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In an effort to see the community grow, often losing a ton in poker makes the game quite UN-fun. With this guide I will show you a beginner strategy that will guarantee you to start winning, all while building your poker foundation. Poker is a game of discipline and consistency, and only those who equip themselves with knowledge will make it far into their poker careers. Poker Strategy For Beginners; Playing Like A Rock ( edit ) Learning to play like a Rock It is with my best interest that the "Prominence Poker" community grows. I remember the days where I did not understand fully what to do in poker as I started my poker career. Which hands should I play? How do I read my opponents? How do I identify their play style? The list goes on and on... With the hope that this community grows, I decided to post this "basic level of play" to help those who are just starting out in their poker careers. The "Rock" style of game play is simple, which is why it's a basic concept that new poker players should learn. It helps identify which hands are the best, and helps develop a play style that can begin to understand when to play and when not to play. Poker is a game of discipline, with a dash of luck, so the "Rock" style of playing is going to help you understand those two fundamentals, all while building that sweet ol' bank roll! (Bankroll is a poker term that defines a players chip count) Let me explain what a Rock player is. The Rock Player only plays the most premium of hands, he will not risk his bankroll on just pure luck or "having the right feeling", no he only plays with a high chance of winning. Rock players often will sit for hours at a time waiting for that ever sweet moment of getting the premium hand, but beware, because once identified as a Rock player, seeing you make a move will scare the others at the table, often resulting in folding. But on a good night, where premium power is in your control, you may as well be called the Banker, because you have all the chips. Poker Play List For Rocks ( edit ) Lets get into this, I'm going to show you the very "small" list of hands you will be playing with, then moving into actual play strategies you should implement. By all means, simply knowing which hands to play and making sure your disciplined enough to only play those hands will allow you to play like a rock. However, if you wish to understand actual move sets then continue reading on past the Hand Chart. Hands to Play These are the top ten best hands to play in Poker. To define from here on out, the term "s" means suited which means both cards in your hand belong to the same suit. For example, a 9 of hearts and a 2 of hearts is suited, so in short form it'll show as "92s". Top Ten hands to play 1-AA 2-KK 3-QQ 4-AK 5-AQ 6-KQ 7-JJ 8-10/10 9-99 10-88 Now most of you are thinking, "What? I just play with 10 hands, that's it?" The answer is a half yes and a half no. Half yes because, with these hands you can play from any position on the table, meaning you can play from behind the button or ahead. No matter what the conditions are, or what stakes you are playing, these top ten hands are the premium of hands in Poker which have the highest chance of not only winning but beating other opponents hands. As for the half no, these ten hands are just the start of your poker knowledge, you will add on much more later on. However when playing as a beginner "rock" player, you will only make your big pushes with these hands. You must be ready to only play these hands. (Positions in poker are determined where you are sitting in conjunction to where the buttons are)(Buttons are the small blind and big blind often represented with a chip or a button to show who is what.)(Stakes is a term used to determine the bidding amounts and buy ins)Now why should you only play with these ten different hands to start? When starting out in poker, every hand may seem like a hand that will win, am I right? "Its all based on luck" Wrong."Every hand is a winning hand if played properly" Wrong. "It's suited, it has a great chance for flushes" true, but wrong. When your starting out in poker, its very easy to lose everything you have based off of these thought processes. I should know, I did the exact same thing. And you know what, there will always be that one poker player who moves in with that ridicules hand like 92 off suit, and yet they somehow win. Don't be that player.I guarantee that some nights, good poker players hit a bad beat, and bad poker playersseem like poker gods. But that is not why you are here reading this now is it? You want to learn how to win consistently, not off of one good night or hand. Most veteran poker playerscan create those "good" nights based off of routine, discipline and strategy. They do not play 92 of suit, they play to their play style. In which, your play style you are learning right now meansyou only play these top ten hands. Play like a Rock, you are firm in the way you will play, you will not be pushed around by the bad players, you will win by being the better player who has more discipline. Situations ( edit ) I would like to move into situations. These situations, these examples of play, are to show you what you should be looking for and how to apply the "Rock" style of playing. Situation 1- Flopping the NutsStop giggling, nuts is a term in poker when there is a very small percentage, if any, of losing with your hand. "He has the nuts" you will often