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Online Poker - Texas Hold'em Tips\Advice

Randy Holland our buddy from stops by to give us his weekly Texas Hold'em Tips.

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Randy Says: "I play at Paradise because of the security and integrity of the site and I love the array of options when choosing which game to play."

Accomplishments: Back to back titles at the L.A. Poker Classic in 2002 and 2003 in Limit Hold'em. Two World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelets/championships; 2001 World Poker Open Stud Hi-Lo Champion; 2000 WSOP Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo Champion; 1996 WSOP Razz Champion

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Randy Holland

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Hold'em Tips Playing Big Hands Playing Medium Hands Playing Small Hands
Playing Suited Big Cards
Playing Unsuited Big Cards
Playing Lesser Suited Cards Playing Other Hands Playing The Blinds

Hold'em Tips For Texas Hold'em

Playing The Blinds

1. Playing the blinds.
Playing the blinds is different from any other position. Your decisions must be premised on the fact that you will be out of position for the remainder of the hand. For the big blind of course, unraised pots are easy: you're in.

Little blinds need to consider the price of calling unraised pots. There is a significant price difference in two-chip and three-chip games (ie $10-$20 with $5 and $10 blinds = two-chip; $15-$30 with $10 and $15 blinds = three-chip.) In unraised pots in three-chip games, the little blind should come with virtually any two cards if anybody has entered before the blinds, unless he has reason to believe the big blind will raise behind him. Two-chip games call for more analysis and hands not listed in the above discussion should be generally be mucked. The difference is the price the pot lays you relative to the amount you have to invest. You're virtually always getting the right price to invest the extra chip in three-chip games, regardless of what you hold, but that's not true of two-chip games. That said, how the situation "plays" is of monumental importance in these situations. If you can take advantage of weaknesses in your current opponents you can loosen up significantly.

In raised pots there are two principle considerations for the blinds: 1) What is the price the pot is laying you and 2) how likely is the pot to be raised again behind you. As you already have one bet or a partial bet invested, the price you are getting from the field is better than other entrants are getting, making a broader range of hands correct to call. If the opener raised the pot (and has not been re-raised) and you therefore cannot be re-raised, then you can call more loosely (i.e. big blind)

Whenever applying these principles to loosening up it is important to consider that there are variables which encourage tightening up. As a general principle, the greater the propensity of your opponent(s) to hold a hand that plays well against yours and/or play well after the flop the tighter you must make your pre-flop blind decisions. You will be out of position for the remainder of the hand, making play on later streets more difficult. The small blind should call raises somewhat tighter than the big blind, because the cost is higher, the small blind always has the risk of being re-raised behind, and has worse position if the big blind comes.
Calling raises by late position openers which may be blind steals is a different question altogether. When defending against blind steals, the greater the propensity of your opponent to raise on the steal and the greater your ability to outplay him after the flop, the looser you should call or re-raise your opponent. Tend to re-raise more often against intimidated opponents who are likely to fold when bet into after the flop. Tend to re-raise more out of the little blind if you think the pre-flop raising player is on the steal. This play will often blow out the big blind, allowing you to take off the flop heads-up, and allows you to make a steal bet by leading the flop. Some poker writers insist that you should always raise out of the little blind, but I think that is wrong. If the big blind is unlikely to fold for the two bets, or is likely to fold for a single bet anyway and/or will make many post-flop playing errors then there can be more profit in the long run not making this raise. As with all decisions, it calls for situational analysis.

Beyond re-raising as a play against those possibly stealing your blinds, the question arises as to when you should raise a legitimate holding from the blinds. As you will be out of position for the entire play of the hand, these raises generally should be limited to premium hands (AA, KK, QQ, AKs and in some situations AQs and AKo.) Raising from the small blind has the potential positive of moving out the big blind, and the potential negative of being hit from behind by the big blind. I raise out of the blinds very tight, but will also make aggressive plays out of the blinds in situations in which I think I might win the pot post-flop without a hand. If my opponents are aware of my tight raising requirements out of the blinds a steal play gains value.

Blind battles (hands played only by the blinds) involve a lot of tricky detail, and can be very hard to play. It's not the sort of thing where you can say play this hand or don't play that hand. The situation is overwhelmingly driven by the texture of your opponent. The play has characteristics of heads up play, except that the little blind doesn't have the advantage of the button, and the basic principles of heads up strategy apply (see below).

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