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Poker strategy tips

Below are a few tips to improve your poker game. Simple but powerful!

Raise strong hands

First, always come in raising with your big hands.

Far too many players flat call or just double the big blind with big pocket pairs in fear that they won't get action. Instead, they should be afraid of getting too much action by not making a substantial pre-flop raise.

Don't let your pocket aces or kings walk through that minefield unprotected. Big pocket pairs are tough to get away from, and can cost you a fortune if you let people draw out on you. Post flop, make a bet and see what happens. If someone comes in for a huge raise, you have to decide if they've got you beat. Hopefully you have a read on the player by now, and if you don't you need to decide whether or not you want to commit all those chips to a simple overpair.

Is it worth it? Is there a flush out there? A straight? Did he hit a set? Sometimes he may have no more than top pair, but is it worth the risk if you're wrong? Or, is it a better idea to hold onto your money and find a better situation later? Low-stakes games are not the place to get tricky with big hands. If you come limping into pots with big pocket pairs, and someone flops 2 pair holding 3,7 - that is not a bad beat, that's bad poker!

Watch the flop

Second, pay attention to the flop.

Another mistake solid players make when holding a big pocket pair, is believing they can't be beat. 3 clubs on the flop? 3 cards to a straight? If so, see how many players are in the pot and make a reasonable decision on whether or not it's likely that your hand could be beat. If you're playing heads-up, you're more likely to still be ahead. But, if you're 5 handed you'll need to play with more caution.

This situation calls for a feeler bet. If nobody has bet in front of you, throw some money out there and see what happens. In a 5 handed game, you should be betting about 1/2 to 2/3 the pot. This is a situation where a lot of players get into trouble, and it's a situation you can make less painful if you hold a losing hand. All you're trying to do at this point is pick up some information, which means betting just enough to get the information you need. If you are called, you can slow down after the turn. If you get raised, you can fold without giving up too much. If everyone folds, you win the pot. Whatever you do, don't come out firing too much at a dangerous flop like this.

Play straightforward

Third, save your 'cute' moves for times when you are purposely advertising that you're a donkey.

If you are making a sufficient number of odd moves, you're more likely to get paid off when you have the hand. So, instead of slow playing when you hit your nut straight on the turn - bet at it, you're likely to get paid off. Don't make silly check-raise bluffs into large pots and don't push all your chips in on a bluff - ever at these levels. Save your 'cute' moves for opponents they will work against, not unbluffable ones.

Fold when beaten

Here's our last tip for now, and it's an important one: if you know you're beat - fold your hand! Otherwise this is the best way to start a bad run.

It's absolutely amazing how often players will know they're beat and call anyway 'just in case'. That's ridiculous, and that's a skill a poker player needs to learn before they can call themself a poker player. A 'poker player' can make a big laydown if he knows he's beat, just as well as he can bet into a pot when he knows his opponents are weak. Commit to your gut feelings, and learn to do what your gut is telling you.