playing poker

Tip 12 Early position

A  raise from a typical player in early position nearly always signifies a hand of great strength.  As a result, you must elevate your playing standards considerably.  One of your goals in hold’em should be to try to enter pots with what you think is the best hand as often as possible.  Calling early-position raises with a wide range of hands is not the way to accomplish this objective.

  What hands are playable against an early-position raise?  In the absence of other callers, if you stick to a very selective strategy of playing only A-Q suited, A-K, or a pair of jacks or better, you avoid putting your money in with the worst hand too often.

  At first glance, it would seem that T-T is a good hold’em hand.  And it is.  However, when the first player in has raised the pot, you should ask yourself, “What range of hands is he likely to be holding in this situation?” If the raiser is a solid player, toss those two tens into the muck.  The reason for this is that most solid players raise up front with only a few hands: A-A, K-K, Q-Q, J-J, T-T, A-K and A-Q.  Your two tens are a big underdog if your opponent has a pair, and only a slight favorite against !-K or A-Q.   It is important to avoid these types of either –or situations in hold’em as much as possible, if you plan on winning at the game.  Either you’re a big underdog or you’re a slight favorite.

  However, if the early-position raiser is a loose or reckless player, you are playing too tightly if you fold your tens.  The reason is that a maniac raises the pot with a huge number of hands that are dominated* by your pair of tens, including smaller pairs.  A-x, or even hands like 7-8 suited.  Against this type of opponent, the correct play is to reraise in an attempt to play your pair heads up against the maniac.

* Dominated:  The situation in hold’em of one hand being significantly ahead of the other, often because of having the same card in common plus a higher card.  For example, K-Q offsuit is dominated by !-K offsuit.  Also, any pair is dominated by any higher pair.