In another one of our articles I went over the usefulness of bankroll management and we discussed the consequences of variance in poker. Now we can get to some actual discussion about the cards themselves.
One of the biggest problems for a player new to the game is choosing which poker hands to play. Deciding on too many hands will always leak money away, but playing too few certainly isn't optimal either. In order to find the perfect balance, you should probably learn about poker hands order. Even the least experienced player will understand that AA and KK are the best starting hands, but how about a hand like TT? Generally speaking, would you rather play AJ or KQs? Discovering when to choose certain combinations preflop will determine how much profit you make when you play Texas Holdem.
The "rules" for playing a certain hand will change often based on the players you are sitting with. While it's true that you will be able to pretty much always select a hand like QQ or AQs before the flop, at times the problem at hand is more difficult and you will have to decide whether or not to fold or keep playing with something such as JTs. One way to figure out whether or not you will be well off to choose a hand is by putting those you're playing against on a range. This idea means that you figure out what your opponents are selecting as their starting hands and then look at your starting combination and figure out whether, on average, your cards will beat the cards that they are most likely play.
If I have confused you regarding ranges, let me give you an example. Let's say you're given JTs and everyone has folded to you in the small blind. Both you and your last opponent have a ton of chips, but he is an extremely tight player. You decide to raise the minimum because he'll often fold and you can steal his blind. But, to your surprise, he pushes all-in over your raise! You are required pick a range for him to figure out whether or not you can call with your cards.
If your opponent shows, for example, the exact hand of AQs (of a different suit), what are the odds that your cards will win the pot if you decide to call? A poker odds chart displays that your hand is actually only around 40% to win, so if you decide to call, you are going to lose the showdown 60% of the time. But realistically, your opponent is almost always pushing with a lot of different combinations. You should choose which combinations he would do this with, and this is forming his range.
In this instance, if your opponent is super tight, his range will mostly consist of just a few Texas Hold Em Hands. Say you know that he is shoving with only pocket pairs better than QQ and AK. Your cards will only win the pot 30% of the time with this range! This information can help you make the correct decision and lay the cards down in this situation. Hopefully you now understand how deciding on a range for your opponent is vital for success.
Knowing what your opponent uses for his own poker hand order can also help create your opponent's range. Some people will go with any suited ace but hate to go with the lowest pocket pairs. Some players think AJ to be a much better hand than KQ or even KQs. If you can figure out what your opponent is using as his poker order and subsequently put him on a range, you can correctly select which cards to go with versus him and become unbeatable in the long run.