Actually, there is no top-and there is no bottom. Many players have made over a million dollars playing poker. Many have gone broke in the attempt. Most of us are somewhere between. A general rule of thumb bandied about in the online poker business says that a solid player (you, when you finish this Course) will win an amount equal to about one bet per hour of the upper limit of your regular game.

At $5-$10 you should be winning $10 per hour as an average over a years time. At $10-$20 it would be more like $20 per hour. Rarely will you make exactly that amount in a days play. Most days you'll win. Some days you'll lose. But when you average it out over a period of months or a year, it should come out close.

And that's a good reason to keep records. If you don't, how can you tell (outside of a guess) if you are winning or losing, and by how much? And if you're losing, why? But if you don't even know you're losing, you can't do anything about it.


Often there is more than one correct way to play the same hand. There are variations in situations-variations in opponents. You might play the same hand differently because you have specific knowledge of this specific opponent. There is no substitute for knowledge of your opponents.

What I've done in this Course is give you preferred ways and some alternatives. It's not possible to cover every situation in this course (or in any book), but the examples I've given will enable you to figure the best action to take in situations that I have not specifically covered.


Decisions at the poker table are based on information. You get most of this information by closely observing your opponents, and by asking questions of yourself. With practice and concentration, you can ask and answer these and other questions in a matter of a few seconds:

What's my objective?That question should always be ratting around inside your head while you're playing around inside your head while you're playing poker. If you don't know where you're going, you might end up somewhere else.

By objective, I don't mean to win money today, or to have a good time, or to have stories to tell back home. By objective, I mean what you are trying to accomplish right now with these cards you're holding at this moment against these players and the cards they are holding in this hand. (Wow, there's a mouthful!) The next question accompanies this one.

How can I best accomplish this objective? That, of course, depends on the objective. But be aware that sometimes you can't accomplish your objective. Example: we have already learned in this Course that, generally, your objective with a big pair such as kings at third street is to play the hand against one player with a smaller pair, and possibly one other player on a drawing hand.

You accomplish that objective by raising at third street strategy But wait a minute: Suppose the forced-bet low card is immediately to your left. He opens. Five other players call before the action gets to you. Your raise at that point would probably drop the low card and one other player only. At these limits, once many of these players have some money in the pot, you can't get them out with a cannon.

So you'll still have to play the hand against too many players. Consider calling and hoping for the best. Of course, hoping for the best is not a great poker strategy. But sometimes that's all you can do. Now let's look at the other side of that problem. This time, let's say that the forced-bet low card is immediately to your right.

Now you're going to act right under the gun and so you have a chance to put in a raise and drop most of your opponents. Not having already invested in the pot, your opponents are much less likely to come in. Of course you're not going to knock out any big hands, but you'll probably get rid of the drawing hands and the small pairs that might have stuck around to trip up and beat you. Objective accomplished.

What's my position?You should know your position at all times without having to stop and think about it. Knowing your position should have a top priority in your mind. If they play long enough, most players will figure out that it's best to be the last to act-after the other players have already acted by checking, betting, raising, etc. This is usually the first insight about position that new players come to understand.

In a poker game, position is simply a matter of how many players will be able to act after you do. You must consider what those players might do before you decide what you are going to do. If you are first to act, you have to make your best evaluation about what the players behind you will do. If you are holding only a fair hand, you won't want to bet it into several hands yet to act.

If one of them raises, you're going to be either trapped for two bets if you call, surrender one bet if you decide to fold. If you hold that same fair hand in last position, you'll already know what action the other players have taken by the time it is your turn to act. Now you have much more information on which to base a decision.

While position is important, it will affect your play the most when you hold a fair to middling hand. When your hand is strong, you'll usually have to bet it no matter what your position-unless it's so strong that you decide to slow play it or go for a check raise. Even then, you want to be aware of your position. How many players are left to act behind you? What will be their likely response to your action?

How can you coax the most money from your hand? (Notice how position figures into the question) What's my objective? More questions that figure into position: How many players are already in the pot? What action have they taken? How many can still come in?

What do I know about what they might do if I check or bet or call or raise? And this last question ties back into the premise that there is no substitute for knowledge of your opponents. (poker is a people game.)

What are my opponents showing on their boards?The only way you know for sure what cards out-of-play or unavailable to you is to see them appear on the board, beginning right from third poker street. If you don't pay attention to them, you could end up drawing dead, having missed seeing that most of the cards you need to fill your straight are already gone.(Remembering Exposed Cards)

If I make the hand I'm drawing to, is it likely to be a winner?You won't want to find yourself drawing to a straight when three other players appear to be drawing to flushes. Even if you make the hand, you are probably going to lose. Same with small flushes drawing against big flushes. Same with any flush when two opponents have each made open pairs and have started a raising war; one or both probably has made a full house.

Do I want my opponents in or out? It depends on what hand I'm trying to make and what I perceive my opponents trying to make. If you have a big pair at third street, you want most of your opponents out so that your chances of winning without improvement will be increased. But if you start at third street with a drawing hand, you want opponents in to give you the proper pot odds to draw to the hand.

How big is the pot? You'll want to keep track of the pot in a general manner: You don't need to know exactly how much is in it- an estimate will do. If the pot size is $37.50, general figure of $40.00 will do. Why? Read on. Here are three questions in one: what are the odds against making this hand; what are the pot odds; and am I then justified in drawing to this hand?

Pot odds and drawing odds, and their relationship to one another, is a mystery to many medium and low-limit players. Let me simplify it for you. Elsewhere in this Course, you will find a list telling you what the odds are against making any particular hand. You should know that much, at a minimum. Now, what are the pot odds? To again simplify, let's say there is $40 in the pot. Your opponent bets $10.

Now with $50 in the pot, I you want to call the bet you have to put in $10. The pot is giving you 5-to-1 odds. If the hand you are trying for is less than 5-to-1 odds. If the hand you are trying for is less than 5-to-1, mathematically you have a good bet. But this doesn't mean that you will win the pot. These are just the odds against making the hand. You might make the hand and still lose the pot.

Now let's say that you have a hand that is 5-to-1 against making and there is $20 in the pot. Your opponent bets $10. the pot is giving you 3-to-1 odds. You don't have a good bet. By the way, pot odds and drawing odds are the reasons you never draw to an inside straight. Everyone in America knows that, they learned it from the movies. But they don't know the reason. It is because an inside-straight draw is usually about 12-or 13-to-1 against making.

And usually, the pot won't be offering you these poker odds. Now if the pot would give you 18-to-1 odds, you could draw to inside straights all day and make money. Without information you're not making decisions-you are guessing. You don't want to make guesses you want to make decisions, which are based on information, which you get by asking these questions.



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