|The Lounge | Champions | The Wire | Schedule | Audio | Arcade | The Top Ten | Historical | Email | Video|
Texas Holdem Tournament Strategy - Poker Tournament Betting Basics
Welcome to the third in my Texas Holdem Strategy Series, focusing on no limit Texas Holdem poker tournament play and associated strategies. In this article, we'll build upon the poker tournament strategy fundamentals from last time, with some important poker betting strategy basics.
Winning at Texas Holdem poker doesn't have to be a gamble, since it's actually a game of skill. Of course, there will always be an element of chance, but there's a lot more strategy and skill to poker than meets the untrained eye. When you learn to play the odds properly, it can make a huge difference in your winnings.
No limit Texas Holdem is the game of choice these days - and for good reason. The fact that anyone can decide to push a large raise or all of their chips into the pot by going "all-in" at any moment, adds an exciting dimension to the game. Unlike limit Texas Holdem, where each round of betting takes place in prescribed, fixed increments, no limit Texas Holdem is as varied as the players at the table, since everyone chooses their own betting style and approach.
When playing no limit Texas Holdem, you're faced with some important decisions. Arguably, the most important decision you'll make is how much to bet in a given set of circumstances; e.g., hand strength, your position at the table, total number of players, their styles, etc. There are many different betting strategies, but one of the first things to learn and pay close attention to are "pot odds" and whether you have a positive "expectation" to win.
You have a positive expectation whenever the odds favor you winning more than you're wagering at anything greater than 1 to 1 odds. For example, when flipping a coin, there is a 50/50 chance of it coming up either heads or tails. If you flip a coin enough times, both heads and tails will come up an equal number of times.
Casino games, such as craps, blackjack, slot machines, etc. all give the player a "negative" expectation and the casino a positive expectation. If you play these types of "gambling" games long enough, you will ultimately lose, since the game's odd structure is never in your favor - negative expectation. People who experience "hot streaks" also have losing streaks (they just usually quickly forget about the losing and don't discuss it). When you're making a wager, you'd always prefer to have a positive expectation. This is generally true in poker, but not necessarily always in no-limit poker. I'll explain why.
Pot Odds are the odds the pot is giving you for making a bet. Let's say there is $50 in the pot and it'll take $10 more to call - you're getting 5-to-1 pot odds to call, since if you win you'll be paid $50 in exchange for risking only $10. For purposes of this decision, any amounts you previously placed into this pot are irrelevant, since they're already expended and gone (if you fold).
It's essential to understand pot odds as it relates to your hand odds, as one key factor in making your betting decisions. If the odds of you holding or drawing to the winning hand are better than the odds the pot is giving you, you should call or even sometimes raise; otherwise, you should typically fold (unless you're going to bluff, a different story).
Continuing this example, let's say you're holding a pair of fives, and the board flops 9, K, 2 "rainbow" (no flush draw, different suits). With 9 players at the table, it's certainly possible and likely that someone else holds a King or a Nine, or both, making your 5's look pretty flimsy at this point. Your best shot to win is to draw another 5. There are two more 5's remaining out of the 47 cards that you can't see (in the deck or in another player's hand).
So, the odds of pulling that next 5 on the turn or river are: 2 in 47 (2/47 = about 4%) on the Turn, plus another 2 in 46 on the River (an additional 4%), for a total of roughly 8.6%, which equates to a 1-in-11.6 chance of pulling that third 5 to make a set. Since the pot is only giving 5-to-1 odds, it's generally time to fold. Otherwise, you'd just be "gambling" with a highly negative expectation of losing that additional $10. In no limit Texas Holdem, players will often raise the pot sufficiently to actually lower your pot odds so far that you can't possibly justify staying in the hand - at least not statistically.
Clearly you can't sit there in a real poker room with a calculator and run through all of these pot odds calculations while at the table! So, how does one learn poker odds well enough to apply them in real-time? Well, it starts by seeing the poker odds repeatedly, in a context that's suitable for you to learn and eventually retain them. A poker odds calculator is a piece of add-on software that runs on your PC, monitoring your actual online play. A poker odds calculator computes the prospective hands you and your opponents are capable of drawing at any point in time. It then displays all possible hands you and the opponents could draw, teaching you what the odds of making that kind of hand would be.
This makes it easy to see what's going on, and since a poker odds calculator displays the poker odds right there in front of you while you play, you'll begin to learn them, making it semi-automatic, so you don't even think about poker odds any more - you just know them. So, the first step is learning and internalizing these "hand odds". Then, you can quickly calculate pot odds anytime you'd like.
