NL Hold’em: Small Pocket Pairs

January 13, 2015 by  
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We don’t need years of experience to appreciate a couple of the implications of playing small pairs pre-flop (for the purposes of this article we’ll define small pairs as 22-77). On the upside, when the flop promotes the pair to a set it’s great news, particularly in view of the fact that such a hand can be so well disguised that the ‘reveal’ might come only at the conclusion. However, what happens far more often is that, not only does the small pocket pair remain a small pocket pair but, invariably, the arrival on the flop of at least one overcard immediately starts to sow the seeds of doubt – our pair might already be beaten and we’re effectively sitting in the dark armed with a pretty toothless pair. Read more

FREE POKER QUIZ!

December 2, 2011 by  
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Congratulations to bn2wn001 for winning our last Poker Quiz! (click here for details).

32Red Poker Quiz

Welcome to 32Red’s regularly updated Poker Quiz section where we ask you all sorts of poker questions and all you have to do is answer them correctly to enter our draw for free cash prizes & tournament tickets!

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What’s behind No.27 in our 32 Days of Poker Xmas promotion?

A: €500 Freeroll
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Click here for a clue!

Post your answers below and if we pick your name out of the hat and you’ve posted the correct answer, we’ll give you a free poker chip worth €32!


Wise Guys Results (21st – 27th Nov)

November 28, 2011 by  
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WISE GUYS, Exclusive to 32Red Poker

WISE GUYS, Exclusive to 32Red Poker

Win at the 32Red Poker cash tables and you may qualify for even more cash rewards with our Wise Guys weekly leaderboards. Yes, we reward our biggest winners at 32Red Poker and we reward them well, with over $1,000 in prizes every week!

Congratulations to last week’s prize winners…

32Red’s Wise Guys

Look out for 32Red's Wise Guys ... they're looking out for you!

Look out for 32Red's Wise Guys ... they're looking out for you!

32Red Poker rewards loyalty, and winners – so if you’re a winning player, don’t be shy and try out our Wise Guysweekly competition. Have fun at the tables and good luck this week!

Why We Lose at Poker (2)

November 25, 2011 by  
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Here are more reasons why we lose at poker. As I always say, these are all rather obvious yet we seem to break our own rules and guidelines rather easily. Let’s try to make a new start by being as sensible as possible at the tables…

Position

Position, position, position. Position. This is certainly one of the aspects of the game we know about but with which we take terrible liberties.

Good position, clearly, means late position. As one of the last players to act after the flop we see how the opposition plays first and can use this vital information accordingly when it’s our turn; ideally we want to be the dealer/button so that we are last of all to act.

It follows that the better position we have the better reads we get and, in turn, the more flexibility in terms of starting hands. Being armed with the information afforded us by having position allows us to play more hands, with more aggression, than when in early position.

DO NOT carelessly play based only on the cards, with no consideration for position. Position is everything.

Too Loose, You Lose

Yet another poker sin we all knowingly commit. Premium starting hands are thus called for a reason – they are the ones we should limit ourselves to playing, rather than finding something magical in hands like K4 suited or T7. Getting into the habit of automatically limping in with poor hands and then having to let go when the poor pre-flop hand is still awful post-flop (or – worse – stubbornly refusing to give up) will cost a lot of money in the long-run.

Limiting yourself to playing a range along the lines of, for example, pocket pairs (how small should depend on the situation), AK, AQ, AJ/T suited, KQ in late position and suited connectors, while folding everything else pre-flop, should keep you sufficiently entertained as well as considerably reduce unnecessary cumulative losses.

Odds

Poker might be gambling, but at least we are able to make decisions armed with true numbers in the form of odds. This knowledge, and using it optimally, is imperative to success in poker. If you haven’t yet acquainted yourself with both card odds and pot odds (weighing up the odds of making a hand with the potential reward) you are not doing yourself justice and are undoubtedly wasting money! Fortunately, 32Red Poker is at hand – visit Pot Odds + Card Odds = Winners to improve your game.

Bluffing

While bluffing seems so exciting on television, this poker art has the nasty habit of backfiring. Note also that with the arrival of Anonymous tables we will see quite a bit more bluffing, so be careful not to get carried away. One good reason to think twice before bluffing at the lower levels is that your opponents probably won’t appreciate odds enough to know when they are ‘beaten’ and will therefore not back down. Folding isn’t fun, so they prefer to stay in with a chance of winning even with mediocre hands. Bluffing in good position is obviously better than in early position because there is much more information with which to make decisions.

