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Introducing Brandon Evans, a bright, young man for whom I predict a wonderful life and successful career. A distant relative, he and his father (a prominent attorney) met me for dinner at the Hustler Casino in Gardena, Calif. We talked (you guessed it) mostly about poker. 

Then, Brandon and I played at the same 3-6 limit hold’em table. As I watched his play, I was much impressed. (He ended up doubling his buy-in.) So I invited him to write this column.:

Hello everyone, my name is Brandon Evans. I am a 21-year old college student who enjoys playing poker. I am studying to be an accountant and become a CPA. I have always enjoyed numbers and games that challenge the brain. Poker is the perfect platform to fulfill the urge to have fun, while also being an exciting, thought-provoking game. 

About 1-2 no-limit Texas hold’em. The buy-in usually ranges from $40 to $200, depending on the casino. With blinds of $1- $2, it is ideal for people like me who are full-time college students, and don’t have huge bankrolls. There are also many people who are new to live poker or just trying to get their feet wet. I recommend 1-2 no-limit as an inexpensive way to learn. 

The cheap way is the best way when starting out. Like all other poker games, sometimes you will take bad beats, feel bad, and lose sleep; but it is how you use that experience to come back next week and keep slinging cards, that will make you a better player. 

Playing the game With the blinds of $1 and $2, most often, players will just limp in at $2 or raise to $4 or $6. Assume you are last to act and there are three players in the pot at $4 each for a total of $12 – $15 (if the two blinds fold). Suppose you’re dealt ace-king – a premium drawing hand. An amateur might just call the $4 to see the flop; but, I suggest raising to $16. 

Most, if not all, opponents will fold; you win. Even if you are called or re-raised, chances are you are a big favorite. I regard ace-king as a raising hand preflop; but I see players “get cute” and slow-play such hands. 

Poker is about putting your opponents “on the back foot.” Make them pay to see more cards. Suppose you catch an ace on the flop. Never be content with just betting $4 when you have top pair and a straight or flush against you are longshots. Instead bet $20; force them to make a tough decision to see the next card. Don’t get beat by a guy playing 9-3 offsuit, who is just out there seeing every flop he can for $2 or $4. Make him pay! 

I am not saying to raise everyone “up the wazoo” with every average or marginal hand. That will end up costing you money in the long run. With big pocket pairs, ace paired with a good kicker, hands of that nature, you should be betting! 

Patience is important. Don’t be that guy who is second to act and calls a $4 bet with a weak hand. Then someone raises to $20, and you muck your hand, having wasted $4. Just don’t play weak hands; save your money. Pick and choose your spots, while considering the types of players challenging you. Use position to your advantage. Play smart (well thought-out) poker. 

Implement these strategies during your weekly 1-2 no-limit hold’em games to master the game, and leave a consistent winner.

About the Author

George Epstein

A retired engineer, George Epstein is the author of “The Greatest Book of Poker for Winners!” and “Hold’em or Fold’em? – An Algorithm for Making the Key Decision.” He teaches poker courses and conducts a unique Poker Lab at the Claude Pepper Senior Center under the auspices of the City of Los Angeles Dept. of Recreation and Parks and at West Los Angeles College.

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