Basic Draw Poker – Lesson #4: Draw poker strategy

The main principle in poker is not to follow any rules. Change your tactics, be flexible and unpredictable. In the early stages of the game play tight and enter the game only with very strong cards. Then change your strategy depending on the habits and the actions of your opponents. Use their tactics and try to turn it into your benefit. If you notice that other players analyze your play, use it. Make them think that you play in a certain style only and later make totally opposite moves – that will bring you profits for a long time. When other players find out what you do, return to the old style of playing.

Here’s a simple scenario of possible tactical actions.
Playing against one opponent, answer and open the game only when you have at least a pair of jacks, otherwise always check. If after you check, the game is opened by another player, always fold. Very soon, your and your opponent’s actions will start repeating the pattern, in most cases when you check – he’ll bets when you fold or bet – he’ll fold, and if he calls, then he’ll lose (most likely). If you play this way, you won’t lose much, if your opponent answers your first bet with strong hand only and in most of the cases fold. Otherwise, the odds will be on your side. Very soon you will fully convince your opponent that you play entirely “honest”. When you convince your opponent in it, change your play. When you see that your opponent folds when you open the game (since he knows you open it with strong hands only), open the game with weak hands. Besides, he “knows” that when you are saying “check”, you don’t try to win. Therefore, after your check, he’ll always bet, even if he has weak cards. Take advantage of this and getting good cards, first check and then raise. That will put your opponent in a very awkward position, and in any case, will increase your profits.

Use this new strategy every time. After some time, when you notice that your opponents begin to play by the new rules (in most of the cases fold when you check-raise), change the strategy i.e. check-raise when
you have weak hands. Sooner or later they will notice that you open the game with weak cards and they will start responding to your bets. Then again you need to change the strategy and open the game with strong hands only. This way the circle will be closed. The next moves can repeat the above mentioned scheme or become even more unpredictable.

Such tactics can be used when you play against more opponents. But in this case you can use the tactic against a particular player and demonstrate your style of play to him, not forgetting, of course, the general strategy against the rest of the players.

If most of the players play tight and in most cases they fold and enter the game with very strong hands only, at some point in the game you can play loose, thus very often winning the ante that can be a
relatively large amount. If there are only maniacs at the table, then you will certainly make profit, playing very passive. When your opponents use different styles, your tactics should become more selective and
depend on the position of the players at the table i.e. who is to act. In any case, it is believed that a tight play brings large profit, especially in the beginning of the game (when you first open the game or call).
The loose style is more suitable from the later stages of the game – when you have already played a lot of hands and the style of your opponents became more predictable. Bear in mind, that if there are 5 players and you are to act first, you play against 4 opponents, but if the three of the players check, you play against one opponent.

In other words, the closer you are to the dealer, the looser you can play.

So, when the cards are dealt, the first thing you need to do is to evaluate your hand. The following table is based on probability theory and shows the total number of all possible poker combinations, as well as the chance of being dealt a certain combination of cards.

Combination

Number of possible combinations (frequency)

Chances
of being dealt the combination
(odds)

Royal flush

4

1 in 649740,00

Straight flush

36

1 in 72193,33

Four of a kind

624

1 in 4165,00

Full house

3744

1 in 694,00

Flush

5108

1 in 508,80

Straight

10200

1 in 254,80

Three of a kind

54912

1 in 47,32

Two pairs

123552

1 in 21,03

One pair

1098240

1 in 2,36

No pair

1302540

1 in 1,99

All combinations

2598960

As you can see, you can have a pair in one case of 2,36. That is to say that every second hand you may get a pair. In order to get higher combination like two pairs, you need to play 21 hands. Of course, only the practice determines the probability and frequency of this or other games. But your conclusions should be based exactly on the knowledge of this probability. So, with full house, you can place a large bet – your chances of losing is very small. Two aces also promise that you will win, but you will feel more confident if you have a straight or a flush. Besides, your chances of winning are directly proportional to the number of players sitting at the table. The more participants in the game, the higher is the probability your opponents to have higher combinations. The following tables give an accurate assessment of your cards. They show the percentage chance of winning of different pairs when playing with different number of opponents.
Note: The probability of winning with a pair depends strongly on what are your unmatched cards, that is why there are three rows in the tables. The first row shows the percentage when your unmatched cards are the lowest cards such as 2, 3, 4. The third row shows the percentage when your unmatched cards are the highest such as A, K, Q. The Second row shows the average for all possible combinations of the unmatched cards. It is the value of the second row that you should rely on in most cases.
When playing with a large number of opponents, low pairs have very low probability of winning, and therefore are not considered.
All calculations were performed using a standard random number generator. The permissible error is 0,5.

Playing with 1 opponent

22

33

44

55

66

77

88

%

50

52

54

56

60

64

68

%

50

54

57

61

64

68

71

%

50

55

58

62

66

70

74

99

10s

JJ

QQ

КК

АА

%

72

76

80

83

87

91

%

75

78

81

85

88

92

%

78

82

86

88

90

92

Playing with 2 opponents

22

33

44

55

66

77

88

%

25

27

29

31

36

41

46

%

25

29

33

37

41

45

50

%

25

30

34

39

44

49

55

99

10s

JJ

QQ

??

??

99

%

51

57

63

70

77

83

51

%

55

60

66

72

78

84

55

%

61

67

74

77

81

85

61

Playing with 3 opponents

44

55

66

77

88

99

%

16

17

21

26

31

36

%

19

22

26

31

36

41

%

20

24

29

34

40

47

10s

JJ

QQ

??

??

%

43

50

58

67

76

%

47

54

61

69

78

%

55

64

68

73

78

Playing with 4 opponents

 

66

77

88

99

10s

JJ

QQ

??

??

%

13

16

21

26

32

39

48

58

64

%

17

20

25

30

36

43

52

61

70

%

19

24

30

37

45

54

60

66

71

Playing with 5 opponents

88

99

10s

JJ

QQ

??

??

%

14

18

24

31

40

51

64

%

17

22

28

35

43

54

66

%

22

28

36

46

53

59

67

Playing with 6 opponents

99

10s

JJ

QQ

??

??

%

13

18

24

33

44

59

%

16

21

28

37

47

60

%

22

30

40

46

53

62

Playing with 7 opponents

10s

JJ

QQ

??

??

%

13

19

27

38

54

%

16

23

31

42

56

%

24

34

41

48

57

Take into consideration that a real chance of winning you have only in case the percentage is more than 50 %. You need to open the game or call and raise according to this percentage exactly. When you see the table with three opponents, you may decide that you need to enter the game with at least a pair of jacks. In this case experienced players use more flexible tactics depending on their position at the table. If you have a pair of 9s and you are to act first, you should not open the game, since in the best case you have only 47 % of winning. If you are to act third, and the two players before you check, you are actually playing against one opponent and your chances immediately increase to 74 % i.e. you can open the game. If you enter the game with the “right” combinations only, you give the other players the opportunity to read your cards. That is why most of the time you need to play with strong hands and in some cases you should enter the game with lower combinations. Your game should not be predictable. If it is, you just make it easier for your opponents, nothing more.

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