Poker resolutions pre New Year

Poker resolutions pre New Year

December 12, 2017 3:00 AM


It’s never too early nor too late to make your poker resolutions. You don’t have to wait for New Year’s Day.

• Resolved: Buy in for enough chips.

With nine players at the table, the odds are you won’t start off a winner. It may very well be a while before you win a decent pot. I’ve seen it take an hour or so of play (30-35 hands) before I scoop a pot.

A few good bluffs may help sustain those dwindling stacks. Certainly, you would rather not have to go all-in when you finally connect with a monster hand; sooner or later, it’s bound to happen – and then you cannot build “your” pot. The alternative is to buy more chips as the game progresses before your stacks get too low.

• Resolved: Avoid too many rivers to cross.

At a full table with eight opponents, the laws of probability too often will declare your vulnerable hand – as are most hands – is an underdog if there are three or more opponents staying to see the river.

Sure, some of them may well be chasers – and chasers are losers in the long run. But, with so many staying in the pot, it is oh so likely one of them will catch the winning hand on the river. Don’t you hate to be rivered?! Second-best is no fun.

If you are playing at such a loose table, consider a table change. The more often you get rivered, the more likely you will go home a loser. It’s just a matter of probability.

• Resolved: Fold your hole cards more often when there is a raise preflop.

If you use the Hold’em Algorithm, you already know which hole cards are playable preflop. But what if the betting is raised before you must act? Answer: Then you need an even better starting hand – at least one point higher than the criteria as published. Even more points if the raiser is a tight player.

The Hold’em Algorithm point score for each situation represents the minimum hand value. It’s based on the rank of your holecards; whether paired or not, suited, or connectors; the number of opponents staying to see the flop; and the types of players involved. In a limit game, a raise before you is a double-bet to you (more in a no-limit game). That will cost you twice as many chips to see the flop, even if there is no re-raise. Fold unless your holecards are powerful enough to warrant such a high investment.

As a corollary – and a warning, if you are consistently staying to see the flop more often than one out of four hands, your play is too loose. Tighten up to be a winner.

• Resolved: But, don’t be too tight.

Your opponents will notice if you rarely stay to see the flop. So they assume you must be very tight; and then, when you do invest to see the flop, they are prepared to fold all but their strongest hands. Even more so when you open the betting from an early position. With so many opponents folding their hands, you can win only small pots. The cost-to-play will quickly devour those few chips – leaving you a loser.

• Resolved: Don’t play Hi-Lo hands.

A Hi-Lo starting-hand consists of one high card (Ace down to 10) and one low card (7 down to 2). (The Hold’em Algorithm would score these as unplayable, so this resolution is a matter of convenience – no need to add up your score.) Yet, I see so many players starting with Ace-rag (and, often, King-rag).

If you pair your Ace, another player who also holds an Ace in the hole, almost certainly has a better kicker, making you second-best – a loser. If you pair your low card, even with your high kicker (the Ace or King), it’s too easy for an opponent to make a higher pair.

Here’s hoping you have a great new year – and lots of big winners at the poker table.