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POKER PLAYING STRATEGIES:

There are four main poker playing 'styles':
1. LOOSE-PASSIVE
2. LOOSE-AGGRESSIVE
3. TIGHT-PASSIVE
4. TIGHT-AGGRESSIVE

The first part of each style refers to which hands are being played. "Loose" describes someone who plays a wide variety of hands. "Tight" describes someone who is more selective and only plays good hands.

The second part of each style refers to the betting. Someone who's "passive" often calls and doesn't raise the pot much. An "aggressive" player makes frequent bets and raises.

In general, the most effective poker style is TIGHT-AGGRESSIVE. We'll discuss the reasons WHY in a moment. But first, let's take a look at each style and learn the strategies for winning against them...

LOOSE-PASSIVE
Loose-passive is the most "amateur" style of play. These fish like to play a wide-range of starting hands and rarely fold before the flop.

They'll check-call after the flop (and on the turn and on the river) with hands like middle pair, ace high, or even low pair. That's why they're often nicknamed "calling stations".

When you spot this type of player, you want to wait for a good hand and then bet into them consistently. But dont bet too much unless you want to scare them out.

Usually, the best technique is to "milk" them for chips before the flop, after the flop, after the turn, and after the river.

If you're going to bluff a loose-passive player, do so aggressivelly... otherwise they might call.

Also, be selective when you attack. The loose-passive player might have top pair and still just check-call it. So be careful.

LOOSE-AGGRESSIVE
This is the "manic" playing style.

A manic can empty your pockets quickly if you don't use the proper strategy against him.

You must be patient and understand how to "get under the skin" of a manic player. Do not let him upset you.

For instance, a manic will often play bad starting hands... or even RAISE with them. When he hits, no one knows what to put him on, which is part of the reason why he's so dangerous.

Let's say a manic calls a pre-flop raise with 2-4 offsuit and the flop comes: A-3-5

Jerry is holding A-K, and so he obviously thinks he has the best hand. The turn card is a King and the river is a 10.

Jerry ends up losing a ton of chips to the manic's straight.

And then what happens is Jerry goes on tilt and starts calling the manic's raises and loses his composure. This is how the manic can break you.

In order to beat a manic you must wait for a strong hand. The manic's weakness is that he hates being raised or "bullied". Also, I've found that most manics feel "pot-committed" much more easily.

When you get heads-up with a manic (and you have a strong hand), raise him or make small bets that entice him to bluff.

Let the manic come to you... let him make the wrong move at the wrong time and you'll be able to take his chips. Often all at once.

TIGHT-PASSIVE
Tight-passive players are fairly easy to beat. If they bet or raise, get out of there. Otherwise, you can consistently represent the flop and bluff them out of pots.

Tight-passive players will often "survive" for a long time in a game because they never risk too many chips. But eventually they'll get "blinded to death".

Use bluffs, semi-bluffs, and aggressive bets to take a tight-passive player's chip stack.

TIGHT-AGGRESSIVE
OK, so now we're to the preferred playing style for no-limit Texas Holdem... and that's tight-aggressive.

Tight-aggressive players choose their starting hands wisely. They rarely "limp-in". Instead, they usually either fold or raise before the flop.
After the flop, they'll make aggressive bets if they've got a hand or if they raised pre-flop.

The reason a tight-aggressive playing style is so effective is because you only risk chips when you've got a good hand. But when you do risk chips, you risk a lot of them... so it only takes a couple wins to build a nice-sized stack.

This is the playing style used and recommended by just about every professional card player.

It's often referred to as "aggressively smart" or "selective aggression".

Now, the downside of a tight-aggressive style is that it's often easy to read. This style can often build a tight table image... and when that happens, your opponents won't give you action for your big hands.

So how do you solve this problem?

The solution is to intentionally establish a loose table image... by carefully choosing times in the game to play like a "manic".

For example... once in awhile... show a bluff. Especially near the beginning of the game. You'll want to do this when you sense weakness and have good positioning-- just as you'd do with any good bluff.

Let's say you pick up 8-7 clubs on the button and three players limp-in. You raise 7x the big blind and everyone folds.

That's when you flip over your suited-connectors and say, guys, I just know someone had my eight high beat!"

A move like this is usually enough... depending on the table... to get you action for your big hands later.

That way when you pick up K-K on the button a bit later... and make the SAME pre-flop raise of 7x the big blind, you get a caller or two.

A huge advantage of playing tight-aggressive is that many of your opponents won't distinguish between loose and aggressive.

As we discussed, "loose" is related to which hands you'll play... and "aggressive" is related to betting.

If you raise aggressively with strong hands... and then mix it up with the occasional well-timed bluff... you'll be able to throw your opponents off and keep them guessing every step of the way.

Of course, as you know, there are many "degrees" in between these four main playing styles...

Even though you should use TIGHT-AGGRESSIVE as your main style, you must be able "shift gears" and mix up your approach throughout the game... that way you don't become predictable.

More importantly, you must learn when to shift gears... how to vary your playing style... and special "tricks" you can use to fool your opponents without risking too many chips.

When you learn skills like these, you'll be able to consistently win at Texas Holdem poker-- at virtually any level-- and immediately raise your "poker profits".

HOW TO AVOID BAD BEATS:

There are two types of bad beats:

BAD BEAT #1:

When you catch a monster hand but lose to a BIGGER monster hand.

For example, let's say you're holding pocket Aces and the flop hits A-6-6. That means you've got a full house.

Your opponent goes ALL-IN... and you call. You think your Aces are the best hand but they're NOT, because your opponent has pocket sixes, which gives him the four-of-a-kind.

BAD BEAT #2:

When you have the best hand and your opponent has the WORST hand but your opponent GETS LUCKY and wins the pot.

For example, let's say you have pocket Aces and go all-in. Your opponent calls with pocket three's.

The flop hits 2-4-5 and the turn card is a 6, giving your opponent the STRAIGHT and causing you to lose the hand.

Now that's a bad beat.

And let's face it, the second type of bad beat-- the one where your opponent gets totally lucky and outdraws you-- is the kind of beat that just plain sucks. And pisses you off.

In fact, the second type of bad beat is the kind you REMEMBER the most too. When someone says, "Hey man, how did your card game go?", the first thing that will come out of your mouth will be the story of that bad beat.

Am I right?

Now here's what's interesting...

MORE BAD BEATS HAPPEN IN ONLINE POKER THAN IN "REGULAR" OFFLINE POKER.

Literally, you'll see more bad beats happen in an online poker game than you'll see at a local cash game or in a casino.

If you play both online and offline poker, I'm sure you agree with this statement.

So what's going on here? Why would it be this way?

There are two popular "theories"...

1. Online poker is rigged.

2. There are more hands per hour, therefore it's an illusion that there are more bad beats.

My opinion is that both of these theories are wrong.

Here's why:

First off, I genuinely believe online poker is not rigged. I mean, c'mon... Do you really think these multi-billion dollar casinos would need to rig hands?

They make their money from tournament entry fees and rakes... and trust me, they're making plenty.

OK, so what about the second theory?

Well, I do agree that there are more hands per hour in online poker than offline poker. There's no disputing that.

But I don't think that's a good enough reason...

Because my belief is that there are more bad beats that happen per X number of hands online than for offline poker.

For instance, let's say you played 100 hands. And let's say you caught two really bad beats for every 100 hands at a casino. That's 2%.

In online poker, you're likely to catch five or even ten of those really bad beats per 100 hands. That's 5-10%.

So the fact that you're seeing MORE hands doesn't explain the higher precentage of bad beats.

Still with me?
OK, so now let me give you MY "theory" about this.

It's not really a theory. Just good old simple logic, actually.

Here it goes:

The reason there are more bad beats in online poker is because the very nature of online poker leads people to play differently.

The CARDS and ODDS are the same.

It's the PLAYERS that aren't the same.

What I mean is that for online poker, a LARGE portion of players adopt the style of LOOSE-AGGRESSIVE.

Translation? Manic.

They act irrationally... play hands they shouldn't play... and bet way too aggressively for most given situations.

Why?

Because online poker isn't as "real".

The money isn't as real. I mean, heck... the casinos give you so much "free" money when you sign up, how could it feel real?

The cards aren't real. The chips aren't real. The table isn't real. None of that stuff even exists.

All you see when you play online poker are some silly little animations. And you hear some "clickity-click" sounds of fake chips.

That's it.

Nothing else.

Period.

And if you loose a game, all you have to do is make three or four mouse clicks and you're instantly playing another game.

And hell, you can play ten games at once if you want!

You can literally play poker against 100 players at the same time!

It's a different world, my friend.
Now... let's get back to the bad beats.

