The Poker Chronicles Volume 2: 3 Tips to being a better poker player

The Poker Chronicles Volume 2: 3 Tips to being a better poker player
Some tips for playing at the poker rooms. Photo by Eric Sandler

1) Find the right game

Just like anything else in the gambling world, to be successful over time a poker player must exercise bankroll management. If you are playing over your means, making calls becomes more of a stress than a confidence play. When buying into a cash game, know what type of buy-in best suits your play. If you want to buy-in, for what is considered a "full" stack, 100 big blinds is usually a good starting point. In what seems to be the most popular game, $1-3$ no limit, $300 will get you to a comfortable spot. If you short buy depending on the table minimum, starting with 30-50 big blinds leaves you with a completely different strategy. The fewer chips you have, the tighter your range of starting hands should be. When playing short stacked, big Aces and premium pocket pairs are the only things you should be looking to play. When you have the luxury of 100 big blinds, you can afford to gamble in different spots, enabling you to limp in for 3-5BB raises here and there trying to catch a flop.

2) Know the competition

When you go to your favorite poker rooms, you tend to know what players play looser than others. But what if you walk into a new room? How do you approach your hands to begin with? For starters, always play your hands the same regarding whether you just sat down or not. Sitting down and being timid with a monster hand and not capitalizing and maximizing your profits leaves the door open for opposing players to see your betting pattern without paying the appropriate prices. I preferably like my first hand I show to be a strong starting one. Even if I go down to the river and have to muck, I have no problem showing an early hand to the table, signifying I'm here to play strong hands. Now that they think they know you, get to know them, observe a few things:
*Who is involved in the most pots/ least pots?
*Who tends to raise often in late action to "steal blinds?"
*Who knows how to play position?
*Who limps, who raises?
Identifying the tight from loose players will be key for you to pick what spots you can jump in and out of and what price it will cost you to see the next community card.

3) Understand the button and play your position

Using the dealer button and understanding your position is critical in dictating what you can do on the table. When in early betting position, your range of hands should be smaller as there are various players that follow you. Being able to limp in with smaller hands such as suited connectors from an early position can get you in trouble and over committed to pots. Also, lessons #1 and 2# tie back into this in a few ways:

A) If you have a short stack, you're unable to limp into pots since risking a big percentage of your stack on a mediocre hand isn't optimal. First, if you limp early, and think you can slide in for the big blind, usually thats not the case. Next, someone makes a standard raise of 3x-4x times the blinds and gets a few callers. Now the action is back to you with the short stack, do you call risking 4-5 of your 40-50 total blinds? If you do, whats your next move? When the flop comes out the action is to you again as you are still out of position. Now you are sitting with a headache if you played a 10-J suited and you hit top pair. The pot with the raiser and two callers is in the 16-20BB range. Now you have committed the initial five blinds preflop, and a pot bet would essentially mean you are gambling about half of your entire stack with top pair and a medium kicker. Furthermore, the ability to push draws to fold is gone with the small chip stack behind you and opposing players knowing they can draw for small percentages of their chips.
B) Knowing your opponents as we spoke about is necessary in that identifying opponent betting patterns will enable you to sneak in and out of situations. If a player that rarely raises pre-flop acts after you, then limping in can be beneficial with the chances of him raising preflop being minimal. If an aggressive preflop player is behind you, then limping in is virtually throwing money away if your intentions are not to call a raise. You limp, he raises, clockwork stealing blinds for experienced players.

Let's assume you're short stacked and play that same 10-J suited in late position, on the button per say. So action goes around with no raises to you...
A) Limp in and see a cheap flop with only a few players acting after you.
B) With no raises in front of you, a raise can front you a bigger hand then what you hold. You either take blinds and limpers or you get callers but still hold the best betting position post flop. Now, the small chip stack behind you is dangerous knowing your opponents didn't raise, so there probably aren't huge hands involved. With the last action, you can now represent a big ace or large pocket pair depending on what comes out. If your opponents called you with a marginal hand preflop, a pot bet before it comes back to you leaves them knowing they will have to call off the rest of your stack as they will be pot committed if you indeed hold a made hand. Now, let's suppose one of the opponents comes out raising, he is telling you he's trying to protect his made hand from an early position. If the raise is substantial, you can easily get away having lost the minimal amount of chips. Aggressive play in this position can really pay off if you pick the right spots.

