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The Middle Hand - The Nemesis of the Beginner

The Middle Hand - The Nemesis of the Beginner

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Many of the online poker rookies come to the realization after a while that big hands win small pots. Therefore, by analogy, small hands have to win large pots. Their logic – although flawed – is easy to relate to: people do tend to call and to make raises on big hands, therefore small hands can sneak in a nasty punch which usually no one sees coming. The problem with the logic is that it’s based on partial truths but regardless of that it is sometimes fully valid indeed. Among the beginners, there’s a tendency to get married to hands. Not even rookies get married to anything less than top pair though, so for them, a small hand, which is likely to be hit big by the flop or not to be hit at all, may indeed create an easier post-flop decision. Consider the following example: you have a 7,9o. With a hand like that, you know you can’t really go wrong after the flop: it’ll either be a no-brainer fold or a massive monster that will put your opponents’ pocket rockets or pocket Ks to shame. The only way you’re going to go further than the flop with that starting hand is if something like 8,5,6 lands, in which case it’s a no-brainer to make the move.

The problem with this sort of thinking is that making the preflop call on such a starting hand will never have enough equity for the right pot odds. The implied odds are there though, and that’s a major game changer in cash games. Basically, small hands like the one in the above example can be used in a set-mining sort of way.

This theory only applies to the small hands in the 7,9o category though. Once we move up to the K-Q, J-Q, and K-J territory, things change radically. Such hands are usually dominated by just about anything your opponent will hold. These are known as marginal hands, and obviously, the above discussed conclusions do not apply to them. So the bottom line is that large hands take down large pots, small hands make good money too, provided they’re played well. Middle hands are where the problem resides. These hands are quite impossible to play for a profit although one cannot say that you should never play them. The commonly accepted theory is that you should never bet such middle hands, but there is no universally valid right and wrong way to play any poker hand. Hands that yield nice profits to one player may not achieve the same effect in another guy’s hands. Generally speaking, large hands should be played for full effect, that is your aim should be to take your opponent’s entire stack with them. Most of the time, it will look like you’re only winning small pots with these hands though.

With middle hands, you should always aim to keep the pot as small as possible, and you should probably not play them at all unless you have pot-control in the hand.

Small hands are easy to play: you either get out with them or you go for the throat.

Regardless of how you play, signing up for a rakeback deal or even an online poker prop deal and taking advantage of its benefits is a must. No winning player can afford to let an opportunity like that slip by.

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