One of the first lessons I learned in poker is that catching up is not only profitable it is the difference between being a winner and a loser

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Catching Up

One of the first lessons I learned in poker is that catching up is not only profitable it is the difference between being a winner and a loser. Back in those days I was playing limit poker and hands like Ace King were useless unless the flop came Jack Queen Ten. Even then you had to sweat the board pairing, typically 9 people saw the flop (out of 11, yes I am well aware this is a silly game) and everyone hit a little bit of something. The name of the game was playing hands that caught up easily like pairs. Over time the losers couldn?t chase any longer, they had just lost too much doing it so the game soon went to only 5 people seeing the flop. Ironically, that was when I made my most profit. With too many people playing almost no one is doing anything too terribly wrong so your edge against the collective group is not that significant. These days No Limit is the game and the punishment for playing badly is swift. Even in a loose $5-$10 game it would be rare to see 5-7 people calling $100 raise. So the field size gets smaller assuming you make decent raises and don?t price people in. Raising to $40 with 5 people in screams of a hand like Sevens where if you hit your set you have 5 other people on board and can stack at least one of them with top pair. So let me introduce you to a few concepts: First Bluff: As you see more flops the texture of flops becomes easier to read and understand. It is important to bluff at favorable flop textures to set up some of the plays I will be mentioning later. In the case of playing against an overly aggressive opponent that always makes continuation bets you might want to check raise them with air occasionally just to let them know that you are onto their plan and that won?t fly while you are at the table.

Set Mining: This is the hobby of all nits everywhere. They just wait for pairs to hit the flop and try to get all the money in and unfortunately most people aren?t paying attention and don?t realize they haven?t played a hand in two hours. That is one of the advantages of online, between surfing for porn and sweating the $20 bet they have on Youngstown State people don?t pay attention so tight players get away with more online. This is why First Bluff is so powerful because when you hit your set you will build a monster pot by just leading out, if you bluff enough eventually people start calling you down with weaker hands. That is when you show them the nuts.

Playing suited connectors in position: You have at least 2 more options playing suited connectors in position than you do out of position. Ideally you would like to hit your hand occasionally and not bluff all the time but suited connectors give you the added option of semibluffing in position with information. Playing suited connectors early you are really only guessing. Hands like Ace King and Ace Queen are great and likely represent the majority of playable hands but it is rare that someone will ?stack off? in a decent game with a hand like Ace Jack. Sets are the best ?catch up? hands. In the case of suited connectors it is likely better to hit your off card rather than the card that makes you. As an example, you will likely make more from your opponents by hitting the card that gives you trips (assuming you have a pair and a flush draw) than you will if you hit your flush. So bang the six harder. You have to have a feeling of how the table perceives you and use that image against them. Otherwise, the image you have established hasn?t allowed you to take advantage of catching up.


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