Remember not to bluff too much as this will be exploited by observant players.

Money Management

Simply play within the limits of your bankroll if you want to avoid disaster. Never sit down with more than 5% of your bankroll, for instance (or be even more prudent if you prefer). Start at low levels or tournament buy-ins while building up experience, otherwise by the time you’re really beginning to appreciate more about various aspects of the game you won’t be able to put your knowledge into practice!

Patience and prudence.
Good luck!

Angus Dunnington (AngusD at the 32Red tables)
32Red Poker Ambassador


Related Articles

Making a stand against bluffers

November 24, 2011 by  
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We are all prone, unfortunately, to providing others with ways of taking our money. Obviously we should be working hard to constantly evaluate our play and determine to keep leaks and mistakes to a minimum.

But some players are rude enough to steal our money through bluffing us out of a pot. Is this not our fault because we are being prudent in folding, or another weakness in our play in that we don’t do enough to combat steals?

The good news is that we are able to trap these players, and another weapon in our armoury is putting up enough of a fight to prevent them from messing with our game so that they pick on someone else or even move on for pastures new. It’s a nice feeling to catch out a bluffer and some players actively seek them out but, in the main, they are a nuisance, and we can concentrate our efforts in exploiting other kinds of players so fighting our corner is a good strategy.

It’s not too difficult to identify bluffers, who probably prefer to call themselves ‘loose aggressive’ players. They are the ones who can’t resist peppering the pot with bets they hope are big enough to scare everyone off. This can work out well for us sometimes, but can be more than an inconvenience, for example when we have a marginal holding or when their throwing money around interferes with how we were planning to approach a hand.

The problem most players have when wondering how to address bluffers is that taking a stand requires a certain leap of faith. But the longer we dither and fail to act the longer our own strategies are disrupted – indeed if we can’t properly respond we’re better off leaving and finding a table where we can operate, but this, of course, isn’t the right attitude.

One advantage of having a table image tight enough to attract bluffers is that when we do elect to hit back at them they are more likely to believe us. At some point we should allow them to bluff and, preferably with a hand that has some kind of positive relation to the board (numerous outs, for example), raise big enough to turn the tables and force them out of the pot. Note that there’s no point doing this for the prize of a small pot.

Once might be enough, but generally a bluffer will soon get the message and, fingers duly burnt, leave us alone. The point of their game is to steal pots, and when we have established that we are not to be messed with they won’t take the risk any more. This also enables us to better read them when, after backing off, they do get involved.

The desired result is that by demonstrating the steel to fight our corner we get to play the type of game we want while disrupting someone else in the process. Getting our own way and frustrating others is a key part of the game.

Good luck at the tables!

Angus Dunnington (AngusD at the 32Red tables)
32Red Poker Ambassador


No Limit: Can we play a full ring table in short-handed mode?

November 23, 2011 by  
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The answer should really be no, but that isn’t to say we should discount the possibility altogether. In the ‘old’ days, when online poker more mirrored the traditional casino version, full tables were not only considered a good starting point for beginners – as is still the case – but also a more popular choice for experienced players than we see today.

As the game became more tactical and aggressive the 6-max tables saw a considerable gain in popularity, the modern style of getting involved more in the action being the appropriate way of addressing the more frequent blinds.

So-called tighter players prefer to stick to full ring games, which have the additional attraction of being cheaper due to the cost per hand thanks to the ‘longer’ orbit – this might seem insignificant but over many hands makes a big difference. ‘Fewer’ blinds also means that not needing a compensatory loose approach tends to produce less variance and this, in turn, allows us to feel a little more relaxed than might be the case at a 6-max table.

Because there are far more short-handed tables nowadays (as well as heads-up tables, where tight in its literal poker sense simply won’t work), and because short-handed poker is viewed as the more fashionable and exciting game, people tend to discount full ring as an option despite the fact that it might well suit them better. But even if we ultimately end up choosing 6-max there’s something to be said for trying out bigger tables in order to better appreciate such aspects of the game as hand selection and patience. Full ring play also places more emphasis on stronger hands and implied odds.

