Now that you’ve read about some poker moves and Hold’em strategy that can make you money at the poker table, you probably want to know more. Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. The Hold’em strategy poker moves you will read about below are a little different, but they’re highly effective. They can be applied to a cash game or a poker tournament. Think of them as overall Hold’em strategy.
Hold’em Strategy: Why Bet Out On A Flopped Set?
I know we covered this but think, why would you do that? Exactly. If you do something at the poker table that doesn’t make any sense to other people, they’re never going to see it coming. This is referred to as Next Level Hold’em strategy. I don’t recommend making these types of moves all the time because you can get yourself into trouble, but let me delve into human nature for a moment so you can understand the overall point here and how it applies to Hold’em strategy.
Almost everyone is a follower. It’s what makes people feel more comfortable and secure. They won’t trek off the beaten path lest they be shunned by the masses. This would destroy their confidence and reputation. Very few people have the nerve to go out on their own and learn their own way based on trial and error. This isn’t something that can be taught. Either it’s in your blood or it’s not.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a leader or a follower. What matters is understanding that most people follow. In regards to poker games, this means that most people will do the same thing most of the time because it’s what most people do in those spots.
For example, what percentage of the time do people check when they flop a set? I don’t know the percentage, but I know it’s higher than 90%. If that’s the case, then what do you think your opponent will put you on when you flop a set and you bet out? I don’t know for sure, but I can tell you what he’s not putting you on: a set.
If you’re up against a professional poker player who understands how most people look at Hold’em strategy, then he’s going to put you on top pair in that spot. This is what you want him to think. Instead of you just reading your opponent, you’re reading how he reads you. That is another level when it comes to Hold’em strategy. When he puts you on top pair in that spot, he’s going to apply pressure. You have him right where you want him. He’s doomed.
If you bet out a flopped set against a moderate poker player, he’s going to play his cards. Your biggest threat here is him hitting a flush or straight by the river without the board pairing. However, while I usually like to see how the story plays out, this is one spot where you should have no fear and build the pot simply because you’re going to come out way ahead over the long haul.
If you’re up against an aggressive player, you bet out on a flopped set, and he calls, fire at will! This guy could have top pair, middle pair, bottom pair, ace high, or a draw. Get him to put his chips in the middle without scaring him away.
If you’re up against a passive player, it’s okay to bet out on the flop, but make it a small feeler-type bet so you don’t scare him away. We want to string this one along for the ride.
This doesn’t mean you should always bet out on a flopped set. That would make you predictable. You need to change speeds and ranges while remaining patient. It’s a fine line, but it can be done.
Hold’em Strategy: The Almost Fold
This Hold’em strategy is a little dirty, and I highly recommend you use it in a cash game in a place you don’t usually play. If you use it in a poker tournament, word will get around that you’re a dirty player. If you use it in a cash game at your home court, same thing. Don’t do that. However, if you play somewhere where nobody knows who you are, go for it. In fact, apply all the poker moves you want in that situation.
Here’s how you do it. You’re involved in a hand and you just flopped the nuts. It’s on you vs. one or two other players. You look at your cards, hesitate, hold them by their corners, and flick your wrist three-quarters of the way as though you’re going to fold, but hold onto your cards, bring them back in at the last second, place them on the felt, grab your chips, and call.
It’s important that you don’t Hollywood here. That’s a tell. Act natural. Wait until you see what happens on the turn. One of those players is going to come after you because you just showed a ton of weakness on the flop.
Play the remainder of this hand as you please. If that opponent continues to come after you, then I promise you it will be one of those poker hands he will never forget. He’s also not going to like you very much, but you have to make a decision between being liked and making money in some spots. Also remember that this move is well within the poker rules. You didn’t do anything wrong and it’s not angle shooting. It’s just one of those poker moves that might not be appreciated by your opponent(s).
Hold’em Strategy: Shove From UTG With AA
This is yet another Hold’em strategy that would seem to make no sense to the average mind, but we don’t want to be the average mind. I was actually in the following situation in a Texas hold’em poker tournament in Las Vegas last summer.
I knew that the player to my left followed basic poker strategy. Been playing with him for hours. I also continued to watch his face and hands as he looked at his hole cards. Whenever he had a strong hand, he would look at his hole cards slowly, then look up and forward across the room. When he didn’t have a hand, he would keep his head down. On this hand, I knew he was holding strength, which was great news for me since I had AA.
I also knew that a jam from UTG in the middle of a tournament with an average stack would never look like AA. When someone has AA in this spot, it’s either a big raise or a lpp-raise. In order to disguise my hand, I jammed. After everyone else folded, he immediately called and tabled JJ.
When I tabled my hand, he was shocked. When my hand held, he was irate because he was now out of the tournament. He said to me, “How do you go all-in with aces there? It makes no sense!”
I replied, “That was the point.”
