A Beginner Poker Players Guide to Resisting the Irresistible

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Betsy Black one of our resident PokerPinup Girls shares some top strategy advice to help all of you beginner poker players out there be the best you can be!

Beginner poker players often play with passion, courage and aggression, which are welcome traits at any table, not least because they are vital ingredients of good fortune. But beginner poker players have a major weakness: they lose far too many poker chips with hands that may seem irresistible before the flop but are actually destined to distract their focus, destroy their stack and pretty much eat them alive. How can beginner poker players resist temptation?

Top Hands

The problem is that beginner poker players lack the experience to recognise when they have a hand that is going to lead them astray. Over time, professional players gain a deeper understanding of what constitutes a good hand; they also learn to fold temptation before they lose the opportunity to back down.

Phil Hellmuth and Mike Caro are two of the top players in poker, having won millions of dollars between them. Hellmuth lists his top five hands as AA, KK, QQ, A-K (suited) and JJ. Caro prefers AA, KK, QQ, JJ and A-K (suited). The main difference between the two players, apart from the size of their egos and the number of WSOP bracelets they own, is that Hellmuth lists 10-10 as his sixth-favourite hand, whereas Caro prefers A-Q (suited), which Hellmuth ranks in ninth place. How can two successful players differ so much on one hand?

Tempting Hands

To the beginner poker player, AQ (suited, of course) is more than a good hand: it is an excellent hand. It is the hand that will ensnare the sharks and swallow up the fish. Mathematically, AQ deserves a place in the top six. But experience says otherwise, as Hellmuth makes clear in his top-ten list. To most professionals, AQ is not a great hand; it cannot be expected to take down an experienced rival who calls or raises before the flop. Though hardly deserving of an immediate muck, AQ should be treated with care.

Another overplayed hand is KJ. Neither Hellmuth nor Caro ranks KJ in their top ten. And the reason for that is simple: KJ looks strong, but it is actually quite weak. There are so many ways that KJ can be beaten that beginners simply do not realise the trouble they make for themselves when they raise or call a large bet before the flop. KJ ranks with K10 and AJ as three of the worst ‘good’ hands that can be dealt to a beginner poker player.

If beginner poker players want to keep their poker chips, they should always aim to see the flop without committing themselves to a tempting hand.

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