Marginalpoker

Playing the margin, making the rake

At the lower levels of play in poker games like limit hold’em then you need to have a reason for everything that you do at the poker table. If it has been folded to you on the button and you have the Jc-3c and you raise then you need to ask yourself the question of why you just did what you did. In fact you need to be asking yourself this before you make your play and not after it. There are far too many players who act first and then look for a reason to justify their action afterwards.

If you have Jc-3c on the button and you are thinking about open raising then what are your reasons? Are you attacking the blinds trying to create some dead money in the pot if the small blind folds? Do you think that the blinds play badly post flop and play far too tightly? If you want to play effective poker then planning will be critical to your success. Often when you multi-table limit Texas Holdem games and especially six handed limit games then it can be easy to slip into automatic pilot and simply make bad decisions because you are called upon to make too many decisions in such a small period of time.

If you have A-J and the flop comes J-9-4 and you bet the A-J then why are you betting it? Are you betting for value or are you betting to protect your hand or both? Knowing why you are doing certain things will help you to react to events when they happen instead of wondering what to do. However it is not much use setting out a plan for the hand if you do not know how to achieve that plan. Once you have a plan then you are going to have to come up with some objectives to help you achieve that plan.

Let us say that you have J-10 and the flop comes A-K-Q giving you the but straight. There are two other opponents and you plan to maximise your winnings in this hand. This is your plan but how are you going to reach that plan? If your opponent raised from the cut-off and the button called with you calling from the big blind then are you going to check to induce your opponents to give you some action on your hand? Or did you check-raise the last flop only to see your opponents fold and so you want to trap them on the larger betting rounds?

You decide to check-call and then check-raise the turn. So here your very simple plan is to maximise your profit on the hand and the way that you set about doing this is to check-call the flop and then check-raise the turn. It doesn’t really matter if this line of play does not achieve the optimal value but the most important thing is that you have a plan. Remember that it is better to have a bad plan than no plan at all.