Poker Out of Position Sucks Doesn’t it?

Introduction to Out of Position Poker

The majority of poker enthusiasts have heard playing out of position is worse than in position, but they don’t truly understand the reasons why.  Why is it such a bad idea to play pots out of position? Why can’t I win as much playing out of position? This article will look at some reasons why playing poker out of position sucks.

Lack of Information

Poker is a game of information; you’re trying to find out what your opponents have while hide the hand you have. You’re trying to gain information throughout a hand intuitively so you can make the best decisions possible. The truth is, when you are out of position, you lack information on your opponents. You are always acting before them and don’t know what they are going to do. You are left with two main options, check and play carefully or bet into the unknown. Neither are great options, you’re either inflating the pot at times you don’t want to or playing passively.

blind fold poker
Photo by Kirill Balobanov

It can feel like your playing blind folded or in the dark, not knowing what your opponent will do!

Very Difficult to Pot Control

As discussed in a previous article, pot control is very important to the expert poker player. They want to play poker on their terms, manage pot size how they want, relative to their hand strength, opponent and position. This is a challenging task to say the least when you’re playing pots out of position. Why? How can you control the pot when you’re the first to act? Bet and they can raise, check and they can bet still. When you’re in position, you are closing the action on each round of betting, affording you the opportunity to check back, call, bet or re raise at your discretion.

Hard to Maximise Value

Another problem with playing poker out of position is the times you make your hand and want to get value; you find it is hard to get the maximum. You’ll often find your opponent is just calling you, checking back or folding. You may make a turn call on a draw, hit your hand and then the dilemma comes on the river. Are you going to bet into your opponent? If so, how much is the right amount to get called? Are you going to try and check raise? Woe when your opponent checks back and you get nothing.

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Conclusion

There are times when you have to play out of position in poker, perhaps your hand is strong or you’re getting great pot odds against a weak player. But don’t look to play too many pots when you are learning as you will find it very difficult. Even the best of players doesn’t enjoy it and recognise most of their profits come from playing poker in position. Don’t handicap yourself playing pots out of position with questionable hands.

Poker Glasses – To Wear or Not To Wear?

You’ve seen poker glasses on TV and the casino is full of poker players wearing them. Like Marmite, you either love them or hate them. You’re either a wearer or despise those that do and roll your visible eyes when you see a young man opposite wearing them in a $30 local game.

Famous Poker Glasses

The most famous pair has to be the lizard shades worn by 2004 WSOP main event champion Greg Raymer. How much did they help him win the $5 million first prize 16 years ago? Who knows, but he did win and laughing all the way to the bank. 

poker glasses
Image by freepik.com

Advantage of Concealing Your Eyes

The professionals are always paying attention, reading your betting patterns, body language and even your eyes. Wearing poker glasses certainly protects you from reading your eyes and makes you feel more secure. Knowing your opponent can’t look into your eyes and pick up anything is a great feeling and allows you to play your A game.

There are lots of famous professionals who wear/wore poker glasses. The list below are just a few players that spring to mind.

  • Phil Laak
  • Phil Hellmuth
  • Stu Ungar
  • Chris Moneymaker
  • Mike Matusow
  • Marcel Luske

There are potential disadvantages to wearing poker glasses too.

Misreading Your Holecards

Wearing glasses can lead you to misreading your hand. Is there anything worse? Getting to the river thinking your value betting and you turn over K4 instead of AK? Embarrassment aside, losing the pot would be infuriating and needless.

Reflections Revealing Holecards

You never know what your glasses reflect. I have sat at tables before and felt obligated to tell my opponents that their poker glasses are revealing their cards. To not tell would be unethical and cheating but there are many players out there who would not say and use the advantage.

Conclusion

Poker glasses are not going anywhere despite players like Daniel Negreanu shunning them. I am not a wearer myself but appreciate they are a popular poker accessory. If it helps you play better and you feel comfortable wearing them then you should embrace them. There are some great sites where you can buy poker glasses, check out AceTenEyewear range. Their glasses provide a lighter tint and a rimless bottom so cards can be viewed without moving your head. The glasses also have a trademarked color warped reflection so the holecards won’t reflect. 