The Crazy & Profitable Pre-Flop Call
If you think that move was a little out of the ordinary, then you will see this one as crazy. When you first read what I’m about to write, your mind is going to go for a spin, but be sure to read on so you understand this Hold’em strategy.
When you know your opponent is raising pre-flop with AA or KK and you have a hand with drawing potential, call. You read that correctly. Most people think this is a bad idea, but they’re not considering the implied odds. It’s actually very simple. If you call and you miss the flop, you fold. This minimizes your loses. If you call and you hit two pair or better, you hang around until the river because you’re very likely to get paid because very few people can let go of AA or KK. This means that if you hit your hand, you’re taking all of your opponent’s chips.
Think about this for a minute. Let’s say it’s a 2/5 NL cash game and you call ten times on a $15 raise. Nine of those times, you miss the flop and have to fold. You’re out $135. But let’s say you only smash the flop one out of those ten hands (this is conservative). If you’re playing 2/5 NL, then your opponent is going to be sitting much deeper than $135. In most cases, they have $300-$1,000 in front of them.
Even if you just hit two pair on the flop, you can jam it. Most players will call. It’s impossible to predict the math here because there are so many variables, but if you want to keep it simple, you’re minimizing your losses and maximizing your wins. You will come out ahead.
An added bonus is that you’re going to get your opponent on tilt after he sees what you called with. He will re-buy and play too fast because he’ll be chasing. He’s human, he’ll chase. There are exceptions. Some people will actually tighten up after a big hit like that, but they are few and far between.
Raising With Strength to Raise With Weakness
These are some advanced Hold’em strategy concepts, but you can lock them into your mind if you review them often enough.
What I’m referring to with this poker strategy is to raise with poker hands like AA, KK, AK, AQ, etc. for hours while never raising with marginal hands. You’re playing solid poker, and everyone else at the table realizes that you’re not going to make any crazy poker moves. That’s where they’re wrong.
The timing has to be correct. You need to be in late position with all folds or only limpers to you. This is when you 3.5x the big blind with a hand like 97-off. Since everyone at that table thinks you’re an ABC player with no poker moves, they’re all going to put you on a premium hand. This will absolutely narrow down the playing field.
Most of the time, you’re either going to get one caller or all folds. If you get all folds, perfect, you pick up some blinds and nobody has any clue that you held:
Never tell them. If you get one caller, then you can bet out on the flop regardless of what hits the flop because most people will miss, you raised pre, and you’re in position. You will get a fold more times than not. Once again, nobody will ever have a clue you held 97-off.
The best-case scenario is that you get a caller and hit the flop. This opponent is going to have you on high cards, not 97-off. If the board is something like this:
and you bet out on the flop, they’re going to put you on the queen. No doubt about it.
Play the hand as though you have the queen until you get to the river, which is when you will make a bigger bet. If you get a fold, that’s fine, you can keep this ploy going until you get caught. If you get called, great, you likely won a big pot. Others will see your hand, but that’s not a bad thing. They will now see you as a crafty player with some poker moves. This is the time that you revert back to ABC poker. By doing so, you will always be playing a different game than they think you’re playing.
Hold’em Strategy: Better Than A Check
How many times have you checked the flop when you held a strong hand? If you play poker often, then I know it has happened hundreds of times, if not more. Now think about how many times you have bet the minimum on the flop when you held a strong hand? Probably never. That’s because you’re following everyone else’s patterns. Consider the following.
If you bet the minimum, it’s going to look like a feeler bet to the entire table. No one is going to think you’re trapping. At the same time, you’re building the pot. You’re not building it much, but you’re building it. I don’t like building the pot with a marginal hand, but I sure do like building it when I smash the flop.
Think of how much money poker players have left on the table by checking to trap opposed to betting the minimum to trap. This doesn’t mean you should bet the minimum every time you smash the flop and want to trap. Others will pick up on that. But it does mean that you should add it to your repertoire.
If you have read the journal entry 8 Amazing Poker Moves to Outwit the Competition as well as this one, congratulations, you’re now one of the sneakiest poker players in the universe. Applying these poker moves will require some practice, but you will get there. And it’s going to be bad news for your opponents. Enjoy. See you in Las Vegas at the WSOP!
Hold’em Strategy – FAQ
Should you go all in with pocket aces?
If it's pre-flop and you have the opportunity to do so, yes. A lot will depend on your opponents and if you expect a call.
Should you bet out on a flopped set?
Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Mix it up, be unpredictable.
Won't I lose money if I fold my cards in poker?
You are minimizing your losses, which in one of the most important aspects of winning poker. If you call when you are behind, you're going to lose more, which then reduces your ammunition for when you have a winning hand. Adopt this mentality: I am saving money when I fold.
Is bluffing necessary in poker?
It depends on the game. You can win in low stakes without bluffing. As you move up in stakes, you need to throw in more bluffs, but you don't need to bluff often. The less you bluff, the more effective your bluffs will be.