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Tips at the start - Positioning

The most important decision you will make is choosing to play a starting hand. Often the biggest mistake a player makes is playing too many weak hands for the sake of it.

Be aware that your position in relation to the dealer is important. You need a stronger hand to act from early position because you have more players acting after you who may raise and re-raise the bet. It is important that you wait for an appropriately worthwhile starting hand to play from your current position.

Which Position?
The first third of the players to the left of the big blind are in early position (as they are the first to act) The next third are in middle position and the remaining third are in late position.

How to proceed
The blinds act last before the flop and first after it. Here are some guidelines for stating hands that I recommend you play when you are starting out. They are fairly tight but will give you a good foundation to work with until you learn a little more about the game.

Position Raise Call
Early A-A, K-K and A-Ks A-K, A-Qs, K-Qs and Q-Q J-J, 10-10
Middle A-A, K-K and A-Ks 9-9, 8-8, A-Js, A-10s, Q-Js, A-Q, K-Q
Late A-A, K-K and A-Ks A-Xs, K-10s, Q-10s, J-10s, A-J, A-10 and small pairs
otherwise fold
x = any card | s = suited cards

Tips after the Flop

Deciding whether to continue playing after seeing the flop will be your second most important decision. The flop defines your hand because after the flop you know over 70% of your final hand (5 out of 7 cards).

If the flop does not fit your hand by giving you top pair, or better or a straight or flush draw, then you should fold if thee is a bet in front of you. If you played a small pair from late position and you do not flop a third one to make a set you should throw the pair away if there is a bet.

Tips after the Turn

If you think you have the best hand after seeing the Turn card and are first to act, then go ahead and bet. Many players will try to get fancy and attempt to check raise in this position. If the other players also check, you have lost a bet or two. In low limit games the straight forward approach is usually the best as there are plenty of players who will call you. Make them pay. Why give them a free card if you don't have to.

If another player raises on the turn and you hold only one pair you are more than likely beaten and should fold.

If you get to the Turn and you hold only two unsuited over cards (two cards higher that any cards on the board) with no flush or straight draw, then you should fold if there is a bet in front of you. Too much money is lost by players who hope to catch a miracle card on the river. The best hand you can make with two unsuited over cards is a pair which will probably lose anyway.


Don't play with weak hands
Many players will play any two suited cards from any position and they will play an Ace with any small kicker. These hands are losers in the long run and you should avoid getting into the habit of playing them. They are traps that will cost you money.

The blind is not a bet
Also the similar mistake is when players place down a blind they feel they must defend it by playing a marginal hand.

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