How to Play Middle Pairs Preflop

Depending on your position,  your opponents and the actual poker game you are playing you can handle middle pairs preflop in different ways. Lets see through some examples here

    • If you are in a tournament and you are near the bubble playing middle pairs depends a lot on position. Actually if you are in early position I would recommend to even throw the hand away, since we are near the money (bubble) you don’t want to get in a nasty situation where you might get kicked out of the tournament. Here is a simple way how this could happen. You have 9 9 preflop and your are 3 betting  from early position. Remember you are near the bubble and the blinds are already big enough so that a re-raise from another player could cost you nearly all your remaining chips. Even if he does not re-raise and the flop shows 10 Q 2 then your opponent could easily have a higher pair and you might be forced to throw away the hand and lose a lot of chips that you would need for the later part of the tournament.


    •  If you are playing a NL poker cash game with 6 players you can play a middle pair from pretty much every position. All-in and re-raises from other players after you already did a 3 betting should not be called with a mere middle pair, since there is a good chance (depending on your opponent) that he has a higher pair than you have.


    • If you are playing SnG where the blinds are usually increased pretty fast a middle pair can become a  double-edged sword. My advice is to play for example 8 8 and 9 9 more often at the beginning of the SnG when the blinds are still small and you can see the flop for a rather small chip count. While you should play them more cautious once the blind start increasing.

In all these examples I just listed you always need to consider that there are several elements who can affect these mentioned situations. Like the moods of the other poker players, or the position from where you starting. The amount of chips you still possess (tournament) can also be a big factor.

How to Play Small Pairs Preflop

Playing small pocket pairs preflop is always somewhat tricky, because you will always be confronted with higher cards who can become higher pairs for the other poker players on your table.  That is why small pairs like 3 3 and 4 4 need to be handled with cautious.

Of course you will hope to hit three of a kind with the flop, but realistically this won’t happen that often. My recommendation is not to play them too aggressively at the lower tables since bluffs usually don’t work against the new players at the lower tables. The reason for this is that amateur players tend to act like the Policemen.

However, once you reach higher tables with bigger blinds the small pocket pairs can become pretty handy. At those tables even if you did not hit three of a kind you can still pretend to have a good hand and if you are in the right position then you can apply some pressure on the other players.

Lets see how  such a situation could look – You have 5 5 preflop, you are playing from early position and you are standard 3 betting. One player did call and the flop shows 7 J A. This isn’t as bad of a flop as you would think, since we expected over cards anyway. Yet, you played from early position and it’s not that unlikely that you actually could have an A! This is what we are going to use for our advantage (the advantage of position). The next bet we are making shouldn’t be neither too high, nor too low otherwise the opponent might see through are intention. Betting 1/3 of the pot is more than enough, since we do not want to lose too much money if the other guy might have the real A. This way we can make the most from our small pocket pair.

Having Success in Poker

Sometimes it appears that some people have natural talent for playing poker, while others no matter how hard they try they fail to be victorious. The ones that lose too often are always blaming the bad luck but every professional player knows that if you want to have success in poker you should have the knowledge and also follow some principles.

Having success at poker is usually linked to three factors:

  • discipline
  • self-confidence
  • intelligence

You don’t have to have all these factors on top level to be successful, but if you don’t have at least one of these factors, being a winner will be very hard.

Let’s talk about discipline first. Every professional poker player will tell you that good discipline is one of the keys for good playing, although many long time players struggle with it. When we talk about discipline linked with poker, there are few sides that need to be observed. For example, every player needs to practice discipline when it comes to techniques used in a game. Because proper play can be dull, it takes some discipline in the choice of your game, so if something is not “working” for that game try another technique, but once you choose it stick to it. It is extremely important to practice discipline in order to stay calm after a few mad hands. You don’t want your opponents to see your emotions and totally ruin your chances for winning.

