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Article has been taken from PokeriInfo website with their permission.

In poker there are many more opportunities for disastrous plays than for excellent plays. Therefore, avoiding poor plays is much more important in winning poker than being able to make some sophisticated plays.
 

Gamblers used to mumble again and again about any two cards being able to win. Furthermore, when folded, they seem to have had the opportunity annoyingly often, too. This phenomenon is alluring beginners to see "one more card" again and again. Some common situations are introduced below, where folding is correct even if the hands could win deceptively often. In winning poker, everything is counted in the long run.
 
Small and Medium Pairs

Small and medium pairs are played very straightforwardly: flop at least a set or fold. The odds are 1:7.5. Because a set is always well disguised, these hands can usually be played profitably in loose games if there is no raise preflop.


Playing these pairs to the showdown is very expensive. The odds for the third card are 1:23 both on the turn and the river. Furthermore, even if a medium pair would be the highest pair on the flop, playing it can become expensive. For example, 8-8 as an overpair, the probability of a higher card coming on the turn is over 50%. On the other hand, if the higher card doesn't come, then the small cards are lying tight on the board and may give a straight to someone. Playing higher pocket pairs to the showdown can be expensive as well, if an overcard - especially an ace - appears on the board.
 
Two High Cards on the Board

Suppose you have Ac -Kh  in the pocket and the flop comes with Jh -Tc -5s . Superficially, a very strong situation with two high cards and an inside draw. There seem to be 10 outs. The odds are 10/(47-10) = 1:4. In fact, getting a pair of aces or kings is a tricky situation. You have the highest pair with a strong kicker. On the other hand, there are three big cards on the board possibly giving someone a straight. Both A-Q and K-Q are first-rate starting hands, even if unsuited, and they are therefore common combinations. Actually, there are only 4 outs and the odds are 1:11.
 

With smaller cards, the situation is totally different. For example, if you have Jc -Th  in the pocket and there are 7h -8c -3s  on the board. J or T coming on the turn is not as dangerous as the big cards above, because a straight requires someone having T-9 or J-9 in the pocket, and these combinations are generally accepted starting hands only when suited in middle or late position and hence seldom. Furthermore, J-9 requires pot odds for an inside draw.
 
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An ace with a low kicker is a classic trap. If an ace flops, it is psychologically difficult to throw away the highest pair. In loose games, at least one opponent has been dealt an ace 75% of the time and very obviously with a stronger kicker. Check, and if bet, fold. If nobody bets, bet yourself on the next round.
 
Low-End Straight Draw

Drawing to the low end is another classic mistake. Suppose you are holding 6h -7h  in the pocket and the flop comes with 8c -9s -2h . The odds are 1:11, because only the 5's will do. The T's are dangerous cards, because Q-J is a playable starting hand, even if unsuited. Lower combinations like 2h -3s  in the pocket and 4s -5h -Qc  on the board are safer, since 6-7 or 7-8 are playable hands only when suited and therefore less frequent.
 
Straight Draw with a Flush Draw on the Board

According to the basic rule, you have to fold a straight draw, if there is a flush draw on the board. Suppose you have 7d -8d  in the pocket and the flop is 5s -6s -Kh . Both 4s  and 9s  can give someone a flush. The odds are therefore only 6/(47-6) = 1:7. Furthermore, if you make the straight on the turn, it has to live under the threat of a flush on the river. Therefore, the pot odds have to be even higher.
 
Flopping a Flush

The flops are suited 5% of the time. If you are lucky and flop a flush, slowplaying may be a tempting alternative. As a matter of fact, it is a dangerous and poor play. Especially, when the flush is not the nuts, it has to be played aggressively. Firstly, there is the risk of losing to a higher flush, if the 4th card of the same suit turns up. Secondly, slowplaying doesn't attract more money into the pot, since if the opponent won't pay one single bet on the flop, he won't pay two bets on the turn either for the same draw.
 

In tournaments short-handed slowplaying can indeed be very useful. Giving a free card heads-up is by far less dangerous than in 10-handed ring games, and checking can induce a bluff or a bet from a second-best hand.

 
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