Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Tough calls in on-line poker

Online poker thoughts: 27 player tourneys.

Here's a common scenario in on-line poker:

Your hole cards: KK

You raise preflop...

Flop: 3 5 9

You make a bet... thinking that you likely have the best hand.

1 player folds, the other one re-raises you or goes all-in.

Now you are in a tough position, because the player may have pocket aces, 3s, 5s, or 9s in which case, your chances of winning the hand are very low.

However, the player may have put you on an AK and re-raised you thinking that you were tying to buy the pot.

They may have JJ QQ, 10 10, or absolutely nothing.

So what do you do?

I've been in this scenario and sometimes I've called an the other player has either nothing, or a flush draw, or a pair of jacks and I win the pot. Other times, I've called and ran into a set of fives and lost.

It's never an easy decision and you have to take in consideration how early in the tournament this happens. Almost all of the times that I've made this call and lost have been in the first few minutes of a tournament. Most of the times that I've made this call and won have been later on in the tournament.

High pocket pairs can be surprisingly tricky to play early on during online tournaments. If you make a substantial raise preflop with a hand like KK, and the flop has an ace--many online players will call pre-flop raises with ace rags, then you are probably in trouble. If you just fold, you've lost the pre-flop raise and you will be in the bottom 27 of the tourney. If you try to call to the end, you can lose a huge amount of chips. Either way, it is not an ideal scenario.

The three most imporant questions in poker are always:

1. What do I think that the other player has?--based upon how he plays his hand (bets/raises)..

2. What does he think that I may have? Here is the problem with online poker, this question doesn't not enter into the consideration of many on-line players. Novice on-line players are the hardest to bluff, not because they make 'sick calls,' but because they will call to the end with any pair inspite of possible flushes/straights on board.

3. How can I make the most chips from this hand? In my opinion--slow playing is generally only profitable if you have the nuts. Any time you give someone a free look at another card, you are taking a big risk.

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