Many poker players have a serious flaw in their poker game in this area. You can’t win at poker if you consistently call before the flop with less than desirable starting hands. A lot of players know these starting standards cold but can’t resist playing some pretty ugly hands. You must have the patience of a ninja monk to play good poker. It’s the “leather ass” principle, and it’s crucial to winning.
Tip One: Poker is a Positional Game!
This is an extremely important concept. You can’t win if you don’t adjust your starting standards according to your position. You can call/raise with some of the lesser hands if you’re on the button or in one of the two seats to the right of the button. Why? Because you are betting at the end of each round and will have seen the other player’s actions before you make a decision and there are fewer players left to act after you. For example, if a super tight player raises in early position, you’ll know to fold pre-flop even if you have a decent hand. If you’re in late position and everyone has checked before you, you’re in perfect position to steal the pot. The list goes on and on. You will quickly learn the importance of position when you adjust your game to take advantage of it.
Tip Two: Learn the Basics of Good Starting Hand Selection
You get two cards. If those two cards consistently lose money you should fold them before the flop. Never forget, unless you’re in the blind, it’s FREE to fold pre-flop. Why take a chance with your 2-3 suited when you can fold and be done with it for free? The most common starting hand error committed by beginning and self taught players are to play any hand with an ace in it before the flop. The problem with playing ace rags is you get attached to the hand when you flop top pair, when your opponents are only looking to build a bigger pot when they have a better kicker.
Tip Three: About the Blinds
Playing the blinds is an art form that few players master. How the blinds are handled can make the difference between a profitable poker session and a losing one. Try not to get overly attached to your blind hands. If you’re in the large or small blind and there is a raise before you, be willing to toss your hand and wait for the next one. Stubbornly calling in the blinds with sub-par hands will, over time, add up to a lot of lost chips. If there are no raises before you, you get to play the hand no matter how much it reeks. But be careful. If it doesn’t improve greatly or become a made hand on the flop, you’re done. A Blind situation I’d like to mention is this: A player to your immediate right is raising your blind every time he gets a chance. Two choices here, either find a new game, or re-raise him with any playable hand. You can’t let someone pound you all night, or they will.
Tip Four: When To Break the Rules
It takes practice and card sense to deviate from the normal starting hands in usual positions, but when you’ve logged two or three years at the poker table you’ll know when to do it. When you have a better post flop game you can loosen up your pre-flop starting hand requirements because you will be able to outplay most of your opponents after the flop. But until then you must memorize and stick with the recommended starting hands or you’ll slowly but certainly destroy your bankroll.