A key importance in poker is to choose the right starting hands. Your poker strategy starts with the preflop hand selection. A bad strategy can lead to huge losses. You definitely do not want to lose, so better think twice before you call or bet preflop. Of course position is important as always but even if you have good position it does not mean you have to play trash hands!
In the following example I am playing in a full ring game which is reduced to 6 players in the previous couple of hands. The game is $0.5/$1 no limit hold’em with all players having at least $80 stack. I have $105 in the hijack and got dealt 8cJc. This is definitely not a premium hand, however it is suited, have some straight potential and the table is extremely loose. If I hit, there is a good chance of winning a big pot. I make the call, the button calls, the small blind also and the big blind checks.
The flop is: AcJsKc. What a beautiful flop! Why do I say that when I only have bottom pair? True, but this flop gives me a huge potential because of the high cards. Someone might already have a straight, but someone with and ace can also can make big calls if I hit my flush. More than that, someone might have two pairs or a pair and straight draw; altogether these are all hard to fold for low limit players. Not even mentioning that a J or an 8 also helps, even if I do not hit my flush. The blinds check and I decide to play the hand fast and aggressive, pussy888 so I bet the pot ($4). The button and the small blind both calls making the pot $16 and the big blind folds. Now this is interesting. Maybe they have a pair and the just want to see what I do on turn or they are also on a draw.
The turn card is the: 9c. Bingo! The small blind checks. Now I have many options. However I do not want to play my hand slow. One reason for this is all the hand possibilities I have mentioned above. The other is maybe someone also hit a smaller flush and if another club comes on the river then I have no idea where I stand with my Jc high flush and maybe I leave a lot of money on the table. I bet $9, the button calls and small blind folds. The pot is $34.
The river card is: 3h. This card has not changed anything that is for sure. But my opponent made a fast call on the turn. This means for me he also has a made hand and is ready for a big call on the river. If he had a draw he missed, and no matter how big I bit he will fold. However he cannot be too strong because he did not raise on turn. I think he is ready to make a big call on the end but he is uncertain if he is better or not that is why he did not raise on the turn. I make a $22 value bet which also looks like a big bet indicating that I might have nothing at all. My opponent calls, showing Tc3c and I win the $78 pot with a higher flush.
My opponent really surprised me. I was ready to see a flush, and thought he has a smaller than mine. Why was I so sure that I was ahead? I had a J high flush and the A and K were both on the board. This means only Q high flush is stronger than mine but with that hand my opponent would for sure raise a bit on the turn to build a pot, or not hesitate to make the call on the river.
The conclusion is clear: if you remember what I have written in the beginning. My opponent made actually good calls on the flop, turn and river. However he still lost a big pot. And why did all that happen? He lost a big pot only because of a horrible $1 call preflop with Tc3c. I do not say that in low limit online poker you have to play only AA or KK. Especially not if you are on the button. But T3 does not qualify for any positions for me. No matter in what stakes I play or who my opponent is. To learn poker you have to make good decisions preflop and it will make your life easier later in the hand.
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