Trouble Folding Pocket Aces?

When should I be folding pocket aces? I seem to lose a lot of pots with them. Ben from UK

We chose Ben’s question as our featured free question this month. Folding pocket aces is an issue many beginners and even experienced players have, particularly in cash games or early stage tournaments so we thought this would be a useful question and answer to share with our readers.

Answer

Hi Ben

Thanks for your question. Pocket aces are the best possible hand before the flop in No Limit Texas Holdem but they are also one of the most overplayed after the flop. Professionals  pick off beginners who have trouble folding pocket aces in cash games all the time. They will tap the table and say unlucky while raking in a 200BB pot.

To answer your question though, there are many occasions when you should be folding pocket aces. 

  • Facing a turn re-raise from a tight player is almost always 2 pair or better in cash games
  • Facing a check raise in a multi-way pot 
  • On a 4 to flush board (if you are lacking the suit)
  • On a 4 to straight board

The scenarios above are simplistic and obvious to experienced players but not always to a player new to the game.You also need to be careful on paired boards or boards where two pairs easily fit your opponents preflop calling range e.g KQx, KJx & QJx. 

Above all you need to think, as the pot builds, is your opponent the type to play a one pair hand for this much? If it’s unlikely then you need to step back and assess. Your opponents tendencies are just as important as board texture when choosing how much to commit to a hand with pocket aces.

Selective Memory

The other thing to remember with pocket aces is you always remember the times you lose with them. You expect to always win but the fact is you are not guaranteed to win, even in  tournaments you are about 80% against a lower pair. That’s favourable odds but you are expected to lose 1 in 5 in this situation. That’s not so rare is it?

Folding Pocket Aces
Image by freepik.com

Final Thoughts on Folding Pocket Aces

Pocket aces should be your most profitable hand to play but it is also just a one pair hand. In deep stacked games, the better players are manoeuvring and looking for spots to play big pots with better than one pair hands. This means you need to adapt. Consider the board texture, your image, your opponents likely range and their tendencies before playing a big pot. As you gain experience you will appreciate the value of pot control and effective bet sizing. You will also learn to hand read and have less trouble folding pocket aces.

Hope this helps.

Thanks

Narciso

Is Mobile Poker a Good Thing?

Mobile Poker is Here

With the advances made in technology, poker enthusiasts are now able to play mobile poker. Who’d have thought when the poker boom happened, we would one day have the ability to play poker on our phones? At face value, it’s great isn’t it? You can get bonuses, play practically anywhere and earn on the move.  If you’re a winning player already, you may think this will increase your earning potential, particularly if there are more recreational players on their mobile phones playing poker against you.

There are some disadvantages to playing mobile poker too though.

Small Screen

Most mobiles are not that big. If you’re playing mobile poker, chances are you on an iPhone or Android which is a lot smaller than a PC screen or even a tablet. This is not great for visibility or your eyesight. You are more likely to make errors or mis-click the buttons playing on a small screen.

mobile poker
Photo by Jonas Lee

Distractions

The most obvious problem with playing on your phone is the distractions you are likely to encounter. You’re more than likely playing in an environment with noise, TV on, people around. This means you are not as likely to give the game enough concentration. Poker is a mental game and it’s challenging enough without distractions. If you add noise, conversations and TV to the mix, it is only likely to hurt your hourly win rate.

Difficulties with Multi-Tabling

If you are at your best playing 2-4 tables, then you will want to take this to mobile poker. This is difficult to say the least, while some sites allow you to multi table and your table will pop up when it’s your action, there is no denying that the visibility you have on a PC or laptop far outweighs the capacity to multi table effectively on a mobile. Depending on the games you play, one table may be your optimum anyway but if playing 1 table harms your win rate than maybe mobile poker isn’t for you.

