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Poker Advice: Assessing the Table

Think - Assessing the Table
by Hank Cashman of

When you sit down to a poker table, I want you to have fun but it is also a time to turn on that little voice inside to think about what you are doing. Don’t just play blindly and toss chips. Think about what is going on.

First of all, size up your opponents. Are these the fish you are looking for or are they the rocks you’re going to have to pry money from? Is this going to be a fast and loose table or a game of strong solid players? Who knows? You need to.

When I am playing, I get an inner dialog going to help me decide what I need to do. In this conversation I try to develop my strategy. OK, I’m a little neurotic.

I always measure my raise option first. This way I will tend to be on the aggressive side of the decision process. Well planned aggressive play will usually win out. If I'm the first to act and I have anything I can build on, I will raise.

As each hand is played I measure my hand and what my reaction should be. In the first betting round, do I have a calling hand or should I fold? Normally, if I can call, I will raise. I want to show some aggression and get rid of the “limpers”.

If there was a bet in front of me, I have to decide if my hand will hold up. Is it worth the call to see one more card? Can I get them off their hand with a raise? I must decide the best way to play.

If I am first to act, do I check? I will only check if I think I have the worst hand and can't bluff my way out. If I think that the other players have strong hands and I am in a bad position, it is time to give it up and fold.

Sometimes I still can't come up with a definitive answer. In that case a check or small call is the best option. I’ll see where the next card will take me.

Each step of the way offers more information for me to make a better decision. I measure and evaluate each decision. I try to evaluate my hand, my opponents’ hands and how I can improve my hands image. Can I make them think my hand is better than theirs? About this time my head starts to hurt.

This is a constant inner dialog to help me think through a hand. I keep it between myself. Some players talk aloud and give out to much information. If you are going to think through a hand, keep it quite. If you talk aloud, you are not only giving out information on the hand at play but also about your strategy and thinking process. That will cost you later.

Analyze your hands and make the best plays.

Keep the cards and chips flying.


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