CardSharp Mailbag: A Set On A 3-Suited Board

No Limit Texas Holdem, Reader Questions
February 27, 2009

Hi Wayne,

I’ve been following your blog for quite some time now. It is on the top of my RSS Reader and I love it because of your very logical way of describing optimal play.

My question is how do you play a low set on such a suited board? Read the rest of this entry »

1 Comment »

CardSharp Mailbag: Even More About Big Hands Out Of Position Preflop

No Limit Texas Holdem, Reader Questions
January 23, 2009

I just got another question about out-of-position play with big hands related to this post here (this article won’t make sense without reading that one):

The one area that still needs addressing on the subject of premium hands in early position is what to do when the blinds are very deep. If a limp, a normal raise and a normal re-raise won’t get ten percent of the effective stacks in, what do you do? Do you make an oversize re-raise? That would seem logical but it is going to lose you some action.

Will in New Haven

In reality, in a typical game that doesn’t have extra callers of the initial raise, even a limp-reraise won’t get in more than about 15BB without seriously overbetting the pot.  So in games well over 150B deep you’re not going to be able to get 10% of the stacks in with your huge hands, or even come close to that number.  So what are you going to do?  I have a few suggestions: Read the rest of this entry »

1 Comment »

Cardsharp Mailbag: To Raise Or Not To Raise In Early Position

No Limit Texas Holdem, Reader Questions
January 11, 2009

I just received the following question and it’s an excellent follow-on to the last preflop article:

Hi  Wayne,

I read the following comment in an old post of yours that discussed starting hands:

When intentionally entering the pot out of position, it’s often best not to raise at all under any circumstances, even if you have a premium hand.  If someone raises behind you, you can ditch the non-premium hands if you relative position is bad and re-raise the big pairs (and possibly AK). Often this re-raise will be all-in. (the post)

My question is, at what point should one start to raise from EP preflop with our opening range of hands,  and how much should that raise be?

Clearly in many cash games or tournaments, people have stacks well under 100BB.  And I did read in another article about your scenario of raising with a big pair vs someone else’s SET. There you talked about the importance of raising PF, and also CB.  So at some point, a player needs to stop limping PF and start raising. But what is the factor that decides that point? Do we go by the 5/10 rule and look at effective stack sizes?



Ok, I can see I created some confusion here, and re-reading the older article I think I see why: Read the rest of this entry »


Cardsharp Mailbag: Raising Preflop To Guarantee Position

No Limit Texas Holdem, Reader Questions
January 9, 2009

I try to answer reader questions as they come in, but for the last few months I’ve been really bad about it.  Hopefully over the next week or so I’ll be able to fix that and clear out the backlog.  Here goes!

Hi Wayne,

I found your site the other day and thanks, it has been very thought
provoking. I will be employing some of the insights I gathered to my game.

It would be great to hear your thoughts on the concept of “buying the
button”, eg raising in whole or part out of position to get position,
particularly pre-flop. Given the increase in EV that having position
entails, there would seem to be a method for valuing this benefit, in terms
of the bet/raise you should be willing to make to obtain, and whereby the
inputs to this valuation would obviously include absolute position (relative
to the cut-off). But what other inputs are specific to this valuation?
What would the formula be? An interesting concept that has not yet been
explored very rigorously, from what I have seen.

Cheers, Todd

This is an interesting question, and I spend a lot of time thinking about it before responding.  The short answer is that I don’t have the type of formula he’s looking for, and indeed I’m not sure anyone does.

The long answer is that I think this is sort of the wrong question. Read the rest of this entry »

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CardSharp Mailbag: Split Two Pair in NL Holdem vs. Two Pair in Draw Poker

5 Card Draw, No Limit Texas Holdem, Reader Questions
October 2, 2008

One of my readers sent in the following question which I think deserves discussion:


I have stumbled across your website and I think your articles are excellent. I am writing to request your insight about split 2 pair. An article or an email would be much appreciated. I have heard it referred to as a trap hand and I can see why. As I understand it Mark Twain once said “That knowing how to play two pair correctly is worth a college education and costs about as much to learn how to do so”. I am paraphrasing but you get the point. The heart of my dilemma is this: I do not know if I should play all split two pair hands as drawing hands hoping to fill up or play them strongly knowing I will have to win with just two pair. Two pair (especially top two pair ) seems to be too strong a had to play as what amounts to a gun shot draw but more often than I like I seem to be toast to a set on the flop or beat by the river. I know board coordination plays a role but I REALLY hate getting my money in when I am beat to a set on an uncoordinated flop board. Is this just a cooler like set over set. What is a poker player to do? In my mind there is a big difference between 3 types of split two pair you can have and thus there should an equally big difference in how you play the hand. But I am not sure how to work this all out or if I am on the right track. Any advice you can give or articles you will write are much appreciated! I look forward to reading more of your poker insights in the future. Thanks.

This is a good question. Mark Twain’s comment about two pair certainly refers to draw poker. While draw poker is essentially a dead game in this day and age, it’s worth looking at what happens there as background for thinking about 2 pair in holdem. Read the rest of this entry »

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Cardsharp Mailbag: When Good Hands Go Bad

No Limit Texas Holdem, Reader Questions
May 1, 2008

It’s always good to get mail, and here’s an excellent question:

Hi Wayne,

[in the context of NL holdem] I am winning with pocket pairs without exception and I win with Axs at a nice clip but suited connectors are losers. Unless the suited connector is in the T/J range or above they are consistent losers and I think that they should not be played. In fact a recent article in Card Player suggested just that. What is your opinion?

My first thought is that you should not be overly concerned about taking wagers you expect to make money on and passing on those that you expect to lose money on. That’s perhaps the most fundamental concept of winning gambling. So if you’re winning, there’s no real reason not to keep doing what you’re doing. That said, it’s also true that a lot of other players win a lot of money by playing suited connectors lower than JTs. So it’s clear you’re doing something different from them when you play those hands. I have no way of knowing what that is, but I can take some guesses: Read the rest of this entry »

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Cardsharp Mailbag: The Most Profitable Games

Reader Questions
March 14, 2008

I got the following question a couple of days ago, and it’s a good one:

Poker games have different card structures (stud vs. holdem for example) and different betting structures (limit vs. NL). They’re not the same. So independent of any unique talents one might have, is there a particular game that is objectively more profitable than the rest?

Specifically, stud feels like less of a guessing game than hold’em, but I’ve yet to learn it.

Best regards,

Read the rest of this entry »

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