Mastering Low Stakes Poker


Pre-flop hand selection

When playing low stakes poker, the decision can highly be influenced by pre-flop hand selection. In Texas holdem, if you are not Big Bling (BB) or Small Bling (SB), then you have an option to fold a hand pre-flop without any money loss. Use this to your advantage!

Having patience to wait for premium cards in a game of Poker needs discipline. Like any other sport discipline leads to success in Poker too. When you combine skill of playing aggressive with the skill of discipline, you will set your self above average in Poker. Remember, Poker is a long term game. Some days you win, some days you lose. Choosing pre-flop hands optimally will set your Poker journey in a positive trend. I'll share some pre-flop hand examples that are shared by several Poker gurus.

  1. Hands to raise with: AA, KK, QQ and may be AK (suited)

  2. Hands to avoid raising with: AQ (unsuited), AJ (unsuited) A10 (unsuited), KQ (unsuited), KJ (unsuited)

  3. Hands to call a raise with but never to re-raise: AK (unsuited), JJ, 1010, AQ (unsuited)

  4. Hands to limp or call a small raise with: 99, 88, 77, 66, 55, 44, 33, 22

  5. Hands you may call raise with, only in late positions: AJ (suited), A10 (suited), KQ (suited), QJ (suited), J10 (suited), 109 (suited), AX (suited)

Simply by optimal pre-flop hand selection you can effectively control outcome of hands you play in Poker!


Lets gain some perspective on this learning. Shall we?

Bullet 1 is pretty clear. So let's Pick a trap hand AJ (unsuited) from bullet 2 and see few ways the game can evolve. In game of 10-20, you raise or call a raise of 40. The flop is As, 2h, 5h.  You bet 3X pre-flop (i.e. 120). Scenario 1: everyone folds, as no one else had A kicker. You win 40x2 = 80, assuming 3 players were playing the hand.  Scenario 2: everyone folds but one player calls. Turn is 7d, you bet 2X flop bet (i.e. 240) and your opponent calls. River is 10s. Hence, the board has As, 2h, 5h, 7d, 10s. You check and your opponent bets 400. You call and he shows AK or AQ, a set, a straight or two pair. The only hand you can beat are Ace/rag or a bluff. Played this way you can loose 40+120+240+400 = 800.  In scenario 1 you risked 40 and won 80. In scenario 2, you lost 800. So on average. playing this hand will show a net loss of 720. Playing AJ (unsuited) Poker hand, when you win you win small pot, but when you lose you are most likely to lose big pot.   


Source: Ace High: Mastering Low Stakes Poker Cash Games by Nathan Schwiethale

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