Jumat, 28 September 2012

Advanced Betting Techniques in Texas Hold'em Poker - The Slow Play - Part 1 of 3

Winning poker comes down to being able to squeeze a profit out of marginal situations. The object is not to win every hand played, but to win every hand you play. The best way to do this is to out bet your opponents. Every bet made should have a purpose. Either it is made to induce a weaker hand to fold, or it is made to maximize the winnings on the hand.

Since there are many opportunities to outplay your opponents, you have to know which opponents you can outplay. It is difficult to finesse weak players. The slow play often backfires because one of the loose limpers will hit a hand. The bluff does not work, since these players call with any two cards. The following sections demonstrate many of the advanced aspects of the game and how best to play them.

The Art of the Slow-play

The slow-play is when you intentionally under-bet in order to disguise the strength of your hand and attempt to trap an opponent with a weaker hand. Unlike the bluff, the slow-play is effective against both strong and weak opponents. Bad opponents simply bet their hand, so if they have something or they are simply on a draw, they are going to pay you off.

You should not slow-play when there is a flush or straight draw on the board. You should only slow-play when your opponent has a poker hand that is not likely to improve enough to beat yours. Suppose the flop is AD-7H-KC and you hold 7D-7C, and you put your opponent on an Ace or King. It is usually more profitable to bet the hand aggressively on the turn. This way you can get at least one extra large bet by letting your opponent make the initial raise for you.

The flop is the primary round to use the slow-play. On subsequent betting rounds, your opponents give you action for one of two reasons. Either they improved their hand on the next street and their hand is now worth betting, or they think their mediocre hand is good because you did not show strength the previous round.

If you slow-play the turn, you are sacrificing an opportunity to make money on the turn. The only reason to slow-play here is if your read on your opponents is that they will fold with any bet you make. If this is the case, then it may be worth checking to see if you can get a bet from them on the river, since winning a pot with one round of betting in it is better than winning one with no money in the pot.

Some players want to slow-play a monster hand on the turn so they can make the big raise on the river. This is another example of trying to be too complex in betting. Because of their desire to raise on the river, they slow-play the turn and forgo an opportunity to make good money from several opponents. On the river, these plays usually end up isolating a single remaining opponent, who may or may not call a raise.

While another player is thinking of the big river raise, you should concentrate on building the pot at every opportunity when you have the premium hand. Do not attempt fancy slow-plays. They often cost you money from missed betting opportunities or from your opponent hitting a hand on the turn or river.

When Not to Slow-Play

If you should hit quads or a full house, do not over play the hand. If your opponents are playing out of position, they frequently do not bet the turn or river, instead they check or call. If you slow-play the turn, this type of opponent does not start throwing in raises and re-raises on the river. Therefore, just keep betting the turn, despite the improvement. They rarely put you on quads, so try to get some action on the turn. Do not stop playing your style of play and slow-play when you have a great hand. That becomes an easy tell to spot and makes your play predictable.

Remember that the act of betting does not automatically give your hand away. This is especially true if you have been constantly changing gears and mixing up your table image throughout the gaming session. Also, never overlook the fact that another player with an inferior hand may slow-play the flop with the intent to open up on the turn. Letting them do so allows you to hide the strength of your hand when they do raise or re-raise. As with the bluff, the slow play is not as useful in limit poker as it is in no-limit. With only a small bet, most players that are going to stay in the hand will do so for at least one additional bet.

Representing Your Hand

A strong bet can represent a strong hand. This is especially true when betting after the flop. If an Ace or King shows on the flop, you can represent an Ace or King in your hand by betting. Often, it is what you represent that is more important than what you actually have, especially if you have put your opponent on a medium or weak hand.

Daniel L. Cox is the editor of Poker Insider Magazine, an e-zine dedicated to poker. He is also the award-winning author of "Winning Blue-Collar Hold'em: How to Play Low-limit Ring Games and Small Buy-in Tournaments" and three upcoming books on poker. He can be found on Twitter at PokerInsiderMag, where he gives you a daily poker quote or pokerism.

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