hear in a poker game, which simply means he is going to win no matter what. In the situation below, you do have the nuts on the flop.There sits three other players next to yourself, so four poker players sit at your table. Players are Alpha Dog, Beta Dog, and Charlie. Good ol' Charlie.The cards are dealt, the blinds posted in which you are the BB (Big Blind) and you find yourself with your premium set up, Ace and Ace or otherwise "AA".Alpha Dog folds before the flop, must have had a bad hand. Beta Dog Calls, and Charlie calls as well sitting as the SB (Small Blind). Here are some thought processes you should be doing.Thought 1- Should I Raise? Absolutely, and here is why. With the Rock play style, you play the best hands which means you have the greatest chance of winning depending of course on the cards dealt.When sitting in the BB position, you have the last say on whether or not players get to call in with minimal risk (meaning less chips they have to pay to see the flop) or if they have to raiseand pay more to see the flop. Rock style of game play should always be raising when in this situation. Here is why. Two things can happen if you raise from this position, either they will foldmeaning you get the small pot for an easy win, or they will call, meaning a larger pot is created which gives your high hand of success a wealthy reward. This is also a point where you willhave a feeling of control over the current hand dealt. This is good.Thought 2- You pretend you have an okay or even bad hand. This thought is good if you understand that your opponents are aggressive. Often aggressive opponents will make raises, so in a sense, they do the job for you by placing themselves in danger. But you are not in danger and why? Because you have a great hand to play with. So you call. No raises, let them build the pot for you.Lets go with you Raise, and it should be a good size raise depending on what you want. Always a minimal of 3 times the BB, meaning if the BB only pays 100 chips, you should raise 300.Both Beta Dog and Charlie call, making the pot 900 chips. The flop hits, and lo and behold you see the three cards come out as A K 5. What luck! You have the nuts. And here is why, even if an opponent has KK which is a three of a kind as well, your AA three of a kind is greater, meaning it trumps their hand. You have the highest three of a kind, so you have the "nuts". Turn takes place, Beta Dog checks, Charlie Checks, and now it is your turn. Here are some additional thoughts. Thought 1- Raise again? You have the nuts, so guess what, you have no risk as of yet. As of yet I will stress, and Ill explain later. But in this situation, you should raise. Why Raise? Because two things will happen again. either they fold, and you get 900 chips, or they call and add to the pot. Which means even more chips for you at the end of the road. Thought 2- Should I call? Now this is a sneaky move, understand that if you are to raise with a flop of A K 5, more then likely you will scare the opponents and they will fold thinking you have either A or K or both. So instead of making a raise, you could call, allowing the opponents to make raises later on. however, when doing this you give them a chance too see another card. In this sense You are at risk should a player see two more Kings hit the board, because 4 of a kind beats 3 of a kind. But now you should just think, well what are the odds of that happening? See the risk though? In Other situations, you could place yourself in danger should the flop be different, which for example had the 5 been changed to a 10 instead, there is a great chance for a straight to occur. So thought number 2 has more risk, but a greater payout potentially. Which in this flop, its okay to call because you have no fear of being beaten. Situation Cont. ( edit ) Lets go with Thought 1 and Raise. Lets look at some raise amounts however. 1-You Raise for 1/3 the pot, 300 chips. This small bet is a good choice, should your opponents call then the pot gets that much bigger. But understand that such a small bet means that once again, the scenario where a four of a kind could occur can hurt your premium hand. But it also allows the pot to grow bigger. The choice is yours. 2-You raise for the pot amount, 900 chips. This is a neutral choice given the circumstances. A large bet like this shows that you are confident that your hand will win, meaning that the players will guess you have at least one of the high cards such as A or K. 3-You raise for more then the amount, 1000+ chips. This powerful swing will more then likely scare off your opponents. The only time you would be contested is if they themselves believe they have the better hand. Which in this case, they don't. Lets go with a raise of 1/3 which is option 1, you want to build that pot up as much as possible without having people fold too soon. Beta dog calls, so does charlie. Pot now sits at 1800 chips. The bets are in, the tension is high, but only for your opponents. You feel nice and calm, but put on a concern face as if your not sure your going to win or not. The next card drops, making the board now A K 5 2. Once again, the number one rule when you got the nuts is to raise, and here is why. Playing as a rock character means you don't go in with as many hands as the next guy. To put it bluntly, Charlie will play 100 hands and you may only play 10. But don't feel as though that's wrong, in a tournament style poker game you just wont get far calling every pretty