Having discipline when it comes to bankroll management is also very important because you can lose your money very fast.
If you plan to be a professional poker player, discipline is crucial not only to preserve motivation on high level, but also to treat poker as a profession and consistently implement the recommended time at the poker table.

Whether you are currently winning or losing self discipline will help you exclude the emotions. Although it sometimes seems that playing good for a longer period will never end, and that you can start playing on sums that you can’t afford because of the good “luck”, it takes some discipline to stay sober  and to remember that bad luck might appear at any moment and you can’t do nothing about it.

Having success at poker is sometimes linked with intelligence. It takes some intelligence to understand the basic rules of poker and to apply the guidelines and advises at the table. You have to be critical, and react quickly at a given situation. If you are not that good at making quick decisions and solving problems it will be very difficult to become successful.

Self-confidence is the third factor that determines successfulness in poker. Although this factor is often linked with how someone feels about his looks and his ability to talk with girls, when we talk about poker this self-confidence means being strong and consistent while making decisions at the table.  Poker is not a game for insecure people. You need to be confident and bold enough to make intelligent moves.

If you think that you don’t posses all three factors don’t feel bad. They can all be practiced and rarely any player has all these factors on high levels. Keep working on them and the results will come.

How to Play Good Bluffs

Bluffing is a method that is usually linked with poker. It is very useful and it can bring you wins even when you are not so lucky with the cards. However using bluffs is not something that should be done randomly and when you feel like that. It should be done carefully and only against serious players with serious stakes. Think about it. Why wouldn’t someone check your cards if the stakes are low? If it is a small amount that is in play other players might call just out of curiosity. Always remember that the main reason for bluffing is to force the other players to fold.

Bluff Black And White Games Poker  - max60500 / Pixabay

Almost every serious poker player is familiar with the A-K play after the flop. It is a strategy where you raise the pot although you didn’t get anything useful. This is a pure example of simple but yet profitable bluff. But in order to be good at bluffing you need to consider few factors that will help you win – Image, Stack, Position, Opponents and Reading.

When we talk about image, if you are a kind of player that rises and calls too often then bluffing might not be the right strategy for you. The opponents will “read” you and instead of folding they will follow you until the end. That’s why you need to play calm and appear that you are very cautious, so every player on the table will think that you only play safe and that you don’t bluff at all. If you want to create this kind of image then don’t start with the bluffs from the beginning of the game. Let the game develop and create your image steadily.

Another factor that needs to be considered while bluffing is the stack. You can’t bluff with small stacks; the stack needs to be big enough so that you can have space to bluff. We will give you a short example – if the pot is high and your opponent has 1/3 of the stack left then it is not a good moment for bluffing. It is most likely that he will call whatever amount of money you raise.

Position on the table is also very important when it comes to bluffing. So, whenever you try to make a good bluff check your position on the table. The most important thing is your position compared to the one of the dealer and after that the position compared to other potentially dangerous players. With the help of your position you can see how players react and see if they are weak or strong and calm.
Bluff against opponents that look smart. They are very cautious and wait for their cards to come. They often play safe and fold. That’s the type of opponent that you are looking for.

If you think that you have read your opponent take advantage of that. If you think that he has a pair of Jacks or Queens and there is an Ace on the table then make a bluff. He is scared of that card and you can act like that card was all you were looking for. If you can’t read him then stop the bluff because there is no point of bluffing.

Don’t place all your hopes on bluffing but using it occasionally can help you a lot!

Luck in Online Poker

Every professional poker player will tell you that poker is not a game of luck or chance and that it is more a game of skills. It is the beginners who believe in luck because sometimes it is possible to win without much thinking or calculation. But when we talk about poker and online poker in a long run luck is only a minor factor.

There are many reasons why online poker is different from games of chances. All games of chance are designed according to strict mathematical concepts that ultimately ensure a profit only for the casino while winning in a poker game whether it is online or traditional one requires much more.

