Poker Terms

This is a quick glossary that will explain the fundamentals of poker and a few basic strategies.    If you read this article, one should already know the basic rules of Texas Hold’em.

Blind: This is the forced stake of a player before he gets his card. The player to the left from the dealer pays the small blind and the one next to the left pays the big blind.

Board Cards: The cards in the middle of the table which everyone is allowed to use.

Flop: The first three community cards that come on the poker table.

Preflop: The time before the flop when you have only two cards in hand.

Turn: This is the fourth community card that is being shown after the flop.

River: This is the fifth and final community card that is being shown after the turn.

Draw: The possibility to significantly improve your hand thereby that a certain card appears on the table. For example with a Flush Draw it is hoped that one card with a specific symbol (e.g. spades) comes.

Limit Poker: Poker with fixed bets. In a $1-2 limit game, all bets and raises are $1 in the first two rounds (preflop and flop), and all bets and raises are $2 in the last two rounds (the turn and the river).

Pot Odds: With the pot odds you calculate how much money value the next card has, to wit, how much you can pay at a max. When somebody is only missing one card for a diamond flush, then the chances to get a diamond with the next card are 18%. If there are 200$ in the pot, then you should go with a bet of maximum 36$ (0.18*200$=36$). If someone bets 100$, then it is not worth it to call, since the bet is too high and the chances are too low.

Implied Odds: Implied odds are the same as pot odds, except that also future bets are being implied in the calculation.

Longhanded: This way a poker game is called that includes seven or more players.

Shorthanded: A poker game in which less then seven players are participating.

Outs: This is the number of cards that can improve your hand.

If you have 7c 8h and the flop is 9h 10s 2d, then every 6 and J are going to complete a street. So you have eight outs (four 6 and four Jacks).

Math in Poker

Good poker players know the important percentages. For example they know that they have a one to eight chance to get three of a kind out of a pair.

  • Understand the importance of outs. An out is a card that improves your own hand. If you multiply the number of outs with 2 and then add a 1 to that value then we obtain the approximate probability that you get one of the cards that will improve your own hand.
  • Learn how to calculate your pot odds. Just knowing the outs won’t cut it.You must apply them correct to make a good decision. If you know that you have a 30% chance to improve your hand what are you going to do with that kind of information? Quite simple;  multiply your own chances to win (e.g. 30%) with the money in the pot (e.g. 20$) and you know how much you should pay most to see the next card. In this case it would be 6$.

Bad Beats in Poker

Nobody likes to talk about the ugly side of poker the so called “Bad Beats”, but since they will hit you sooner or later we are forced to confront with them.

Her is what we are going to to talk about in this post:

  • What is a Bad Beat
  • Can we avoid it
  • How to handle them

What is a Bad Beat

In poker, bad beat is a subjective term for a hand in which a player with what appear to be strong cards nevertheless loses. It most often occurs where one player bets the clearly stronger hand and their opponent makes a poor call that eventually “hits” and wins.”

Can we avoid it

Now that you know what a B.B. in poker is you as well want to know if there is a way to avoid them? Well, the obvious answer would be a clear NO!

If you really want to avoid Bad Beats then you would have to play only unbeatable hands (if no card showing on turn or river could possible beat you), howsoever that is very rarely the case, so it is not worthwhile to wait for such occasions.

How to handle them

It’s hard to ignore Bad Beats, because they will always piss you off, especially if you did lose a big pot.

The only rational way to handle B.B. is to be prepared that it can hit you at any time, but if you manage to accept them as an unavoidable evil then you are looking into a bright poker future.

Poker Hand Rankings

Poker hands are ranked here in order of strength, from the weakest Poker hand to the strongest.

High Card
If a Poker hand has no other combinations, then it’s valued by the highest card.

Pair
Two cards of the same value (10, 10).

Two Pair
Two separate pairs (4, 4, King, King).

Three of a Kind
Three cards of the same value (5, 5, 5; or A, A, A)

Straight
Five cards in sequence, but not in the same suit (8 of hearts, 9 of hearts, 10 of diamonds, J of diamonds and Q of spades).

Flush
Any five cards of the same suit, but not in sequence (2, 5, 8, J and K of diamonds).

Full House
Three of a kind combined with a pair (9, 9, 9 with 7, 7; or Q, Q, Q with 6, 6).

Four of a Kind
All four cards of the same value (5, 5, 5, 5; or 10, 10, 10, 10).

Straight Flush
Any five-card sequence in the same suit (7, 8, 9, 10, J of spades; or 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 of hearts).

Royal Flush
This is the unbeatable hand in standard five-card Poker. A, K, Q, J, 10 and all of them with the same suit.

Reading Your Poker Opponents

Reading your opponents is probably the most vital and at the same time most underestimated aspect of the poker game.

The newbie player usually thinks that it would be enough if he knows the poker rules for becoming a good poker player, but that’s far away from reality. As a matter of fact not being able to estimate your rival’s hand range may cost you a lot of money in some difficult situations.

Magician Card Gamble Poker Play  - Peggy_Marco / Pixabay

Lets make one thing clear. Reading your poker opponents is not an easy skill to learn. It takes discipline and a lot of time and even after that there is no 100% telling what the guy on the other side of the poker table has, but you should be able to narrow down his hand range to a few options left and with that you can work out a plan how to play against him.

Recognize the Board Combination

The first thing you need to do is to determine what is the best possible hand out of all combinations that the board offers. It is crucial to know how good your hand is against the other possible hands that your opponent may hold.

