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Poker Tips From the Pros
Poker has exploded onto the scene with everyone playing Poker with friends, in clubs, online and in Casinos. We are happy to have some of the Top Professional Poker players share their secrets and tips to help you gain a competitive advantage against those that you are playing against.

 

Gus Hansen - Betting out of Position
 

Almost every Hold-Em poker strategy guide talks about how important positional advantage really is. The thinking is that the player who bets last has more information than all of his opponents, meaning he'll have a better sense of where he stands in a given hand. He can therefore, make better strategic decisions. I have no doubt that this is correct, but it's important to know that the power is often granted to the late position player by the early position players.

For example, I'm in the big blind with 7s-8s, a “flop worthy” hand. The player on the button raises to 3x the big blind and I make the call. Most poker players would check the flop under almost any circumstances. However by checking, you relinquish control to the late position player. He can bet even if he doesn’t have a hand, putting you in a tough spot if you don't get a piece of the flop.

In hands like this, it's best to look at the flop and ask yourself, "Is it likely that these cards helped my opponent?" Depending on my answer, I can decide how to proceed.

If the flop is Ah-Kd-9c, I would probably just check and then fold to a bet, as my opponent was probably raising with big cards and caught something on the flop. However, if the flop is 9c,5h,2d, I'd probably be more skeptical. In hold 'em, 2 unpaired hole cards, about 66 percent of the time, will fail to make a pair on the flop, and this looks to be a flop that the pre-flop raiser may have missed.

If I think my opponent didn't catch, I'll take the initiative and bet about half of the pot. Betting here with a gut shot draw offers me several advantages. I might take the pot right here if my semi-bluff forces him to fold. Even if he calls, I've forced him to react. This gives me an opportunity to pick up a read. If the other player seems uneasy, I may continue with my semi-bluff on the turn and again try to pick up the pot. If I feel my opponent is strong, I can check and then fold to any bet on the turn if I don’t make my hand.

Taking a stab at pots when out of position can make you a lot of money. In Poker tournaments, I “open-raise” out of position quite often because I think there's a lot of advantages in being the first one to bet on the flop. I get to pick up a lot of small pots that way.

Remember that there is no reason to give the advantage in the hand to your opponent in late position. Try to find opportunities to bet out and seize the initiative.

 

Gus Hansen

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