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Texas Hold'em Do's & Don'ts by Larry Whittler

Texas Hold'em Do's & Don'ts by
Article Posted: 09/09/2007
Article Views: 1394
Articles Written: 25
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Texas Hold'em Do's & Don'ts

Growing up in the 1940’s & 50’s, I remember the Friday night poker games at Grandma’s house… The whole family Mom & Dad’s sisters, brothers, cousins and friends would participate in penny ante poker. They played a wide variety of poker games from “dime store” (7 card stud with 5’s & 10’s wild) to baseball (7 card stud with 3’s & 9’s wild with a free card on the 4); the list goes on and on… The games would continue well into the night, laughing and joking, just having a great time enjoying each others company… This was entertainment the old fashion way, there were no TV’s, electronic games or internet… Just everyone enjoying each other’s company… The kids were allowed to watch and we did until we fell asleep… The next morning, we would make a beeline to be the first to help clean up around and under the table… The adults would drop money under the table as they were playing and we would get to keep what we found… it wasn’t until I was older that I realized they deliberately dropped the money to have a willing clean up crew the next morning…

As I grew older, Mom began to teach me the game along with rummy and other card games… Poker was the most stimulating; every hand brought new challenges… I didn’t realize the lessons that were being taught, every decision I made had a different outcome… if you made the right decision you would win and the wrong decision you would lose, it was that simple. But the emotional roller coaster, well you understand. I think that I experienced every emotion! Good lessons learned were self control, being a good loser and a gracious winner… That there is always another hand and its how you apply what you have learned to the next hand that increases your skill level… learning from your mistakes, just as in life. Never let them see you sweat, better known as a good poker face.

I play Texas Hold’em frequently at the casino, usually 1-2 no limit game, the age range is any where from 21 to 90, but the players are the similar. There is the Chaser, someone who calls with nothing and chases it to the end… The Bully, who raises every hand… The Whiner who has more bad beat stories than anyone at the table… Solitary Guy, who never understands why anyone would call him…, Grave Digger, just calls and calls and hits on the river, pass the shovel… Ambusher lets you do all the betting while he sets on the nuts… Tech guy, always quoting the odds… and the list goes on… You can certainly see the entertainment value in playing poker...

I have listed a few tips from my humble experience, none of which will guarantee you a winning hand. For entertainment value you will want to keep your losses down. First, Always set a limit that you can lose comfortably. Second never exceed that limit. Set a goal for winning, if you make your goal leave. There will be days you can’t lose, play it to the limit… There will be days you can’t make a hand, leave… I keep records of wins and loses; recently I kept records of a $1-$2 No Limit game… I played 64 times over a three month period, winning $.70 a time. Pretty inexpensive entertainment... • Patience: Texas Hold’em is like a woman; you can’t force your hand and expect a good outcome….

• Traps: Ace or any face card with a low kicker is a trap…. I can’t tell you how many times I have witnessed a player being beat by a higher kicker… This is a trap of your own making and you have to make a conscious decision not to play these hands.

• Chasing: I see players chasing all the time, losing more times then they win… They are constantly re-buying chips as if they can change the out come… Chasing is natural for humans and most animals… If the prey runs you chase it… If a woman is aloof, you chase and visa versa… the examples are to numerous to mention… So the next time you chase a flush or a straight you will lose the greatest percentage of the time….

• All-in before the flop: Come on, would you buy a car site unseen…. I know they do it on TV on the edited version of the final table, but most of the time they lose…

• Position: Being on the button is definitely an advantage, if your opponents show weakness and you have a decent hand, a test bet is in order (2-3 times the big blind), making it painful to call will get the limpers out will definitely improve your odds of winning… beware of the ambush, one of your opponents might have limped in, this is dangerous and it’s important to recognize when to fold…

• Pretty cards: Suited connectors, small pairs, connectors all look good… I guess the most well known is Ace/King suited, I can’t tell you how many times I have seen these two cards lose to a small pair, It sure looks good on TV, but I would not risk all my chips before the flop..

• Comfort Zone: This is determined by you…. You might be comfortable making $1 to $5 bets… If the betting starts to exceed this amount you start to doubt your self and will start folding winning hands, then you want to kick your self… There is always a player at the table that will use your “comfort zone” against you… If you have a good hand, you have to be willing to lose to win… you can’t win with scared money…

• Winners & Losers: When your ahead, get out, don’t fall into the “just one more hand” trap, you will lose your winnings and your stake…

• If you have a lot of “bad beat” stories, you better look in the mirror because you are your own worst enemy…

• Calls your all in: Remember that he doesn’t know what you have, you might have a good hand, but he doesn’t believe you, he believes that he has the best hand and when you force a decision by going all in…it now becomes bingo poker… Unless you have the nuts, this is a trap you are setting for yourself…

• When you’re hitting your hitting, you can’t be beat…. That applies to your opponents, when their hitting their hitting, don’t play against them unless you know you have the nuts…

• If a player raises your raise, if you don’t have the best hand, you can believe that he does, get out…

• Top pair, top kicker after the flop: Sound familiar, if there are ten players in the game there is a good chance that one of your opponents has two pair or a set… if he raises big, beware… always take a moment to consider a re-raise before making a decision.. It’s your money; don’t be so quick to give it away. • Aggressive players at a table can change the whole game… betting on the come by raising before the flop make you fold some pretty good hands…. But when they do it all the time, losing one hand after another, but continue to bet wildly thinking that they are going to hit makes a bad table to play on… its time to leave the table! Stupidity makes him and you a loser… If you decide to stay, don’t get into a pissing contest… be patient and wait for the nuts.

• All-in guy: This guy is the most irritable to the rest of the players… he actually sits himself up for defeat… everyone is laying for him, unless he is extremely lucky it’s going to cost him a lot of money… • Beware of Pairs on the board: Proceed with caution if you have top pair on the flop and there is a pair on the flop at the same time… if you don’t have the set and your first to bet, a test bet is in order… you could still be in jeopardy even if your not raised, someone could still be slow playing a set… one more test is in order, check on the turn and see if they get an anxiety attack and bet… better safe then sorry… • The risk: Risking is a part of poker, winning and losing… Winners don’t give their winnings back… I notice that there a lot of players who win a big pot and will start bulling the table with hands that are not worth betting… it isn’t long until they have lost their winnings and are pulling another $100 out of their pocket, at the same time they complain that they can’t get any cards…. Of course the key is you have to wait for the cards…Oh well! • Hot Seat: I watch for the seat that is getting the cards, if I’m not hitting and a player leaves a seat that has been hitting… I’m changing seats…. • Honor your instincts: If you feel that you are beat most likely you are, you don’t have to call for verification… keep your money in your pocket… it’s about winning and not about verifying someone else is the winner. • The River Guy: This guy believes the river card is just as important as the flop and turn, there is no logic, it’s based on emotion… The game isn’t over until the river drops… This guy will call you all the way to the river and if he’s hitting he will take the pot… You can hear “the loser rant” when this guy wins.

I leave you with this final thought, I would rather be lucky, if you’re hitting, play it to the limit… If you’re losing, leave! There is always tomorrow… Have fun!I have developed my own technique which is more conceptual than using the odds... "Aggressive Rhythm" is more about the rhythm of all the players at the table, their reactions and flexibility in dealing with aggressive behavior of their opponents.... Remember to be a good sport and "fate" deals the cards... Yippee Ki Yea Larry Whittler,

PS: We need a T-shirt, On the front: YOU CALLED ME WITH THAT! On the back: BUT THEY WERE SUITED...

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