The fact that players are LOOSE-AGGRESSIVE is what leads to the situations where bad beats happen.

Here's why:

1. Players bet their draws more or call large bets with draws or OK hands (i.e. bottom pair).

2. More players are involved in every pot.

3. The pots are bigger, since players are more aggressive.

When these conditions combine together, it creates an environment where there are a lot of big pots and bad beats.

It's not that the cards are "rigged".

It's that the betting patterns and playing styles are different than what you're used to.

And when you combine that with the fact that you see more hands per hour, it inevitably leads to seeing a lot more "crazy" hands and bad beats than in regular poker.

OK, so now the obvious question becomes...

Is there any way to prevent bad beats?

The answer is yes and no.

Ultimately, bad beats will occur no matter what if you're playing good poker. Because to win at poker, you've got to be willing to take risks.

And most risks have a minimum 20% chance or more of not working out in your favor.

With that being said, there are ways to prevent a large portion of the bad beats you'll see online.

Not only can you prevent them, but you can literally turn it around and make it your ultimate advantage.

The key is to "tilt the tables" in your favor and USE the fact that players are so loose and aggressive to help you win more pots.

The way you achieve this is by adopting a special playing style designed specificalyl for online poker...

My name for this "secret sauce" is this:

TIGHT-AGGRESSIVE SQUARED.

The concept of "tight-aggressive squared" is quite simple...

It starts with the logic that tight-aggressive is the most effective playing style to use in poker.

Tight-aggressive means tight with hand selection, aggressive with betting.

With online poker, there are more players in every hand. That means you must play even tighter with your hand selection.

You should only play monster hands!

Period!

There's absolutely no reason to get involved with decent hands because the odds are against you.

You're bound to run into players who are chasing or who just caught an extremely lucky flop.

When you DO get involved with a hand, you must be overly aggressive. The pot size will be bigger, so you can't go losing many hands or else you'll be out of the game in a hurry.

You must strike... and you must strike hard.

You must risk all of your chips frequently in order to win.

Of course, it's much easier to risk all of your chips when you have a great hand than it is otherwise.

You see, the goal is to do two things:

1. Force out all but one, maybe two players for any pot you get involved with.

2. Have the odds so unbelievably stacked in your favor that you win far more huge pots than you lose.

And when you win lots of big pots, you become chip leader very quickly. And that's how you take control over a poker table.

The reason you want to force people out of the hand is simple mathematics.

Let's say for instance you get pocket aces.

Here's what three of your opponents are holding:
Player 1: K-K

Player 2: 10-9 suited

Player 3: Q-10 offsuit

Now, if you went heads-up against any of these hands ONE-ON-ONE, your odds of winning would be about 80%. They'd be 85% against Player 3.

BUT...

If you went up against all three of these opponents in one single hand, your odds of winning is just 58.5%!

That's just over 50/50 with the absolute best starting hand possible.

Get my point?

So when you get pocket Aces, you need to force out all but one caller.

You've got to be very aggressive.

In low stakes sit and go's and ring games online, that quite often means going all-in.

Like I said, you've got to risk all your chips.

Now if you go all-in and one of those players makes a call, you'll win four out of five times.

So if you get five big hands a game, you only lose once. Of course, that one you lose usually won't wipe you out, because you'll have more chips from the other big hands...

Get my drift?

Literally, if I play low-stakes online poker, here is what my betting pattern looks like:

Fold

Fold

Limp-in

Fold

Limp-in

Fold

All-In

Fold

All-in

Fold


And so on...

I'm serious!

This is how you win. It seems kind of strange to think about, but this is it!

Now, when you get down to just a few players in a game, it's time to bust out the strategies, bluffs, trick plays, and so on.

But what gets you there is this a TIGHT-AGGRESSIVE SQUARED style of play.

OK, so now the question becomes...

If all you did was ever fold or go all-in, why would anyone ever call your bets?

What a great question.

And we've already gone over the answer...

It's because online poker isn't the same as offline poker. The people on there are distracted and often stupid and very loose.

That's all there is to it.

and that is precisely why online poker is so much easier to make monet at. Once you learn these secrents.

Once you "crack the code", it's amazing how simple it is to win at online poker.

It's actually so simple and so irrational that I'm not sure it will always be this way. It seems that all those fish out there have GOT to go broke sooner or later.

But until that day comes, I'll be making hay while the sun is shining...

And I recommend you do the same.

So, you've learned the basic style of play for online poker, which is "tight-aggressive squared".

Use it, go win some pots, and let me know what you think.


HOW TO CONSISTENTLY BEAT SIT & GO's:

What's this easy-to-use secret for beating Sit and Go tournaments online?

The answer is this:

PATIENCE.

I know... I know... you were expecting something more, um... "secretive".

But the truth is, winning at Sit and Go's is pretty damn easy. I find them easier than "real" poker games, actually.

And that's why every time I turn on the computer these days I feel like a kid in a candy store... ready to clean out the amateurs at the poker room of my choosing.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

What I want to discuss here is why PATIENCE is so critical for Sit and Go success.

First, let's get back to some basics. There are four types of poker playing styles:

1. Tight-Passive

2. Tight-Aggressive

3. Loose-Passive

4. Loose-Aggressive

Your style should be tight-aggressive.

Don't confuse "styles" with "preferences". If you want to be a good card player, you DON'T get to DECIDE to be tight-aggressive.

You MUST be tight-aggressive in order to be good.

Period.

Of course there are DEGREES of each playing style, and that's what accounts for the differences between one pro and another... the DIFFERENT DEGREES of tight-aggressive.

OK, now let me ask you:

What does "tight-aggressive" really MEAN?

Here's the answer:

It means that you play TIGHT in terms of hand selection, but AGGRESSIVE when you enter a pot.

Be careful... "tight" and "aggressive" are not opposites. "Tight" and "loose" are opposites. And so are "aggressive" and "passive".

TIGHT refers to hand selection. AGGRESSIVE refers to betting.

OK... so this is how playing styles relate to Sit and Go's...

The NATURE of Sit and Go's makes them OVERRUN by LOOSE-AGGRESSIVE style players.

The reasons are simple:

1. You can play a Sit and Go virtually anytime, anywhere, and with anyone.

This means there's very low risk in LOSING, since you can easily just move on to the next game. It's not like in "offline" poker when once you get knocked out you're DONE.

2. The money seems less "real".

Let's be honest... We all know the feeling of making a deposit into an online poker account and thinking to ourselves how it doesn't quite feel like REAL MONEY. Am I right?

3. There's no "embarrassment".

Online poker is virtually 100% anonymous. If you make a stupid move, you're not worried about what the other players THINK of you. Who cares?

After all, the other "players" are really just silly little avatars on an animated screen.

OK, so those are three (there are many more) of the reasons why Sit and Go's (and pretty much all of online poker) are dominated by the playing style LOOSE-AGGRESSIVE.

Loose-aggressive is also known as the "manic" playing style. And what's the FASTEST way to beat a manic?

Yep, you guessed it...

PATIENCE.

The reason is because MANICS are constantly playing many hands (loose) and doing so aggressively.

What happens is that it's difficult to get a READ on them because you never know whether they're bluffing or not... unless you call their bets... which you can't do because you don't have that great a hand.

Has this ever happened to you?

Have you ever been up against a player who seemed to be playing VERY aggressively and you just couldn't figure out if they were bluffing or holding great cards?

And then when you got FED UP with it and DID make a call, he had you beat?

My guess is that it HAS happened to you... just as it's happened for me.

The key thing to know is that THERE ARE certain steps you can take to defend this. (I even wrote an entire chapter about this topic in my book.)

But fortunately in Sit and Go's, this isn't really much of a problem. Because you're usually not up against just one or two manics. You're up against an ENTIRE TABLE of them.

That means you shouldn't be CALLING anyone's bets.

Instead, YOU should push the action when you have a monster hand... and ONLY when you have a monster hand. And that, of course, requires...

PATIENCE!

It's actually much easier this way. Because with a table full of manics, you can rely on getting action with all your great hands.

(I should point out here that I'm generally referring to Sit and Go's where the entry fee is less than $50. When the stakes are higher the quality of play is usually more intelligent.)

OK, so what I'm about to tell you might take some of the "fun" out of Sit and Go's. But it will increase your profits dramatically...

Here's what your Sit and Go "experience" should look like when the field is from 8 or 10 players down to 4 or 5 players.

If your hole cards are...

A-A, K-K - Go all in pre-flop if you're in early position. If in late position and there was a raise, go all-in. If people were just trying to limp in, make a raise... and then bet very aggressively after the flop.