hand that shows promise. So in this sense, playing as a rock, when you do go in with a hand you want to get as much value as possible. So we are now faced with some more options, some more thought processes I would like to share with you. You see, poker is a game of matching wits and tricking opponents. Laying out traps and also stepping back to observe. So here are two new choices I would like for you to think about. Thought 1- With it being the turn before the river card (the last card to be shown), you have been betting pretty hard. In a real world sense, and not this happy chance scenario we have been playing with, most players would fold out with such strong pushes. So instead of making another big bet this time, you could check to show some weakness. What you do by checking is force your opponents to think harder about what you may have. "Maybe he has been bluffing?" "Maybe he only has a king and no ace?" Whenever you can, always keep your opponents guessing how you roll. Because as soon as they are able to ping you, they will know your every move thereafter. So to check after betting so hard is not a bad idea in this sense. Thought 2- Making a very small bet to trap opponents. In this way of betting very little, after betting large amounts, to bet say only 200 chips which is not even the 1/3 of the pot, entices your opponents to pay up to see the river card. However, one aspect I would like to point out is that your opponents (as well as you) are quite invested in this hand. After paying 600 chips, 200 chips seems like very little to add into their investment. See what is happening here? You are trapping your opponents, forcing them to become more invested and building up that pot. So betting very little can help you in a large way. Either choice is good, but lets go with a small bet of 200 chips, I personally like to bait people this way. Once again, both Beta Dog and Charlie call making the pot sit at 2400 chips. The River Card flips setting the board as A K 5 2 9, perfect. This is now the last round of bets. Two more thought processes. Situation Cont 2. ( edit ) Thought 1- Make a large bet to force opponents out. Although not necessary in this situation, making an outstandingly large bet or even going all in is not a bad move. You essentially place enough pressure on your opponents to fold making it so you are not even contested and take the pot of 2400 chips as your reward. As an added bonus, you can muck your cards (mucking means to not reveal your winning hand) making it harder for your opponents to know your play style since they wont see you had the hand of AA. Thought 2- Raise to entice. Raising to entice is the same thing as doing a small raise as we did in the previous betting round. However, with your opponents being so invested, you can make a much larger bet but not too large as too scare your opponents. Remember, getting value with your premium hands is key to playing a good Rock poker player. I would bet no more then the pot itself, meaning you should make a raise about 2400 chips or less. Remember, the less chips the better since you can gain more value, but not too little as to not gain any value our of your powerful situation. Lets say you push the pot, a raise of 2400 chips. Beta Dog folds... but Charlie sits there thinking out his outs and odds. He calls confidently He has you beaten, bringing the pot to a grand total of 7200 chips. You both reveal your hands. Charlie has A2s, giving him a two pair off the board...but sadly that does not beat your three of a kind with Aces. The round ends, the pile of chips is yours, and you continue on your quest for premium hands now 7200 chips richer. In the situation above, it was set as a means to show you the absolute best outcome for a Rock player. Plenty of ease and control knowing you have the nuts, makes all that waiting around well worth it since the one hand you went in with brought back quite the fortune. It wont always be this lucrative, but now you should have a better insight on how a good round of poker would be for you. Lets move into a situation where you are being challenged, where the pressure sits on your shoulders. Knowing When To Fold ( edit ) Situation 2 Lets start a different poker game. You, Alpha Dog, Beta Dog and Charlie are dealt cards. The blinds are posted, you take a poker peak at your hand and see you are given KQ off suit. (off suit means they are not of the same suit so imagine you are given the king of spades and the queen of hearts) This ranks number six on your top ten poker hands to play list. The first round of bets start. Everyone calls for the BB, which is your position. If we learned from the first situation, we know that we should raise when we have our good hands. Always just a minimum of 3 times the BB so lets go with a raise of 300. Everyone calls your raise and now that pot sits at 1200 chips. We see the flop, A K 5. Tad troublesome in this situation, because we know that aces beat kings when it comes to just having a single pair. So I ask you this, what do you do? The question that should be the first to be answered is; Does anyone have the Ace? Believe it or not, its fairly easy to understand the odds of an ace being in someones hand. For instance, since your the BB you get your turn last, this is a perfect chance to read the players and decide if anyone is going to apply pressure. Say Alpha Dog checks, a perfectly normal move when sitting in the early position. Beta Dog checks as well. However, good