Learn Poker Craft:
The universally agreed most effective style of playing Poker is tight-aggressive, and the strategy is recommended by the poker experts at 32Red Poker. This doesn't mean to say that you only play excellent poker hands, it means that you chose the hands you do play carefully and that when you do play you play aggressively by betting and raising at the appropriate moments in the game. Tight-aggressive means betting and raising should when you hold not only what you believe may be the best hand, but also if you have a hand that promises to be best once all the cards are dealt.
Fundamental to playing this style is not playing too many hands, the theory being that your opponents then believe that you generally play only good cards. In this way other players may discard hands if you bet into the pot, often when they have better cards than you. A tight-aggressive player will either fold or raise in that if it's a hand worth playing you attack, if it's a poker hand that is not promising you fold and retreat.
Ever heard a player referred to as a Calling Station? These players are almost the opposite to the tight-aggressive poker player and classically check and call at the table. In our opinion this strategy is much weaker as winning players usually assume command of the table and attack opponents in order to root out weak hands and force players to literally put their money where their mouth is! In the face of an aggressor, when the money is down, opponents often give way. Nevertheless, we also recommend that you alter your behaviour at the table to keep your opponents guessing and unsure of the strength of your hand. Check-calling can be employed in certain situations in the face of perhaps an outright aggressive poker player who is simply bluffing.
Tight-aggressive poker play is particularly suited to Texas Hold'em Poker. Check-calling is more common at the Omaha Hi Lo Poker table where good players insist on a certain strength of hand before the flop and then take a view on their hand relative to the pot afterwards. Seven Card Stud Poker is often the best strategy for winning when the odds of reward almost always dictate a call.
Assuming you are first to speak, here are some examples of when you could play the Check-Call strategy:
- If you flop the Nuts or just an excellent hand you could Slow Play your opponents. Slow play is appearing to have a weak hand and checking wherever possible to start with and only calling reluctantly. Your objective is to get as much money in the Pot from your opponents as possible, and not to scare them off. Common Poker advice in these circumstances is to not get overly aggressive until the fourth card - the Turn - is dealt by the dealer. Much of your Poker Craft depends on the atmosphere around the table and this may not be the right play. In many instances you can bet as soon as possible in the hope that you get raised, and with luck get other players caught in a pot they feel attached too!
- You have a Flush or a Straight draw and are waiting for 1 of the last 2 Community Cards to make the hand. If you have a few players to play after you have acted, it is often best to Check-Call as a bet is unlikely to take the pot and there is always the danger that you will get raised when in fact you want to see at least one of the Community Cards as cheaply as possible before you get aggressive with a then excellent hand. On the other hand, with just one or two opponents left you may opt for the semi-bluff if your desired hand fails to materialise. This can be a good ploy if your pocket cards are of high value.
- You are up against the madman who constantly bets and raises. Here there is no need to bet as your overly aggressive opponent is doing the bidding for you! It's likely that the constantly betting Poker player is bluffing a good deal of the time and even if you raise with a bluff yourself you can often beat the aggressor down.
- Your opponent has been subject to you dominating them with your superior Poker. By check-calling you are likely to get to see the at least the flop and the Turn. Again, choosing your moment carefully you can often bet this player off the pot, even if your hand is not strong and particularly if you are out of position and he or she is not expecting the bet. A good example may be the arrival of an Ace on the Board where you can represent that card and literally scare your opponent off.
- Check on your turn with a Flush or Straight draw when the pot is too small for a reasonable win. The aim here is to let the pot grow in tandem with the completion of your hand. You can then start betting.
- You're in a Limit Hold'em game you have a marginal hand and are playing a bad player who could be a calling station and dangerous if holding on to cards in order to make a very good hand out of nowhere. Here the play is Check-Call.
These are just examples of how to play winning hands in certain situations. The complexities of the game and the different variables and player behaviours means that the successful player has to constantly assess all the information at hand and employ the appropriate tactics at that time. However, as an overall guide we recommend the tight-aggressive stance when playing Texas Hold'em Poker at the 32Red Poker Room.
These tips/guidelines are intended to help you enjoy poker and improve your chances of winning. However, the above should not be regarded as advice and 32Red disclaims any liability or responsibility for the accuracy thereof or for any losses incurred by players following these guidelines.