Burn Out

Believe it or not, you can play too much poker. If you’re playing poker on your PC or laptop and then playing lots on your phone too, you might just be playing too much. This is negative several reasons including personal wellness and your ability to earn. It’s usually a good idea to track how much you are playing. Burn out is a real issue for poker players even the best ones. Many players just want to earn and will play far too long because they think the game is good or they have an edge. Having ability to mobile poker certainly increases the likelihood of burn out and fatigue

Conclusion

Mobile poker is convenient and can be a useful tool, particularly for a beginner wanting to learn. Check out pokerappguide if you want to know the best poker app sites around. For the serious player hoping to maximise earnings and play their best, it’s probably not as appropriate but still profitable.



Strip Poker

Introduction to Strip Poker

You have probably watched strip poker scenes on TV before. Strip Poker is the default party game. It involves losing players to remove items of clothing. It is usually played between 3 and 6 players but can also be played heads up (although a little weird!). Historically it has been played with men and women. It was likely founded in the late 19th century but earliest attestations date to early 20th century circa 1920 when it was played in New Orleans, USA and predominantly played in brothels, for obvious reasons. It has gained popularity in movies and TV shows, including popular sitcom Friends.

Which Game of Poker?

It is usually played to 5 card draw but can be played with Texas Holdem too. The main difference between the two is that Texas Holdem Strip Poker is usually the betting of clothes whereas 5 card draw relies on either the worst performing player in the hand removing an item of clothing or all but the winner of the hand removes an item. The Texas Holdem variant also means if you fold before the flop, you do not have to remove clothing. This essentially means a tight pre flop strategy keeps you clothed for longer!

Clothes

It is usually a good idea to have everyone have the same number of items of clothing. This sometimes means you will have to put a hat on or gloves to make the game fair. There is no point turning up to a strip poker game in shorts and a tank top and your opponents wearing 10 items of clothing.

strip poker
Image by freepik.com
ITM Poker

The Spirit of Strip Poker

Strip poker is not really meant to be played seriously. It is designed to increase the sexual tension and embarrassment between adults playing the game. It is usually played whilst drinking, at a party and between friends, with no money at stake. If you are at party and invited to play strip poker, don’t put on your sunglasses and get out your notepad to take notes, it’s all about the fun. A word of caution though, if you are particularly uptight or self-conscious about your body, best to bow out and watch the game with a beer than play yourself. It is not a game for the faint hearted.  

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Sit N Go Poker – The Pros & Cons

What is Sit N Go Poker?

A Sit N Go is a tournament with a predefined number of entrants, usually 9 or 18 but can be up to 180. Like a regular tournament, the top positions occupy the best cashes. It combines tournament strategy, survival, hand selection and the ability to play short stack well. Let’s look at reasons for and against playing Sit N Go poker.

Pro – Convenience

Being able to play a tournament in an hour is far more convenient than playing one lasting 8. You have plans to go cinema tonight? Don’t worry you can still play a SNG. They rarely last more than 75 minutes and turbo SNGs are available too which take even less time.

Pro – Multi-Tabling is Simple

You can increase your ROI easier with SNGs playing a few tables. If you are a competent player and looking at your ROI and hourly rate, you will quickly see you need to be playing several tables. Due to the relatively simple and predictable nature of a SNG, it is far simpler to multi table a sit n go than any other poker.

Pro – Improves Discipline

You will notice after playing many SNGs, that a defined strategy and hand selection will become imperative, particularly early on. This will improve your discipline before the flop and allow you to hone a strategy that works for you.

Sit N Go Poker
Photo by Josh Sorenson

Con – Earnings Restrictions

We all play poker to make money, but unless you are playing many tables or playing decent stakes. It’s questionable how much money you can make. If you are ambitious and want to earn lots of money, SNGs may not be for you as you need a lot of volume to see tangible earnings.

Con – Technical Restrictions

You’ll see Sit N Gos develop into short stack poker mode quite quickly. That’s great if you are happy to play short stack poker, but if you are looking to develop as a poker player and learn to play post flop poker well than Sit N Go poker isn’t your bag. 