Again, it's knowing your opponents and being comfortable enough to make plays in certain situations. Poker is broken down into different situations and hands can be played in infinite ways. My goal is to start with some of these basics and then give you my perspective from hands I personally am involved in. Want to know how to trap players? Want to know how to stop an aggressive player that raises every pot? These are things I'll be teaching and giving you pointers on how to handle. Every player has their own style, the tactics I speak of are what have worked for me over time. We will jump into more complex strategies in the future,;keep reading for more!

For any questions or comments reach me at @JerryBoKnowz on twitter.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

ESPN Houston 97.5 FM
The Texans will have to shuffle the o-line once again. Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images.

“Another one!”- DJ Khaled

That's the first thing that came to mind when I heard the news of Tytus Howard being shut down for the season because of a knee injury. They've had more injuries on the offensive line this season than Nick Cannon has Father's Day cards. Almost every member of the offensive line has spent time on the injury report. Howard went down in the same game in which Juice Scruggs was finally on the active roster. He missed the first 10 games due to a hamstring injury. The irony of next man up has never been so in your face.

The other thing that came to mind was the soap opera As the World Turns.

Howard had just signed an extension this offseason. So did Laremy Tunsil and Shaq Mason. They drafted Juice Scruggs, and signed a few guys too. Those moves, along with other holdovers, were expected to fill out the depth chart. Then a rash of injuries struck. At one point, only one of the original five guys expected to start was playing! In fact, they beat the Steelers 30-6 with that backup offensive line!

One can't have the expectation of backups to perform as good as the starters. They're professionals and are on an NFL roster for a reason. However, the talent gap is evident. One thing coaching, technique, and preparation can't cover is lack of ability or talent. The Texans have done a good job of navigating the injury minefield this season. While the Howard injury will hurt, I have faith in the guys there still.

As of this writing, the Texans are in the eighth spot in the AFC playoff picture. The Steelers, Browns, and Colts are all in front of them at the fifth through seventh spots respectfully. They've beaten the Steelers already. They play the Browns on Christmas Eve and their starting quarterback is out for the season. The Colts are relying on the ghost of Gardner Minshew to steer their ship into the last game of the season vs. the Texans with a possible playoff trip on the line. The Broncos and Bills are the two teams immediately behind them. They play the Broncos this weekend. Even though they're on a hot streak, this is the same team that got 70 put on them by the Dolphins. The Bills are the old veteran boxer who still has some skill, but is now a stepping stone for up & comers.

To say this team should still make the playoffs would be an understatement in my opinion. I believe in them and what they have going on more than I believe in the teams I listed above. That includes teams around them in the playoff race that aren't on their schedule. The one thing that scares me a little moving forward is the sustainability of this line. When guys get up in age as athletes, it becomes harder to come back from injuries. The injuries also tend to occur more frequently when it's a knee, foot, ankle, shoulder, elbow, or another body part critical to blocking for C.J. Stroud.

I know they just re-signed three of those guys and drafted one they believe can be a starter, but depth and contingency plans are a way of life in the NFL. We see how important depth was this season. Why not plan ahead? Don't be surprised if the Texans spend valuable draft capital on the offensive line. By valuable, I'm talking about first through third or fourth rounders. Those are prime spots to draft quality offensive lineman. Whether day one starters or quality depth, those are the sweet spots. The only guy on the two deep depth chart for this offensive line that wasn't drafted in one of those rounds was George Fant, who was an undrafted rookie free agent. While I highly doubt they spend any significant free agency dollars on the group, I'm not totally ruling it out.

The bottom line is, this team will be okay on the line for the remainder of this season. The only way that doesn't happen, more injuries. Stroud is clearly the franchise guy. Protecting that investment is a top priority. I don't care about a number one receiver, or a stud stable or singular running back if the quarterback won't have time to get them the ball. If the pilot can't fly the plane, you know what happens. So making sure he's happy, healthy, and has a great crew is of the utmost importance.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome