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Sunday, August 8, 2010

Quantum's Guide to Texas Hold-Em Poker

I find that poker is a beautiful demonstration of the power of knowing your probabilities. Texas Hold-em (or perhaps you may want to think of it as "Texas Fold-Em" as I do) is a game whereby 2 cards are dealt on the pre-flop. A round of bets is made after the pre-flop. The following is a rough categorical guide to the pre-flop as well as an organization of hands based on probabilities and, incidentally, the intrinsic values of such hands.



Then 3 other cards are dealt on the flop, here shows the basic odds for such a 5 card stud, which is essentially what players are doing on the flop. Another round of betting takes place after the flop.



Then two more cards are dealt with each additional card having another round of bets. (note, there may be errors in the following table, but it should be roughly accurate)



I find that an optimal free online66 (I downloaded this and placed icon in my games folder right next to solitaire) winning strategy goes as follows:

Defence: In order to not get stung, be sure to play at a beginners table (the "experts" table is characterized by large blinds-double blinds and people crazily going all in for easy profits, AKA easy and fast losses). Certainly you want to have small blinds-double blinds and a no limit pot or pot limit with a low buy in, no fixed limit stuff though. You want multiple players, optimally 4-6, this way you can fold inconspicuously until you've got a decent hand (migs or above if the stakes are high, go in with emirates or even pirates or if you happen to have a pair of anything if the stakes are considerably low during your pre-flop bet). After the flop, decide whether you've got something worth while (above hellz, or perhaps a descent boardwalk) or bet on that 4th card if the stakes are low, a good rule of thumb is to bet when you've got doubles or higher than the flop card of middle value (upper value if 4+ people still haven't folded). Never bet on that 5th card unless you've got something already, the 5th card flop is solely for raising the pot amount and thereby the profits.

Bluffing or All-In on a mid-probable win: Never do so unless you're willing to lose your stacks. If somebody is going all in multiple times in a row on the pre-flop then they are probably bluffing and then you might have a good chance of beating them out (assuming you've got above migs), but mostly just fold the round and let them lose their money to some other fool whose willing to call the bet. Remember, easy come-easy go with big bluffs and bold bets.

Stinging: Once you've gained a pile an order of magnitude or two larger than your opponents, then to maximize your (funny or perhaps real money) profits is to have (1) an even table of inexperienced or slow learning players, (2) a good hand, (3) enough chips to force them to go all in, and (4) still have enough chips left to do that multiple times in a row until you've raked it all in. Then, deal yourself out, wait a couple hours, then come back to the computer and repeat the process again when people have begun to build up their stacks again.

Alternatively, the following show an extremely stable betting strategy:



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