Con – Boring

This may be a contentious “con” but I find sit n go poker quite boring. The predefined nature, the same opponents, the same pay-outs. Where cash games and tournaments are dynamic and engaging, sit n go poker is more rigid and predictable.

I hope you enjoyed this article. Our poker training video membership has a video on spin n go poker if you are interested, just email us at info@texasholdemquestions.com to find out how to view it or click the button below and take advantage of 25% discount.

Is PKC Poker and Chinese Poker Apps Safe?

Introduction to PKC and Poker Apps

PKC is the abbreviation for Poker King Club – an Asian mobile poker site that offers Texas Holdem to predominantly Asian but also international poker enthusiasts.

What Do They Offer?

Chinese poker apps may sound like the Chinese poker game but it is the main poker games they offer. The games themselves appear very lucrative and fishy with many a poker expert labeling NL600 playing NL25. This is partly due to the Asian community playing, no HUDs and playing on a mobile phone. At face value this seems great but on close inspection there are a few reasons to avoid these sites and apps.

Problem Registering Accounts

Registering an account with these sites are often problematic and rarely direct. Many stories circulate online about people posing as agents to get money on the site for you, to vanish off with your money. Be very careful if you choose to play on these sites and can’t register direct.

Problems with Bots

Whilst bots are mostly used for rakeback purposes and rarely visible on most sites. They are known to be prevalent on the Chinese poker apps. Not only is this illegal but it brings the game and sites into question.  The safe poker sites have departments dedicated to fraud detection and can pick up on the use of bots and ban accounts. This security seems to be a concept lost on the Chinese poker apps and PKC.

Problems with Collusion

Another cause for concern with security is the stories circulating of rampant collusion. Where big money is, the cheaters will look to go and these sites appear fishy and draw the criminals to them. With poor security, this makes detecting and preventing collusion much more difficult.

Problems with Money?

Most of these sites deal in crypto currency like Bitcoin. Any App that wants to use anything else other than proper currency is suspect to me. In an industry that is already tarnished with a bad brush due to scams in the past, this does no site or app any favors.

Final Warning

You are free to make your own decision when choosing to play poker but please do your due diligence. There are plenty of review sites dedicated to helping you find the safest and best sites to play poker on. Whilst an app may seem profitable at first glance, think twice before depositing.

Please remember to gamble responsibly.

PKC Poker
Image by Freepik.com

Is The Over-Bet Underused in Poker?

The Over-Bet

Depending on the situation, an over bet is either an awful play or a genius one. There is not much in between, from a 3rd party perspective. This is because an over bet will force your opponent out of the pot (either lost value or a great bluff) or you’ve been called (lost far more than necessary or got extra value).The truth is, there are scenarios where an over bet is the most profitable bet to make and also the worst bet to make. Deciding when to pull off a successful over-bet takes experience, intuition and thorough of understanding your opponent.

The Bluff Over-Bet

In order to pull off success bluff, sometimes you have to bet a lot. With the right opponent (conservative) and deep stacks, an over bet bluff can be a great weapon to use. Whilst this same player may call 60-80% of the pot, they will often fold to an over- bet shove or 2x pot size bet. They know they are not getting a good price on their money and will look for a more sensible hand to invest in. The over bet bluff is usually best to try on the river when there are no more cards to come. 

You need a few things to be on your side for an over- bet bluff to be successful:

  • Opponent who has demonstrated ability to fold
  • Deep stacks
  • You’ve not shown down an over bet bluff already

The Value Over-Bet

This value bet is not utilised enough really. I am guilty myself and don’t use this move often enough. I think many people think they will waste value and prefer to get something than nothing so they will typically just put in a decent value bet. It’s a great move to pull off against fishy players who can’t fold a medium strength hand or advanced players who are prone to making a hero call or levelling themselves.

  • Fishy opponent who is likely to call an over bet just as much a standard
  • You have shown an over bet bluff
  • Competent player who can level themselves
  • Deep stacks
embarrassed by over-bet
Photo By Wallace Chuck
Don’t be embarrassed to try the over-bet

Caution

Like most poker moves, this is not one to be constantly used against the same players. In fact, against a decent player, you can probably only get away with 2-3 successful over bet bluffs or value over bets before they’ve clocked which you use it for. The trick is to master both. I recommend attempting both in the future when your instinct tells you it will work. Once you have dipped your toe in you will soon incorporating both bets into your game in the future.