Q-Q, A-K - If you're in an early position, bet big (but not all-in). If you're in a late position, use your read on the other players to determine whether or not you think you have the best hand. If so, bet huge or go all-in.

All other pocket pairs - Limp-in. If you spike trips, go all-in. If not, fold.

Suited connectors - Limp-in if the blinds are reasonably low. Fold suited connectors under 7-6.

Ace-X suited - Limp-in if possible. Only bet if you hit the flush.

All other hands - Fold.

What you've just seen will be completely different than most "starting hand strategies" out there.

And that chart is NOT for all types of no limit Texas Holdem. We're ONLY talking about games that match these three criteria:

1. Online poker Sit and Go tournaments

2. Low stakes (under $50 entry)

3. While there are more than 4 or 5 players at the

table (in an 8-man or 10-man Sit and Go)

DO NOT use that starting hand advice for any other poker games... because that's NOT how you should play your starting hands in general.

So why would Sit and Go's be so much different than "normal" poker play?

Like I said before, the reason is because Sit and Go's are heavily dominated by loose-aggressive players... and THIS is how you beat those guys.

Why exactly does this strategy work?

It works because you're only playing monsters.

Now... if the players at Sit and Go's were SMART, they'd OBSERVE that you're only playing monster hands... and they'd FOLD as soon as you went all-in.

I mean... it only makes logical sense, right?

Indeed, this is how it works in live games. But not online. Because for online poker there's another important factor working to your advantage...

NO ONE'S PAYING ATTENTION!

The truth is, many players are either drunk, hungover, stupid, or playing multiple tables at once. Or all of the above!

They're not paying attention to your betting patterns. They're just playing the CARDS, not the PLAYERS.

I call my strategy for patiently waiting for monster hands and then going all-in:

"Tight-Aggressive Squared"

The reason is because my strategy is like the playing style tight-aggressive... but on STEROIDS.

Why go all-in so much?

It's like I said... you WILL get action. Maybe not every single time, but enough times to make it well worth your while.

For Sit and Go's, all you need to do is double-up ONCE before the field gets to 4 or 5 players.

THEN you can start playing aggressively. What will happen is that the 4 or 5 players LEFT IN THE GAME will usually be the smarter ones. And some of them WILL notice by now that you're playing tight.

SO THEN what you do is steal blinds. It's easy.

Everyone tightens up when there are four or five players in a hand because they want to make the money... and they want to be VERY CAREFUL to make it into the top three.

That is when you steal some blinds and add to your chip stack.

Then, after that point you'll be in third place and will be in the money.

I have a ton of strategies for getting you into FIRST place too (after you get down to three players), but I'll have to save those for a different newsletter.

You know, when I first came up with this strategy of "Tight-Aggressive Squared" I wasn't COMPLETELY convinced it was the best way to win at Sit and Go's.

At the time, I had been trying a lot of things. The idea of just being EXTREMELY PATIENT and then going all-in with monster hands seemed a little TOO SIMPLE.

Right?

Then one night, I was at a 10-man Sit and Go. I went all-in with a big hand early and doubled up. It was the only hand I got really involved with.

Then... with 9 players still at the table... my Internet shut off. I didn't know what happened. All I know is that the Internet just plain STOPPED WORKING.

I would have called someone... but it was past two in the morning.

I messed with it for like fifteen minutes and then just gave up. Oh well... it's just one Sit and Go.

Anyway... I started working on something else on my computer for awhile until all of the sudden the Internet came BACK on.

I logged into my poker room to see what had happened with the game. Immediately the screen POPPED-UP and the action was to me...

I was still in the game, it wasn't over yet!

Not only that...

But there were only three players left!

I was in third, but still had some remaining chips to play around with.

I immediately went all-in and everyone folded. Then I did it again and everyone folded. And a few hands later I did it AGAIN.

I picked up three enormous sets of blinds and was right back in the game. The reason everyone was folding was because I hadn't played a hand in 25 minutes. They were probably wondering what the hell was going on!

Anyway, as it turned out, I actually WON 1ST for this Sit and Go. First place baby... and my Internet only worked for about 1/5 of the game!

After I was done I started thinking about what had just happened. I realized that by PLAYING in a Sit and Go you can often do MORE DAMAGE THAN GOOD when there are lots of players at the table.

And of course, I became 100% convinced that the "magic equation" for success is:

PATIENCE + AGGRESSION

Your goal for these games should be to place in the money as much as possible. Period. So why risk chips on silly hands early on?

They're just not worth it...

The other thing about this strategy is that it's a HUGE time-saver. Because it doesn't require hardly any work until there are 4-5 players left. It makes it MUCH easier to play multiple tables at once... or do other things while the Sit and Go plays in the background.

OK, so here's your "Tight-Aggressive Squared" Sit and Go strategy:

1. Be patient, be patient, be patient!

Only play the hands I showed you earlier. Only bet before the flop with Aces, Kings, Big Slick, and Queens.

2. When you catch a monster, go all-in. Don't do this if you think someone has you beat (i.e. there's an obvious straight or flush draw on the board).

I'm talking about only playing hands when you know you have the best odds of winning.

3. When the field gets down to four or five players (depending on how high the blinds are and how many all-in showdowns you've won), shift gears completely and STOP using this "Tight-Aggressive Squared" strategy.

That, my friend, is the "secret" to Sit and Go's.

It's obvious... but not-so-obvious.

But it is DEFINITELY simple.

HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR POSITIONING:

The dealer position (known as the "button") is the best position at the poker table.

The reason is because when you're on the button, you get to act LAST after the flop... giving you the chance to see what your opponents do first.

This lets you get a "read" on your opponents at the table... and decide who has a strong hand, who has a weak hand, who's bluffing, and so on.

OK, so that's common knowledge.

What's also common knowledge is the fact that LATE POSITIONING is preferred over EARLY POSITIONING... because once again, you get to see what your opponents do first before it's your turn to bet, raise, call, or fold.

Of course, being on the button is BETTER than just plain late positioning... because the button GUARANTEES that you will be LAST TO ACT post-flop.

OK, now here's what is NOT common knowledge...

Once you understand positioning and its enormous implications, you can begin "improving" your positioning and setting yourself up for more pots each game.

The technique is called STEALING THE BUTTON.

It's simple... it's practical... and right when you're done reading this newsletter you can immediately start using it.

Stealing the button is LEVERAGING your late positioning when you're NOT on the button... but getting all the same benefits as if you WERE on the button.

Remember, the dealer position is SO POWERFUL because it means you're LAST to act post-flop.

Being SECOND TO LAST to act isn't nearly as good, especially considering there's usually only three or four players to a flop at an 8-man table.

So what you do is make a reasonable pre-flop RAISE when you're in late positioning... and therefore force the player on the button to fold.

Having done this, you'll be last to act after the flop... the same as if you actually were on the button. (Hence the name, "stealing the button").

OK, let's look at an example so you can see what I'm talking about:

Let's say you're sitting two seats to the RIGHT of the button at a 10-man table. The game is $1-2 no limit Holdem.

Two players limp-in... and you look down at your cards: J-9 of clubs.

I call hands like these "semi-connectors"-- they're not quite connected... but almost.

The great thing about semi-connectors is that they're a "hidden hand". When they HIT (straight, flush, two pair...) your opponents NEVER see it coming.

You decide to play your Jack-9 suited. Now remember, there are two players BEHIND you that will act post-flop if they both call the blinds.

So it's YOUR JOB to make sure they DON'T limp-in.

The solution is to crank up the pressure...

You make it $15 to play. Nothing crazy (after all, you don't exactly have a monster). You simply want to force the two players to your left to FOLD... which will happen most of the time.

Of course, they won't always fold... because sometimes they'll pick up a big hand. But odds are they'll fold.

The RESULT, of course, is now YOU have the button.

Well, not the button exactly... but all the advantages that it brings.

Sure enough, the two players to your left fold, and Josh-- who's in the big blind-- is the only caller.

The flop comes out:

10h-8d-Ks

No flush possibilities for you here, but BINGO, you've just flopped an open-ended straight draw.

This is the type of flop you hoped for.

Now it's on Josh to act first. And this is where your positioning is so important. Not only do you get to see what Josh does first... but you also have the CONTROL in this situation.

Since you made the pre-flop raise, Josh will likely check the flop to you... giving you the opportunity to play aggressively and take down this pot.

No matter what happens after this, you've set yourself up to win this pot. Sometimes Josh will pick up a real hand and come out firing... but usually not.

Sure enough in our example, Josh checks.

You throw out a $30 semi-bluff. This is a bet you should make even WITHOUT the open-ender... because you made the pre-flop raise.

Josh mucks it, and you rake the chips... leaving the table wondering what you had.

