Poker Kicker – How Big is Yours?

Poker Kicker

Your kicker is the second card you are playing in a game of Texas Hold’em. To some, understanding the hand strengths is enough to get by in poker. To the rest of us, we know there is a little more to it. Unfortunately, in Texas Hold’em, you are not going to make royal flushes and 4 of a kind very often. You are more likely to end most hands with one pair or high card, this is where your kicker plays.

Kicker Problems

You may have heard the phrase “kicker problems” before. This is when you’ve made a top pair type hand, read your opponent for similar hand but identified a problem – your kicker is low. Understanding when your kicker is no good and getting out of the way is an important skill to develop to help curb your potential losses in poker. To win at poker, you will have to learn to minimise your losses and sorting out kicker problems is one way. One of the biggest problems’ beginners have is overplaying ace rag, not realising the rag is the kicker costing them money.

Example Poker Kicker Hand

You’re in a $1/$2 cash game and a conservative old gentlemen limps in from early position (nice game eh?), 2 others limp in late position, and you complete from the SB with Ac 3c.

The flop comes:
As 9d 6d.

You check, BB checks and the conservative old gent bets out $9 into $10. The button calls and action is on you: What do you do?

This is a spot where you are probably up against another ace in the hand. An observant player will recognise the early position limper almost certainly has an A 10 + type hand and is way ahead. Rather than calling with your top pair and potentially losing $10 +, folding would be a wise move here.

When does a Kicker Count in Poker?

Texas Hold’em is played on best 5 card hand. Remember, the community cards are yours and your opponents. If the secondary card in yours and your opponent’s hole cards exceed that of the board, then the kicker will count. So if you have K-2 and your opponent has K-8 on a board run out of K-3-5-J-J than the 8 plays because the best hand is:

K-K-J-J-8 > K-K-J-J-5

Kings and Jacks with an 8 kicker beats Kings and Jacks with a 5 kicker.

The kicker’s can only count in the following hands:

  • High Card
  • One Pair
  • Two Pair

Final Thoughts

Understanding your poker kicker and when it counts is very important to being a solid player. You need to combine hand reading, hand selection and table awareness to judge whether a kicker will be your friend or foe. If you’re ever unsure, stick to playing solid starting hands and you stand a better chance.

Continuation Bet – The Do’s and Don’ts

What is a Continuation Bet?

A continuation bet is where you have raised before the flop and bet again on the flop. You’ve “continued” betting, hence continuation bet. This is also known as “C betting”. The continuation bet is necessary tool in a poker player’s arsenal. Without it, they will win fewer pots and gain less information on the cards their opponents are holding. Now you know what it is, we will outline the do’s and don’ts of continuation betting.

Do’s

Heads upIt’s much easier for a continuation bet to get through in heads up pots. Your opponent will only flop a pair 1 in 3 times so this makes a flop bet very profitable in the long run.
In positionContinuation betting is pretty much mandatory if checked to you in position. You can put players under pressure far more easily than if you are out of position.
Against fit or fold playersIt’s easy to continuation bet against players that are only playing the cards in their hand. They don’t care if the board is 2-3-9 and hits none of your range. They will still fold if they have nothing, so feel free to continuation bet.
Big card flopsThe flops with an ace or high card are far easier to continuation bet and get through because they hit your perceived range. Who care if you have pocket 3s? They don’t know that.
Dry flopsFlops like K-2-8 are easier to continuation bet due to the lack of flush and straight draws. It reduces the chances your opponent has anything and makes a continuation bet more likely to work.
When you have “it”If you have the hand, fire away too. There’s no use only continuation betting with air or overcards. You want to build the pot and get value so start putting money in on the flop.

Don’ts

MultiwaySimple statistics dictate the more players involved in a pot, the stronger the hand you need to win it. Player’s don’t like folding so if you elect to continuation bet, be prepared to fire 3 bullets to win it.
Out of positionThis isn’t a golden rule, obviously there are many times out of position when you should be betting the flop. It’s tougher to fire continuation bets with success against tough players on some flops, they will float or re raise many flops if the board doesn’t hit your range.
Coordinated boardsThe boards with 3 of a suit or 3 in a row often prove difficult to get a c bet through. People’s ranges are not polarized either, they may be slow playing a monster, prudently playing 2 pair or 3 of a kind. They may just have the ace of the suit.
After lots of bluffsIt’s a tad ambitious to persist with continuation bets if you’ve been showing bluffs or caught bluffing. Tone it down for a while if you have because people will be looking you up.

How Often Should I Continuation Bet?

It depends on the makeup of your table but you should be looking to continuation the majority of the time, particularly heads up. A rough guide below:

Heads up65%
3 Way45%
More than 3 players involved20%

Continuation Bet Sizing

Generally in tournament you want to bet a little less than you may in cash games. I think continuation betting between 49-52% is fine.Cash games afford more flexibility with deeper stack sizes. You are also keen to enforce errors later in the hand and narrow hands down easier. Therefore, continuation betting should be a little larger, between 56-62%.

Conclusion

There’s no way around it, if you want to win at poker, you’ll need to learn how to continuation bet well. To not know about continuation betting is akin to a golfer not knowing about his 9-iron golf club. It’s one of the most important skills to acquire for both cash games and tournaments.

The Beginners Guide to Pocket Kings

Pocket Kings

Pocket kings are the second nuts pre flop. That’s not something people say very much but worth remembering. Otherwise known as cowboys, they are the second-best possible hand in Texas Hold’em.  They have a slight disadvantage to pocket aces. There is the possibility of an overcard on the flop. This makes them more vulnerable and cause players to make 2 common errors.

Bet them too hard and lose action

Play them scared and miss out on value

Beginner Texas Hold’em Question

What are pocket kings?

Pocket kings are when you have a pair of kings in your hand in Texas Hold’em.

What are the odds of pocket aces vs pocket kings?

It may seem crazy, but at a full ring table, the odds of you having pocket kings and another opponent pocket aces is 4.4%. That is quite high isn’t it? That’s almost 1 in 20 times you have pocket kings.

How to play pocket kings

King should be played aggressively and fast. They come round roughly 1 in 220 times and should be one of the most profitable hands for you. They should be raised from every position and 3 bet too. There are situations to be wary of, particularly in deep stacked cash games though.

Paired boardsIf you are getting alot of action on a paired board, think about slowing down. Paired boards are notorious for breaking overpairs.
Multi-way potsRelative hand strength is an important concept to understand. Kings are a great hand but if you are 4 way and there is alot of action going on, think twice. Regardless of board texture, a lot of action 4 way is reason to slow down. One pair rarely wins when there is more people in the pot
Flush boardsThere’s no reason to always fear a flush but sometimes its obvious. If there are 3 to a flush and your opponent has check called down and started firing turn or river, it may be time to get out of the pot.
Connected boardsIn a deep stacked cash game, kings don’t look so great on boards like 6-7-8 or T-9-8. Cash game players love suited connectors and will happily call a pre flop raise hoping to bust big pairs.
Turn check raiseA check/call followed by a turn check raise represents supreme strength. It’s rarely a bluff and often a monster. This is a concept lost on beginners but heed this warning and you will save money.

Conclusion

Pocket kings are a great hand and should make you money. Yes an ace will come out sometimes but as long as you don’t get wedded to the hand, you will be fine. If an ace comes or a dangerous board, just exercise some pot control. You can always value bet more on river if you’ve judged your hand to be good still.

Free Poker Online Exists

Free Poker Online

You’ve found this article because you’ve heard of poker but want to play for free right? Don’t worry, you don’t have to spend lots of money to learn poker. You can play free poker online if you want to. Most online poker sites allow you to play on their site with play money. Most people want to make money but this is great way to learn the basics of poker before you spend any money.

Free Poker Tools

If you are interested in playing free poker online then you probably want some free resources to help you. The list below is a few free resources to help you learn the beautiful game of poker.

Texas Holdem Questions

This site is a free tool for you. We write lots of articles catered to all types of players so feel free to have a nose around. I highly recommend our poker cheat sheet to start with and then click on “poker basics” under our article dropdown menu.

YouTube

There are lots of free videos on YouTube to help you learn poker. There’s a lot of naff material too but it’s still a great place to start. Just search “learn poker” or something similar and you will get thousands of results to help you.