I hope you found this article useful and consider the over-bet more in the future.

Poker Cheat Sheet for 2020

What is a Poker Cheat Sheet?

A poker cheat sheet is a guide to help you learn the absolute basic fundamentals to play solid poker in order to beat micro and low stake games. Like any endeavour, it takes time, experience and regular evaluation to become a master. The idea behind a cheat sheet is that you can refer to it easily to help you make better decisions than you would otherwise. While you have cheat sheets with poker and for example Blackjack, this is not real ‘cheating’. Cheating the casino is not allowed and can get you into trouble.

Hand Rankings

If you are new to poker, you will need to understand the proper hand rankings. The list below should help you understand the respective hand rankings.

poker cheat sheet
Image by freepik

Calculating Outs as Odds

To make better decisions, you will want to know the chances of improving your hand and reconciling that with the amount your opponent is betting. The table below should help you see, at a glance, the approximate percentage of you making your hand for the most common scenarios you will find yourself in. After a while, calculating your outs and converting them to odds will become intuitive. In the meantime, feel free to refer to this table.

Draw TypeNumber of OutsTurn & River (2 Cards)River (One Card)
Flush & 2 Overcards1554%33%
Flush & 1 Overcard1451%30%
Open End Straight & 1 Overcard1142%24%
Flush935%19%
Open End Straight832%17%
Set to Full House or Quads728%15%
2 Overcards624%13%
Gutshot Straight417%9%
Backdoor Flush or Straight14%2%
ITM Poker

Hand Selection – Open Raising

Choosing which hands to play is very important. It’s the first key decision of any poker hand. If you are starting out in poker. The most important thing is to play a selective hand range based on the position you are in. As you lack the post flop skills to profitably make marginal pre flop calls, you will need to be careful about the hands you play. The table below is a guide to hands you can open raise with, if you are first to enter the pot i.e. nobody has raised in front of you. Please note that the table assumes you are opening the hand ranges in the earlier positions too e.g. You open KJ suited in early position therefore you are opening it in mid position too.

Early PositionMiddle PositionLate PositionSmall Blind
All pocket pairs from 5s to AcesKJ/KQ/KT/QJAny AceNA
AT-AK SuitedSuited AcesAll Suited KingsNA
KQ SuitedPocket 2s to 4sAll ConnectorsNA
KJ SuitedSuited Connectors above a 6 e.g. 7h 8hAll Gapped Connectors e.g. Q9NA
QJ Suited/KT Suited/QT Suited/JT Suited Any suited cards with at worst 3 gap between e.g. Jd8dNA

Please note I have not assigned a hand range to open raise from the small blind with. I firmly believe this is the worst spot to open raise in Texas Holdem from and don’t think it would be wise to advise a wide open raise range from here. Instead, play very careful from there. Look to minimize how much you lose and let the strong hands do their “talking” so to speak.

Hand Selection – Calling Raises

As you won’t have the pre-flop aggression in the hand when calling a raise, it is important you are calling raises with hands that are at least as equal in value to the likely range your opponent is raising with and preferably with position on them.  There is no cheat to knowing what hands you should call player A’s raise with. Instead, think about the type of player raising and act accordingly. In other words, if it is a loose player opening, you can widen the hands you call with as he is opening wider than a tight player. If it is a tight player opening, you should be looking to play less hands or hands that can break him and his premium hands e.g. low pairs.
As a very basic guide consider calling raises with the hands below.

  1. Any Pocket Pair
  2. A Q off suit
  3. A J suited
  4. A Q suited
  5. A T suited
  6. K Q suited

Hand Selection – Re Raising AKA 3 Bet

Starting out, I recommend 3 betting with AK suited, Pocket Queens, Kings and Aces. As you develop and gain experience you will certainly be re raising with other hands but this cheat sheet is purely for the new player playing micro/low stakes poker.

