opponent may have.

If you have A-K, you will likely try to trap your opponent. If you’re up against an opponent who always raises with pocket pairs, you can re-raise and get your opponent to fold. Then you can take the hand. If you’re against a player who rarely raises with connectors, you can re-raise with a wider range of hands to try and trap your opponent.

As you may be aware, there’s a lot more to poker than you originally short. When I first started learning the game, poker didn’t really mean much to me. I knew it had a lot of rules and regulations, but I didn’t put a lot of attention towards it until I started playing. When I started playing, I discovered that the game had a lot of complexity.

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