Style of game can determine your poker decisions

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There are always exceptions to every rule.

In the previous issue of GamingToday, we discussed A-rag hands, and when certain ones of them could be exceptions to the Hold’em Algorithm starting-hand criteria. A key factor was the Hold’em Caveat.

In this column, we will consider two other possible exceptions:

• When you are in a limit game of Texas hold’em with a loose-passive texture;

• The same game, when you are the Button with a marginal drawing hand.

What do we mean when we speak of the texture of a game?

The game character depends on the type of players at your table. Loose players relish staying to see the flop – often with poor starting-hands. (Perhaps they are just curious. Curiosity killed the cat!)

Aggressive players often raise and re-raise; they seek a lot of action! That makes for a loose-aggressive game – especially if there are two or more aggressive players at your table. Expect loads of betting and raising before the flop, often capping the betting after several raises.

On the other hand, having mostly passive players (they just call along; and rarely raise the bet) along with no very aggressive ones at the table, leads to a loose-passive texture. (Loose-passive – that’s the kind of game I prefer.)

When you find yourself seated at a loose-passive table, it is appropriate to consider deviating from the Hold’em Algorithm point-score requirements on occasion. That is, you might call to see the flop with a hand that does not quite satisfy the algorithm criteria for a viable starting hand.

Of course, it should be a hand that offers a reasonable chance of leading to a strong hand. For example, I wouldn’t try it with 7-2, even if they were suited; but 7-6 suited connectors is OK in this case.

Since the game is passive, you have little fear the pot will be raised preflop; and, since the game is loose, you can expect a good-size pot – worthy of your investment of one small bet to see the flop. The implied pot odds are bound to be attractive – so calling the Big Blind bet is quite proper.

You never know what the flop will bring! If the flop doesn’t help your hand, you can easily muck your holecards; so, it will have cost you just one small bet. Never chase with less than six outs on the flop.

That certainly is a viable example of an exception to the Hold’em Algorithm. You would be making a small investment that can lead to a huge profit – providing the game texture is loose-passive. Let’s consider yet another exception – on the button with a marginal drawing hand in an unraised “family pot.”

You have been dealt a marginal drawing hand in a limit hold’em game; it’s a hand you usually would muck – except you are on the Button and the majority of your opponents – preferably five or more – have called to see the flop without anyone raising the pot.

I often refer to this as a “family pot.” Of course, that readily satisfies the Hold’em Caveat. With so many opponents paying to see the flop, there is a good chance there will be a monster pot for you to win – if/when you catch the cards that make your hand.

What’s more, if you connect on the flop, the strength of your hand is well hidden from your opponents; plus, being on the button, you have a positional edge over all of them. For the rest of that hand, you get to see how each acts before you must declare. At worst, it only costs you one small bet; on the other hand, you could win a huge pot.

Next issue, we will complete this series on exceptions to the Hold’em Algorithm starting-hand criteria.

Another Exception

Here’s yet a third exception to our Hold’em Algorithm, somewhat related to the marginal drawing hand on the Button (above). This time, you are the Big Blind with a marginal hand you would be prone to fold, especially from an early position; and, this time, there is a raise before the flop by the player to your immediate left. Unlike the above exceptions, in this case, the Hold’em Caveat is being violated by the preflop raise.

For example, let’s say you were dealt 6-5 offsuit. According to the Hold’em Algorithm, your score is only 18 points (6 + 5 + 7 for the connectors’ bonus); whereas, the Algorithm requires at least 25 points from an early position.

“The Engineer,” a noted author and teacher in Greater Los Angeles, is a member of the Seniors Poker Hall of Fame. Contact George at [email protected].

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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