The knowledge and experience are the main factors that make players differ in their “luck”.  Take roulette for example. This classic game of luck is not affected by the players’ behaviour or skills. The probability of winning is always the same no matter what numbers or colors you have chosen. Of course it is possible to win even a dozen times in a row or more, but when we talk about playing for an extended period of time you will lose up to 5% of every stake you make and there is nothing you can do about it because roulette is a game of chances.

Poker is something completely different and there is no room to complain how unlucky you are if you are closely following the game and your opponents. You have the possibility to make a decision that can change the flow of the game at any time. With this opportunity you can always affect the final outcome. Everything begins with the selection of the initial cards. If you think that you don’t have good cards, you can immediately withdraw from the game. Waiting for the luck to come into play and thinking that maybe after the flop I will get miraculously lucky is not something that serious poker players would do.

You can always wait for the right cards because there are many turns so you don’t need to rush, maybe in the next hand you will have pair of Aces. Of course, in poker you will often lose because the opponent had more luck than knowledge, but always keep in mind that one lost hand does not mean anything. Keep calm and be cautious, don’t let the emotions make you do something foolish. Having luck in a poker game is something that occurs temporarily and lives shortly. This factor is negligible in a long term and the player with better skills and knowledge always wins in the end.

It is good to remember that there are periods when mathematics and probability look like they are not really on your side, but that is not a matter of luck. Playing the wrong way can happen to anyone, but instead of thinking how unlucky you are, think about how bad you play. Stay focused and you will get back on track in a short time.

When it comes to luck there is no difference between online poker and traditional poker so these advices apply to both types of poker.

Poker Bankroll Management Is Crucial

Money management can be really difficult for some people. They live for the day and whenever they earn something they tend to spend it immediately and their account stays as it was before – usually empty.

In this way they can’t leave the comfort zone and whenever they have income it is all right but there is not much space for bigger investments. But what if that calculated income is late or even over? In these cases bankruptcy and lower living conditions take place and that is why money management is so important.

These things also apply for poker. Your bankroll resembles your basic budget and adequate bankroll management is a crucial principle in poker, of course if you aim to make profit and be a successful player. The secret of successful bankroll management is to stick to your own proven guidelines and play within your limits. These rules apply for both sit & go and cash games.

Remember that if you go out of balance the game will be over. That is why you need to be cautious and don’t get yourself in a situation where you have to risk everything you have in one hand. So being in control means everything. Keep in mind that a game of poker is not a steady river where you just play and watch your money pile up. There are periods when you lose but there are periods when you win, it is extremely important to keep your bankroll safe for all those ups and downs.

If you follow some general rules like the ones that we will present here, you can be sure that your bankroll management is done in a right way.

What is the first thing that you do when you join a game? Buy-in of course. So take a close look about how much money is needed for a buy-in. You need to be ready to play for a longer period without a profit, you don’t want to sit on the table and hope that after three hands you will start making profit. On the contrary you should be ready to invest at least 25 buy-ins(or a little bit more if you are playing Sit & Go game) before you sit on the table. If you don’t have that amount of money it’s better to look for tables with lower buy-ins. When we talk about Sit & Go there is another good rule called “two percent rule” that can be very helpful. It basically means that you should not invest more than 2% of your overall bankroll on a single Sit and Go game.

As we have said before your bankroll is your basic poker budget so you must be very cautious. Don’t buy something that you can’t afford. It is always a good idea to have some reserves just in case. Thanks to these reserves you can get back in play if you are having a bad period.

Good poker bankroll management is what makes a difference between a losing and a winning player. Without proper money management even the best players on the globe don’t stand a chance.

Start with a big or a small deposit

When you decide to start a game of poker this is the question that comes first on your mind. This is a very serious question that can certainly affect the style of your play and of course the chances of winning or losing.

