3 Tips for Playing Preflop

Following this preflop strategy tips article I wanted to expand on preflop play a bit more especially with regard to how you should approach preflop raising from each position at full-ring tables. You will only being playing a little over 10% of starting hands you’re dealt at a full ring table if you adhere to strict starting hand requirements, which equates to playing around one hand per orbit. Here I’ll discuss some factors that will affect your pre-flop playing decisions when you do get a playable hand.

Tip One: Early Position: In a low limit online game you will often be facing many habitual callers and you will often encounter players who raise pre-flop on any playable hand. To avoid swings in your bankroll you must play very tight before the flop from early position. If you call with lousy to medium hands and then take a raise, you’ll wish you had folded for free when you had the chance. Wait for a very good hand there are many other players left to act you need to worry about and when you raise in early position you will be playing out of position at least 50% of the time, which is not an ideal scenario. In the meantime, pay attention to betting patterns at your table before the flop to give you some idea how an early raise will be received. If most of the players are folding to a pre-flop raise then you should raise with any pair of face cards and AK. You would like to play these cards against as few players as possible.

Tip Two: Middle Position: If you have approximately the same number of players playing before and after you, you’re in middle position. You can loosen up a little here, but still need to be careful about starting hands. You can play pairs down to sevens if an above average number of players are calling before the flop. I will always raise JJ or QQ from this position if no player has raised before me. Keep this in mind – You want to play pairs and AK against as few players as possible. You want to play drawing hands, such as suited connectors against as many as players as possible. The reason for this is simple. If you make a $1 bet on a hand that is nothing by itself, but has a 1 in 7 chance of turning into a great hand, then you need to be able to win more than $7 to make a call. Your pairs, on the other hand, are stand alone hands. You want to eliminate players to decrease the odds of your hand being drawn out on. You’d like to play them heads up if possible.

Tip Three: Late Position: Here’s where you can open up and play more hands before the flop. You will make the most amount of money in late positions due to the positional advantage you have post flop. If everyone has checked around to you, and you have a good hand, you may be able to win the pot then and there with a raise. Keep tabs on how the players in the blinds are playing since you act just before them. If they are generally willing to fold to a raise, then raising may eliminate them. Don’t try any out and out bluffs from this position in a low limit limit game. Someone will nearly always call you. Always remember this: If you bluff and are called by even a single player you’re bluff didn’t work. When this happens you need to back off and check or fold on the next betting round. Defending a bluff with several additional bets is one of the most common and costly mistakes in low limit Texas Hold’em. If you want to do a lot of bluffing, you’ll need to move to a higher stakes game where your raises will get some respect. Low limit players will call you just to “keep you honest” or even “just for the hell of it.”

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