Most No Limit Hold’em tournaments have a small blind and big blind as well as an ante. When the blinds reach 400-800, an additional 100 ante is contributed by each player. This forces the action a bit, making it difficult for a conservative player to stay afloat while waiting for premium cards.
Waiting around for premium cards is usually not a good strategy. In fact, in tournament play, your goal should be to play more hands than the average player.
In big events, every player knows the difference between great hands, marginal hands, and junk hands. Everyone will play premium hands, most will play marginal hands, and some will even play junk hands if the situation warrants.
Novices should stick to playing premium hands. As you improve and become more comfortable, you can start adding other hands to your repertoire. Bluff attempts to steal the blinds would be a great start. Keep this in mind: The cards you choose to bluff with depend on how well you think you can play each hand after the flop.
But there’s more to poker than bluffing. Here are some hands you need to consider adding to your game.
Personally, I hate cards like Ac-6d, As-7h, and Ac-3s. They just don’t play very well after the flop. If you’re lucky enough to flop an ace, your little kicker can cause you big problems.
With a hand like A-7 offsuit, it’s unlikely that you’ll make a straight or a flush, so you’re heavily dependent on catching an ace, or possibly winning unimproved.
Having said that, the ace-high plays well hot and cold — meaning, that with no more betting, it rates to win more often than it loses. In No Limit, though, someone always seems to bet. If a flop comes K-Q-8, you’re generally in no man’s land with ace-rag.
King-Rag and Queen-Rag Suited
Here’s another dangerous group of hands to play: Ks-4s, Kh-2h, Qd-6d, and Qc-2c. The real value in these cards is that they’re suited. But that’s also the very reason that they’re so perilous to play.
Flopping your king or queen is an okay result, but you’re really hoping for a flush. However, even if the flush comes, you could lose all of your chips if an opponent happens to have the ace-high nut flush.
Let’s face it, folding a king-high or queen-high flush against a raise is very difficult to do. These hands are certainly playable, but if you go with them, be aware of the potential pitfalls you may encounter.
Small pairs have loads of value if you’re able to see the flop cheaply. They’re also easy to play after the flop.
For example, if you call to see the flop with a pair of deuces, you’ll likely only continue if you hit another two on the flop. If you’re lucky enough to catch trips, you’re set up to win a big pot, especially if an opponent has a hand like top pair.
Hands like 6h-7h and 3d-4d are excellent hands to add to your repertoire. Unlike the ace-rag hands, they do play well after the flop because they have both straight and flush potential.
The great thing about these hands is that even if your opponents know you like to play them, you can still win pots.
Let’s say you call a raise with 10s-Js and the flop comes 4c-5c-6d. Even if your opponent has A-K, he may very well be worried that you’ve hit that flop. A bet on your part might get him to throw away the better hand.
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