ol' Charlie does a raise of 300. This could imply that he has the ace, or even just a king. Should you fold? Should you call too see the next card? The choice is yours of course, but take this into consideration. Even if he does have the Ace, you have the pair of kings. Now the only way you can win given the circumstances are either; seeing another King hit the board and have a three of a kind. Having a queen hit so you now have a two pair which would beat a one pair. Or seeing a Jack and 10 hit the board making a straight of A K Q J 10. Chances are you will not see the miracle cards of J and 10 hit, so it is not worth risking your chips on such a slim percentage. Remember, a Rock player only bets when he knows the numbers are in his favor, never a slim chance or luck. However, seeing a K or Q hit the board could happen. In Poker we refer to the number of cards that would make a better hand called "outs". "How many outs does he have? He has 7 outs." Simply put, he has a chance to see 7 cards that will allow him to win. Particularly handy to know when watching real tournament poker on television. In your case, we would need either the 3 other kings to drop, or any of the 4 queens. So in total you now have 7 outs. Now that we know the outs, is it worth the risk? Charlie raised for 300, a small bet given the pot size. The answer believe it or not is a no. Remember, Rock players don't take those kind of risks unless absolutely needed. You are beat if theirs an ace. Now this may seem cowardly but it is just the strategy. Its the routine and the discipline that will reward you, not these little risks that will stack up in the end. Sure it may only seem like 300 chips now, but guess what, next betting round he bets 800 and then the next betting round he pushes all in. You just lost 300+300+800=1400 chips and possibly more if you went all in for it. Something to keep in mind is that although yes you did get a premium hand, there will be more throughout your career. Know when to fold, and you should fold when you know that the risk is not worth losing chips on. Now lets switch it up real quick, say in the same situation above that the flop was K 3 8, you make a raise because you have KQ so everyone calls for 300. The next card happens to be the Ace. So now the board is set as K 3 8 A. What do you do? Your already invested into this, you already were determined to win some chips on this hand. Alpha Dog checks, Beta Dog Check and now Charlie checks as well. Lets look at two different options you now have. Option 1- You resume pressure and keep raising. normally if players are not raising that means they don't have a good hand. However, on the other hand perhaps a player does have the ace and is letting you build the pot up with your aggressive raises. So what do you do? Given the circumstance that an ace has hit the board and can beat your kings, you should raise but not as much as you would normally do. You do not have the "nuts" so you can't bet anything amount you want. So you do medium bets of about 1/2 the pot size. Its a large enough bet that will force others to fold out if they don't have anything, and if one of your opponents does call your raise then you know that you should be cautious. So this option is one where you keep the flow of chips coming your way and maintain control. Option 2- You fold out. Remember, playing as a Rock Character means taking minimal losses. There is no shame about folding in Poker, though you may get harassed for it, the goal to keep in mind is building your bankroll, not your pride. So to summarize this situation, knowing when to fold is knowing that there is a chance of being beaten. It is just part of the strategy, other play styles would make those risky calls for payouts but understand it is this way of thinking that often loses more chips then gained during the lifetime of the career. When To Go All In ( edit ) Now lets go over one last situation which is understanding the bottom tier of the top ten list. Situation 3 If you look back to the Rock Players list, the bottom 4 are; JJ 10/10 99 88. They seem a little strange don't they? Here we are using premium high ranking hands and then all of a sudden we are told that Rocks play with lower numbered pairs. Well this is why. If you ever find yourself being the small stack, the person with least amount of chips, then you have very little options. It becomes easier to slowly drain your stack with bad calls and bad flops. So. How do we apply pressure and gain back what we have lost? I'm going to show you a cool way of winning with having just pairs. You should note however, normally Rocks don't make unnecessary risks, but in situations where you are losing and need to make a comeback, then this no longer becomes unnecessary, but a much needed play call. Now normally, if you find yourself with the bottom tier of your hands on your play list, you want to only call and not raise. Its a small risk that Rock players will do to see if they can get that 3 of a kind or even 4 of a kind on the flop. IF they see that the flop did not produce the desired third card needed, then they simply fold out. Otherwise, they will begin to raise because its rare to beat 3 of a kind so long as the circumstances are right. However, imagine the situation as this. You find yourself the small stack of about 1000 chips. Only you, Beta Dog and Charlie remain in the game. The cards are dealt, and you find yourself with 88. Beta Dog checks, Charlie checks and now its