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Card Distribution and Patience

  In the long run, you’ll be dealt the same cards and get the same flops as every other Hold’em poker player in the world. Even world champion Hold’em players like Johnny Chan and Doyle Brunson can’t get better cards than you can.  You get their cards and flops and they get yours.
  The difference, of course, is how you play these cards and flops.  The cards don’t know if you’re winning or losing, although it sometimes seems they do, and the cards don’t know what kind of player you are.
  The more you can make your play like that of the world champions, the more money you will win.  That’s what this book will help you with.  The easiest, most immediate thing that a typical low limit player can do to instantly improve his game is to consistently play only high cards.
  This is how many times you can expect to be dealt a particular hand, on average, in an eight hour Hold’em game at thirty-five hands per hour:

AA – none or 1
AK  suited – none or 1
AK not suited- 3 or 4
Any pair – 17 or 18
Two suited cards – 65 or 66
At least on A -  41 or 42

  As you can see, premium hands are few and far between.  Also, not all pairs, suited hands and hands with an Ace are playable.  You have to make the most of your opportunities.
  You’re not going to be dealt a pair of Aces in the pocket every hand for the rest of your life.  There are 169 different possible hands and you’re going to get every one of them in the long run.  The more hands you play, the more certain it is that all of these hands will be equally distributed.
  It is likely that you will go through long periods of not getting a playable hand.  you will undoubtedly have hours or days or seemingly weeks of getting nothing but K ♥ 7♦, Q♣   5 ♠, J ♠ 2♥  and 7♥ 2♣.
  Don’t get discouraged.  It’s normal and you should not let it affect your decisions.  The important thing to remember is that your goal is not to play hands of poker, but to make the best decisions hand in and hand out.  You’re playing to win money, not to play beat seven card stud, as paradoxical as that sounds.
  Frustration results when reality does not meet expectations.  If you haven’t been dealt a playable hand in two hours and you’re feeling frustrated, it’s because the reality you’re experiencing is not meeting your expectations.  It also means you’re expecting the wrong thing.  You have a quota of playable hand that you expect to be dealt in that two hour period and you’re not meeting it.  You had a preconceived idea of how many playable hands you should have gotten and you didn’t get them.  What usually happens at this point is that you’ll start playing hands you shouldn’t because you’re more concerned about not playing than you are about making correct decisions.
  If you are being selective about which hands to enter the pot with, as you should be, you won’t be playing that many hands to begin with.  You  already know that the types of hands you are looking for are relatively rare and hard to come by even when the deck is running in your favor.  If you’re experiencing a bad run of cards just remember that it will even out in the long run.  And you are playing for the long run.  That’s what enables you to keep an even temperament and not get emotional when you’re running good as well as when you’re running bad.
  Look at these terrible starting hands as an opportunity to save bets where you know other players in your situation would be playing and losing with them.

  If you can, it’s an excellent idea to memorize your two pocket poker over cards and don’t look at them again until the hand is over.  There are several good reasons doing this.  It will prevent you from providing a tell when three of one suit flops.  When that happens and players immediately check their hole cards, it usually means that they have exactly one card of that suit and they have to double-check to see which one it is.
  In low limit Hold’em, this is a very reliable tell.  It lets you know that you are facing a four-flush but you don’t know how high it is.  Don’t give away your hand by having to look at it.  Instead, watch the other players and look for tells.  You can always check your cards later in the hand if you have to they’ll still be there.
  While we’re on the subject of checking your hole cards, you should learn to wait until it’s your turn to act to look at your hand.  Spend the time before that watching the other players look at their hands.  You’ll often pick up a tell when someone has been dealt a great hand such as A♦ A♥.  It’s common in  a low limit game for players to be unaware of the necessity of disguising their reactions to their hands.
  Many of the pocket Hold’em hands have nicknames that help you remember what they are without having to double-check your hand.  Here are some:

Hold’em Hand Nicknames

A♣ A♦

American Airlines

T♠ 2♠

Doyle Brunson

A♦ K♥

Big Slick

9♠ 8♥


A♥  J♠


3♥ 9♥

Jack Benny

A♣ 8♠

Dead Man’s Hand

2♣ 9♥

Montana Banana

3♣ A♥

(A♥ 3♣) Baskin Robbins



K♥ Q♥


8♦ 8♥

Little Oldsmobile

K♠ J♦


3♣ 8♦

Raquel Welch

K♦ 9♠


7♠ 6♣

Union Oil

Q♦ J♥


6♠ 5♠

Ken Warren

Q♣ T♠


5♣ TDM


Q♠ 7♠

Computer hand

5♠ 5 ♦

Heinz (57 sauce)

Q♥ 3♥

San Francisco Busboy
(a queen with a trey)

4♥ 5♦

Jesse James, Jane Russell

T♣ 4♥

Broderick Crawford

3♦ 3♠


Secrets to Beating a Low Limit Game
  Here it is.  If I could get you aside and I had only five minutes to give you the most important tips about how to beat this game, this would be it.  If you don’t read anything else in this chapter, make sure you at least read this list.  Everything in this list will be expanded upon later in the book.

