You have to play more hands than usual to be successful in tournament poker.
While a conservative approach can help you squeak into the money, the only way to win is to mix it up and get involved with a wider range of starting hands.
So, the question is, which hands should I add to my repertoire?
Well, the truth is that you should add hands that you feel comfortable playing because it’s likely you’ll make confident decisions with them after the flop.
A lot of players will add hands like Ac-8d in steal position when they try to attack the blinds. Now, I’m not completely opposed to playing these types of hands, but only in certain situations. The problem is that ace-rag hands are extremely difficult to play after the flop. The decisions you’ll face with them become much more complex.
Consider these problems if you do get called with an ace-rag hand:
· If an ace comes on the flop, you’ll have to worry about your weak kicker.
· You probably won’t get called by a player with a weaker ace-high hand. And, if the flop were to come A-7-2 and an opponent does call, he’s probably got you beat.
· Face it; most flops just aren’t going to help anyway.
· Your ace-rag hand can put you in a tricky situation where you make a bad call, merely hoping that your opponent is running a bluff.
Another set of starting hands that can be added include such combos as K-5 suited or Q-7 suited but these hands have problems of their own.
Say you get lucky and make your flush with the suited K-5 or Q-7. It would be almost impossible to avoid losing a huge stack of chips to any opponent who hung on to his ace — a commonly made play — and ultimately made the nut flush.
Of course, you’d have kicker trouble with the suited K-5, too. With a flop of K-7-2, for example, you’d have to figure that any opponent who also has a king will have you outkicked.
Hands like A-8 and K-7 do fairly well hot and cold meaning that if there is no further betting, they’d win a decent amount of the time. But when you factor in betting, these hands have a tendency to lose large pots and win small ones, and that’s not a good combination.
That being said, when playing on a short stack or in a fast-paced tournament where you’re often forced to move all-in, you can reasonably add these hands to your repertoire.
In deep-stack tournaments, though, these hands are simply more trouble than they’re worth. The best hands to add in these tourneys are suited connectors because they have the potential to make both straights and flushes.
Say you choose to play a hand like 5c-6c and get to see the flop. You probably won’t have to worry about your kicker if your sixes pair on the flop and that’s a good thing. If you do make your flush, great, but be wary of big pots with reraises because it’s quite possible that your opponent made a bigger flush.
Make your straight, though, and you’ve hit pay dirt! That hand will win a very high percentage of the time. And because it’s so well disguised, you’ll stand to win a monster pot against any player with a hand like pocket aces or better.
But regardless of the non-traditional starting hands you decide to add to your play list, react to any reraise in the same way by laying down your hand.
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