That's how you "steal" the button. It's a simple, surefire way to gain control at the table by improving your positioning.

There are five main steps you need to know...

1. You need a playable hand.

If you're going to bluff, make it a "semi-bluff" by raising with a hand that can hit... something like semi-connectors.

I personally don't like raising with 7-2 offsuit or crap like that. It seems to me like an "ego raise" more than a logical play.

Remember, the key is to gain that extra bit of control and power by acting LAST after the flop.

2. Force out the player on the button (and possibly the player to his right).

The whole point to stealing the button is to ACTUALLY STEAL THE BUTTON. If you make a wussy raise that doesn't scare anyone, you've failed.

If you're one seat to the right of the button, you want to raise enough to force the player on the button out. If you're TWO seats to the right, then you've got to force out both players to your left.

One of the "secrets" to this process is to ALWAYS pay attention to the pre-flop betting patterns of your opponents on the left.

If you're sitting on the right of "Tight Tim" who only sees flops when he's got pocket pairs, then you can steal the button quite often.

On the other hand, if you're on the right of a LOOSE player, you won't be able to steal the button nearly as much.

So pay attention.

3. After the flop, your opponents will usually check to you.

Notice if someone bets into you, beware. That's a red flag. Usually players will check into you since you raised pre-flop.

When players check into you that gives you the power to either BET and try to steal the pot right there... OR... get a free turn card by also checking.

While I normally recommend a bet, you can check to mix it up once in awhile or in the case that you're getting short-stacked.

4. Don't get pot-committed.

Remember, stealing the button is a simple technique that improves your position and sets you up to have a BETTER CHANCE at winning the hand.

Don't get stupid. Don't get stubborn and bet any amount in hopes of bluffing out someone with a real hand.

Like I said, you need a playable hand to steal the button in the first place.

Don't become pot-committed... Never bet so much that it's PAINFUL to fold your cards after the flop.

5. Sometimes you don't need to raise to steal the button.

Often the blinds will be high enough where you figure simply CALLING the big blind will get you the button (this is especially true when you're to the right of a tight player).

Also, someone in front of you might raise the pot enough that all you have to do is CALL THE RAISE and you'll get the button.

OK, so that's the process...

Here are the two types of situations where you DO want to steal the button...

DO STEAL THE BUTTON WHEN:

1. You sense weakness and want to steal the pot on a bluff or hidden hand.

2. You have a good hand that you want to play post-flop.

On the other hand...

DO NOT STEAL THE BUTTON WHEN:

1. You have a poor hand and you sense someone else has a strong hand.

2. You think someone to your left will call a raise no matter what (that defeats the purpose).

The MOST IMPORTANT lesson you can get from all this is to realize that winning poker depends on ALL THE LITTLE THINGS.

Stealing the button is just a little technique for setting yourself up for better positioning... it's not a "game changing" strategy that will double your poker profits or anything.

But when you combine it with ALL THE OTHER LITTLE THINGS-- like establishing the right table image, throwing out feeler bets, representing the flop at the right times, buying free cards, picking up betting patterns, spotting tells, and more-- then you will become a DYNAMIC and POWERFUL poker player...

AND THEN your poker profits will double.

A lot of amateurs base their games on the "big hands" and might get lucky once in awhile. But over time, the REAL MONEY always goes to the GRINDERS... the guys who know how to CONSISTENTLY take down pots.

It takes a lot of discipline, don't get me wrong.

But you can do it.

HOW TO DOMINATE THE POKER TABLE:

Have you ever lost a huge pot because you had a flush draw or straight draw and didn't catch the card you needed?

It's happened to all of us.

And frankly, it sucks.

Because when you're on a draw, you're just ONE CARD AWAY from raking in a ton of chips.

And you WANT to keep calling everyone else's bets, in hopes that your card will pop out on the turn or river.

Am I right?

Of course, what ends up happening is you have to put a ton of your chips in the middle... just to call everyone else's bets.

That makes you pot-committed... and if you DON'T catch your card, you're screwed.

Now let me ask you...

Wouldn't it be WONDERFUL if every time you were on a draw all the other players would CHECK around?

That way you didn't have to risk any chips, and could bet only after you KNEW for sure whether or not you caught your card.

That sure would be nice, wouldn't it?

AND...

What if there was a way to STILL WIN THE HAND... even if you DIDN'T catch your card?

That'd be nice too, huh?

Luckily, there IS a technique you can use to make BOTH of these things happen.

Let me show you how...

OK, so let's say I'm at an 8-person no-limit table and I'm sixth to act.

I'm dealt a 5-6 of diamonds.

Josh comes out firing with a $10 pre-flop bet. Sarah and Derek both call.

Now it's on me.

I love suited connectors... especially busting my opponents with them unexpectedly, so I jump in and call.

The players behind me muck their cards right away... scared to death of so much action.

The flop hits:

4d, 9s, 7d

That means I've just flopped an open-ended straight flush draw. I couldn't have asked for a better flop in this situation.

Unfortunately, Josh comes out firing (again) with a no-hesitation bet of $20.

Sarah and Derek both FOLD this time...

And the action is to me.

I'm putting Josh on a high pocket pair, or maybe A9 or A7. And he's figuring the scraps on the board didn't help anyone, hence the strong bet.

Which puts me in a tough situation.

Think about it... If I CALL, I might miss my flush or straight on the turn card. Then what? Josh will make another strong bet... what will I do then?

And if I call to see the river and miss, then I'll have just given Josh most of my chips and lost a major hand.

On the other hand, I don't want to FOLD, because I have a ton of outs and I want to WIN this!

Now let me ask you, what would YOU do in this situation?

Most amateur card players don't think ahead, and they'd call Josh's $20 bet. And if they missed on the turn, they'd call another bet to see the river.

And if they missed on the river, they'd probably fold, watch Josh rake in all the chips, and wonder why they "never catch the right cards".

Now a more skillful player would ANTICIPATE what's about to happen... and would probably call to see the turn, but then fold if Josh bet again.

And of course, there are always the tight players who would never have played the 5-6 of diamonds in the FIRST place.

So what do I do?

Remember, I'm sitting on 5-6 of diamonds. The board reads: 4d, 9s, 7d. And Josh, who made a strong pre-flop raise, just bet $20 after the flop.

Here's the answer...

I RAISE.

Not some wimpy raise either... I raise him $

40 more to play. Most players would NEVER think to raise in this situation... but here's what I've done:

1. I've TAKEN CONTROL of the hand and bought myself a FREE CARD when it matters most.

You see, if Josh calls the $40 raise, when the turn hits he'll CHECK to me.

(Remember what I said at the beginning of this email?)

That means I get to see the turn and river for a total of $40 more, which is a BARGAIN compared to what Josh's next bet would have cost me.

2. I'm representing possible trips.

Josh now has to wonder whether I called his pre-flop raise with a low pocket pair and just caught trips on the flop.

Or I could be sitting on a high pocket pair and I'm not "phased" by the flop.

3. I've raised the stakes of the hand in MY favor... not his. You see, if I just call Josh's bets and then hit a 8 of diamonds on the turn, what will happen?

Well, Josh will SEE the three diamonds and the straight possibility, and he probably won't make any more huge bets or call any huge bets from me.

This way, I've raised the stakes $40, which increases MY CHANCES at winning an even bigger pot than if I had just called.

Make sense?

And last but not least...

4. I've given myself a way to WIN even if I don't catch the straight or flush.

Now I get to see Josh's reaction to my $40 raise...

If I sense weakness, I may decide to BLUFF and buy this pot if I don't catch my flush or straight.

If I only call Josh's bets the whole way, he would't fall for this type of bluff. But my raise of $40 will sure get him thinking.

OKAY, BACK TO THE HAND...

Josh shuffles his chips around for a moment, and looks back down at his cards. It turns out he's holding an A9... so he's got top pair with the kicker. A good hand, but not a monster by any means.

He calls.

The next card comes out... queen of spades.

No help.

Josh checks.

THAT WAS IMPORTANT.

This is my "free card" opportunity that my $40 raise bought.

Now I'm in complete control... and feeling pretty good about this hand.

I can check and see the river for free. I've still got a lot of outs here.

Or I can bet STRONG and try to scare Josh away.

"One hundred dollars", I say, as I push a huge stack of red chips into the middle.

True, I only have a queen high... and the beginner card player may think this type of play is crazy.

But then again, that's why they're called "BEGINNERS".

Anyway...

Josh thinks for a minute and then mucks it.

I rake in a beautiful pot.

Even if Josh had called, I still had a good number of outs. And if I missed, I could have tried to bluff again.

Now think back to when the flop came out...

After Josh bet $20, what if I had called? (And not raised.)

