and the Number of Opponents in the Pot
weak players, with a large pot, and with large early
bets, you need not be so concerned about disguising
your hand. A corollary is that the more players in
the pot, the less you gain by disguising your hand.
You cost yourself too much when you do. You won't
be able to make everybody fold when you bet with a
weak hand, and you cost yourself too many bets when
you miss a raise with a strong hand. What's more,
when you let many opponents in cheaply, you increase
the chances of being outdrawn. Heads-up situations
require disguising your hand more than do multi-way
Let's look at two early-round betting situations -
one in which you don't care that you've given your
hand away and the other in which you should use deception.
In both situations you have a pair of aces in the
hole before the flop in hold 'em. That is, you have
the nuts, the best possible hand at that point.
The first games is no-limit. You've made a small raise,
four or five people have called, and now someone puts
in a substantial reraise. You must reraise again even
if your play gives away your hand completely. It is
worth dropping all disguise because as the pot gets
larger and larger, what's in the pot right now counts
more than potential bets on later rounds. With two
aces you should put in all the bets you can.
On the other hand, with two aces against a good player
in a limit hold 'em games, you should often not put
in all bets. A reraise is fine because you could have
a variety of hands. However, if your single opponent
reraises again, you should probably just call. If
you raise one more time, your opponent figures you
for two aces. All you have gained is one small extra
bet right there, but you may have cost yourself two
or three bets later on. In this case, you have lost
too much by giving your hand away. You stand to gain
more by using deception
Can You Take Control of Your Hold'em Game Like This
First, of course, you must make it your objective.
So many players play to not lose. They're satisfied
to come home from the club saying, "Well, I broke
even but I had a real good time." Do not be satisfied
with that. Set out to terrorize the table, and if
you reach a point where everyone is looking at you
and wondering what you're going to do next, then you
can feel like you've accomplished your goal.
Next, remove the word "call" from your vocabulary.
It's a bit simplistic to suggest a policy of raise
or fold, but on the other hand, if that were your
plan you wouldn't go too far wrong. To take control
of the game, you have to be ready to drive, and that
means not just raising preflop but also frequently
leading into the flop and the turn. You want to win
more than your share of fold-outs, but your foes won't
surrender unless you give them the chance. Bet. Bet
again. If this sort of balls-out play makes you nervous,
restrict your action to top-quality hands-but be the
one to get the last raise in. Press hard to win big.
There have no doubt been times when you've felt completely
on top of your game and completely in control of the
table. Good players describe this as being "in
the zone." Can you recall and record what it
was like to be in the zone? How did you feel? What
did you do right? What let you take over the table?
Having identified positive aspects of your past play,
seek to carry those aspects into the next game you
play. After all, the zone doesn't happen by accident.