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The Last Bet

Poker Strategy: Two Common Holes in your Game

Blind spots, everyone's got them and it can have a major impact on your game. If you're having trouble creating your own viable poker strategy, it's possible that one of these two common problems is at the root of the issue. Even if neither of these are to blame, they may well give you an opportunity to look at your game more pragmatically.

Hole #1: Ace - Small Kicker

If you've read Dave Sklansky's excellent theories about poker, you know that an ace with a small unsuited card doesn't make it into any of his eight must-play hand groups. He actually goes out of his way to say you shouldn't play it from early position, in fact, and the reasoning for it is solid.

Let's say you're under the gun and you're dealt Ac3h. In this scenario, you opt to call the big blind and a few other players behind you do the same. The blinds check and the flop comes down a bit weird: 2c, Ad, 6s. Once the blinds bet, you're the third in on the hand — do you bet? You've got top pair, after all.

If another player is holding an Ace, you could find yourself in hot water. You really hope he's holding and Ace and a 3 because then a split pot is possible, but the odds are that he'll have a card that's above your 3. Even if you both have top pair, he's going to have you beat.

Yes, it's possible that a suited Ace-small kicker hand stands a chance of making a flush, but that's very dependent on how the flop goes down.

Hole #2: You Don't Understand Pot Odds

It's sort of amazing how many players don't understand pot odds. In fact, I've been at parties talking about the game and had someone who claimed to be a great tournament player look at me like I'd started speaking Klingon. If you want to become a successful poker player, you have to understand how pot odds work and how to do the basic math that can make your game.

When you play poker, every bet that you make should be based on the long term expectation of winning or losing with it. While other factors (player attitude, table texture, etc) do come into play, the basic math behind pot odds is unshakeable . You either have the odds that mean that the call you are making is going to make you money or you don't — it's a binary choice that doesn't require college math to understand, only a little basic reading.

Hopefully, the problem with your game is among these two and it's easy to fix. In the meantime, look at our archive of poker articles and see how your game can be improved!

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