Well, here's what would have happened...

The queen would have came and Josh would've immediately fired a huge $80 bet.

I would've had to either call the $80 to see the river, or muck my beautiful straight flush draw.

And THAT, my friend, is why it's CRUCIAL that you TAKE CONTROL of the game.

This type of technique allows you to truly DOMINATE THE TABLES and win more money playing poker. Period.

That's what makes Texas Hold 'Em such a fascinating game... there are just so many scenarios that can occur, and so many special "tricks" and "techniques" you can use to beat the competition.

Of course, you'll probably never figure them all out on your own... and that's why I'm here to help.
  

POKER SITES:




POKER BETTING PATERNS

I'd like to share with you the real poker tells that take place in Texas Holdem.

I'm not talking about when your opponent scratches his eyebrow... or when he shuffles his chips... or when he chews his gum aggressively.

I'm talking about BETTING PATTERNS.

It's been my experience that approximately 80% of the betting action at a poker table fits within predictable and reliable patterns.

Here's what I mean:

The other day I was playing at a $2-5 no limit cash game with my buddies. I focused all of my energies just on keeping track of PRE-FLOP RAISES and POST-FLOP BETS.

Here are some examples of the patterns I discovered...

First off, this older guy named Elroy would throw out the occasional pre-flop raise. By the end of the night, it was almost too easy to figure out what he was holding... just based on his bets.

His first pre-flop raise was $15. The hand played out and he turned over 10-9 suited.

Later he made it $40 pre-flop to play. Again, I was fortunate to see his hand... this time it was pocket Queens.

Later he made it $25 pre-flop to play. That one ended up being pocket Kings.

And he made it $15 to play on the button again later... with an A-4 of diamonds.

As the night progressed, I "cracked the code" to Elroy's betting patterns. When he had a monster like K-K or A-A, he'd bet $25 pre-flop. It was a bet that usually gets one or two callers.

If he had pocket 10s, Jacks, or Queens, he bet $40-$50 pre-flop. This makes sense. He didn't want to see a flop with these hands... he just wanted to steal the blinds. Or if he saw the flop, he only wanted one caller.

And his $10-$15 raises were simply "pot builders" when he had hidden hands or something decent... like K-Q, 10-9, or A-4.

Of course... it was NOT just Elroy that fell into these predictable patterns...

Another guy at the table, let's call him Jeff, would throw out a $10 bet on the flop every time he was on a draw.

Of the fourteen times he bet $10 on the flop, I saw his hand turned over eight times (it was an 8-hour game). And every single time he showed, he was on some type of draw... whether it was for the flush or straight.

So of course, every time the "make" card came out of the deck, I knew Jeff had the goods... and I folded my hand.

I even busted him once when he tried to BLUFF his busted draw on the river and I won a major pot because of this read.

The last great example from the night was with my buddy Jack. He made several $40 pre-flop raises with early positioning. He'd normally get a caller or two for the flop.

AFTER the flop, it was always obvious if he had hit or missed his hand.

Let's say the flop came out:

Q-9-7

All different suits.

If Jack came out firing $80 after his $40 pre-flop raise, he had the goods. This is when he was holding a monster like King or Aces and wasn't scared of anything on the board.

But let's say he threw out a $40 bet... which was the same as his pre-flop raise. That means he was holding a hand like Jacks, Tens, or A-K.

He was scared of the flop but still wanted to throw out a bet to represent the board and try to win the pot.

It was a simple pattern. Plain to see.

But the sad thing was, no one else at the table read into these patterns...

If I were in the hand with Jack when he followed his $40 pre-flop raise with a $40 post-flop bet, I would go back over the top of him. I got to do this a few times... and each time I won a lot of money.

Overall for the night, I walked out of that poker room a big winner. And the primary reason was because I tracked betting patterns and took the time to get a read on my opponents.

OK, so let's talk about how to immediately apply this new information for your next poker game.

There are three main patterns you want to pay attention to:

1. Pre-flop raises

Watch carefully when someone raises before the flop. Pay attention to their positioning. A common pattern is that a lot of players will raise from the button no matter what they have... and this can be "free chips" for you when you've got a read.

Often times the huge pre-flop raises aren't the ones to be scared of. Like in my example earlier, Elroy bet $25 with monsters and $40 or more with pocket 10s, Jacks, or Queens.

Find out what someone does when they pick up low pocket pairs, suited connectors, and two high cards.

2. Post-flop bets

The next pattern is what a player does after the flop. How much does he bet?

You'll discover players who "represent the flop" consistently with the same bet size over and over again.

You'll also discover other players who check-raise every time they have a big hand.

And so on...

3. Post-flop bets after pre-flop raises

This is important. This is perhaps the EASIEST pattern to pick up.

After someone raises before the flop, watch what they do after the flop (this works best when they have early positioning).

A lot of your opponents will "back down" from their pre-flop raises if they didn't catch anything on the flop.

This is because they're afraid of losing too many chips on this one single hand...

If they DID catch something great, they'll show it with a huge bet on the flop. The pot is big enough to take down now, so they won't be afraid of everyone folding.

And last but not least, watch out for post-flop bets that are smaller than the pre-flop raises... or that equal the minimum bet allowed.

Sometimes this is a monster in disguise... someone who's inviting you to go back over the top of him. Be careful.

OK, so those are the three main patterns to look for. The next step is to remember that a lot of this "betting behavior" is completely unconsious.

In fact, you want to seek out players who seem to get into their "zone" and make bets unconsciously.

When you find a player like this, it's like taking candy from a baby. Seriously.

You don't want to try to "figure out" an opponent who's always CONSCIOUSLY trying to think of ways to change their betting patterns... that will just give you a headache and waste your time.

When tracking bets, categorize them by ranges.

Most players don't bet the identical amounts again and again and again... but they bet the identical ranges over and over.

For instance, Elroy bet between $40 and $50 when he was holding a medium pocket pair. He bet between $10 and $15 for his "pot builder" hands like suited connectors.

OK, so now that you know the POWER behind betting behavior and patterns, you must realize these THREE crucial things:

1. MIX UP YOUR BETTING.
Don't fall into betting patterns yourself. Watch your bets closely and track your OWN bets to make sure you aren't getting into predictable patterns.

2. WATCH WHEN A PLAYER'S CARDS ARE TURNED OVER.
The only way to successfully discover betting patterns is by watching when someone WINS the hand and turns over his cards.

When this occurs, immediately review the hand in your mind and the player's bets pre-flop and post-flop.

3. DON'T TELL ANYONE YOU'RE TRACKING THEIR BETS.
If you tell your opponents (who may be your friends) that you're tracking bets, you've just shot yourself in the foot.

Because now they will start paying attention to their bets and will mix them up accordingly.

If you're tracking bets with a pen and pad, tell everyone the notes are for something else... don't reveal your true intentions.

This concept of betting behavior is extremely powerful. If you use it, you'll win a lot of money. Period.

When you first start off, the actual tracking will be challenging in real-life games. If you're playing online, tracking will be easy.

But don't get discouraged. The great (and amazing) thing is, a lot of players fall into the same basic patterns. You'll even start categorizing players themselves... not only their bet sizes.

Your game will jump to a whole new level.

Betting behavior is the ultimate "poker tell", because it offers the fastest and easiest way to put your opponent on a hand.

If you'd like to take this skill to the "mastery" level, then it's time you invested in my course, "Texas Holdem Secrets".

I'll teach you step-by-step the in-depth strategies and techniques that will transform you into a poker genius.

And you'll be able to read your opponents almost as if you were a psychic. You'll know what someone will bet before they even reach for their chips...

You'll instantly know what a player is holding when they bet after the flop...

You'll know exactly when to bluff, when to bet, and when to fold...

Honestly, it will almost seem too easy to win ridiculous sums of money at the poker tables.

THE SMOOTH CALL

let's talk about the "smooth call".

A smooth call is when you're holding a REALLY GOOD hand and someone bets into you... but instead of RAISING, you simply CALL.

The smooth call is VERY POWERFUL, but a lot of players totally mess it up. Here's how to do it RIGHT...

Let's say you're playing a cash game of no-limit holdem at a 10-man table. The blinds are $5-10.

You're sixth to act before the flop (good positioning) and you pick up pocket Aces...

Nice!

A couple players limp-in and the action is to Drew, who's an aggressive player.

He makes it $125 to play.

This is a rather large pre-flop raise at this table. The normal pre-flop raise has been between $50 and $75 up to this point.

You immediately put Drew on something like pocket Jacks or tens.

Why?

Because you know that if someone makes an UNUSUALLY large pre-flop raise, it's probably because they have a hand they DON'T want to play.

