Group 1: No One Has Yet Begun Bargaining for the Pot

Part 1. If No One Has Entered the Pot Yet

This is the most advantageous situation since no one at the table has yet shown any strength and a bet can easily win the pot. Let’s see how you should act with various hands in certain situations.


With these two premium pairs you may raise in any position. In online games I would always raise on these hands, because it’s not likely that you will meet the same players so often that they would be able to learn and read you. In live tournaments where good players try and remember their opponents’ actions you should always vary your gaming style. With these hands I’d raise in 80% of cases and simply call in the rest 20%.

You should understand that slow-gaming in this case is a theoretical error which will cost you your money if you are not sure that your opponents are not studying your style. But they will study you and you’ll have to balance your style changing somehow your approach in a random way. This advice can be applied to all hands discussed in this chapter. When I combine two different approaches to the same hand I try to give you the percentage of every gaming style.

You should know that in elite poker you’ll meet a number of players which after each gaming session go home and write down into their notebooks everything they have seen at the table. There are players with notebooks of enormous size in which habits and manners of hundreds other players are written. So when I speak about random style changes I’m not kidding! Any your permanent move or manoeuvre will be wrote down into their databases shortly.

And what about the size of raises? The sum that I’d like to raise on these hands is about three or four times higher than the big blind. And again I have to vary this sum randomly so that my real bets looked like these:

35%: raise is three times higher than the big blind
35%: raise is four times higher than the big blind
15%: raise is like the big blind doubled
15%: raise is five times higher than the big blind

(Pay attention that I like to describe the raise size in preflop as multiplied big blind and not the pot. And after the flop I introduce bets in terms of parts or multiply of the general pot. In a way it is accidental differentiation but if you live in poker tempo for a while you’ll understand that this is how players think and talk.)

Should you bet all-in with these premium pairs? This move is very uncommon because usually with so strong hands you’d like to stimulate bargaining from the only opponent and try to create a big pot. A bet all-in usually kicks the players out of the bargaining and leaves you with no more than claims for blinds and ante. You must think this move over if you are at a hyper-active table where you have already seen calls to all-in bets. (Even in this case this move would be uncommon.)

  • By Anutr, January 29, 2012 @ 4:50 pm

    Very well written! Pre-flop poker is so underrated and paying attention to your hand selection and raise sizes are extremely important.

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