In Texas Hold’Em Poker, even though it’s important, knowing the odds and how your opponents play might not be enough sometimes. There’s this thing called poker intuition, which is something like a sixth sense. And there are times where your strategy might seem counter-intuitive, but that’s just the way it is in poker.
Let’s explore a couple of strategies that defy common-sense expectations, but may win you a nice big pot.
You Need To Bet Weak Hands To Win, But With Poker Intuition You Can Often Afford To Check the Strong Ones
Poker is a game where you usually bet your stronger hands and fold the weak ones. But that shouldn’t be the case every time.
Let’s say you had A-K and raised before the flop, which comes out with three weak cards. You only have one or two players against you, but not a good hand. So, what’s the next step?
How else would you get someone else with a small pair to release their hand and credit you with a bigger pair? And when the turn comes out a blank, bet again! If the river comes out a king, you’ve got top pair and the best kicker.
Now you can bet again, but you were already called on two times before, on the flop and the turn, which means one of them must have something, like a two pair or a set.
And this is where counter-intuitive strategy comes into play.
Instead of betting, you can afford to check, and if everyone follows, you win the showdown. If you cause your opponent to bluff, you can call and win the pot, enabling you to win a bet you otherwise wouldn’t if you bet and your opponents released their hands.
You ultimately get the best of both worlds – you save a bet when other players have better hands, and you earn a bet if your opponent bluffs in a situation where he would’ve folded if you bet.
Making The Biggest Hand Isn’t Necessarily Always In Your Favor For Counter Intuitive Strategy
Let’s take an example where you hold A-J. Would you like to see a flop of J-7-4 or A-7-4?
Yes, a pair of aces is stronger than a pair of jacks, but you won’t be sure you have the best hand if an ace comes out in the flop. And in case the pot was raised before the flop, you will doubt it even more.
However, with a J-7-4 flop, you have the top pair with the best possible kicker, an ace. Aside from straights and flushes, you only need to worry about a K or Q in the turn or the river. If an ace comes up, you’ll have two pair and be the favorite to win the hand.
It’s not always about having the best possible hand in Texas Hold’Em poker. Sometimes, you just want to make a hand with the best possible chance of winning. Usually, that’s a big pair with an even stronger kicker, rather than a pair of aces with a weak side card.
Let’s take another common example, this time with straights and flushes. You’re playing against seven other players in an unraised pot and holding 8-7 hearts. You call the bet and somehow the flop comes 6 hearts, 9 clubs, and 10 hearts, meaning you have a nut straight. In addition, you also can draw to a flush, or even a straight flush, but that’s not so likely.
Moving on to the turn and the river, you’d be happy seeing blanks come out. Any other player who has a flush draw will call your bets until the river, and anyone holding J-10, A-10, or over-pairs might get in the action.
But, if a flush comes and someone raises their bets, you’re suddenly on the defensive and your hand decreases in value. You won’t be able to raise, and any call you make will leave you worried. Sure, there’s a small chance you’ll get the 9 heart for a straight flush, but that requires a lot of luck, and you’ll have to keep playing defensively the rest of the hand.
If you just look around and follow some games, you’ll notice a lot of examples like this, where strategy in poker often seems counter-intuitive. Just make sure to always keep your eyes open and your mind focused, and you’ll be able to take any advantages that show up.