Poker Essays

Folding your way to victory.

By Andrew LeRoy. November 26th 2005.

How do you win at Poker?

By winning as much money as possible in the pots you win and contributing as little as possible to the pots you lose.

Achieving this is an art.

The first step is to examine the fundamental theorem of poker which states: Every time you play as if you could see your opponents cards you gain, every time you misread them you lose. This concept is straight forward but is worth continual contemplation. All of the deeper concepts in poker seed back to this axiomatic law.

Most people will fold "rags", hands like 62 and 48. They understand that these hands can't win many showdowns and will show a long term loss. However most people play far too many starting hands without good reasons to do so.

If you are new to Poker the first requirement is to play TIGHT.

This means playing far fewer hands than most opponents. As your understanding increases you will play more hands, particularly from good position, but the major adjustment most players can make is to play fewer starting hands. Premium starting hands only is the rule for beginners. What this does is take care of the "contributing as little as possible to the pots you lose" aspect of winning Poker. Good players will realize that you don't play many hands and will adjust to it, but most players aren't good players.

The other aspect of playing tight is the fit or fold concept. In loose, limit Holdem you must get away from your hand if the flop doesn't fit it. By fit I'm talking top pair, 2nd pair with overcard kicker, or a strong draw. Don't chase. Remember "contributing as little as possible to the pots you lose" is the key.

AGGRESSION is the other way to win. Don't be scared of betting and raising. When you are ahead bet for value. Don't be scared of losing your opponents. They will call far too often. This is the "winning as much money as possible in the pots you win" aspect of winning poker.

So there you are... some simple concepts to think about. Every time you fold out of a pot you didn't win ask yourself, "was I in there with too cheap a starting hand?" Every time you take down a pot ask yourself, "did I get every cent I could have?" Then adjust. Continual improvement is the key.

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