There are some guidelines for new players to significantly improve their game. The most important of them is knowing which starting hands to play and which to fold. In this first section we talk about the loose aggressive strategy.
The loose style is played in combination with plenty of agression to make people fold their hand. Besides that you play hands that have the potential to give decent value at showdown.
Your position on the poker table
The starting hands to play are dependent on your position at the table. If there are 8 players behind you, you will need a very good hand to play, while only one player means you can play a lot more.
At a 9 player table the first 3 players after the big blind are in early position. Players 4,5 and 6 are in middle position and the dealer button, small blind and big blind are in late position.
Playing from early position
There is a standard hand notation to write down hands easily. For instance AKo, means ace-king ofsuit, which means that both cards have different suits. AKs means that both the ace and the king are of spades, harts, clubs or daimonds.
The starting hands to play from early position when you are first to act are:
Pairs: AA, KK, QQ,JJ, TT, 99, 88,77
AKs, AQs, AJs, ATs, KQs, KJs, KTs, QJs, QTs, JTs, J9s, T9s, 98s
Or to make it more visual:
These hands are all played for different reasons. In general the high pocket pairs(AA-JJ) are pre-flop monsters, which means you want others to pay you off.
The high drawing hands (like AK, AQ , AJs, KQs etc) should be played to improve the hand to become the highest pair after the flop. If those hands don’t improve after the flop you can either bluf or get out of the hand if your opponents shows strength.
The medium pairs (TT-77) should be played with caution, these hands are not likely to be the highest possible pair on the flop, but you can get three of a kind from it (approximately 12% of the time), which is a killer if your opponent is holding a high pair. In other cases the small pair may hold up against the drawing hands and be the highest hand. A medium or low pocket pair wins 55% of the time against AKo. Ofcourse the nature of the board changes the way you play the hand.
The lower high potential hands in this selection are called suited connectors (QJs, JTs,T9s, 98S) , or suited one-gappers (KJs, QTs, J9s). These hands are played to get a medium pair or maybe even a straight (8%) or a flush (6%). It is important to note however that these hands can easily lose against the same pair with higher kickers. For instance QJ will lose vs AJ if a jack is flopped. These hands are cool to play, but not against a lot of agression.
Playing from middle position
From middle position it is fine to add some weaker hands to your selection all the way down to hands like:
From the dealer button you can play every hand with an ace in it or hands all the way down to:
Be aware that you are playing a lot of garbage hands, which you shouldn’t overplay if others are raising from early position. But as the dealer you will have position over others after the flop, which means you can act after the others, which is a big advantage in poker.
From the smallblind (SB) or bigblind (BB) you can call a lot of hands because of pot odds. This principle will be explained later on, however these positions are dangerous to play because you will be out of position during the entire hand starting from the flop, which means others are going to play after your turn. In general it is advised to play almost the same hands as shown above.
The loose aggressive strategy
When playing the loose aggressicve strategy be prepared to raise 70% of the time when you are first to act and others have folded before you. Even if you miss the flop, you can bluf most players out of the pot by placing the “continuation bet” (betting the flop after you raised before the flop as well). It is advised to bet 60 to 80 percent of the time after the flop, after you raised preflop.
If you have the highest pair after the flop, or better you are in a very good position to bet, or let your opponent do the betting for you. In general you want to bet.
If you have a mediocre hand after the flop it is often better to be less aggressive. This is the case because you want to keep the pot small.
If you have nothing, or just some type of draw towards a straight or a flush you can easily bluff on the flop. One of the biggest leaks of beginning players is that they fold always after missing the flop, which means you can win 70% of the time after placing a bet on the flop. The loose aggressive strategy is effective, because of those leaks.
When it comes to betsizing it is normal to bet one half of the pot, giving your opponent 3 to 1 for his money, which is very cheap. That way it is likely that your opponent wil keep paying you off. If you are affraid of your opponent improving his hand it is better to bet larger sizes of the pot all the way up to twice the pot. When playing the loose aggressive strategy you want to bet slightly larger then what is normal. After all your main goal is to make people fold.
Playing much tighter
In the next poker tutorial we wil introduce a very tight strategy and show how big the costs of playing poker are. It also shows why you can’t only play the best hands in poker. Please use the following link: