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Consider All Alternatives

The difference between a great player and a good player is that the great player evaluates all of his possible plays before making a decision. He knows that the obvious play is not always the right play.

Whenever there is a situation where it appears to be an obvious play you should always check it quickly before making a decision.

This can be explained by an example in heads-up situations against tough aggressive players. You have been betting your hand all the way and your rival has been calling all the time. It appears that he has a "hand" rather than a "draw." However, you are representing even better hand. Therefore, if you do have a very good hand you can of course bet it on the end. On closer analysis, on the other hand, it may be better to try for a check-raise when all the cards are out. Although you have shown some strength all the way, your check on the end seems to indicate that you are worried that you don't have the best hand. This may very well draw out a bet. Even if it doesn't always work, it doesn't mean you were wrong in trying. A successful check-raise only has to work half as often as a bet for it to make more money in the long run. Thus, ask question to yourself whenever you have an obvious bet that "Is trying for a check-raise better to make more money?"

As an obvious bet might not be the right, so too might an obvious raise, call, or fold be wrong. Whenever it seems suitable that you should call, you should consider raising. You will find that raising turns out to be better in the long run very often. When you have what seems to be an obvious fold you should still consider raising. Remember that even a raise-bluff doesn't have to work always for it to show a profit over a long period of time.

However, it is possible that a raise is wrong even when it appears to be an obvious play. The only time you should not call is when you have the "nuts" in a heads-up situation and it is the last round of betting. If it is the first round, you should wait in order to suck him in. if there are other players in the pot it can be better to try for an overcall even with the nuts.

Let's take a simple example. You are playing in a $10-$20 hold'em game against good players. Suppose after the flop you had an ace-high four-flush. Three of you bet and three raises ($40) on the flop. The player to your right bets on fourth street and you and the player to your left call. A flush card hits on the fifth street. You are having a cinch. The player to your right checked. You should also check. Why? This is because it is possible that the player to your left may also have made a flush. He did make a flush and he bets out. The other player to your right calls and you raised.

The flush called and the other player folded. You made a $60 on the end. Had you come out betting, you have made only $20 against these two good players as the other flush would have just called and the player to your right would have been folded. It was only necessary that your play worked more than one time in three for it to be better than the obvious play of betting. You would have risked $20 to win $60. The obvious seventh street play only won the sure $20. It might have obvious but it was terrible under the circumstances.

Choosing Your Game

When evaluating the money-making potential of any form of poker game, you need to consider two main factors:

•  How well do you play this particular game?

•  How well do other players play?

Which one do you think is of more importance? Well, unless you are a superstar. According to me, it is No.2. A good player figures to win more bets from bad players than the expert figures to win in a tough game.

If you are a good player who is interested to make money than just having a good time, then the more important aspect should be your game selection.

As long as you are looking to play $30-$60 or higher, you will find many variety of games of the size you want to play.

The question comes which one to choose. It has been already mentioned about two factors involved in your decision. Now it is listed down according to its importance:

•  The ability of your rivals.

•  Your own ability at the game.

•  The size of the game.

•  The rake.

•  The speed of the game.

•  The number of players.

Let's discuss the factors one at a time.

Unless you are an excellent player, it is critical that the poker games skill have at least has a couple of bad players. A bad player is the player who either:

•  Plays too far many hands, or

•  Plays in a way that completely gives a hand.

Few bad players do both. Of these two bad ways to play, a is the worse in a full game with the small ante and B is worse in a short-handed game, with a large ante. If two different types of games have approximately equally bad players, you should choose the game at which you are better. After all, factors 1 and 2 could really be combined into the difference between your level of play and your rival's.

Along with this, it is inexcusable not to learn every game fairly well. We have seen "hustlers" playing in a terrible seven card stud game while there was a great hold'em game, going on at the next table. Since they didn't play hold'em at all, they couldn't take the advantage of it. Don't you make this mistake. Try to learn all the games!

If two games appear to be very close then you should pick the game with the larger stakes if you can afford it and everything else is equal. Even if the smaller games are little better you should still choose the larger game. As long as you have the bankroll to maintain your fluctuations, it is better to play, let's say, $10-$20 where you figure to average winning approximately three bets per hour than to win four bets per hour out of a $5-$10 game.

We have seen misguided hustlers play in bad $30-$60 games when the neighboring $15-$30 game had to be worth more to them in the long run.

There is more discussion on the "rake" later in the essay. It is the main factor in the smaller games. If two casinos game have similar games, choose the game with the smaller rake.

Even a good game is not that good if it is slow. This is common, suppose, if there is a drunk in the game. No matter what the reason, be aware that a slow game cuts into your hourly profits. However, a fast game rather increases it. That is why you want to choose to play in a fairly tougher game if it is much faster. This is true if you are an expert player and capable of beating of tougher games. You will win less money per hand but more money per hour than in an easier but much slower game.

As mentioned, another important factor is the number of players playing in the game. It is preferable to play a short-handed game because it is faster. However, there are two reasons why you might be better off in a full game. First, the rake in a short-handed game is usually proportionately much higher. Second, it is very difficult to play short-handed poker well (unless you are against very bad players). If you are not accustomed to short-handed games, then it is better to stay out of them.

Game selection is of very great importance. Do not take it too lightly. The ability to choose a game is as important as the ability o play well. If you follow the guidelines as instructed here, you will find yourself in a game best suited for you.

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