And quite often that hand is 10's or J's.

So anyway, the next guy folds and now the action is to you with your monster American Airlines.

What should you do?

This is an ideal situation for a smooth call.

Here's why:

You know Drew is going to bet again after the flop-- regardless of what hits-- since he made such a large pre-flop raise.

And you also know that you've got Drew beat right now. If you call his bet, there's no way he's going to put you on Aces.

If you RAISE, Drew is going to be scared. Because RAISING after a big bet means you must have a monster. And that basically gives away your hand.

OK, so you make a smooth call and put $125 in the middle.

Everyone else mucks their cards, so it's just you and Drew to see the flop.

The flop comes out a "rainbow" (which means there are three different suits on the board):

8-7-4

This is the perfect flop for you. You figure Drew has a pocket pair HIGHER than the cards on the board, which means he'll be confident betting his hand.

The only thing to be WORRIED about is if Drew has pocket 8's, since that would mean he just made trips. If he DID have trips, he'd probably check after the flop and fake weakness.

So anyway, the action is to Drew and... as expected... he comes out firing a $250 bet.

What now?

Well, you could come back over the top of him and take this pot right now. Or you can do ANOTHER smooth call and go for the kill.

You think for a few moments... hesitate... then smooth call.

The turn card comes and it's a four, which is PERFECT for you.

Drew doesn't hesitate and puts his last $500 into the pot now... thinking he has the best hand.

You call, and throw over your monster Aces.

Drew shakes his head in disgust and throws over his pocket Queens.

And you win a massive pot.

Now, that's basically the "ideal" way the smooth call works. Let's discuss the RIGHT CONDITIONS when you'll want to make a smooth call... and how you can add this powerful move to your "poker toolbox"...

*** CONDITIONS FOR A SMOOTH CALL ***

The smooth call is the combination of two main components:

ANTICIPATION + SLOW-PLAYING

The INTENTION of the smooth call is to FOOL your opponents while letting them dig their own grave.

Here's what I mean...

The smooth call operates on the fact that you ANTICIPATE that your opponents will continue betting... AND... that you have the best hand at the table.

When your opponents think THEY have the best hand, they'll be confident with their betting. They'll become pot-committed... and will get frustrated that you won't back down.

That's when they'll make a mistake and go all-in, or simply bet too much, and you'll come out on top.

There are four main "conditions" for performing a smooth call... Here they are:

1. You don't need to figure out where you're at, because you KNOW you have the best hand.

2. You anticipate future bets from your opponent.

3. You have good positioning.

4. You're not worried about too many players getting in the hand.

The first condition basically means you should only smooth call when you have really good hands. We'll talk about the EXACT hands to smooth call with more in a minute.

We've already gone over the second condition... you need to ANTICIPATE future bets from your opponent. Most of the time, players who raise before the flop will bet AGAIN after the flop.

The third condition is POSITIONING. You can't perform a smooth call if you're first to act. Then what you're doing is just check-calling your opponents... which ISN'T the same thing.

And the final condition for a smooth call is that you're not at risk of having lots of players in the hand.

This last condition is important because it will help you prevent bad beats.

Basically, when you have a monster hand before the flop, you want to narrow the field down to one or two callers...

If you have three or more players seeing the flop, your monster will get run down by someone who gets lucky.

In the example I shared earlier, Drew had made a large pre-flop raise of $125. That meant there was no danger of too many players calling...

If the pre-flop raise had been only $40 or so, it would NOT have been a good situation to smooth call... because the raise would have gotten multiple callers. And then you're at risk of a bad beat.

OK, so those are the conditions that need to be present in order to make a smooth call.

Remember, the REASON a smooth call is powerful is because it "represents" something like a draw, low pocket pair, or hand like A-K, A-Q, or K-Q.

If you smooth call before the flop, your opponent will probably put you on something like suited connectors, two face cards, or a low pocket pair.

After the flop comes out and your opponent THINKS he has you beat, he'll keep INCREASING his bet sizes to try to scare you out. This is a fundamental poker principle...

For each successive round of betting, the bets and raises will INCREASE. The bets after the flop will be larger than the bets before the flop. The bets after the turn will be larger than the bets after the flop. And so on.

In our example, if you came back over the top of Drew BEFORE the flop, he would have folded. That means you would have won his $125.

At MOST he may have called a $125 raise from you... but then would have check-folded after the flop. In that case, you would have won his $250.

But by smooth calling, you got BOTH his $125 bet (pre-flop) and $250 bet (post-flop)... and then by smooth calling again you got his remaining $500.

The key is to trick your opponent into thinking he has the better hand... and let HIM take the offensive. If you can do that, you're money.

*** HANDS TO SMOOTH CALL WITH ***

You want to smooth call before the flop with hands like Aces or Kings. You DON'T want to smooth call with something like A-K or A-Q.

Big Slick is a great hand... don't get me wrong... but it's not "complete". By itself, Big Slick is just an Ace high. If the flop doesn't help you and your opponent comes out firing, you're in trouble.

If you're going to smooth call after the flop or turn, you'll want to do it with hands like trips, two pair, or an over pair (like in our example).

Trips and two pair are usually "hidden" from your opponent, which is why they make great smooth call hands. (Remember, it's all about making your opponent think he's got the best of you.)

OK, TWO MORE THINGS to keep in mind...

First off, there are DANGERS to smooth calls. The main danger is if your opponent catches a better hand than you.

You should be ready for this if there's something on the board like a straight draw, flush draw, or two face cards.

Let's say you smooth call before the flop with pocket Kings and the flop comes out 3-Q-6, all diamonds.

If your opponent comes out firing aggressively, be careful. He wouldn't come out betting UNLESS he felt like he's still got you beat.

I mean, think about it: Those three diamonds are going to SCARE him... unless they HELPED him.

It's the same way with flops like 10-J-Q, K-K-5, K-Q-10, J-A-3, and so on. If there are two face cards out there, your opponent might have just made trips or two pair. If there's a straight draw on the board and he's not scared, YOU should be scared.

The second thing to think about is how you can INTEGRATE the smooth call into the rest of your game...

The smooth call is a "maneuver" or "play". It will bring you tons of extra pots and winnings when added to the STRONG FOUNDATION of your poker skills.

HOW TO REPRESENT THE FLOP:

You're probably familiar with the term "represent the flop". But do you know what it REALLY means?

And do you know how to PROPERLY represent the flop in order to win more chips?

Most players think that REPRESENTING THE FLOP just means betting and acting in a way as if the cards on the board HELPED your hand...

Although this definition is ACCURATE, it's much too simplistic to add any benefit to your game.

Representing the flop is in fact a very in-depth strategy that is CRUCIAL to pro-level Texas Holdem poker...

First, let's look at WHY you should represent the flop:

The primary reason is to find out WHERE YOU'RE AT IN A HAND.

In other words, you want to learn how strong and how weak the OTHER players at the table are. And the only way to do this is through BETTING.

If you only check, check, call, call... then you will NEVER become a good poker player. Never.

You've got to bet... and PRETEND that the community cards helped you. If someone has a weak hand, they will be forced to fold.

If someone has a mediocre hand, they will probably fold too... because you're "representing" that you have something good.

And if a player has a STRONG or VERY STRONG hand, they will either call you or raise your bet.

So based on what everyone does, you can find out if you have a chance at winning the pot, if you can bet other players out, or if you should just fold. All information you WOULDN'T have known otherwise.

Frequently representing the flop is an AGGRESSIVE style of play. If you do it, you'll get a lot of action at the table... especially after the flop.

For example, if you come out firing after the flop three out of four hands, your opponents will begin calling your bets and giving you action... because they KNOW you don't have a great hand EVERY SINGLE TIME.

This comes in handy when you hit a MONSTER... like when you flop a set or a flush or something. You don't have to worry about everyone folding to you.

But even more important than getting lots of action, representing the flop will help you STEAL a lot of pots over the course of every card game.

And when YOU control the action and the betting, you'll find it much easier to steal blinds and pots after the flop.

And trust me, THESE SMALL POTS ADD UP... FAST. If you only go for the "big pots" in a poker game or tournament, you won't last long. You've got to stick your neck out there and go for the SMALLER POTS too...

OK, so representing the flop is a USEFUL and IMPORTANT TOOL in no-limit Texas Holdem poker.

Now you've got to learn how to represent the flop the RIGHT WAY...

I have FIVE BASIC RULES when it comes to representing the flop... each rule gets progressively more complicated as they go on.

But trust me, if you master these rules, you'll DEFINITELY be on your way to higher "poker profits" and winnings.

OK, so here they are. These are my FIVE RULES:

RULE #1: When you represent the flop, don't act weak by only betting the MINIMUM amount... BUT, don't bet so much that it can burn you.