Poker Podcasts

Podcasts seem to be incredibly popular in the last few years with most industries jumping on the bandwagon. Poker is no different, have a search for poker podcasts and find the wealth of listening material. A word of caution, whilst most of the podcasts are free, a lot may be going over your head initially as it may be technically complex.

Freerolls

Save the best till last. Poker freerolls are the best way to play free poker online. You can play poker, for money, without risking any of your own. This is undoubtedly the best way advice I can offer you. It’s not the best way to be a great player but if you’re just dipping your toe into online poker, this is the best place to start. If you want to play free poker online, I recommend 888 poker. They have hundreds of thousands in their galaxy freerolls and give £20/$31 free (in increments) upon registering an account with them. To take advantage, sign up from the banner below and start playing free poker online.

Poker Misclick – It’s Your Own Fault

Poker Misclick

How many times have you done it? You’ve got a monster hand and your about to re raise all in but accidentally clicked fold. Or worse, you’ve called a river bet with nothing! You won’t like hearing this – every poker misclick is your own fault. All of them. This article will look at the most common reasons for a poker misclick.

Beginner Texas Holdem Question

What is a Misclick in Poker?

The term “misclick” means to perform an action not intended e.g. you have 9-3 off suit in the big blind. The nit under the gun raises and you call from the big blind by accident.

Lack of Concentration

This is probably one of the biggest reasons for misclicks. I get it, it’s 2020 and everyone is doing 50 things at once. Logic dictates the more things you are doing at the same time; the less focus you are giving each separate task. Its common sense isn’t it? If I am hoovering while reading a book, I am probably not doing a great job at either. The same logic can be applied to poker. You need to focus on the game at hand and give it the attention it deserves. If you’re watching Netflix, WhatsApping friends and on twitter while playing, you are likely to play worse and potentially misclick.

Poker Misclick

 Too Many Tables

It’s great that we can play lots of tables and get more hands in, but with it, comes the risk of a poker misclick or two. It baffles me some can play 8 or more tables and think this is optimal but alas there are thousands that do this.  If you play lots of tables, make sure you have them tiled properly otherwise you may make some big mistakes.

Playing Tired

Poker players have a tendency to play longer than they should. There are countless stories of players playing 24 + hour sessions. In addition to this being poor poker strategy (noyone plays well after 12 hours really), it’s also bad for your health. Playing tired will definitely lead to poker misclick. When you’re so tired that you can barely see the suits of your cards, you know it’s time to stop.

On a Mobile

Most of the major sites let us download apps to play poker on. They are pretty awesome really, allowing us to play from comfort of our phone. The poker misclick is definitely a problem. I have been guilty of this myself. It takes time to master mobile poker that’s for sure!

Automatic Buttons

You can argue this isn’t a misclick but I am going to lump it in. If you are using the automatic buttons like “fold” or “call any”, you are making some pretty bad mistakes in poker. You don’t know what the action will be before it gets to you so to use these buttons is foolish.

Other Reasons:

  • Laptop with clickpad
  • Small screen
  • Need glasses
  • Poor table layout
  • Faulty mouse

Why is Poker Hand Selection Important?

Poker Hand Selection

Every hand you play in poker starts with your pre-flop poker hand selection decision. It may seem trivial to a beginner what hands you play, but it isn’t. If you are making an error soon as the hand starts, often you are compounding it with your play post flop. For instance, if you are facing an expert player who is tight and opens under the gun and you call his raise with Ac 9s from the small blind. This is a big error in Texas Holdem as you have a hand that plays poorly, is likely dominated and you you are out of position. If it was baseball, you’ve struck out because that’s 3 for 3 in errors.

How to Know Which Hands to Play?

Poker hand selection should be grouped into categories for simplicity (suited connectors, small pocket pairs, big pairs, ace rag, paint cards, connectors etc). Your decision on whether to play the hand or not should be driven by the questions below, not solely on the cards in your hand.

