Texas hold'em online poker strategy guide II - for intermediate players

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Poker strategy guide II


Do you have a suspicion that you could improve your game considerably by making some deviations from the pokerpistols beginners' algorithm? Then you are probably right! Even though the pokerpistols algorithmic beginner strategy allows a novice to win against experienced players it is a simplified way of playing poker, and as you get better you will be able to take advantage of many other aspects of the game. You should stick with the pokerpistols beginners' strategy as a fundament for you play and deviate from it when you can recognize a gain in doing so. Below are mentioned some issues, that could cause a deviation to be a winning strategy:

Position

As you should know by now, it is a huge advantage to be one of the last players to act, because you can base your decisions on the information given by the players first to act. This advantage can be utilized by lowering your requirements for a playable starting hand. For example you can try to steal the blinds and perhaps the entire pot if nobody has acted when it is your turn. Especially if it is a passive table, this move could pay off. If the others players call your bet, you still got a second mover advantage over them. But beware! Lowering your standards too much could be expensive, since you could find yourself competing with real premium hands over and over again.

Free Cards

The concept of free cards works to ways. If you are ahead in a hand you don't want to give your opponents any free cards. On the other hand when you are on a draw yourself, straight or flush or even high pair, you would like to trick the player(s) ahead in the hand to give you a free card. The way you convince the other players to give you a free card is to make a bet on the flop even though you know you are probably behind. If you succeed in convincing the other players that you hold a strong hand, they might check on the turn card. If they do so and you didn't get hit by the turn card, you can easily check and get the river card for free. Off course if you get hit by the turn, you should bet ahead according to the strength of your hand. These free cards can add up to a lot in value during a poker session. The free card strategy is especially an option, when you are in late position. On the other hand, you should be very aware of not giving free cards to your opponents when you come out on top of the flop. Off course they could have come even higher on top than you (if you don't hold the nuts), so you should still respect a raise or re-raise. But if nothing happens you should take action if you think you are ahead. You should generally add value to your hand by collecting a premium from the players that wants to draw you out.

Semi-bluffing

The concept of a semi-bluff is this: If you flip a coin with a friend for a dollar you both have an expected value of 50 cents corresponding to what the bet costs you. What if you made it two dollars? Then the bet would cost you one dollar and you would expect to win a dollar. This doesn't apply to poker, because if you increase the bet there is a possibility that your opponent might fold. So by raising with a 50 percent against a hand that only wins if you don't get one of you eight outs, you can eat some of your opponents expected value by betting, even though you have nothing at the point where you make the bet! The semi-bluff is especially powerful with open-ended straight draws and flush draws after the flop. In those situations you can stop early in the hand if the bluff doesn't work and you don't get hit. IF you do get hit, then you've got two rounds of betting for extracting value from your opponents in the hand. When you are semi bluffing you should look out for raises, since they tend to indicate that you won't be able to drive the raiser out of the hand before showdown, and then a continued semi-bluff will only create more risk and not expected value for you. A semi-bluff is the opposite strategy of trying to get a free card, but the two strategies can add up to a powerful combination! In our opinion you get the better of two worlds if you make a semi-bluff after the flop (best in late position) and then go for the free card on the turn. Generally using the semi-bluff strategy would appear a little more risky that the free card strategy, but perhaps also a little more advantageous.

Bluffing

First of all, be aware that fixed limit Texas Hold'em is not a game of bluffing. Often the pot is so high, that you can't drive even a low pair out of the game. You will just loose more money. Still there are some situations where a bluff is in order. These are situations when you have been on a draw or perhaps semi-bluffing, through the entire hand and end up with nothing. Then your only chance to win the pot is a bet on river. Perhaps the other player has a premium starting hand, for example AK, and hasn't been hit. Your opponent might think that you have top pair, since you have been betting through the entire hand. This could be your chance to put in a killer bluff! Off course this line of reasoning is only correct, if you think a river bluff is your only chance to pick up the pot. After all, you don't need a high success rate to make this type of bluff pay off.

Written by Smith Jones - a writer at PokerPistols.com

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