In this free online poker lesson we are looking at one of the areas of poker that most players want to learn about most. Namely pocket cards, what ones to play and from which position on the table.
Fact – To win good money in lower stakes poker you don’t need to be a professional. Free, micro and lower stakes tables have a constant inflow of new players who are very bad at playing poker and lose their cash fast. They lose all their cash to players who know this fact and are there waiting to pounce, these players aren’t pros but they do have good poker skills.
Occasionally one of the bad players wins an all in when playing a terrible hand like 4,7 unsuited but this really is exceptional, to them it proves their theory that poker is luck, you know of course that it’s simply the bad thin end of probability.
Overall, statistics prove that when you play only certain pocket cards from certain table positions you win over the long term.
Pocket cards – Quick definition
The 2 cards you start the game with that only you see.
UCLA (the University of Chicago) mainframe computers played over 2 trillion hands of 10 handed Texas Hold Em poker games assessing all 2,652 possible combinations of two pocket cards (52 x 51 = 2,652). The results statistically defined pocket cards with both Positive Expected Value (+EV) that win in the long haul and Negative Expected Value (-EV) that lose.
That’s great you say, just play +EV cards then, ah, sorry, there is a small complication which relates to your Table Position.
Table Position is critical
Early, Middle, Late are the 3 areas on a poker table. You seat position is fundamentally important to card EV as you will see.
1) Early Positions are Small Blind, Big Blind and Under the Gun (UTG), UTG is the player on the left of the Big Blind.
2) Middle. Count left from the UTG player; Middle 1, Middle 2, Middle 3, and Middle 4.
3) Last, are the Late Table positions: Late 1, Late 2, and the Dealer Button.
For fast reference it is a good idea to code positions by 2 character codes: SB, BB, UG, M1, M2, M3, M4, L1, L2, and DB.
The thing to know is that pockets become playable or not depending on where you are sat.
Early Position. The pockets with Positive EV are:
- AK suited
- AQ suited
- AK unsuited
- Low pockets: 22 through to 99
All other pockets in Early are -EV, fold.
Pockets with +EV are:
The same as early, plus:
- AJ suited
- AT suited
- AQ unsuited
- AJ unsuited
- AT unsuited
- Any suited picture cards, 10,J,Q,K.
All other combinations are negative, fold them.
Pockets with +EV are:
The same as early and middle, plus:
- A5 suited
- A4 suited
- A3 suited
- A2 suited
- A9 suited
- Any unsuited picture cards.
Every other possible pocket in Late position has a Negative EV.
With the exception of AA and KK, only play them if the cost to get to the flop is not over 3x the Big Blind bet. The Low Pockets, 22-99 have some further play rules in this regard but that is another whole article, look for that later.
To remember the playable pockets make a reference card to keep by your PC. Split it into 3 sections. Early Position, middle and late position, with the associated playable pockets.
So create your reference card now and start practicing hard on some free online poker games at NoPayPOKER.com!
This article is a cut down version of the DM Vadnais Building a Bankroll lesson 2, check that one out for expanded details on the points in this article.