  • Is my hand likely to be stronger than my opponents? (Maths)
  • Am I first in? (Pre-Flop Aggression)
  • Am I in position? (Informational Advantage)
  • Does my hand play well in this situation? (Combination)
  • Is this a favourable scenario? (Consider stack sizes and calibre of opponents)

You don’t have to be a poker genius to answer the questions. Using the A9 hand above, we can answer easily.

  • No our hand is not likely to be stronger
  • No we are not first in
  • No we are not in position
  • No A9 does not play well out of position heads up when we are the caller before the flop
  • No, A9 is not a favourable situation when we are calling a preflop raise from a tight player out of position.

Easier to Raise Than Call a Raise

There is an old poker saying that it take’s a stronger hand to call a raise than open raise yourself. This is because, with the pre-flop aggression, you are more inclined to win the pot. It is also known as the gap concept. The logic being, the person who is raising is telling the table he/she has a strong enough hand to raise. In order to call that initial raise, you need to have something of value yourself to contest the pot. When you are first in, you have the knowledge that nobody has entered the pot yet, so your range can be wider than it is to call.

Wider Poker Hand Selection Range in Position

As you approach later position in poker, the range of hands you play can widen, until you are on the button when you can be very liberal. This due to the fact 6 or 7 people have already folded to you, there are fewer people left to act and you have last position on every street of betting. Therefore, your poker hand selection can be much looser. This is a critical concept to understand as playing positional poker effectively is what will help you make money in the long run.

Poker Hand Selection

You can play so many hands on the button!

Final Thoughts

Poker hand selection is very important to becoming a winning poker player. You need to have an appreciation of the situation, your position, stack size, pre-flop lead and a basic understanding of maths. Once you understand and incorporate these factors into your decision making, you will be one step closer to winning. As I have not delved into granular detail of hand selection and specifics of which hands to play, please see below some free material from our poker training videos based on poker hand selection guide for tournaments.

Poker Hand Selection Video

How to Play Texas Holdem

Texas Holdem is often described as the “Cadillac” of poker games and has skyrocketed in popularity since Chris Moneymaker won the World Series of Poker in 2003.  A game of skill, psychology and sheer guts, Hold’em is very easy to learn but takes a long time to master since there are so many intricacies of the game that can’t be taught by reading, only by playing like the UTG position of the cards.  Unlike other forms of poker, Hold’em is quite unique in that unlike traditional games like Draw poker the range of hand possibilities is greatly increased.  This means that there is a lot more action in the game and much more strategizing on what your opponent holds and whether or not they are bluffing a particular hand.  In this article we will teach you how to play Texas Holdem with an overview including the rules, tips about how to play online, best starting hands and maximizing your starting bankroll.

The Rules of the Game

  • Hold’em is played at a table typically with as little as 2 and as many as 10 players
  • During each round, a player is designated as the dealer (rotates clockwise around the table) and the play immediately to the left of the dealer is known as the small blind, and the player to their left is known as the big blind
  • When a round begins, both the small and big blinds must post which means they will start out the pot at whatever limit the game is, for example $1/$2, $5/$10 and so on
  • At this point, each player in the game is dealt two cards which are known as “hole cards”
  • After all players at the table have their hole cards, the action is on the player immediately to the left of the big blind, who can fold, call (put in chips equal to the big blind), or make a raise
  • Action continues around the table until it reaches the big blind who can check (if there has been no raises), fold if their have been or raise if they want to increase the size of the pot
  • At this point, the dealer will deal 3 community cards onto the table known as the “Flop”
  • Another round of betting commences with the remaining players in the hand until either everyone folds and there is one winner, it’s checked around the table or a raise is called
  • After this, the dealer deals another single card known as the “Turn” onto the table
  • Another betting round commences and if there are still players left the game proceeds
  • At this point, the final card is dealt into the community cards known as the “River”
  • There is now 5 community cards on the table as well as 2 hole cards that the players were originally dealt at the beginning of the hand
  • Another round of betting commences and if any players remain after this betting round there is a “showdown” and players must expose the two hole cards they have in their hand
  • These two cards are evaluated against the 5 community cards to make the best 5 card poker hand and whoever has the highest ranked hand is determined to be the winner of that game
  • In Texas Hold’em, players don’t have to use both hole cards, for example if the table had the cards Ace, Ace, Ace, King, Queen and the players hole cards were Ace, 2 – the end result hand would be 4 of a kind (Aces) for this player with a King high

