The Disadvantages of Playing Poker

If you have played poker for any length of time you have at one time experienced what is termed a bad beat. A bad beat is when you and another player are in a hand and you have the highest percentage of winning the hand to a large degree but get beat by a lesser hand on the turn of a card.

For example you are playing Texas Holdem and you get dealt the pocket rockets-Ace-Ace. You know that no matter what hand the other player has you have the best chances of winning the hand. Therefore your position becomes extracting the most chips from the other player. You can’t be too aggressive or they will fold. You and the other player both have around the same number of chips at the start of the hand. You are in the big blind so that you can just call and disquise the strength of your hand. Instead you choose to put in a small raise to make the other player think you are just trying to steal the blinds. The other player stays with you.

The flop is Ah, 6s, 8c. You now have trips. You still don’t know what the other player has but feel safe in raising the pot again. You are surprised to find the ace on the flop didn’t scare away the other player when they call your raise. Fourth street is dealt and it is a 2d. You know there is no flush possible. There is no straight on the board and at the moment you hold the winning hand. You raise the pot and the other player once more stays in.

The river turns up an 8d. You now have a full house. You use all of your poker savvy skills to not jump for joy. You raise the pot once more. When the other player goes all-in you are thrilled. You are going to take them out and get all of their chips. You call the bet and slap down your aces. The other player turns over a pair of eights. They hit four of a kind.

You get that sick to your stomach-hit in the gut feeling only a poker player understands. That is a bad beat. Just like winning a race, hitting your flush and flopping the nuts bad beats are a part of the game. They are just the part of playing poker that hurts the most.

The Art of Bluffing in No Limit Texas Hold em

Players rarely win poker tournaments, whether one table Sit ‘n’ Go games or multi-table events with thousands of entries, through consistently good cards or at websites like The successful poker player knows that to win poker tournaments, hands have to be won without the best cards.

As with any move in poker, there are times to make a bluff and times to play it straight. Here are some positions where a bluff will help build a chip stack.

No Limit Hold em – Blind Stealing

The most common type of bluff is the blind steal. A player on the dealer button has only the small and big blinds between him and the pot, so a raise puts pressure on the blinds who, with two random hands, will often have to fold.

As with all bluffs, timing is everything. Early in the tournament, the blind levels are likely to be low in comparison to the players’ chip stacks. This may make it easier for one or other of the blinds to decide to defend. Similarly, a player with a very short chip stack may be forced to go all-in as folding would leave them crippled.

A player stealing the blinds should also consider his table image. If he has been caught in bluffs during the tournament, players are more likely to defend their blinds.

No Limit Hold Em – Semi Bluffs

A semi bluff is a bet where a player has a hand that is not especially good, but has the potential to be strong, such as a flush or straight draw. Bluffing in this position has a number of advantages,

The opponent may fold on the spot

The aggressive bet may buy a free card on other streets

The pot is bigger if the bigger hand is hit.

The semi bluff is a strong move, essential to players hoping to make the money in tournaments.

No Limit Hold Em – Continuation Bets

The continuation bet is another common bluff, but is still a good move. This bluff is made when the player raises pre-flop, but misses the flop. E.g. a player raises with A,K of diamonds, but the flop is 4,7,T, clubs and spades. The only player to have called pre-flop checks and the bluffer makes a strong bet, representing that he has hit on the flop.

As always, beware the re-raise. If, e.g. the other player had called with pocket T’s, the continuation bet in this position is likely to be met with a trap check and then a strong re-raise.

When considering the continuation bet, the number of calling players in the pot and whether any have already bet out should also be considered.

No Limit Holdem – Family Pots

One interesting feature of low buy-in poker, particularly on-line, is the family pot. On occasion, a, ‘Family pot’, will develop, when four or five players simply call the blind. This happens because the more players call, the better price other players are getting to call with any two cards.

It is tempting for a late position player to raise, trying to push these limpers out of the pot, but this is more likely to simply get everyone calling and building a pot beyond the level expected from the cards involved in the hand.

This is not a spot to bluff and if a player decides to try and thin the field, the cards held had better be ultra-strong and the bet made should be a very big overbet.

When to bluff is just one part of making a successful bet. There are also a number of other factors to take into account.

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