Calculating pot odds requires you to pay close attention to the game, a key trait of good poker tournament players. Unlike playing online, where the total size of the pot is easy to determine (the online Texas Holdem poker program typically displays the pot amount right there on the screen for you), when you play in traditional offline poker tournaments, you must keep track of the pot size and chip count yourself, so you can estimate the pot odds and your best betting options.
Pot odds become especially interesting as the blinds and antes increase as the tournament progresses. Let's say there are 10 players at your table, and the poker tournament structure has you at $25 antes with $200/$400 blinds. That's a total of $850 that's sitting thre in each and every pot before anyone even places their first bet! So, before you even look at your hand, you know that the minimum bet is $400, so you'll need a good hand (with roughly 1 in 2 odds or better) in order to simply break even.
At this point, people will be angling to "steal the blinds" by placing a hefty bet, typically at least two times the big blind, or $800, in order to make the pot odds so unattractive that everyone just folds. Therefore, the first player to act often makes off with the booty, since the pot odds become even less attractive and most everyone hasn't made a good enough hand to call. Of course, this can definitely backfire...
Let's say the first player to bet raises to $800 in an attempt to steal the blinds, making the total pot now $1,650. Let's say that a second player then calls with another $800, boosting this pot to $2,450. To get in on the action, you'd only need to call with $800, which means if you win the hand you're getting a slightly better than 3 to 1 on your money. If it's the Flop and you are one card short of making a King-high flush, then your hand odds are roughly 1-in-3. This would be "even money" if you joined in on this basis alone; however, you're holding a King and there's a King on the board from the Flop, so you now have a better than 1 in 3 chance of winning - a positive expectation! You place your $800 bet, so now the pot sits at $3,250.
You should generally make this bet, since it will yield a good return and you have the high pair (Kings), plus a flush draw, thereby improving your odds even further. Let's say there was an Ace also showing, making your Kings second best pair. In this case, it time to fold because you have a less than a 1 in 3 chance of winning this hand, and if you continued throwing money at this pot, you'll end up "pot-committed" and beaten by a pair of Aces (there's usually at least one player in 10 hanging in there with an Ace hole card).
So, let's say the last player to act goes "All-in" - after we've put our $800 in this pot. Now what? The first reaction should be - what kind of hand *could* this player actually hold? If the player is a relatively tight or solid player, chances are they've made a set or an Ace high flush. It's always possible they're bluffing, but very unlikely if they're a good player, since there are already far too many people in this pot and it's likely they'd get called with a real hand when bluffing.
So, what's happened to our pot odds? Let's say they went all-in with $5,000, pushing this pot up to $8,250. If you called with $5,000, you're now only getting a 8.25 to 5 return, or roughly 1.65 to 1 - especially unattractive under the circumstances with highly negative expectation and so many players in this hand, further reducing your chances of winning. Therefore, everyone will likely just fold; unless they have a very strong hand plus a great draw (some outs).
There's clearly a lot more to poker betting strategy, including position and acting first vs. last. Generally speaking, though, if you're going to take a shot at that pot, and you're in a position to act first, there's a good chance everyone else will fold; however, you'd better think carefully about the pot odds the opponents will be getting after your bet is in there.
If your bet modifies the pot size such that it improves their pot odds (by limping in with just a small bet), you're actually encouraging the opponents to hang in there with you, since they still have a good, positive (and improving) expectation level. If you bet enough, such as two to three times the size of the big blind, you'll be reducing their pot odds enough to swing into a negative expectation, so they'll be much more likely to fold. It's really important to think your bet amounts through and understand the pot odds implications of your betting.
When you make such a play at the pot, it's ideal to have some kind of hand, along with a good draw. If you find yourself short-stacked, then this may be as good as it gets. Bluffing will be covered more thoroughly in a later article, but at this point it'd be great to have at least a small pair, as well as a good straight or flush draw (since you'll also have the potential to make a set of trips, too). In this situation, you have so many good "outs" that your small pair begins to look a lot stronger, and your hand odds acceptable enough to go on a "semi-bluff" at this pot.
So, these are the basics of Texas Holdem poker tournament betting strategy that you should know and practice (the other good players do). Knowing your basic hand odds and being capable of quickly calculating pot odds are essential to making intelligent betting decisions under fire in poker tournaments, and regular ring game and limit play for that matter. A good poker odds calculator will help you learn the hand odds, and along with practicing calculating your pot odds, you'll be making better decisions and getting the best of it the next time you play Texas Holdem poker.
In the next article, we'll explore a popular Texas Holdem poker tournament format - the Sit & Go poker tournament. Until then, have fun. And as always - good luck!
Rick Braddy is an avid writer, Texas Holdem player and professional software developer and marketer for over 25 years. His websites and Texas Holdem poker software specialize in helping people become better Texas Holdem poker players. If you're a poker player, be sure to visit his Texas Holdem website today and learn how you can play better Texas Holdem, too.