Limit vs. No-Limit

There are two basic types of Texas Holdem that are typically played amongst players including Limit and No-Limit.  As the names suggest, Limit Poker places a maximum wager that the player can place during each betting round.  For example, in a $5/$10 limit game, in each betting round the player can only raise in increments of $5 on the flop and $10 on the turn and river up to a maximum of 4 times, with additional raising not allowed during play.  Conversely, in No-Limit Poker, players are free to bet between the minimum blinds up to their entire chip stack at any point during the game.  Because of the bigger pots and potential of more profitability with No-Limit it’s become much more popular than Limit which use to be the game of choice in the early days of poker.

About Playing Online

With the advent of online poker, both Limit and NL Texas Holdem really took off and there are tens of thousands of players online each and everyday taking a shot at the cash games. Playing online is a great way to learn the game since all of the poker sites offer free versions of their software where you can learn the rules and hone your skills before playing for real money. The online sites also offer bonuses when you sign up, usually 100% match on your first deposit up to a certain amount, which is a great way to get some extra bang for your buck and increase your bankroll. Another major advantage of playing online is the ability to multi-table, something you can’t do in a casino, which means you can open more than one game or tournament at once and get a lot more hands in than you would at a traditional land based poker game.

What Hands to Fold in Poker (2020)

Introduction to Folding

Knowing what hands to fold in poker doesn’t come easy to most players. If you’re reading this article, you’re probably concerned that you play too many hands, call too many raises speculatively or on the contrary, play too tight and need some guidance. We can’t all play like Phil Ivey or Tom Dwan and expect play a wide range of hands profitably. This article will give a basic guide on what hands to fold in poker.

Playing Situations, Not Just Cards

Before I get into the hand groups you should be folding. Let me preface it by saying that, as your experience, table awareness and proficiency in Texas Holdem develops, you will often be looking for profitable situations instead of just playing solid poker hands. This is something I always tell players I mentor but this article is designed to help those of you who are having difficulty with pre flop hand selection and want some general advice on what hands to fold in poker.

Ace Rag

Ace rag is almost definitely the most overplayed and overrated hand in Texas Holdem. Even professionals will occasionally overplay the ace if they’ve been dealt junk for hours. The truth is, unless you are in position or shorthanded, these hands are unlikely to generate you much money or help build your stack much. They don’t play particularly well post flop and you are unlikely to extract 3 streets of value if you make top pair. Sometimes when you think you will, you end up finding yourself outkicked.

Low Paint Cards

This may surprise you but the Queen Jack and King Jack hands are not as powerful as you think. Granted, you have two paint cards and have the opportunity to make straights but if you are calling raises with these hands, particularly against early position open raises, you are often going to find yourself outkicked or against a higher pair. If a strong player is opening from under the gun and you are tempted to play Queen Jack from the small blind, think again. The range of hands you are likely to be up against have Queen Jack in bad shape. To make this clearer, if you are against an Ace Jack, Ace  Queen or King Queen, you are approx. 25% to win the hand in a showdown. Let’s also not forget you do not have the pre flop lead.

what hands to fold in poker
Image by Freepik

Low Connectors

Hands like 4-5, 6-7 and 3-4 are hands to fold in poker. I make a distinction from suited as they play so much better, but the offsuit low connectors are unlikely to help your ROI. You may have seen some professionals call raises on High Stakes Poker with these hands but that doesn’t mean they were right to and it doesn’t mean you should. Unless you make a hand stronger than one pair, you are unlikely to feel secure with low connectors so just throw them away.

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Poker FAQ

Poker FAQ for Beginners

In this article we will answer the most frequently asked questions in poker. There are so many questions beginners ask so hopefully you will find your answer in our poker FAQ.

Poker FAQ
What is the best hand possible in Texas Holdem?

A Royal flush is the best hand possible. This is extremely unlikely to obtain. I have played millions of hands and only had it twice in almost two decades of playing. The best starting hand is two aces AKA pocket aces.

What are the blinds?