Having a small deposit can lead you to unnecessary risk. It is natural to think that you won’t lose much and so it not that wrong to place the deposit even if the cards are not good. In this way you will turn away from your own guidelines and you will keep playing in situations where you should fold. Eventually you will figure out that taking unnecessary risks is not the way to make profit no matter how much is at stake.

However if you place a big deposit, that is way bigger than the once that you usually play with or compared to the budget that you have, you will play too cautious and too scared. The feeling that you have a lot to lose will put pressure on you and you will start to make wrongful decisions in different situations.

Remember that it is hard to find a perfect balance but finding the proper deposit is something that is very important. This question is especially difficult for people that have just started playing poker. They are usually not sure how much money they are willing to risk in the world of poker. There is no definitive answer to this question because it depends on many things.

Everyone should consider their financial situation and their willingness to risk some money in order to get profit via poker. If you are beginner we advise you to start playing with smaller deposits. Because it takes time to feel the game. You can have all the theoretical knowledge but practice is something completely different.

Some say that you should think of a sum and then divide it in two. Let’s explain this trough an example. If you have a budget of 200$, divide it in two and we get to a sum of 100$. Now divide that sum with 10 and you will get to a sum of 10$. Now find a table that accepts deposit of 10$ and you are good to go!

How did we get to this number? Well, although poker is a game of knowledge and skills you might enter a bad period and lose more than 20 hands in a row. So by using this strategy you will still have money to get back on track, overcome the bad period and start earning. In this way you will be protected against bad series but be careful because even if you follow this rule you still might end the game without success.

The total amount of money that you have invested should not be something that will affect your style of life. So if you have lost all your poker money take a break and invest the same amount of money after a while.

Whether you choose to play with big or small deposits, always be careful and remember that poker requires patience and a good strategy.

Stay Calm at the Table

It is hard to stay calm at the table while you are playing poker, because all kind of emotions go through your mind. This comes as a result of the competitive character of this game. We have all heard the phrase “Poker face” and this is something that every professional player tries to achieve so he could be successful.

Of course that’s not easy at all. For example when you have a good hand, you are happy, excited and impatient. When you are having a bad period you feel displeasure, nervousness and even anger. All these feelings need to be masked if you don’t want your rivals to take advantage.

That is why poker players that want to be successful need to learn how to stay calm at the table while playing the game. They must hide what they think at the moment. No matter how good or bad your cards are stay cool, by doing so your current situation remains mystery for the opponents and you even have a chance to bluff.

During the game many players expect a certain card and make combinations prior to the dealing of the cards and even a slightest oscillation from their plans makes them upset. That’s wrong. Players that are angry, upset or irritated tend to make moves that are foolish and they will most likely regret them. These players become too aggressive and the opponents can predict their next moves. After a short period of time they are out of the game.

Keep in mind that staying calm at the table is very important but achieving that is very difficult. So be prepared for practicing. It is not just the face that needs to be emotionless; your body moves should also be limited. We have all heard about body language so pay attention to that too.

Be prepared for failure, at least for one hand. We all play to win but losing is part of the game too. Don’t be disappointed if you have few losing hands. Remember that staying focused and following the guidelines will eventually result in success. There is no need to get all emotional if you start losing.

If you feel uncomfortable watching other players, keep watching at the table and at your cards. The other players might think that you have bad cards and you can use that as an advantage.

Some say that visualization helps a lot. So if you are having a bad period try to think of something nice and watch as your problems go away. Of course keep an eye on the game, this visualization should be performed for a short time.

When we talk about body posture it is known that some players tend to lean forward when they have good cards while others sit back in their chairs when they have bad cards. Try to find your perfect body posture before the game begins, be relaxed and keep that position during the whole game. Try to show total disinterest.

Remember – patience is a virtue!

Taking Player Notes

Watching your opponents moves and predicting their future moves based on that observation can be a very useful tactic. But when we talk about taking players notes we surely don’t mean that you should prepare a notebook and a pen and start taking notes for every single move on the table.

