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Poker Strategy | Beginner's Poker

Poker plays with Pokerpeaker: Why Passive Play Always Costs You Money

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I have {K-Diamonds}{10-Hearts} in the Small Blind in a .25/.50 NLHE game on PokerStars.

I hate these kinds of situations. I have a so-so hand, and a hand easily dominated, in the worst position possible.

To be honest, I hope someone raises here. It would give me a good excuse to fold and avoid this good way to lose money.

But, of course, it's folded around to me, and now simply folding here seems ultra-nitty. So, of course, I call. I really should raise here. It might knock the Big Blind off his hand and I could take his .50.  But I just call. That gives me no chance to win the hand, and the Big Blind raps the table.

The flop comes {J-Spades} - {10-Diamonds} - {2-Hearts}. OK, it's not a terrible flop, and I check to see what he'll do.

He bets the pot, which is still a meager .75. I really should raise him here. That bet could mean anything. It could mean he actually has something, but I doubt that right now because he didn't raise me pre-flop. Though that also means he could have a crappy Jack or a crappy two-pair or even a straight draw.

A raise would help me figure out what he has and whether he's serious about this pot. It might even get him to fold a crappy Jack. Finally, a raise would be a good idea now, as it would be a cheap raise while the pot is still small. It's going to cost me a lot more on the turn to raise.

But, of course, I just call. Now I have no idea what he has or where I stand in the hand, and it does nothing to help me win the pot either. As I said, he could have anything.

All right, a meaningless {5-Spades} hits the turn. It does put a flush draw out there, but I can't put him on spades just yet. I'm going to be aggressive for the first time in this hand and bet the pot, $2.25. I really think I might be ahead here. I do have second pair with a good kicker in a blind vs. blind confrontation.

He min raises me on the turn. It's another $2.25 to play.

Many people deride min raises, and rightly so, given that they only give draws the odds to call. But they can be an effective weapon in some instances, and I think this one is a good example. It's really hard for me to put him on anything. He could be doing that with a draw, a crappy Jack, two pair or even a set. As I said, he could  have anything. What he's done is put more money into the pot without defining his hand to me at all. It's a good play.

A fold would be prudent here, and a fold in this instance is not a weak play. It's a smart one. I've only got second pair, and it's obvious to me that he's either pulling off a good bluff - in which case, I'd applaud him for the good bet - or he really does have a hand that beats me.

If I was really tricky, I could re-pop him here because while it's possible that he has something he could go to the felt with, it's much more likely that he doesn't. My best guess is he has a crappy Jack or a draw, and neither one of those hands could stand a re-raise.

But, instead, I just call. It's really a terrible play. I'm essentially saying I've got a hand that can win a showdown when I clearly don't. The pot's swelled to $9 too, so a river bet's going to be expensive, and I'm out of position.

The river brings a blank - I don't remember what it was now because I was so disgusted with my call in the turn - and he bets $6 after I check. A check here is a passive play but probably a smart one. I've got to do whatever I can to keep the pot small.

Sigh. That $6 bet clearly means I'm beat. But I make one final, horrible, passive call, and he shows me {Q-Spades} - {J-Hearts}. I was right. He had a crappy Jack. And I let him win this hand easily. I had three or four chances to win the hand had I played it aggressively, but instead I gave him my money.

This is a major leak of mine, and it's a common one in poker. When I have a hand that I'm not confident in but I know is a decent one, and I'm out of position, I just call the hand down. Those are hands you should raise or fold.

That's no way to play poker and expect to win. I will put my finger in that dike starting now.

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