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 endeavor, 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.

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%

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 also download our poker cheat sheet below.

How to Play Ace King?

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 any pocket aces or pocket kings as there are more combination of this hand than aces or kings. Ace King suited is clearly better than an off suit ace king and represents with suited usually achieving 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 a fold. They understand that they are only doing badly against aces or kings and 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, particularly if you consider yourself the best player at the table. If you are in an expensive and slow structured tournament, ace king’s value for committing you’re your stack before the should drop significantly as you are 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 very 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, whereas a novice should be more inclined to play straightforward poker, particularly at low stakes. If 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.

Thanks,

Poker Donkey

Have you ever been called a donkey at the table?  A donkey is a pejorative term loosely used to describe a bad poker player. If you’ve been called one before, it’s probably when you first started playing, barely knew the rules and were calling raises and post flop bets with trashy hands and getting lucky.

How Does a Donkey Play?

A donkey will usually play like a calling station. This means they will play lots of hands and typically be calling you down. This is irrespective of the strength of the hand. The result of this is that they will occasionally get lucky and outdraw your strong hands.

Example

It’s a no limit cash game with £1/£2 blinds. You open raise to £8 with As Ks from early position. It folds to the small blind who calls.
The flop comes Ac Jd 3s. He check calls your £12 bet. Turn is a 4d. The small blind check calls your £30 bet. The river comes a 9h. The small blind checks, you value bet £45 and the small blind calls and wins with 3h9h and wins with two pairs. 
This is a typical donkey hand, your opponent has called every round of betting with a very weak hand, particularly on the turn with just bottom pair facing an early position raise and now a decent size turn bet, realistically beating nothing.

Don’t Bash the Donkey’s, Feed Them

I know it’s tempting to criticise or give the “donkey” stick after you’ve lost the pot to a 3 9 suited but don’t! Don’t educate your opponents or let them know they are playing horribly.  After all, these are the players that will make you money in the long run.
If you bash the donkey like a donkey pinata party game than they may not play again or worse, learn to play better! Phil Hellmuth is a poor role model in this respect as he will often bash a donkey but he doesn’t care, a millionaire with revenue from advertising and getting paid to play on TV. You and I are not so lucky! Remember not to tap the glass next time you play. In fact, it’s better to pay the donkey compliments, feed them.

I hope you found this post useful, feel free to contact us if you are interested in any of our services.

Poker Donkey
Photo by Martin Castro @martin_castro

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What is a Slow Roll?

Have You Heard of a Slow Roll?

You may have heard this phrase at your local casino or your friend mentioning it. It’s an old poker move that is hated more than the dreaded check raise, but with good reason. A slow roll is an incredibly unethical and distasteful move to employ. It is when a player has the best hand and takes an inordinate amount of time to call and show the winning hand. It is one of the most disliked moves in poker.

Why Would Anyone Slow roll?

A player will typically slow roll his opponent with the intention to frustrate his opponent and possibly get them on tilt, but at what cost? You have lost that opponent’s respect and the other players at the table too. A player may also just be a mean spirited individual and just do it for his own amusement. Whatever the reason, it’s very uncool and won’t win you any favours with your fellow poker players.  

Casino

A slow roll is quite easy to detect in live play at the casino, the way your opponent reveals the cards and their facial expression are usually a dead giveaway as to whether they are intentionally slow rolling you.
It’s important to note the player in the hand as you need to be careful not to misinterpret the behaviour of a beginner player or a forgetful elderly individual. They may just be slow or not realise the strength of their hand. A beginner may not know he has the nut flush and think he’s playing a 1 pair hand when he slowly calls on the river. If he has the nuts and isn’t re raising you, it’s a pretty clear indication he isn’t slow rolling intentionally as a good player will always try to get more chips in the pot if at all possible.

Online

It is harder to detect a slow roll online. A delayed call could just mean a poor internet connection, the player might be answering the door or in a key hand on another table so again, be careful be for you curse your opponent online.
On the other hand, if the player slow rolls and does a winky face in the chat, you know you’ve just been slow rolled. It might be worth taking a note of that player. Lets face it, the kind of player to slow roll is the same type of player to make irrational bluffs and show you after so there is strategic value to knowing who the slow rollers are.

Next time you play, make sure you don’t slow roll! You’ll find yourself with a big target on your back and lose a lot of respect too. 