If you’re playing a poker game and you look around the table and can’t tell who the sucker is, it’s you – Paul Newman

First of all it is not practical and you probably won’t have time to write down everything and even if you do, you won’t be able to analyze that while the game is on. Second, you would probably be considered as a beginner and even ridiculed by other players if you bring a notebook on the table. You certainly don’t want to start the game with a pressure like that!

But when we talk about online poker this becomes a completely different situation. If you have played poker online you have probably seen that there is an option to take notes (at least this is an option on every popular site that is offering online poker). The thing is that most of the players don’t use this option and think that it is useless.

This is not true, especially if you want to be successful and take advantage of other players mistakes. By taking notes you can find out which are the weak spots of your opponent and even predict their future moves. This is something that can be very useful and probably make you victorious in a long run. Taking notes will keep you focused and determined to win. Now that we have concluded how useful taking player notes are, the real question is how to perform proper note taking.

Keep three things in mind (especially If you play tournaments) – stack size, position on the table and what period of the game is. Put these three parameters in front of your note.

Remember that you are not writing a novel. You are simply writing down important facts about opponents style of game that should help you later in the game. One thing that is important is when does the opponent raise. When does he feel comfortable to invest more? Is it when there are certain cards down or does he bluff? By taking noted you will be able to tell the answer.

Mark the players using the site’s features. Many of the websites have this system where you can quickly change the notes for the players that you watch. Once you click on them you will get the notes that you have written previously. So you don’t have to write down everything in one place.

Taking player notes is not something that should make you lose focus. This technique is only here to help you but the main thing is to follow the game closely. So if you are sometimes distracted with these notes, think what you want to play instead of writing it down.

Having useful info about your rivals will certainly help you as a poker player. So don’t underestimate the importance of this future in the world of online poker and start using it.

Disappointment and Motivation

Having a good motivation is one of the most important things in life and in poker also. Different types of people have different motivation to start playing and keep playing poker. People have various reasons why they join the table and some of them will be exposed here.

It is always a good thing to ask yourself why you want to join the game. That reason or reasons will affect the way you play. Your tolerance to losing, your reactions and mood during the poker game will be affected by the motives that made you join it. There are some excellent reasons why people start a poker game but there are also some unclear and bad motives that are disastrous for their mood and their pocket too. This is closely linked to the disappointment that can occur when you have a bad period.

Every player is usually motivated when he starts to play. He has the money; he is eager to make some profit, but what happens if the poker player starts to lose and has the feeling that the luck has turned the back on him. A decline in motivation to play poker begins and instead of trying to get back the player falls even deeper. They start to lose faith in success that gave them the confidence to play victoriously.

People usually start to feel disappointed when they start to lose control after a series of bad results. It is no wonder why players that won three times in a row are motivated but we should be aware that we can change the situation even when we are losing. We are in control and things will change if we stay focused.

If you want to stay motivated set a realistic goal. Aim for a reasonable profit. That means that you should play carefully and by using good strategies. Never play when you don’t feel like playing. Poker is not a job that has to be done even when you are lazy and not in the mood. Some people set very high goals and when they lose they completely lose motivation. Don’t force yourself; sometimes being too eager can lead to foolish moves.

Stress is another factor that can have influence on motivation. Many people live stressful lives and they are constantly under pressure. That doesn’t mean that they should avoid playing poker.

Everything that we have talked about can be a problem in your game. Of course if you are not an addicted poker player, you can be a winning player even if you are not able to completely overcome these problems. However, do not forget that even if you win, those winning would have been much higher if you didn’t have bad motivation for playing like boredom or trying to make fast profit etc. So before starting a poker game think about what things can disappoint you and are there any things that can act as bad motivators.

Many players can see that the biggest fails in their annual result come from a very small number of sessions. These are almost always the sessions that were played when they were disappointed and they’ve lacked motivation. Don’t make that mistake, set a reasonable goal, pick a good strategy and stick to it!