Narrow your Opponents Hand Range

You need to analyze what actions did your opponent take on each betting round. This way you will realize to what showing card he called, raised and if he raise how much did he bet? All this individual pieces will give you an insight of his hand range.

Discipline in Poker

Good poker players need to have an edge to win. What differs a good poker player from a bad one? A bad poker player does not expect to win, while a good poker player does. Why? The bad player hopes he gets lucky and the professional relies on his skills!

A good poker player understands that different games require different kinds of discipline.

For example, a disciplined no-limit player can be a bad limit player. He or she does not play too many hands, but only the good ones, which also have a chance to win.

The main difference between a disciplined no-limit and fixed-limit player is that the fixed limit player takes care not to lose his money slowly and bit by bit, while the no-limit player has to take care not to lose his whole money with one hand.

A good poker player knows when he should play and when to stop. He recognizes when he doesn’t play good and when he lacks discipline. That’s the moment when a good poker player calls it a day.

A good player knows that he is not perfect and that he makes mistakes. If he makes a mistake, he learns from it and doesn’t begin to cry or blame others for it. It’s not bad to commit an error. It’s just bad commit a mistake twice.

Starting Poker Hands

If you are playing Texas Hold’em then you should know what are good and what are bad starting hands. Also you should be aware which you should call, raise or fold. Of course there are a lot of factors who can impact your actions. Some of these factors are:

-the number of players
-loose or tight opponents

Howsoever, for a beginner, who is playing in low-limit poker following classification of starting hands is fully sufficient.

Note: The following poker guidelines are only for fixed-limit Texas Hold’em

Starting hands you should raise with:

AA, KK, QQ, JJ, 1010, AK, AQ

These are preflop hands that you should raise for the pot to increase and give you more potential winnings.

Starting hands you should call with:

AJ, KQ, KJ, QJ, J10, 99, 88, 77

With these above hands you want to see what the flop is bringing you and if you want to continue playing with them. With those poker starting hands you should not call three bets. Call only one ore two.

Risk and Yield

Poker players like to take a risk, but only if they know that the risk is worth it.

Good poker players know how much money they can use for playing poker and how much money they need for everyday life.

Good poker players are basically somewhat risk-averse, that is, they don’t like too much risk. There are also players willing to take risks and risk-neutral players. For a venturesome poker player the yield may be smaller then the risk. For a risk-neutral player the yield must be equal to the risk. And for a risk-averse player, the yield must be greater than the risk!

Poker Cards Card Game Ace Play  - Rollstein / Pixabay

When you play poker, then each dollar should have the same value for yourself. You should just focus on making the right decision. If you for example buy in a 0.10-0.25 blinds table and there is a 52% chance for you to double your money, then you should take the risk, even if there is a 48% chance to lose your money.

Generally one should be risk-averse, so you always have a few chips left to play the next day.

When to call it a day

Most good players know when they call preflop and when they fold. This decision that is made preflop can be crucial for the further game. Of course depending on the table you are playing and also on the character of your opponents you should adjust and vary your poker game as much as possible.

However, in general you should always play strong hands preflop, because a medium strong hand will only cause you trouble. Cards like K4 are to be thrown away at any position. Maybe Heads-Up it could be played, but that is another story.

The described preflop situations are very important. Still, that is not all what matters! After that you may have to make three more important decisions. Of course theories like Pot Odds can help you to make a good decision, especially if you need one more card for a straight or a flush, but what are you going to do if you already have a strong hand and you don’t know if it’s good enough to beat the other ones?

Here is one example: 

You have AQ and the flop shows KQ5. Somebody did raise preflop, so how are you going to bet on the turn? This depends a lot on the other players moves. If one player is making a bet, another is raising him and the next player calls it then you can be sure that your pair of Q won’t have a chance.

This is just a small insight in the world of important poker decisions.

Small vs. Big Mistakes in Poker

In Limit Texas Hold’em your own bet is making just a little part of the pot. This encourages poker players to see the flop, because they can look at it with a little investment to maybe later win a big pot. This aspect of Limit Texas Hold’em especially attracts new and inexperienced players (fish) to make a bet preflop. Most bad players often lose their money because they are making continuously small mistakes. Those poker players keep betting even though the Pot Odds clearly tell them not to, or they simply have the weaker hand. Every time you keep betting despite the fact that you shouldn’t you commit small mistakes.

A big mistake in Limit Texas Hold’em is to fold a hand when you actually should bet, or even raise! Why is this such an immense error? Well, the problem is that within this kind of situations you are making the biggest winnings and since you did throw away those cards you won’t win anything. Let me make one thing clear, I didn’t meant that you fold and then later you see that you could have won this. I’m talking about the situation where you hold the best hand and still throw it away.

Here is one Example: You are holding AQ, you did a raise preflop and three other player did call. The flop shows KQ4. You bet, another one is raising you and two player do call. The turn brings a 6. The guy who has raised before is betting now and all other player are folding.

So what are you supposed to do? By now there are 18 small bets in the pot (8 preflop, 8 flop, 2 turn). Probably you are beat. If you want to see the river as well you will have to pay another 4 small bets. After the river card there is a total of 24 SB in the pot, so you have to win one out of six times to justify seeing the river. Lets say you have five outs then you have a 12% chance to get your card. You only need to be about 4% confident that you have him beat. This indeed is very small.

So in this case you should go ahead and call down, even though you probably are beat. However, many newbie poker players will fold this and that would be fatal if the other player was bluffing.