Game Plays in No Limit Texas Hold’em
Tuesday, 15. December 2009

It has been said often enough in various forums that poker is a game of strategy – not just a game of chance. You refine your poker playing strategy as you become more experienced in the game. As with all games, there are times when certain situations call for specific moves or game plays which you need to keep in mind and use or adapt to the unique situations of a game.

Progressive Bluffing
What do you do, for example, if you get a ‘marginal’ hand – not too good, not too bad but still a long way away from winning the pot? Consider semi-bluffing or progressive bluffing.

This is technically a bluff, since you are calling or raising with a weak hand, but you are hoping that you will hit a big draw later so you will truly have a strong hand. For example, you’re the button in a table of five, holding Jc8c, and the flop reveals 10c7d9c. You’ve got a drawing hand but someone else with a better hand can easily beat you. You still take the risk and raise, though.

The blinds fold; the next one checks as does the last man. You realize that they’re testing you, wanting to learn what you got. The check means that they’re not holding spectacular cards either, probably a pair with an Ace kicker. So you give them what they expect – you raise and watch as they both call you on it.

The turn comes up Qh – which gives you your straight with a Queen kicker. The first player folds, the second player raises you. You decide to re-raise him. The river turns up blank and it’s time to show the cards – you’ve got a flush while he’s holding to a straight with a 10 kicker.
The semi-bluff is different from a bluff in that it took several betting sessions to complete, but it still worked.

Checking Then Raising
Another situation arises when you’re in an early position with three opponents and holding a good hand (say pocket Aces with the flop showing AQQ for a full house). In such a situation, check raising is the appropriate game play – you check on the bet, followed by one player folding, a second checking – and the player before the button calls your bet.

When the bet comes around, you raise the bets – and watches while the second player chokes and folds. The other player has a choice of either matching your bet – or backing off and folding. He opts for the latter and folds while you rake in the money.

These are only two of the possible scenarios that may take place in the course of a poker game. Bear in mind, however, that the above hypothetical situation MAY happen – it will be up to you to adapt your strategy to actual circumstances.

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