Texas Hold’em is a game that is very basic in appearance. To the outsider it seems fairly simply. Look at your two face cards, look at the cards dealt, and bet. The game is, however, much more complicated than that. It is strategy and knowledge of the game that allows people to make a living playing. If it were simply a card game luck would be more of a factor.
We shall take a look at a hand and situation that may arise in your game. This is applicable whether you’re on a poker site or on a real table. For example, say you are dealt two jacks, or as they are called, the hooks. This is quite possibly the hardest hand to play correctly. For the sake of this article, you are currently seated on the button in a six person game. The person first to act folds, the next one calls, then another fold and the action is to you. We will start with first person to act, the caller. He could have a variety of hands all the way from a small pocket pair to a monster like KK that he wants to trap someone with. With the first option, a weak hand, you would want to raise here and force them to pay more to see the flop. If you raise here and any of the remaining players reraise you, then you have a tough decision to make. If you just call you will have very little information as to what your opponents have and will be letting them all see a cheaper flop. So you decide to raise.
The small blind folds, the big blind calls and so does the initial caller. Now what? The flop comes 5 9 Q two hearts and a club. The big blind checks and the initial caller bets. The amounts of all the bets have been omitted to simplify this example. We will explore that in other examples. The action is now on you. Since you have two opponents and one has currently bet, your decision is crucial. You need to try and put your opponent on a hand before you proceed. As we said before he could have a variety of hands from a small pocket pair all the way to a monster he is slowplaying. Off the bat we will rule out a monster hand because it is likely that he would have reraised you preflop to get more money into the pot once you showed strength. That is good and bad news. Here is why. Obviously it is good news because he probably does not have a hand like KK or AA and bad news because he may have flopped a set or if he is playing a medium range hand like KQ and he has top pair with an excellent kicker. Either way it is trouble. Calling a bet will only put more money into the pot and it is just delaying your decision. It is a clear raise or fold situation. So you decide to fold.
This is not a bad play. The big blind folds and the bettor shows his hand. He is holding QJ which is in the range we decided and has you dominated. Not only does he have an over pair he also has one of your outs and you would be drawing nearly dead. This was an example of how playing jacks can be a very difficult task. Perhaps the only way to avoid this is to raise more preflop. That way if someone plays back at you then you can make a crucial decision earlier.
It is decisions like these that make Texas Hold’em one of the most complex and exciting games to play. It is not at all cut and dry and no two situations are the same. There is a lot to take into account when playing each hand. Hopefully, this example was able to give you an opportunity to look at a hand from a different perspective.