- PokerStars rakeback
- Rush Poker Rakeback
- Coin flips in MTTs
- Making the move to Omaha
- Set mining - exploiting the implied odds
- Should you move to Rush Poker?
- Rush Poker strategy
- Tournament strategy
- Online poker guide for beginners
- How do you play the blinds?
- A key poker principle
- The single most important thing in poker
- The hypnotic effect of pocket pairs
- Poker mistakes
- Online poker freerolls
- Reading opponents in online poker
- Dealing with luck in online poker
- The bluff
- The differences between online and live poker
- Poker tells : not all they're hyped up to be?
- The poker bot issue
- Cheating in poker
- Should you fold or should you call?
- Short handed play
- Online poker subtleties
- Low limit Texas Holdem
- STT strategy
- How to play pocket pairs
- Position in poker
- Tournament rebuys
- Chasing down the flush
- Poker chips
- How to bring down a maniac?
- Heads up strategy
- Build a poker bankroll.
- Tournament strategy : the Harrington system
- Poker cashback
- VIP Programs
- Chip dumping
- The need for flexibility in poker
- Online poker bonuses
- Why should you learn to play non holdem games?
- An in-depth look at the nature of poker
- The effects of the antes / blinds on strategy
- Scams in online poker
- No download (flash) online poker clients
- Poker torrents
- Know your odds
- The hidden evil of the EV-
The “perfect hand” in online poker, and how it can make or break someone’s day...
The "perfect hand” theory is something that is paid little attention to, especially by online poker players.
First of all, just to make things clear, I’d like to define what I understand by a "perfect hand”.
A perfect hand is a rather strong hand (by far not the best possible poker hand, though) that is made a sure big time winner by the fact that someone else at the table possesses an almost - but not quite - similarly strong hand.
This other person will also believe he/she has indeed the best hand and will commit large sums of money to protect it, thus filling up the pot, you’ll eventually end up taking. If several people have reasons to believe they have a chance to take the pot, it’s all the better for you.
However, sometimes you will find yourself on the lower end of such a ‘perfect hand’ situation. Besides being one of the most damaging factors in terms of your bankroll, such a situation also has a huge psychological impact, it can make players nervous and eventually send them on a tilt. I’d say, the extent to which you manage to stay out of such situations, will make or break your bankroll.
In online poker, players lose a lot more than they win. That’s a fact. Or better put, they lose more times than they win. A good, sound strategy is to seldom commit on a hand past the flop. Most hands are folded right away, (especially low offsuit holecards). When you post the blinds (big or small blinds) it is usually worth to consider defending them, because in a limit game (and not only there) blinds have the potential to noticeably influence your bankroll too.
Other than that, a good player only commits resources on a very few occasions. The task here is, to win the overwhelming majority of hands you decide to commit on.
A good player will either only commit on solid hands, or - according to the read he has on the opponents, and the way they act on that certain hand, (or for another reason) - he may decide to go for a bluff. Whatever the reason, he needs to be quite positive he can take that pot.
Let’s consider that you are playing as safe as possible - so the bluffing scenario is out from the start.
You only take your really good hands down the stretch, and you manage to win every time you do this. You’re a winning player. What do you suppose the worst single thing, the one that can ruin the day for you under such circumstances, is?
That’s right, the “perfect hand”...
The first time it happens, you shrug it off. The second time it strikes, you’re still ahead, but you start to worry. Nervousness is like a magnet for trouble in poker, and it’s only a matter of time before you get hit by another "perfect hand”. Pretty soon you start chasing your losses, and before you know it, you’re on a tilt. The other players notice it too, and the feeding frenzy begins. Like a bunch of blood thirsty sharks they throw themselves on your bankroll and rip it to pieces, as you desperately struggle to make up for lost ground.
What happened? How could such a nice-going game turn into the above described bloodbath ? After all, you made no mistakes, you played it absolutely safe, and you were winning...
Well, you did make a mistake. Nothing stupid our outstandingly foolish, you’ve just overlooked a few important things. The vast majority of online poker players are generally so focused on their own hand, they fail to pay any attention to what the other players might have in their pockets. No wonder this happens, since there are many players who play multiple tables at the same time, so the amount of attention they can afford to spare on each of these tables, is obviously quite limited. Whenever they get hit by the “perfect hand” they’ll blame it on bad luck.
The reality of the situation is, though, that such "perfect hand” curse-streaks can be avoided. How? By paying attention to the board texture, and to how many players are still in the game at the time a decision is made.
To make things as simple as possible I’ll give you a small (and apparently often controversial) example here.
You’re dealt a pair of Js in the pocket (Jh, Js). Naturally, you figure, this is something you’d definitely like to see the flop on. Despite the fact that a pocket pair is not really all it’s hyped up to be, you get lucky. The flop comes: 2c, 6c, Jd. You’ve flopped trips, the pot is yours. All, that many players do from here on, is to try to draw as many chips into the pot as possible - everybody using his/her own strategy for such situations, slow play, small consecutive raises, acting aggressively...you name it. And they’re surprised how well it works.
You may not know it but in real money poker, you pay rake on every hand that you play. Rakeback gives you part of that rake back. A 30% rakeback deal returns $3 on every $10 you generate in rake.
Let’s suppose you’re not the type of player who doesn’t care what the board has in store, once you’ve flopped a solid hand. You pay attention hoping you might get a full house on the turn. The turn comes 9c, so the board now looks like this: 2c, 6c, Jd, 9c. Somebody raises, so you call it and gleefully ponder how nicely the pot fattens up for you. The river comes Ac, and the four other players left in the game with you start raising like there’s no tomorrow. This is the point you decide to take control. Not only do you call their raises but you also raise the stakes a bit yourself. Then the showdown comes and you lose. On three jacks. Bad luck? I’d hardly say so... It’s more like a case of doing you know what with the bull, and then getting the horns...
Let’s take another look at the board after the river. 2c, 6c, Jd, 9c, Ac. Again, there are four other players in the game with you. But all you see is you have trips. Trips usually win right? Well. Not here.
Look at the whole situation in a different light: what are the odds that out of the four players still in on the hand ( all four with 2 cards in the pocket, making up a total of 8 cards) one has a club. Doesn’t matter if it’s a 3 or whatever else just as long as it’s a club... it’s quite possible huh? As a matter of fact you can almost count on it that on of them has it, especially if they all raise. What are the chances that you take the pot with your trips now? Almost zero.
The same would go if there were a partial straight on the board. Call me stupid or whatever you want but I’d muck the jacks just as soon as the fourth club hit the table.
Of course, the decision would be a lot different if the previously mentioned situation occured in a heads up setup.
This is actually a rather extreme "perfect hand” situation I brought up here. The vast majority will be a lot less obvious ( you’ll have a full house or be stuck on the low end of a straight) but if you get used to paying attention to the board, and to actually considering what your opponents might have in their pockets, in time, you’ll develop a feel for such situations.
If you know what rakeback is, I think you’ll agree that playing even a single hand without rakeback is senseless. Missing out on rakeback revenue which takes no extra effort on your part to obtain is contrary to the fundamental theorem of winning poker. Start getting your rake back today.
Of course, it’s not easy to give up your three Jacks after you’ve waited for a solid hand for a while, but in this case it’s the right thing to do.
Next time you blame something on bad luck, just ask yourself: "have I really paid enough attention to the board texture?”
- Written by Jim Jackson.