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Texas Hold'em; Folding With Any Hand by Michael Thomas

How to Fold‘em at Texas Hold'em

The key to Texas Hold’em Poker is always selecting your hands with great care. The biggest losses suffered by inexperienced players come when they bet on every hand that they are dealt. They don’t want to fold because they hope that they can improve their hand, but that doesn’t happen the majority of the time. This is why it is so important to know when to fold.

The Ultimate Hold’em Hands

Pocket pairs are the best starting hands when you are playing this game. Any pair will do, but the higher the better. When you are dealt a pair of aces, you know that you are starting at the top of the table. The flop and river cards may help some players improve their hands, but regardless of the pairs they are holding, you have them beat with your aces.

Never Fold Your Best Hand

Have you ever seen a beginner go all out with a huge bet because they know they are holding a great starter hand? If you have laughed when everyone at the table folded on that beginner, you are not alone. Even if you are holding two pocket aces and have that ultimate hand, you don’t want to scare everyone away with a huge bet that shows your cards.

It is much better to allow someone else with a strong hand to raise the pot for you. For instance, you may have two aces while the player across the table believes he has a strong hand with a pair of queens. If you allow that player to raise, you get more money in the pot that will eventually be your winnings.

The Power of the Lure

How do you get more players to stay in the game when you have that amazing starting hand? You have to master the art of luring them into the game. Here is the lure strategy in simple terms:

1. Start with a low raise. Your hand is far worthier than this raise, but it will give a sense of false security to other players, especially those who think they have a shot at winning with their hand.

2. After the flop card is revealed, make a more sizable raise. This is where you start raising eyebrows as other players question whether you really have something or you just want them to fold.

3. Make a final push and go all in at the end. There will be just a few people left, and you will establish dominance at the table.

Tournament Strategy

When entering a tournament, you can play to win or you can play to stay in the game and secure the best prize possible. This is a personal decision, but I always prefer to take a spot than be left out without a prize. Some prize is better than no prize, right?

This means you may sometimes make moves that you would never make outside of a tournament. For instance, what would compel you to toss a hand with a high pocket pair? You may reason that you would never do that, tournament or not, but there are some cases where you would want to do that to ensure you stay in the game and get to collect a prize at the end of the tournament.

Consider an example. There are six players left in your tournament, and you have just been dealt a pair of aces. The statistics at the table are as follows:

Player #1: $210
Player #2: $156
Player #3: $90
Player #4: $70
Player #5: $30
Player #6: $18

A beginner would assume that going all in is a great idea because they want to collect what little money those bottom players have left. What a more experienced player understands is that those bottom players are probably going to fold if you go all in, so you don’t get their money after all.

If you go all in, there is a good chance you will not collect what your great hand deserves and may go out the next hand. Yet, those bottom players will remain in the game because they were smart enough to fold when you went all in.

Now, what would happen if you didn’t raise at all? What if you folded that amazing hand? This seems crazy, but it can actually help you knock out those bottom players. The top players remaining may get confident and bet $20 or more. That would knock out those bottom players if they didn’t fold. Even if you were to lose at that moment, you would take third place and collect a prize. Folding your great hand helped you get that prize.

You still have to get another good hand and hang in there until the end if you want to collect a prize, but you are in a better position than you would be if you went all in with that pair of aces. Sometimes strategy isn’t all about winning one hand. You have to look at your overall goal, which is sometimes to win a prize rather than winning the ultimate prize.

This article was published on Sunday 02 August, 2009.
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