Furthermore, once we have spent some time on both kinds of table we can return to full ring and exploit the players who are clearly the archetypal tight, conservative, no-risk full ring regulars as well as those who demonstrate little or no experience and are just too loose. It is indeed possible to apply short-handed bullying tactics and (re)steals and so on at a full table, rather than feeling that by definition we must revert to a style of ABC poker that runs the risk of being one-paced.

Poker has evolved enough over the years to afford us some flexibility.

Good luck at the tables!

Angus Dunnington (AngusD at the 32Red tables)
32Red Poker Ambassador


Wise Guys Results (14th – 20th Nov)

November 21, 2011 by  
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WISE GUYS, Exclusive to 32Red Poker

WISE GUYS, Exclusive to 32Red Poker

Win at the 32Red Poker cash tables and you may qualify for even more cash rewards with our Wise Guys weekly leaderboards. Yes, we reward our biggest winners at 32Red Poker and we reward them well, with over $1,000 in prizes every week!

Congratulations to last week’s prize winners…

32Red’s Wise Guys

Can you beat a Wise Guy?

Can you beat a Wise Guy?

32Red Poker rewards loyalty, and winners – so if you’re a winning player, don’t be shy and try out our Wise Guysweekly competition. Have fun at the tables and good luck this week!


A common mistake on the river

November 18, 2011 by  
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One of the problems with poker is that, when we try to adhere to this or that guideline and introduce into our armoury more ways of playing, if we fail to read situations properly our action instead becomes a mistake rather than a money earner.

One such common error is throwing in a raise on the river because we convinced ourselves we were way ahead, or making unnecessary would-be ‘value’ bets, calling big bets/raises and generally being unable to acknowledge that we are beaten.

For example if we raised in position pre-flop with a hand like AsKs and get a lone caller we run the risk of overestimating our chances on a ragged board that features an ace. Let’s say the flop comes Ac 4s 9d, our opponent checks and we make a ¾ pot bet that is called. The turn brings the 2d, we are checked to again and we bet roughly ¾ pot, with another call. The 4c appears on the river but this time, instead of checking, the opponent bets around 1/7th of the pot. Given the way the hand has panned out thus far we figure that a possible holding could be an ace with a weaker kicker so we see this as an opportunity to extract some additional value, raising to triple the bet… After a slight pause we see a call followed by the chips heading away from us because all this time we have been up against 4d 6d. Thus the result of our attempting to earn a little extra did succeed in making a bigger pot, albeit one that we didn’t get to collect – we made our opponent some cash!

This is easily done, especially in view of how we assumed the initiative right from the beginning. A very similar mistake is when the hand follows the same path and we bet the river when checked to and call a raise with what turns out to be the worst hand.

It is an imperative to continually reassess during a hand so that we can make more realistic evaluations, ideally picking up warning signs along the way that help facilitate the decision making process. In this case our opponent check-calling considerable bets should serve as a wake-up call and alert us to the fact that we may well be holding second best despite our strong looking hand. When the board pairs, incidentally, the alarm bells should be at their loudest. At least then we can avoid falling into traps. It makes more sense to just call these bets and check out rather than expose ourselves to bad situations – remember that raising/betting with a pair on the river tends only to be called by a better hand.

Generally, a dangerous looking board and an opponent who wakes up (or checks after check-calling big bets) need treating with respect.

Good luck at the tables!

Angus Dunnington (AngusD at the 32Red tables)
32Red Poker Ambassador


Satellite and Sit & Go Strategy Revisited

November 16, 2011 by  
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Having seen some pretty drastic approaches in both sit & go and satellites recently I thought we should have a few reminders about how we might try to weave our way through the one-table jungle…

First, the desperate all-or-nothing factor inspires some players to go into do or die mode at the earliest opportunity, jumping into pots with big bets to pick up not very much in blinds, tempting fate at a full table of unknown hole cards in the process. This works every now and then but is certainly not the best way to skin this particular rabbit. Assuming such aggression earns a couple of hundred chips to add to an original stack of 2000, for instance, then what is this gain worth in practical terms when we take the potential risk into account? The answer is very little when a full table of players remains. There is simply no point getting too busy when the blinds are at their lowest. Note that it is perfectly acceptable to try the occasional value (speculative) mini-gamble early as the rewards can be considerable and the investment is so low that the hand is easy to get away from when nothing hits. This is quite different from over-betting with a view to netting meagre rewards (and in a way that involves being effectively pot-committed). Remember that we have to (typically) steal seven or eight lots of blinds at level one to earn the same amount as one steal at a higher level.

