Poker Basics

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Loose poker players play a large percentage of hands. They have relatively low starting requirements, and they continue in the pot with relatively weak hands. Tight players play a small percentage of hands. Their starting requirements are high, and they are quick to throw away weak hands that don't develop into big hands. Some players always play loose. Others always play tight. Good players adjust their play to the games.

The higher the ante, the looser you play. The smaller the ante, the tighter you play. With a high ante, there is more money in the pot from the start; and the more money there is in the pot, the better pot odds you are getting to play hands that might not be worth playing were the ante very small. With a small ante, on the other hand, there's no point in gambling with marginal hands, especially when you know other players in the games are likely to be betting and calling only with big hands.

Which brings us to a second consideration in deciding how loose or tight to play - namely, the way in which the other players in the games play. Assuming a normal ante - about 10 percent of the average future bets - it is commonly believed that when the players in the games play loose, you should play tight, and when the players in the games play tight, you should play loose. There is some truth to this principle. For example, you can steal antes with anything (a loose play) much more successfully against tight players, who will fold their marginal hands, than you can against loose players, who are likely to call you with those same hands. However, the principle of playing loose against tight players and tight against loose players is in need of refinement.

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