The blinds are forced bets. There are two, the small blind and the big blind, both to the left of the dealer button. The big blind is usually double the small blind. These forced bets help create action.

What is the difference between cash games and tournaments?

A cash game involves static blinds e.g. £1/£2 and involve cash. Tournaments have a fixed fee to enter, you are paid based on where you finish, i.e. the higher the place the more money you make. The blinds go up at timed levels in tournaments. These two different forms of poker are radically different and require different mindsets.

What is the worst possible starting hand?

7-2 Offsuit is mathematically the worst possible hand to start with.

What is a straight draw?

A straight draw is when you have four cards to a straight (five cards in sequential order) and one more will complete your straight. There are two types of straight draws, open ended where you have 4 in a row and need one card either side or gutshot straight draw, where only one card can help you.

What is a flush draw?

Similar to straight draw but four cards of the same suit and one more of suite needed to complete your flush (five cards of the same suit).

What is the river?

The river is the 5th and final community card. It is the last round of betting where the pot must be won if it hasn’t already.

What happens if my opponent bets more than what I have?

Contrary to old movies, you can call all your chips without having to borrow to meet your opponents bet. If he bets £100 and you have £90 and call, he simply takes back the extra £10.

What is a freeroll?

These are tournaments that cost nothing to enter. They usually reward you with loyalty points or cash. They typically have many entrants.

What is a bad beat?

A bad beat occurs when you lose a pot where you were a significant favourite. Many players are quick to cry bad beat when it’s in fact quite close mathematically.

What is the dealer button?

The dealer button signifies the last position to act post flop and also where the blinds will be. It moves round the table clockwise at the close of every hand. You are not required to deal if you are on the dealer button. It is the most favourable position at the table as you get to act last on every round after the flop.

Did our Poker FAQ not answer any of your questions? Ask us your free question and we will get back to you soon.

Is Full Ring Poker for You?

Introduction to Full Ring Poker

Full ring games are cash games or tournaments or that require 9 or 10 players at table. Most tournaments and cash games are full ring. Online poker players tend to prefer shorthanded poker as it rewards aggression more and there is less emphasis on pre-flop hand selection.

Strategic Differences Between Full Ring Poker & 6 Max Poker

  1. Patience is far more important in a full ring game. You can profitably play far more hands in a short-handed game than you can in a full ring poker game.
  2. Relative hand strength changes as a game of poker reduces e.g. You can play more hands heads up than in a 6 max game because your hand is more likely to be better than 1 random hand vs 5. This can be extrapolated from 6 max to 9 handed too – if you have Ace Ten UTG in a full ring game, you are likely to fold, but not in a 6 max
  3. Value betting is arguably more important in a full ring game. This is arguable as you certainly need to know how to value bet in any game you play however bluffing and taking pots away is required more in a short-handed game to beat the rake and blinds. In a full ring game, the blinds come around less often so there is less pressure to attack all the time.
  4. Position, as always is a key consideration, regardless of the format. In a full ring game, open raising lightly out of position is more likely to hurt your profitability than a short-handed game. This is because you are more likely to get called and be out of position in a full ring game whereas shorthanded games there are less people to act behind you. Look at under the gun for instance in a short-handed game, there are only 3 people to act behind you before it reaches the blinds.
  5. Bluffing is less prevalent in a full ring game. With more hands in play, there are more premium hands and stronger hands post flop. This is why it is difficult for wild and looser players to make lots of money in full ring and it is often the nittier players making money in the full ring. They aren’t relying on big bluffs to earn money; their biggest bluff is firing a continuation bet and a turn bet.
full ring poker
Photo by Freepik.com

Patience is the most important skill requirement for full ring poker. If you can’t wait for the right spots and play too many pots, you will get found out and lose.

What Should You Play?

I think you should select games carefully, become proficient, profitable and a master at a couple rather than be a small winner or average at plenty. There are other considerations between full ring and 6 max poker too. Are you a risk averse? If so, full ring is less variance. Do you play lots of tables? If so, full ring is probably better for you. Do you need to be involved in lots of hands? If so, 6 max is probably more appropriate for you. If you’re only interested in gambling then play on weclub88 the most trusted online casino Malaysia.

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