Of course there is nothing wrong with some kind of tempered aggression that might succeed in both picking up a few blinds and establishing a not-to-be-messed with table image that can be exploited later, and some experienced players manage (more than their fair share of the time) to gradually bully their way to first with apparent ease. But all the time this kind of player accumulates chips and works through the gears while making sure he doesn’t put too much of his stack in jeopardy.

It follows, then, that survival is a major consideration even in these circumstances, and the target should be to remain in the running so that, when the field has been narrowed down to, say, three or four, we are in with a shout and ready to step up a gear or three. By now it is likely that someone – for one reason or another – has become a runaway chip leader, but as long as we have enough chips with which to get involved, the all-important top place(s) will still be up for grabs.

Additionally, as the game progresses we should be able to get some kind of read about the remaining players – does anyone seem unable to adapt to the changing situation, for example; is the chip leader afraid to risk his position or is he more interested in seeing other players get eliminated? We should start to throw chips around at this stage as the blinds are too big to either ignore or to fail to defend, while we should also remember that the short(er) stacks are more likely to be taking chances to double up with virtually any two hole cards, so gunning for their chips with a decent holding is a fair option.

If we manage to get heads-up, then being second of two with 20% of the chips on the table is a far better prospect than being second of five with 25%. We’ve got to be (still) in it to win it, remember, and even from a 20%-80% chip distribution it takes only two all-in wins for a role-reversal.

Satellites can be the route to potentially big rewards or a means of saving money in buy-ins for bigger tournaments, so it is worth having a good think about them and approaching them sensibly, with a good mix of safety and increasing aggression – not forgetting putting ourselves in the opposition’s shoes as we approach the business end…

Good luck at the tables!

Angus Dunnington (AngusD at the 32Red tables)
32Red Poker Ambassador


A missed flop isn’t a missed pot

November 14, 2011 by  
Filed under News

Too many players tend to lose interest and be too willing to simply give up the hunt more or less automatically when they miss the flop. But seeing three cards appear that have absolutely no relation to our own doesn’t necessarily mean we must miss out on the opportunity to win whatever the pot has to offer.

Instead we should weigh up how the flop might have affected other players, consider what they perceive to be our role in the hand and any other relevant factors and make a decision accordingly as to whether we should indeed fold to aggression or take a stab. Even if we conclude that it’s not worth it this time, at least the process itself helps us improve our analytical ability as well as gain a useful understanding of what the other players are up to – information is key, and we can expect to pick up something that could prove crucial in a later hand. Taking every ‘poor’ flop as an excuse to surf the web or be otherwise distracted, breaking off only to fold, is a luxury we can’t afford, the cumulative effect being to seriously handicap our game (and thus our bankroll).

Incidentally, while multi-tabling is all the rage, and when done properly offers up increased profits and so on, if it takes up so much time that we feel practically forced to fold away missed flops without the chance to have a proper look, then it might be worth scaling down the operation so that we are able to actually think (if only until we are better able to carry out this and other aspects of the game, at which point we can add tables).

Obviously some missed flops are better than others. If we put in a pre-flop raise on the button with QsJs and bring along three other players to see a flop of 7h 7d 6h, then chances are we are neither ahead nor likely to be ahead as the hand progresses. If it’s checked round to us it could well be that anyone who caught some or more of the flop is just waiting for our continuation bet before pouncing, so we should check and see what comes next. This is a bad flop/situation to get involved in but learning why nevertheless helps us improve.

On the other hand, the same pre-flop button raise with the same hand but with only one caller and a flop featuring 9s 2h 6d is a different prospect entirely. This time we should bet out and, most of the time, we will pick up the pot. It is very unlikely that our opponent was only calling with an overpair, and we’ll know immediately that they have something if they remain in the hand – assuming we make a proper sized bet (at least 2/3 pot, preferably closer to 3/4). Lazily checking a missed flop in this kind of scenario is a poker sin that will result in the chips heading in the wrong direction much of the time.

Good luck at the tables!

Angus Dunnington (AngusD at the tables)
32Red Poker Ambassador


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