Regardless of how many Texas Hold’em books you read, whether you play online or offline, the same basic hands you need to play still need to be household names to begin with. For example, the obvious all-in hands are AA, AK and AQ. bells and cherries are more frequently thrown my way, but AJ, KQ and QJ, suited and unsuited are the hands you will hear raised a couple of times a round.
The problem with these hands is that, in order to make a small raise have a reasonable chance of succeeding, you will probably have to commit more chips to them than you would to HU or AQ. Furthermore, because these hands are more often than not going to be behind very frequently, their value decreases.
However, there are a handful of hands that are much stronger than others, and the hands that make up the vast majority of all hands is what I will refer to as the “Naga303” hands. These hands are AA, KK, QQ, JJ, AK and AQ. Just as in our dual destroyed table, these are hands that could actually win, without a doubt, if they were raised on the flop.
Just as we mentioned in the first couple of parts of this series, the vast majority of pots you are going to be involved with should be bet decent pre-flop. Do not be prospecting for blinds unless no one has raised before you. If you are in the blinds or at the cutoff then you need to be tossing out hands that you will lose pre-flop approximately 95% of the time. You also need to discount hands such as pocket pairs as they are extremely hard to play after the flop. (even when you hit the pair, what could you possibly do if someone raised after you?)
Having said all this, there are still many situations in a game of Hold’em where you will call a bet knowing you are losing the hand on the flop. Such hands are 163, KQ, KT or A9 suited. Regardless of the flop, depending on what cards fall on the flop, you will have a hand typically in the range of 40-50% to win the pot. If you were to call a bet of 300 chips knowing you were losing the hand, you stand to lose 3200 chips! It is a very tough decision whether or not to call in this situation. At root, it comes down to your probability in winning the hand. But, more than that, it comes down to the quality of your opponent’s hand.
If you have determined that your hand is definitely not a contender in the aired pot, then you can relax a bit. Call with caution if the flop was, say, 23, 44, or 45. In these cases, there are a great many mediocre looking hands that could easily win the aired pot. Against any hand of these types, you should bet on the flop if no one has raised, because you are simply taking safe bets. Better safe than sorry.
I hope that this article helped you to better understand hand strength concepts in a Hold’em Tournament. If you are having a hard time playing Hold’em tournaments, especially the lower levels where the amount of money is considerably less, then stop referred to as “trouble shooting” and just adjust your gameplay. Exposure and playing time are extremely tight, and any edge you gain is essentially yours for the taking. Fortunately, even if you cannot win, you can lose. That’s lot of leverage right there.
Until next time, I hope this article helped to explain the basics of a hand to hand comparison and laterally between one opponent to another.