Monday, July 28, 2008

The prime factors

In limit poker you really only have two factors that weigh heavily on your decision making: your cards and the size of the pot. Of course there are other factors but those two are far and away the most important.

In no-limit things get quite a bit trickier as you will need to equally consider your position in the hand, size of your stack and opponents, size of the pot, your cards, player profiles, and has anyone likely set a trap or is conspicuously weak.

It is important to understand that your cards are not the most important factor in this game and really are only used as a backup. What is absolutely imperative in this game is position and knowing that late position is primarily dominant but also knowing when to use early position to your advantage.

You can call and raise in late position with a massive range of hands whereas early position affords you a very narrow hand selection, unless you want to get busted quickly of course.

The size of your stack relative to the standard bet at a table and to the other stacks at the table is almost as important. If you don't have at least seven standard bets at the table then you are effectively playing a two street game. If you can't win the hand on the flop then you are going to be in real trouble.

The size of the pot when it comes to you should determine how much or little you should or should not be betting. Some cards don't play well in a multi-way pot while others do. Sometimes it's advantageous to limit your number of opponents because of your cards or position. Do you have enough chips to win a pot this size or not? Is it worth stealing or gambling for or not? The size of pot is a big motivator and an important factor to consider.

Who's in a hand with you? This can often mean everything in a game. Some players are weak and just bleed chips to any strong bet unless they have the nuts whereas others put you to the test at every turn. You want to avoid tougher players in general and gamblers when you have a marginal hand. There are a lot of players that I will fold pocket queens to on as little as an aggressive two bet whereas there are some that I would five bet. It just depends on the guy.

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