The whole point of playing poker is to make money, and to make as much money as possible.
I’m taking a 30-day break from poker that ends on Christmas Day.
The purpose of the break is to self-reflect on my last 2 years as a successful player at low-stakes and develop a bank-roll management plan and rejoin the tables to win consistently. Currently I have no bankroll for poker as I completed a move to my own apartment last month.
My favorite game to play is live $1/2 at the casino, I will play NL20 online when my bankroll supports it. Right now, poker is a way I can make side money, I don’t have an aspiration to go pro anytime soon.
To go pro at poker online you probably must play 2-4 tables at NL100. Even that will barely get you by.
At low stakes you have to put in more hours in to be able to print the same amount of money.
I want to tell you a bit about the hand that I enjoy playing the most.
I will say that a great hand has little to do with hand-strength, it has everything to do with getting paid. Once I won a $400 pot with Ace-High. This was the largest pot I had ever won at this point in time, I used A-Qo as a bluff catcher, and we had both missed the board, the opponent had Q-9o and was bluffing with air. I was losing to any hand that was 1 pair or better.
My Favorite Starting Hand
The best hand in poker is A-A.
This is my favorite hand because you will make more money with A-A than any other hand you can get. Over the years, I have learned to play this hand well and make the maximum from pocket aces.
The first thing to avoid doing with A-A is open limping.
Many players will limp raise with A-A and K-K, and when I started poker I learned to do this, but you will always lose value-money when you limp because you aren’t building the pot. You are also making the mistake of encouraging a multi-way pot.
To avoid bad-beats with A-A, be aggressive right from the start.
With aces you want to encourage a heads-up pot and maximize your payout while you have the most pot-equity.
Open-raise and re-raise whenever facing any raise pre-flop.
Calling a raise with Aces is a big mistake because you will see a flop and the be forced to make more complex decisions with a hand that is one pair and has only 2 ways to improve.
The big thing about poker is you always want to get as much money in the pot as possible when you are ahead of your opponent. With Aces you know you are always ahead right away.
If the action is folded to you pre-flop, the best thing to do is make your standard open.
You want to keep your open the same size from each respective position. Usually in early position, I open to 3X the big-blind. When on the button I will lean towards opening to 2.5X the big-blind. Amateur players will make larger opens like 4-8X the big blind with premium hands.
These are often the same players that will try to see a cheap flop with weaker hands.
The biggest tell in poker is the way you bet, and your bet size. You must eliminate this tell from your game by balancing your range and having multiple sets of acts for the same scenario. This will help prevent you from being exploited.
Making bet sizes based on hand-strength will leave you exploited because it gives away information in an obvious way.
In tournaments with the blinds low to medium, I will limp with low-pocket pairs and mid-suited connectors because those are times where you want a multi-way pot. There is no reason for me to ever limp in cash-games. The reason people limp with aces is because they are scared to make people fold and only get the blinds.
When you only win the blinds, you have succeeded as a player. Winning a pot even if its only 3 dollars is still money. Pre-flop winning the blinds should be the intent. A 3 bet should be done with the intent to take the dead money.
Heads-up pots are better for monster hands that are likely to remain strong post-flop. It’s much easier to bluff one player than multiple players should you want to turn your one pair hand into a bluff after the river.
You want to be up against fewer cards when you have aces. When you re-raise pre-flop you will likely have just one post-flop opponent, and you will also have better idea of what your opponent could have. In the event your opponent out-flops you, it will be easier to find a fold knowing your opponent has a more predictable calling range vs your re-raise.
If you just call an open with aces, it leaves value on the table and gives your opponent a wider range hence making him harder to play. The pot is also smaller which minimizes your winnings.
Should your 2.5-3X open be flat called and you see a flop, the best thing to do is bet from in position and check from out of position. I will normally bet the size of the pot to deny equity to draws and get called by worse made hands.
You are still likely ahead of your opponent post flop. When facing a bet post-flop, I like to raise, or check-raise. Should I be on the button and get check-raised, I will consider a fold much of the time with Aces. If I got bluffed so be it, one pair usually isn’t enough to win a huge pot by calling 3 streets.
Contrary to popular belief, when you have Aces, you aren’t as strong as you think.
80% equity with aces means they will still lose 20% of the time.
You only have one pair; this means you only have 2 outs to make a set. Odds are when you have Aces, the hand fails to improve. Should you make a set or a full house, you have a monster. When re-raising, your opponent will often have 2 high cards when you get to the flop. If you make a set of Aces, this can leave you vulnerable to a straight if the board has another broad-way card along with the ace.
If the board pairs later-on, you have the effective nuts, and barring your opponent having bottom quads, you will pretty much always have the best hand.
Multiway pots are better for drawing hands because when you make a monster hand like a high straight or ace-high flush, there are more people in the hand that have a hand they can reasonably pay you off with. You will also be more likely to get priced in for your draws because few people make huge bets in a multiway pot when there are way more hands out there.
With Aces, a multiway pot leaves you vulnerable mostly to 2 pairs, straights, flushes, and trips.
It’s advisable to 3-bet for value from all positions with Aces.
Many players will only re-raise you again with Kings or Aces.
If you get 4 bet, it’s better to go All-in than call the 4 bet. Deny the 4 bet a flop where you could be out-drawn or outplayed. You want to get called by worse hands that you have dominated. After a 4 bet-flop, its harder to know where you stand in comparison with a 5 bet all-in that guarantees you get all your money in good.
When you have strong hands, you want to get paid as much as possible.
If you make people pay more money to see cards, you maximise fold-equity, get outdrawn less, and learn more about your opponent’s hand when they do call or raise.
Until next time,