Introduction to Poker strategies

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Introduction to Poker strategies

The Texas No-Limit Hold ‘em play has improved and modified greatly over the years due to its increased popularity and acceptance in mainstream culture as well as easy access to online cardrooms. In the traditional poker rooms, 9 and 10 -handed play was the norm. However, initially, the 6-handed no-limit was a favourite. In these short-handed games, players found themselves in interesting situations with profit potential. Therefore, we will give you a brief introduction to HUNL strategy in poker.

A solid understanding of the HUNL strategy or Head Up Poker is important for Hold ‘em players. Additionally, player’s egos flare at the poker table and it is good to have the skills necessary to take advantage of an opportunity to have a weak player around. Certain poker terminologies will be used throughout the Poker Academy series which will be reviewed. Often when we analyze a situation, we will optimize on focusing the play of one player while referring to his opponent’s strategy. The first player will be called as HERO and the opponent will be called the VILLAIN. 

Let’s cover a few basics now, shall we? 

Structure Of The Game 

Both the players (the Hero and the Villain) must put chips into the pot at the beginning of the hand without seeing any cards – one posts the Small Blind (SB) and the other is the Big Blind (BB) which is twice as much as the SB. The abbreviations SB and BB will be used to refer to the number of chips they contain as well as the position of the players. Being on the BUTTON is the same as being on the SB. 

Small Blind (SB) and Big Blind (BB) | Poker Academy | Academy52

Let’s say that the Hero is in SB. After the blinds are posted, each player is dealt two cards which are known only to him. The SB acts first. He can fold, call or raise. 

Hole Cards | Poker Academy | Academy52

This first round of betting is called the preflop round. If the preflop action ends with a call, then a flop is dealt. 

Pre-Flop HUNL Strategy | Poker Academy | Academy52

The flop is three cards which are shared by both players, and we use the word flop to refer to the cards as well as the round of betting that occurs. 

In all the subsequent rounds of betting the BB must act first. After the flop betting, the fourth shared card known as the turn is dealt and the third round of betting occurs. Finally, the fifth card called the river is dealt. 

Betting Rounds | Poker Academy | Academy52

If the river betting is completed without either player folding, the pot is awarded to the player with the best hand made of any five cards from his 2 private ones and the 5 community cards (the flop, turn and river together). 

Understanding stack sizes

The smaller of the two player’s stack sizes before a hand starts is known as the effective stack size. Since no more than this may go into the pot in any single hand, all strategic decisions made will be in reference to the effective stack.

Stack Sizes in HUNL strategy | Poker Academy | Academy52

A bet of the almost entire effective stack is known as an all-in bet. 

In preflop the first raise is called a raise, the first re-raise is called a 3-bet, the second re-raise is called a 4-bet and so on. 

The final and most important term that we will touch upon in various topics the advanced section is the ‘Range’. A range is a group of hands that is often used to describe a player’s strategy in a situational context. 

Hand Ranges | Poker Academy | Academy52

For example, we may refer to the range of hands which a player raises from the SB preflop. We will often specify ranges of hands using an abbreviated list. The range of hands containing all pairs, all aces and all suited kings maybe written as 44+, A2+, K3+ 

Things You Should Know

  • Know the structure of HUNL strategy and why it is important for all formats of NLHE
  • Know the meaning of the word range and understand the use of this concept in strategic situations. 

Understanding the basics discussed in this chapter will give you an idea about how we proceed using approximate game situations. Read on to the next chapter on the Early Position to know more. 


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