Respect Position
  This is something that you’ll have to consider every time you think about poker playing a hand for the rest of your poker playing life.  It’s so important, that it dictates which cards you can play and which cards you can’t play.  It even makes a hand that’s playable in one unplayable in another position. Generally speaking, you’re going to play only very high cards in early position and gradually add more hands that you’ll call with as the deal rotates and your position improves.

Avoid Playing Low Cards
  While it’s true that any cards can win, it is playing the high cards that will consistently win the money day in and day out.  A Hold’em player who consistently plays low cards cannot be a big winner in this game.  There are times when it’s correct to play low cards, but we’ll talk more about that later.  Also, several cards that you might consider to be in the medium range are really in the low range.  Remember that the odds favor the high cards in the long run.

Realize That it’s Showdown Game
  And adjust accordingly.  You are going to have to consistently have the best hand at the end to win.  Realize that some players will play anything and they will often play it to the end regardless of any indications that they

Forget About Bluffing
  A lot of low limit Hold’em players are not sophisticated enough to know you may have nothing but are representing a hand.  You often won’t be able to buy enough pots to make it worth your while to bluff.  Somebody will always call to a bluff but it must be done intelligently, for the right reason, and under the correct circumstances.  This will be covered in detail in a later chapter.

Play Rock-‘Solid Before the Shop
  The most important decision you make every hand is whether or not to get involved to begin with.  A bad decision here can, and will, consistently cost you a ton of money.  You have to play appropriately for your position and make decisions based on the odds.  It is particularly important that you make the correct decision when the pot is raised before the flop since you will be investing a double or triple bet on your hand before you even see the flop.  Most players play too loose when making this first decision.

Respect a Raise, Especially Pre-Flop
  This goes hand-in- hand with the above advice. There just aren’t that many hands that you can profitably play when the pot has been raised pre-flop.  Computer analysis shows that if you can’t beat the raiser head-up at this point, you cannot win money in this situation in the long run.  Save your money for those times when you want to raise, not when others want to raise.

See the Flop as Cheaply as Possible
  There are very few legitimate pre-flop raising hands in this game.  Inexperienced low limit players often like to build a pot before they see the flop.  They often win some of the biggest pots in the game but they also are usually the first ones to bust out of the game.  There was a time when the conventional wisdom said to raise pre-flop with any number of hands (especially A ♣ A♦ , K♠ K♥ and A♥ K♦ ) but recent computer analysis proves that it is often more correct to see the flop as cheaply as possible.

Don’t Stop Learning the Game
  You’re not going to learn it all from this book.  Talk to other poker players and read the Card Player Magazine.

My Overall Plan for Winning
  Simple.  To win the money.  This does not mean that you have to play every hand.  what it does mean is that you should be favorite to win the hand when you do play.  There are several general principles that you should keep in mind when your goal is to win the money:

  1. Always make the Correct Decision

Your real job is to make the best decisions you can based on the information available to you at the time.  It actually doesn’t matter if you win the hand or not.  Remember, you can do the wrong thing and still win the hand but that doesn’t prove that you played the hand correctly or that you’re a good player.

  1. Make Decisions for the Right Reasons

You don’t always have to win a certain amount of money in any particular playing session session.  When you do that, you start making decisions based on how much money you have in front of you, and how big the pot is, instead of relying on odds and tells, and your objective evaluation of what the hand is worth to you.
Every Hold’em game has a relative value to you, depending upon the number of players, who the players are, the amount of money on the table, and how long you expect the game to last.  Use these factors as your guide in determining how much a game is worth to you.

  1. Have a Long-term View of the Game

If you play fifteen hours a week for twenty years, you’re going to be dealt about 625,000 hands.  You’ll be dealt A♥ A♦ more than 2,800 times and you’ll get 7♠ 2♦ more than 9,000 times.  Your job is to take it all in stride and be rational and not emotional.
You’ll have your share of bad Beats and sometimes they’ll come at the worst times you can imagine.  Don’t get emotional and go on “tilt”.  It affects your judgement.  Don’t live or die over any one hand of poker.  it’s only one hand and there’ll be another one dealt in just a few minutes.

  1. Learn to Recognize a Good Bet

You’ll learn that certain hands are consistently profitable while others are big losers before the flop.  Likewise, there is usually one best way to play the hand after the flop.  With practice you’ll always be able to recognize which flops present good bets and which ones are traps.

  1. Be Patient

If you’re not getting the cards and you’re getting impatient to play a hand just because you want to play, remember that you’re being tempted to do what you want the other players to do.  Don’t give in to the temptation to play incorrectly and make decisions that you know are less than your best.

  1. Play Your Hands Straight Up, for the most Part

That means you should bet when you’re strong, check when you’re drawing to a straight or flush, and fold when you have nothing.  This is an incredibly strong winning poker concept that most low limit players have to learn the hard way.  Forget about deception and fancy plays.  When you make a completed hand, you can even tell your opponents what you have and they will still call you.  I do this when I want to be called by a sole opponent who is about to throw his hand away.  He will often call me just because he doesn’t believe I would tell the truth