This is kind of like the "not too hot, not too cold" principle.

You see... when you represent the flop, you've got to accept the fact that you will likely NOT get the chips back that you're betting.

I mean, obviously you want to WIN, don't get me wrong. BUT, if someone has a great hand and you're representing the flop WITHOUT a great hand, then there's a good chance you'll have to fold soon.

So when you make a representation bet, do NOT bet so much that you'll feel "pot committed".

On the other hand, don't bet too LITTLE. When you bet too little, your opponents will see right through it. And it won't be enough to scare the mediocre hands away.

For example... let's say you've got 9-8 suited and the flop hits K-8-2 and you're first to act. You don't want to CHECK because you know the guy after you will bet if you do.

So you REPRESENT THE FLOP by throwing out a bet...

If no one has the King, everyone will probably fold to your bet. Even if someone DOES have the King, they may fold if they don't have a decent kicker.

The key is you must make sure you BET ENOUGH. If you only bet the minimum amount here... someone with A-4 might call the bet, simply because the pot odds are in their favor. And if the Ace hits on the turn, you're in trouble.

So always be sure to bet BIG ENOUGH to scare out the bad and mediocre hands, but SMALL ENOUGH to not get in trouble if you lose the chips.

RULE #2: Whenever possible, represent the flop when you have OUTS.

This is a strategy most players don't quite "get" until you've been playing poker for a LONG time.

Here's the thing:

If you represent the flop frequently every single time you play Texas Holdem, you want the odds to be as much in your favor as possible.

In the scenario above, for instance, representing the flop with middle pair is a good move. Because you have some OUTS. If another 8 hits on the turn or river, you're going to have three-of-a-kind.

Obviously, hitting the eight is NOT likely (about 8.42%). But there's STILL A CHANCE, and that's what is important.

Think about it:

Let's say you have just a 5% chance of hitting one of your OUTS that would cause you to have the best hand at the table.

Well, if you represent the flop fifty times and get a caller TWENTY times, that means you'll MAKE your hand (on average) one time out of these twenty. And when you DO make your hand, you'll BUST your opponent and win a ton of chips.

Make sense?

This is kind of a MENTAL DISTINCTION that separates the pros from the wannabes. Pros think about the LONG TERM ODDS of playing. They don't base their decisions on situational circumstances alone. They base them on WHAT WORKS OVER THE LONG TERM.

That's how you develop a CONSISTENT winning career.

Because as you'll see in the next rule, you don't want to CONTINUE to represent the flop if people stay in the hand with you... unless you're confident that you can get them to fold.

But usually, if someone calls or raises, you want to "let up". Don't risk more chips when someone's got you beat.

So by representing the flop when you have OUTS you'll open yourself up to the chance of MAKING YOUR HAND on the turn (or sometimes river).

RULE #3: If you get raised, muck it.

All of these rules are general in nature... especially this one. Obviously you don't want to ALWAYS FOLD every time someone makes a raise.

BUT USUALLY, if you represent the flop with a bet and someone comes back over the top of you, that opponent will MOST LIKELY have a strong hand (maybe even a monster).

It's not logical to continue to bluff at the pot if you're up against a surefire winning hand. You'll lose too many chips that way.

That's the downside of being an aggressive player: You've got to give up and cut your losses quite often. Discipline yourself to do it.

RULE #4: Change gears with your betting amounts.

As we discussed earlier, one of the benefits to representing the flop is that opponents will give you more ACTION during the game because they'll "catch on" to your aggressive style.

That does NOT mean, however, that you should become PREDICTABLE. Being predictable is a recipe for disaster.

And that's why you've got to "change gears" and "mix it up" with your betting.

For example... in our scenario where you made a bet with your 9-8 suited (middle pair), let's say your bet was for 50 and then someone RAISED YOU to 200.

Your opponent probably has the King and a good kicker... maybe even two pair. So you fold your middle pair with a loss of only 50 chips.

NOW... when you fold, everyone at the table will SEE that you just made a bet and then folded to a raise. This will tell them that you were betting WITHOUT a good hand after the flop.

Now... let's say a few hands later the flop comes out 5-A-Q and you're second to act and you've got pocket deuces.

Your first opponent checks.

Now, although you know someone at the table probably has you beat right now, you're not sure if someone has the Ace... because there weren't any pre-flop raises.

So you REPRESENT THE FLOP (and the Ace) by betting. (Remember, you also have outs here... if a two comes you'll make trips.)

The key is to NOT BET 50 again, as you did with your eights just a few hands ago. If you bet 50 again... or always bet 50 when you represent the flop... your opponents will know exactly what you're doing and read right through you.

If Blake... who's sitting to your left... is only holding the Queen, he's going to fold if he thinks you've got the Ace.

But if he thinks you're just REPRESENTING the flop, he will call your bet. And you DO NOT want that to happen (because his Queens are better than your two's).

So instead of betting 50 again, you bet 150 this time. This way you stay out of any PATTERNS that will give away your hand... and increase the odds that everyone will put you on the Ace and fold.

RULE #5: After you get better at representing the flop, INTENTIONALLY STOP mixing up your bets in order to trap your opponents.

This is a "tricky" play that works very well against intermediate poker players.

Here's how it goes:

When you represent the flop and get "caught" in your semi-bluff, use the event to YOUR ADVANTAGE to bust your opponents.

Let's use the example from before with the 9-8 suited:

You got middle pair. You bet 50. Your opponent raised. And then you folded.

Well, let's say you represented the flop AGAIN a few hands later with a bet of 50. And then you got caught AGAIN when your opponent raised you... and you were forced to fold.

After watching this happen two or three times, your opponents will suddenly think they're geniuses and that they've got you "figured out".

They'll think, "Woa, when he bets 50 on the flop he doesn't have anything... and all I have to do is raise in order to scare him away."

And of course, you're doing this ON PURPOSE in order to trap your opponents.

Let's say a few hands later you get dealt pocket fours. The flop comes: 4-7-J.

You've flopped trips. Now what?

Well, since you've built a reputation for betting on the flop no matter what happens, you can feel safe betting and you'll probably get action.

But what KIND of action are you looking for?

You want to get as many chips into this pot as possible. So you take advantage of the "trap play" that you've created and you bet 50... again.

This time, your opponents think they've got you figured out. They think to themselves, "That flop didn't help him one bit, he's just up to his old ways."

So your opponent RAISES you.

And that's where you GET REWARDED for the trap you set up.

Now you can either re-raise, or maybe call and hope that your opponent tries buying the pot again after the turn card...

It doesn't really matter. Because as long as there aren't any draws out there, you can feel safe in knowing that you'll win the hand and a nice pot either way.

It's amazing to me how easily players will fall into this trap. (Especially with online poker.)

But remember... only use this trap play AFTER you have mastered the first four rules for representing the flop. And be sure that you aim the play at intermediate players, as they'll fall for it the quickest.

There's one last component I want to mention here that relates to our discussion of representing the flop... and that's what you should do when you make a PRE-flop raise.

My technique is simple:

If I raised before the flop, I will come out betting AFTER the flop... no matter what hits.

The reasoning is simple...

For starters, NOT betting after the flop is like waving a red flag and TELLING your opponents that the flop didn't help you.

If you represent the flop after your pre-flop raise, your opponents won't know what to put you on. They'll be more likely to fold.

And using this strategy over and over and over again pays off in the long run. Because after awhile your opponents will catch on...

And this benefits you in three ways:

1. You'll get more action when you catch a BIG hand.

2. Your opponents will fold more frequently to your pre-flop raises because they know you're going to bet after the flop as well. This gives you the opportunity to steal more blinds.

3. Your opponents will be easier to read. When they have a good hand they won't be afraid of you and they'll come back over the top with a raise...

This lets you know that they've got you beat and that you should just minimize your losses and fold.
THE RIGHT TIME TO CHASE A STRAIGHT

Learning how to properly represent the flop is a crucial aspect of Texas Holdem.

Chasing straights and draws will BURN you... there's no doubt about it.

The term "chasing" means you stay in the hand... hoping to catch a certain card (or cards) that will complete your straight.

The problem with chasing is that the ODDS ARE AGAINST YOU. And as you know, successful Texas Holdem poker is all about keeping the odds in your favor.

But sometimes chasing a straight IS the right thing to do. SOMETIMES.

Let me explain...

First off, let's look at the two different types of straight draws:

1. GUTSHOT - This is when you're trying to make an INSIDE straight... like if you have 4-5-6-8 and you need the 7.

2. OPEN-ENDED - This is when TWO cards can "make" your straight... like if you have 4-5-6-7 and need EITHER the 3 or the 8.