How to Play Poker for Beginners

The basic rules of poker are quite easy to understand. Mastering it, is an ongoing challenge. This article will look at the basic rules of how to play Texas Holdem, the most popular form of poker played today, online and in casinos.

Basic Betting Options
Bet – You can invest as much as you want
Check – Do nothing and see how the action develops (clock wise)
If someone bets then you have the options below when it the action is on you:
Call – Match the bet
Fold – Get out the pot and pass your cards to the dealer
Raise – Invest more than the initial bet e.g.  Player A raises to £20 and you decide to re raise to £50.

Blinds
The blinds are forced bets, to the left of the dealer button before a hand is played. They are known as the small blind and big blind with the big blind typically double the small blind. These forced bets create a pot and entice action. This is especially true for tournaments where blinds will increase at timed intervals. This is not the case for cash games where the blinds will remain the same.

Stage 1 – Pre-Flop
Everyone at the table is dealt two cards, face down. Do not reveal these to anyone else at the table.  You will use these cards in combination with the 5 community cards to make the best 5 card poker hand.  This round if betting is known as pre flop as it is before the first 3 community cards are dealt.

Stage 2 – Flop
After the 1st round of betting is completed pre flop, and there are at least 2 matched bets, 3 community cards are dealt face up which active players use in combination with their hole cards to make the best hand. Players can bet, check or fold.  

Stage 3 – The Turn

A 4th community card is dealt face up, and another round of betting is completed.

Stage 4 – The River
The 5th and final community card is dealt face up. If bets are called between at least 2 players – the hole cards are turned face up to reveal who has the best 5 card poker hand.

Poker Hands in Ranking Order

  • Royal Flush – Ten to Ace in sequential order and of same suit
  • Straight Flush – Any other sequential order and of same suit
  • Four of a Kind – All four cards of same rank
  • Full House – Three of a kind and a pair
  • Flush – Any five cards of the same suit but not in sequence
  • Straight –  Any fives cards in sequence but not same suit
  • Three of a kind – Three cards of the same rank
  • Two Pair – Two different pairs
  • One Pair – Two cards of the same rank
  • High Card – No pair at all so the highest card plays.
poker cards
Photo by Clifford Photography

Basic Tips

  • Ace is both high and low for straight but highest pair.
  • Two aces in the hole aka pocket aces are the best hand mathematically before the flop is dealt.
  • Position is key in Texas Holdem as you get to see how the action happens before you make a decision. For this reason, experts are keen to play their button as often as possible.
  • Play selectively, play few hands but bet them aggressively when you are starting out. The best hands are 8-8 through to A-A, Ace Jack, Ace Queen, Ace King and King Queen.

Learning how to play poker is quite easy but becoming a long term winner is very difficult. We are keen to help players improve their game and bankroll through different forms of poker training based on the individuals needs. Contact us if you are keen to learn poker.

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Middle & Late Tournament Strategy

Tournament players can struggle with the middle and late stages of tournaments. These key areas separate the most profitable from the average. We identify several key areas to focus on and improve. These include psychological, theoretical, mathematic and strategic. We will coach you in these areas to help you make better decisions and more money in the long run.

  • Psychological – Are you nervous, scared, too aggressive? Are you thinking about the money, always think everyone is stealing and you’re re-raising too much?
  • Stealing blinds and survival strategy
  • Table image and reacting to it
  • Pot odds for calling all ins
  • How to combat the modern loose aggressive players
  • Adjusting post flop betting sizes
  • Adjusting pre flop opening raises
  • Finding optimum moments to steal blinds and antes
  • Bubble strategy
  • Which stacks to pick on?
  • Identify which players to target and play pots with
  • Moving all in at the right time

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Texas Holdem Questions

5 Must Read Poker Books

Like any interest or hobby, reading and gaining knowledge on the subject will increase your expertise in the field. The list of books below are just a few highly recommended for playing poker well.  There are some great gambling books and authors available and cheap prices if you look around.

Photo by Kimberly Farmer
  1. Super System by Doyle Brunson
    Amazing book, must read for any poker enthusiast. Timeless book that still helps players today both online and live. It may have been a different era but the principles behind most of what Dolly says still applies, particularly playing draws aggressively. 
  2. Play poker like the pros by Phil Hellmuth Jr
    Think what you like about Phil’s antics but he’s written a great book here. This book is mandatory for players looking to improve their tournament play. Phil’s won 15 WSOP bracelets so when he talks, one should listen…..unless he’s just whining on tv of course then just laugh.
  3. Ace on the River: An Advanced Poker Guide by Barry Greenstein
    Barry goes into depths where other authors don’t in this book. He’s helping the poker enthusiast become better in all aspects not just some game theory. I can’t recommend this book enough. The pictures are an added bonus too.
  4. Every hand revealed by Gus Hansen
    Love this book, experience the journey of Gus’ thoughts as he plays out the Aussie Millions. It’s amazing getting an insight into how this genius but apparent “madman” operates. Excellent read and could read this multiple times easily. This book is unlike any other and reveals hand to hand what it is like to play an expensive live tournament. 
  5. Harrington on Holdem by Dan Harrington
    Both Harrington books are amazing and necessary for any no limit holdem tournament player. Invaluable advice with theory and insight that will engrave on your mind innately and improve you. They discuss the famous M and educate the tournament player on how to play short stacks. 

I hope you enjoyed this article. Feel free to contact us if you are interested in poker books.

Thanks
Texas Holdem Questions

Top 5 Poker Skills to be a Winner

Poker Skills

There are lots of skills required to be a consistent winner at poker. This article will look at 5 key poker skills.

Patience

Patience is such an important poker skill that it can’t be emphasized enough. Whether it be cash game or tournament, picking your spots and waiting for the profitable moments are key. Tournament holdem can often be described as “hours and hours of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror”. Patience is one of the key differences between losing and winning players. A patient player will fold a strong hand even after hours of folding if he/she knows it’s the right thing to do.

Timed Aggression

Over the years, the game keeps changing but aggression is still a necessary skill to be a winning player. Even the players you call “nits” are betting their hands aggressively. The losing players are losing value on strong hands by playing unnecessarily trappy and slow.

Awareness

This is a poker skill that’s often underappreciated. Winning players know what’s going on at the table, they watch the players intently and know what different players are thinking at different times. Why do they know this? They know because they are aware of what’s happening, they know John had a bad week at the office and history shows he bluffs more when he’s in a bad mood. Forgive me for sounding like Yoda but to be aware takes concentration and taking the game serious, you need to dedicate your attention to the table and perhaps turn off the greatest showman soundtrack while you play.

Bankroll Management

One can’t do a list of skills needed without including this. OK, so it’s not a skill at the table but you can’t be a long-term winner if your bankroll management is poor. You need to play within your means and at a suitable level. Winning players are gamblers to the naked eye but in reality, how many winning players have a losing year? They practice sensible bankroll management and know what games and levels they need to stay away from and what times they can move up.

Ability to Not Tilt

This again is a big difference between winning and loser players. Even professionals tilt at times, but the ability to not tilt is so key. You’ve played great for hours and lost 3 key hands in a row, natural tendency is to steam and play more aggressive. Not to the best winning players, they know that isn’t what makes them money. This is something that can be trained and embedded in your mind with experience. Don’t tilt.Do you have any questions about this list?

Top 5 Overrated Poker Hands

  1. Ace Queen offsuit
    This is a hand even professionals often get into trouble. When was the last time you watched poker after dark or WSOP and you saw someone fold this pre-flop? What TV doesn’t show is the hours of patience some players will employ. In position or first in it’s a great hand but if you’re up against a tight player who’s raised under the gun or re raised your early position open then this is usually an easy fold, contrary to what you often see. Even those who profess to say this is an easy fold in the above scenario end up stubbornly calling down.
  2. Mid pocket pairs
    These pesky middle pairs often get players into trouble. Players often call re raises pretending in their heads they will “get away” when they don’t flop a set then hang on to the river when there’s one or two overcards.
  3. Ace Rag
    An obvious one here, the old ace rag. If you’re in the blinds and you flop top pair, remember what is with that top pair and who you’re facing. Likewise, if you’re in a position and calling a raise with this just because your opponent is active then you’re overplaying. What do you hope to hit or are you just trying to take away later? If so, why does it matter that you have an ace?
  4. Small suited connectors
    The number of players who see Phil Ivey play these hands profitably and think they can too is staggering. Use common sense, these “numbers” are the lowest in the deck, a single pair is rarely enough to win and hard to get shown down so you’re hoping for three of a kind/two pairs and straights etc which the higher cards have just as good a chance of making.
  5. Queen Jack
    This is a trappy hand, you hit top pair and you have a reasonable kicker but if you’ve called it to a raise or opened and caught your top pair, how good is it when facing resistance? Neither kicker is great in a raised pot, are they?

    Thanks

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