Flanery: Lack of casino gambling could be 'death by a thousand cuts' for ... - Louisville Business First
Free Online Card Games -- Getting Ready for Las Vegas
Free online card games that can be played over the Internet are great for practice to increase your skills or to just have fun with. Being able to take advantage of playing free card games on your computer like poker and video poker can even prepare you for making cash in the future.
Live betting is one of the main sources of income for the bookmaker why?Well before the match starts there is always large publicity about the coming fixtures for Live matches.They are often 2 strong team facing each other and they are most likely to be telecast throughout the world.
Pai Gow Poker Basics
Using the standard poker hand ranking methods (see below), the players must organize their cards so that the five card hand is of higher value than the two card hand. If both hands beat the banker's two hands, the player wins.
Gambling History of United States
Against the popular belief, gambling did not originate in the US. Most of the popular gambling games played in the American casinos have their origin in various foreign locales.
Bingo - Good for the Mind?
When we think of bingo, genius and brainpower don't always spring to mind; these attributes have tended to be reserved for poker and other games of skill and luck. The image of a grandparent sitting in a community hall with a cup of tea and a card of bingo does not lend itself to the intrigue of psychology and mental agility.
Shorthanded Poker, an Untapped Gold Mine
Feuled by seemingly nonstop television coverage and internet access in nearly every house, internet Texas Hold 'em is exploding. There are dozens of online poker rooms, with over 75,000 players often playing at the most popular site, Party Poker.
Addictions To Gambling on The Rise!
Over the past five years addictions to gambling have grown at an accelerated rate. Not only adults, but teenagers are gambling with out realizing the consequences.
How to Master Low Limit Texas Holdem, Part 1 - Introduction
I decided to start a series about how to learn and master Texas Hold'em because this is the most played game in the online poker rooms and it has large popularity. These tutorials are good for new poker players and we think the advanced players can find useful tips here, too.
Why All the Excitement Over Poker?
Poker's new upsurge in popularity in is due to televisedshowings of championship poker tournaments, such as The WorldPoker Tour and The World Series of Poker. This has resulted inmillions of people all over the world playing either online orat land based casinos.
Buying A Thoroughbred: Is It For You?
Buying a thoroughbred can transform a man. Horseracing is the sport of kings, and owning a thoroughbred racehorse can truly make a man feel like a king.
Beating The NFL: A Guide To Smart Sports Betting.
Well folks, here we are. It's August 13 as I write this, and the start of the official NFL season is but a mere four weeks away.
Think Big and Give Your Poker Profits a Boost
Is your lack of confidence hurting your poker profits in your online poker play?In the good Texas Holdem poker rooms on the internet there are various levels of buy-ins for tournament play, generally starting from around $5 (plus site fee) per player. This is the level that most new players play at but has your game moved on while you've stood still? What I mean by that is - have you gained enough poker experience to leave the "newbies" behind and move up a couple of levels? If you have then I would seriously suggest that you start playing for higher stakes, you could be losing out on a lot of online poker profits if you don't.
5 Pro Gambling Tips the Online Casinos Wont Tell You
Playing in Online Casinos can be either a very good experience, or a very poor experience; depending on how much money you gain or lose. The success of your online casino endeavor depends on your gambling abilities.
High Tech Gamblers and Cheating in Casinos, Casinos are Fighting Back
In Las Vegas many techie types are winning big, too big for the Corporate Casinos who expect to win. The house has to win and the margins are set in advance.
Compulsive Gambler Shares His Recovery Story About Gamblers Anonymous Now That He Stopped
A compulsive gambler who participated in Gamblers Anonymous program shared his recovery in hopes to help others affected by this addiction.Sean was an above average student in high school.
Do You Believe These Four Online Slot Machine Myths?
The fact that people don't really understand how online slot machines work in terms of the Random Number Generator RNG used, has led to several myths that players believe in. Here are four of the most common.
Help Become a Consistent Winner at Online Low-Limit Texas Hold 'Em by Playing at the "Easy" Tables
Select Advantageous TablesTable selection is one of the most overlooked aspects of winning at poker. It becomes even more important in the world of online play.
The Secret of Put Bets
The Secret of Betting Dont
Simple Jacks or Better Strategy Tutorial
Statistical Arbitrage strategy applied to Video PokerIntroductionJacks or Better is a popular video poker game available at many online casinos. When collecting casino matched deposit bonuses, it counts towards wagering requirements for most online casinos, has a high payout, and a large jackpot.
Section Site Map - Submit News - Feedback - Comments - Advertise with Us
Copyright © 2006 Luminati Inc. All rights reserved.