your turn. Beta dog has 2000 chips, but charlie has 4500 chips. Here is where you make a final stand, an attempt to double up your chip count and get back into the game. What you are trying to do is go heads up against one opponent who hopefully is not running any bigger pair then yours. Even if the opponent has AK, they still have to have those cards hit the board to win. So its a risk play that can potentially gain a lot of chips in your favor, but could also be your final hand. So, understand that this is a last resort play that will be the only risk play you would make playing as a Rock. Thought process 1- If I push all in, will it fold one of the two opponents out? When you go all in with any pair, you want to create a heads up situation. Having more then just one opponent to worry about lowers your odds of success. In this situation, with their only being you and two others, the chances are still good if both go in with you. Remember, they have to have a card hit the board in order to win, unless they are pushing all in with another higher pair then 88 like 99 or above. Thought process 2- How many players are at my table? I would not recommend this final play if there are more then 2 opponents. Say there are five other opponents at the table, and all of them called or made raises before its your turn as the BB. If this happens, it is not worth risking the chips at that point, and you should fold. As I have stated in my previous situations, there will be more pairs and premium cards but the situation does not allow a high chance of success. However, say those same five opponents are playing, and 2 of them fold out. Now you only have to worry about 3 of the 5 players which means your odds just became better. With an all in push as well, you have another good chance of forcing at least one of those opponents to fold. So, with all said and done, you have met your criteria of only having 1 or 2 opponents to worry about. So we meet our criteria, lets say that the worst has happened and you have both Beta Dog and Charlie go all in as well. You reveal 88 Beta Dog QJs Charlie AKs Scary am I right? Here you are with a very low hand going against two powerhouse hands. However, those A K Q J needs to hit the board in order for you to lose, and its not uncommon for those royal/face cards to not show up in a poker round. The flop hits, 2 9 5. Whew...Lucky miss for you, you can feel your confidence building. Next card makes the board 2 9 5 7. Even better. And the final card makes the board 2 9 5 7 10. Only you have a pair, and you bring in your share of the pot. Normally there is more betting going on between the players who have additional chips, but I have skipped that sequence. This situation was just to show that there is power in your lower tier poker hands. It's even better when the flop hits and there is another 8 on the board, as I have said before, it is hard to beat three of a kind given the right circumstances. Conclusion ( edit ) This play style is basic, but not in the sense that every new player is playing this way. It takes discipline, which I can not stress enough in poker, and patience to play a good Rock player. It is also a poker foundation for those of you who are trying to figure out the game of Texas Hold'em. Later on you will begin to add onto your play list of poker hands, but never stray away from your game plan, your strategies as you develop them. Things to remember; 1-Rock players take very little to no risk in their hands that they play. 2-Only stick to the poker hand list above. As I have stated, you will later on begin to add onto the list, but know that the more loose you become with the hands you play, the further away you become a Rock Player. 3-Only continue to make raises or calls if the flop is good in your favor. 4-Only go all in when you either have the "nuts" or are playing the small stack. 5-Be prepared to fold with many hands. You wont get far playing J9, Q/10 and even more appealing hands like QJ when playing like a Rock. The concept is to play little yet gain a lot. So there you have it. A plan and some tactics in how to better your poker self. Remember discipline is your armor and premium is your sword. Attack when you see an opening, and always be mindful that the next guy over has probably put the same amount or more hours into studying poker. Always treat them like an equal, its better to lose to a well experienced poker player then it is to be fooled by a bad one. Good luck in building your bankrolls. -VI-
I don't participate in heads up games as a general rule (played three so far - won two, lost one), but I do end up playing a lot of heads up as part of my tournament grind. It's my absolute favorite part of tournament play. Sometimes I struggle to get momentum, but if all else fails and I can't outwit or outplay, I'm really good at outlasting. Eventually the blinds get to $3600 and the lead has gone back and forth so many times, it seems that they just give up. They end up shoving with nothing or damn near. One lady sent me this message last night "gg, it was getting way too long. ur a good player". I was a little irked because it was almost like she wanted to steal some of my thunder by making it seem like she "let" me win. I worked hard for that win. When we got to heads up she had $44K and I had $16K. I fought for that victory and she tainted it with her backhanded compliment. Anyway, it's a strategy. Battle them long enough and hard enough and they'll "let" you win.