There's also what's called a "double belly buster", which is actually like two gutshots at once. We'll talk about this a little later.

OK, so how should you play a gutshot straight draw? Let's look at the odds... if you FLOP an inside (gutshot) straight draw, the odds of making your straight are 16.47%. If you have an inside straight draw after the TURN... with just the river card to go... your odds are 8.70%.

So the odds aren't good. 16.47% might SOUND like it's worth it... but you've got to ANTICIPATE the bet after the turn card.

For instance, let's say you flop an inside straight draw and someone makes a big bet. If you call and then miss your straight on the turn, what then?

Your opponent makes ANOTHER big bet... do you call to see the river card? You feel pot committed, but you know the odds are against you...

This is how you get into trouble with gutshot straight draws. You become pot committed and you chase a hand that's not worth chasing.

As a general principle, you should NOT chase gutshot straight draws... especially on the river.

When I flop a gutshot, I might call a small bet but that's it. And that's only when the odds are worth it.

As we'll discuss in a moment, you must also factor in the IMPLIED ODDS... but first, let's look at how to play open-ended straight draws.

For an open-ended straight draw, your odds of making your straight are MUCH better. If you flop an open-ender your odds of hitting are 31.45%. If you have an open-ender with just the river card to go, your odds are 17.39%.

Notice that you have BETTER chances of completing an open-ended straight draw just on the RIVER than completing a gutshot straight draw on both the turn AND the river. Interesting, huh?

OK, so what's the right way to play an open-ender?

Many players will just CHECK with an open-ended straight draw... and then CALL any bets.

This is REACTIVE card playing... and it's the WRONG thing to do.

You need to be PROACTIVE... and here's why:

Let's say you've got 6-7 of diamonds and the flop hits:

4-5-K

You've got the top half of an open-ended straight draw... either an 8 or a 3 will give you the nut straight.

The NATURAL TENDENCY here is to check. You don't have ANYTHING yet... no pairs, no high cards, nothing. So obviously you'd LOVE to wait to see if you make your straight before you risk any chips, right?

Wrong.

If you just check, you're making three dangerous mistakes:

Mistake 1: You're showing weakness.

Mistake 2: You're not increasing the pot size.

Mistake 3: You're giving your opponent a read on you.

There's a strange analogy I like to use for this.

If you're ever in the forest or wilderness and you encounter a bear, mountain lion, bobcat, or any other PREDATOR, the NATURAL TENDENCY is to get scared.

Most people would run away!

However... the RIGHT thing to do is to SHOW AGGRESSION and NOT show fear.

I'm dead serious here.

The right thing to do if you see a bear is to make a lot of noise, to raise your hands in the air and possibly hold up a coat or jacket (in order to appear bigger), and to snarl or growl.

It's counter-intuitive... but it's what you MUST do if you don't want to get attacked (or eaten).

Now... back to Texas Holdem... Lol. Your OPPONENT is your PREDATOR. Show them weakness and they will likely attack you.

When you have an open-ended straight draw, you want to see the next two cards... and you don't want to risk a lot of chips to do so.

So the RIGHT PLAY is to BET or RAISE the pot.

In our example above, you want to throw out a reasonably-sized bet. Your opponents might fold right there. Or you might get one or two callers.

NOW, when the TURN card comes, your opponents will probably check to you. So basically you're getting a FREE CARD. You can check and see the river for free.

If you HADN'T taken control of the betting, your opponents would have made you PAY A LOT to see the river card. And you might of been forced to FOLD your open-ended straight draw.

By taking control of the betting and coming out strong after the flop, you're actually investing LESS money overall to see the next two cards.

Now... the other reason taking control is important is because it doesn't give your opponent a read on you.

Say your opponent checks the flop and you also check. The turn card comes and it's a 3... giving you the straight.

Your opponent checks again and now all of the sudden you come out betting strong.

Obviously, your opponent will SEE what's going on here and will have a hunch that you just made your straight... and he'll fold.

If you DON'T bet after the 3, the odds of you making any real money off of this hand are slim, and you've let your straight go to waste.

So the key is to bet EARLY... that way if you HIT you're golden and you'll get paid. And if you DON'T hit you won't have to invest any more chips.

Say you took control of the betting after the flop and your opponent called with A-5. He's probably putting you on the King, but isn't sure... He's got middle pair along with an Ace.

The turn card comes and it's a 3, so you bet again. Your opponent calls again.

Finally the river hits and it's an Ace, giving your opponent TWO PAIR. By now he's confident that you have the King... and not the straight... since you were betting consistently after the flop.

So your opponent puts you ALL-IN with his hand... not knowing that you've got him DOMINATED. You win a big pot, all because you played the open-ender properly.

There's also what's called a "double belly buster" straight draw. A regular (single) belly buster is simply an inside straight draw. A DOUBLE means there are TWO different cards to make your straight... but it's not open-ended.

For example, if you were holding A-5 and the flop hit 3-4-7 you would have a DOUBLE BELLY BUSTER.

Either a 2 or a 6 would give you a straight.

Double belly busters are great because your opponents will often never see them coming... and your odds of hitting are the same as an OPEN-ENDED straight draw.

When an opponent doesn't put you on a hand, THAT is when you'll be able to win the most chips. This is known as IMPLIED ODDS.

Implied odds means that when you make your hand, you're going to get paid a LOT for it.

Implied odds is a very important part of making decisions in Texas Holdem... just like regular odds. Except the key distinction is that implied odds doesn't necessarily involve numbers or math percentages.

Implied odds is more about getting a SENSE for how big the pot will be if you make your hand.

When your implied odds are HIGH, you can often bet more early in order to build the pot size.

An example of high implied odds is when there's a straight draw on the board with HIGH CARDS. For instance, let's say you're holding J-10 and the flop comes Q-K-3.

You've got an open-ended straight draw... but you might face opponents who have a REALLY GOOD HAND right now... something like A-K, A-Q, or K-Q.

An opponent with a big hand is going to be very aggressive with his bets... and if a 9 or an Ace hits, you're going to win a ton of chips. Those are high implied odds.

On the other hand, this type of flop is BAD for you because it means you'll probably have to PAY DEARLY to see the turn and river cards.

Be careful... don't chase the straight if it's going to break your chip stack.

An example of a straight with LOW implied odds would be when it's all low cards on the board. After all, if no one has anything decent, no one is going to give you a lot of action.

When you have an open-ended straight draw with low cards and you sense weakness in your opponents, the best move is to act aggressively and take the pot down right there.

After all... nearly 70% of the time you are NOT going to hit your straight. So if you can win the pot by betting, do so.

If you do get a caller, that's OK too, because you still have a lot of outs and a good chance at busting your opponent (and now the implied odds are higher since he's pot committed and must have a good hand).

Another example of low implied odds is when the straight draw on the board is OBVIOUS. This is especially relevant when there's only ONE card needed to make the straight.

For instance, let's say you have K-7 and the board reads 3-4-5. And then the turn card comes and it's a 6.

Of course, with 3-4-5-6 on the board, your opponents WILL be suspicious that someone has the straight. This type of situation is sometimes good for a check-raise... or a strong bet to make it LOOK like you're buying the pot. (It just depends on your table image.)

With straight draws, be extra careful to pay attention to what ELSE is out there on the board. You will often encounter hands that BEAT you and wipe out your entire chip stack.

For instance... look for possible FLUSH draws. If your opponent might have made a flush, back off. Muck the hand if you need to and live to see another day.

Full houses are dangerous too. If two cards on the board pair up, be careful.

And last but not least, always think about what OTHER straights are possible. For instance, if you're holding 2-A and the flop hits 3-4-5, you have the BOTTOM end of the straight. Someone could have 7-6, or maybe 6-2, and would have you beat.

It's the same way with our double belly buster example. In that example the flop was 3-4-7 and you had A-5. Let's say a 6 hit the board.

Even though you have the straight (3-7), it's NOT the best possible straight. Your opponent could be holding 8-5... which would be the nut straight.

It's the same way with FOUR consecutive cards on the board. If the board reads 5-6-7-8 and you've got the 9, that doesn't mean you have the "nuts".

The nuts would be 10-9... which would give someone the straight (6-10).

The possibilities are ENDLESS... and you'll soon discover that the more you play Texas Holdem the more IMPORTANT every possibility becomes.

For the most part, keep in mind that you want to only "chase" a straight when the odds of hitting are most favorable, when the implied odds are good, and when you think you can see a cheap (or free) river card.

Knowing how to INCREASE your winnings and DECREASE your losses is the name of the game. Strategies like these will also minimize your risk during each pot... and help you secure a CONSISTENT winning streak.