Post Flop Poker

You will quickly learn that playing the flop, turn and river is complex. As you are playing a selective hand range to begin with, you will not be facing as many difficult situations as a more experience player. Check out some tips to follow below.

  1. Miss the flop, get out of the way
  2. Be wary of straight and flushes if betting gets large
  3. Bet 50% or more of the pot when you bet
  4. Don’t attempt crazy bluff bets when you are multi way
  5. Don’t slowplay your hands, people will call you down at micro stakes so less need for deception
  6. Bet your top pair or better hands
  7. Don’t get too attached to Ace King if you miss!

Conclusions

This cheat sheet is aimed at the new player coming to poker in 2020 who has no experience but wants to learn quickly. Understanding hand rankings, what hands to play and the basic odds are the most simple and fundamental skills to be a competent player, capable of winning at micro stakes. There is so much more strategy and complexity to Texas Holdem that can take years to master but we hope this cheat sheet will help you at the start of your poker journey.

I hope you enjoyed this article. Feel free to contact us if you are interested in finding out how we can help you improve your game and bankroll in 2020. You can download our poker cheat sheet below for free or sign up to our poker training video membership by paying below. This gives you 12 months access to all video content for just £49.99.

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Ace King – Everything You Need to Know

Introduction to Ace King

Known as “Big Slick”, Ace King is one of the strongest hands in Texas Holdem. This is a hand that many a player are unsure how to play, with most players prone to overplaying it. Whilst Ace King is unquestionably a premium starting hand, the context of the situation will determine its relative strength.

Ace King
Photo by Michal Parzuchowski @mparzuchowski

Maths

First of all, looking at the maths, you are far more likely to be dealt Ace king then pocket aces or pocket kings. There are are more combinations of this hand than aces or kings. Ace king suited is clearly better than an off suit ace king, represented by the fact that suited achieves 5-7% better equity than its off suit counterparts. It’s also worth pointing out at that if your opponent has pocket aces or kings than you are a big underdog (unsurprisingly) with approximately 6% chance against aces and 30% against kings.

Context is Everything


The situation should guide the way you play A-K. If stacks are shallow, its an amazing hand and you want to get your chips in with it. Tournament players will rarely fold A-K late in a tournament as stack sizes are rarely deep enough to warrant it. They understand that they are only doing badly against aces or kings. Tournament players will happily take a coin flip, if necessary. Whilst this is a reasonable proposition when stacks are shallow or you are facing aggressive opponents, it’s not always the best mentality. This is particularly true if you consider yourself the best player at the table. In an expensive and slow structured tournament, ace king’s value for committing you’re your stack before the should drop significantly. You are more likely to be up against kings or aces when strong players commit their tournament life. Obviously, this is player dependent but the reality is, strong tournament players are not committing their entire stacks lightly early in deep stack events (there are exceptions).
If it’s early in a tournament or you are facing a tight player opening from early position, consider a more prudent approach to playing. Most beginner players see A-K and want to re raise regardless of the situation. This is a foolish way to play, not only are you disregarding position, stack sizes, opponent and the value of deception, you are also giving away information to your opponents “I always re raise with ace king”. Flat calling raises with A-K, particularly in heads up pots can be no bad thing. In situations when your opponent is dominated before the flop and would otherwise fold, you can often extract a lot of value.

Conclusion

Ultimately your ability and confidence in playing post flop poker will guide how you intend to play A-K. A strong and experienced player can vary his style and adopt flat calls and 3 bets as he sees fit. A novice should be more inclined to play straightforward poker, particularly at low stakes. When you have less than 75 BBs in a tournament and your opponent isn’t a nit, you can often safely commit your stack, providing you are getting the last bet in. If it’s more than 75b BBs and the player is tight or there are multiple raises, throw it away and move on to the next hand.

I hope you found this article on Ace King useful. If you are keen to learn more about how it can be played in tournaments or cash games, feel free to email us at info@texasholdemquestions.com.