Holdem Poker Made Hands

There are three kinds of made hands:

1. A strong hand that might improve. Top pair or a large overpair are examples.
2. A very strong hand that can improve. A set or a straight with a flush draws are examples.
3. A very strong hand that won't improve. A flopped straight or flush are examples.

A Strong Hand That Might Improve

In many poker game conditions, this kind of hand, which is likely to be the best hand, should be played aggressively on the flop. You want to bet or raise so as to reduce the pot odds that players calling with draws are getting.

When the game becomes loose or very loose, the situation changes. Now, if the flop contains draws especially flush draw but sometimes also a straight draw, the idea of Morton's Theorem comes in and the best poker hand is not always the one to benefit from bets and raises on the flop. In loose or very loose game conditions, you should bet top pair or an overpair, but you should not raise with it.

In very aggressive poker games, you should not even bet top pair. The chances of being raised by the draw and getting many callers are too great and you won't benefit from those bets on the flop if there are many loose callers. The benefit will go to the best draw and not the best hand. When you include the possibility that you might not have the best hand then it pays to be careful in very loose-aggressive games with hands that you would be betting very aggressively in tighter or more passive games. The looser the game, the more the best thing to do is to wait until the turn to get aggressive with strong hands.

Examples of strong hands that might improve are AA with a flop of T93 or the same flop with a hand of AT. In both the cases you probably have the best hand. With the overpair if you are not the best now then you probably have about five outs another Ace or a 3 will probably be good enough. With the top pair and a good pair kicker, you might only have the three Aces as outs because if you are not best, then it is likely that another 10 makes a full house to someone.

In each of the examples, you should play your hand very strongly on the flop. The exception comes when the game is both very loose and very aggressive. You are likely to have players with good draws raising and re-raising. As explained, if the field is large and their combined outs are large then you won't profit from bets and raises on the flop, even though you probably have the best hand.

Also a small change can make a lot of difference. If you had AA or AT to give you a three-flush backdoor flush then that would add about the equivalent of two outs to the hands. Those extra outs, combined with the value as the probable best hand, are generally enough to play the hand very aggressively even against a large loose and aggressive poker player. You should look for little extra when the situations is close. If you don't have it, you should slow down the game.

A Very Strong Hand That Can Improve

You might sometimes want in a tight poker game to slow play very strong hands to give a chance to others to catch up. The bet size on the turn is larger and a slow play might gain a caller if you wait until they have had chance to catch up with you.

In more typical games, it doesn't pay to slow play. Even when you have a very strong hand, the chances are fairly good than others have flopped some kind of hand and will likely call bets both on the flop and the turn. You don't need to give anyone a chance to catch up.

In loose games or in very aggressive games, slow play never pays. You have the best on both of the games with a very strong hand that has good improvement chances when you are in a very loose, very aggressive game. You probably have the best hand many of the callers will be drawing almost dead and about one-third of the time your hand will get even better. Play these hands very aggressively in the tight aggressive games.

The examples of very strong hands that can improve are AA with a flop of AKQ or JJ with a flop of AJT or T9 with a flop of T93.

A Very Strong Hand That Won't Improve

This kind of hand means a flopped straight, flush or full house.

Continue: Playing a Straight and Flush

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