Category: Casino tricks

So you are sitting at a $3/$6 Hold’em table, and the cards are dealt. You decide that with your hand, it is worth $3 to see the flop. You call. The next two players fold, the following player raises. Now you decide that it isn’t really worth $6 to see the flop, and you wish you had never placed a bet in the first place.

That is difference table position makes. Had you already known someone was going to raise, you would’ve saved three dollars that hand by simply folding. Knowing what your opponents are going to do makes a difference.

A full Hold’em table is broken into three pieces. The first three players are said to be in Early Position. They must act before most of their opponents. Because they are acting first, players in early position should avoid playing marginal hands. After all, there are up to nine more hands at the table to contend with. Instead, players in early position should limit themselves to playing only premium hands.

The next set of players at the table are said to be in Middle Position. They have seen some of their opponents act, so they have an idea of what they are up against. If no one has raised, players in middle position do not need to limit themselves to only the premium starting hands. Another advantage of middle position is that there are fewer players who have not acted, and so the chances that someone will raise you are lower.

The last set of players are said to be in Late Position. They have the advantage of having seen most of their opponents already act. The very last player to act has the most advantage that table position can offer. They have seen everyone act, and should they decide to call a bet there is no chance of someone raising them. Players in late position can play a wider range of starting hands because they already know how many opponents they will be facing.

The general guide is to play very tightly in Early Position sticking to only the best starting hands. In Middle Position, stick to playing good starting hands, but they need not be the very best. In Late Position players can afford to play much more loosely.

Of course there are different betting strategies that can be used depending on your table postion and the actions of your opponents, but the first thing to understand is that where you are seated in relation to the dealer makes a difference. You can improve your game right away by simply paying attention to your table position.

The first thing a Holdem player should learn is which cards are worth playing, and which should be folded. Many beginning players stay in a hand with cards that have little or no future, and it ends up showing in there chip count.

The first thing a Holdem player should learn is which cards are worth playing, and which should be folded. Many beginning players stay in a hand with cards that have little or no future, and it ends up showing in there chip count.

Remember that no two cards alone can be unbeatable, and once the flop falls things that once looked good may no longer be worth pursuing. Still, to give yourself the best chance to succeed, play only the premium hands.

The best starting hands are:

  • Large Pairs – Aces, Kings, Queens, Jacks. Even pairs of tens and nines and eights are high quality starting hands. Play them.
  • Aces with suited High Cards – When you get an Ace with a K,Q,J, or even a ten, many good things can happen. You already have high card. If a flush comes, you’ll have the best possible one because of your ace. High straights, and even a straight flush is possible with these cards. Play them.
  • Suited Faces Cards and Tens – While it’s nicer to have an ace in the hole, suited face cards are playable hands. They hold a lot of potential including high pair with a strong kicker, straights, and flushes.
  • Aces with unsuited High Cards – Aces with an unsuited partner can still give you top pair with a high kicker, or a high straight. Because other players may also have an ace, the strength of the second card in your hand is important. If two players tie, that second card, or ‘kicker’ will decide the winner. This is why A-10 is a playable hand, and A-6 is not. (A-10 can also turn into a high straight). So while aces are highly sought after, do not feel the need to play every hand in which you are dealt an ace.
  • King with Face Card – A King with a Queen, or with a Jack is a playable hand. But, it is not as strong as you may think. Still, two face cards rank high enough that seeing the flop is often a good idea.

These are the strongest starting hands in a Texas Holdem game. Other hands are playable depending on the circumstances at the table, but beginners may want to stick to playing only these premium hands until they understand the game more fully. Playing these hands will not guarantee that you will be a winner. Poker doesn’t work that way. Even pairs of Aces get beaten. But, if you want to win a pot, finding any of the cards listed on the chart in your hand is a good place to start.

Good Hold’em players can ‘Read the Board’, and they know what hands might be lurking out there at the table ready to show themselves and take the pot. They also know what hands can not be possible, and so they know not to worry defending against them. How can you tell what hands are possible, and what ones are not? Here are some simple guidelines to get you started.

  • Pairs on the Board – if there are a pair of cards on the board, someone may have a Four-of-a-Kind. If there are no pairs on the board, no one can have a Four-of-a-Kind. Pairs on the board also make a Full House possible. Both of these hands are very strong, so when the board pairs pay attention. Someone may be holding a monstor hand.
  • Three of a Suit – is what is necessary for a flush. Sometimes when the suited community cards are not particularly impressive, say 2-7-9 of clubs, it becomes easy to overlook the potential flush in your opponents hands.
  • Sequence Cards – the cards that make a straight possible. If the cards on the board only have two ‘holes’ in a string of five consecutive cards, someone may be holding those cards and just may have that straight. So, when cards like 9-J-Q show themselves on the board, beware that an opponent may be holding the ‘missing’ 10-K in their hand.

Of course you know what cards are in your hand, and that can help you deduce what cards your opponents may have.

Reading the Board
– The board shows K-K-9-2-6
– You have: A-K in your hand
Is there a pair on the board?
– Yes. Both a Four-of-a-Kind and a Full House are possibleAre there three suited cards on the board?
– No. A Flush is not possible.

Are there three Sequence Cards on the board?
– No. A straight is not possible.

Can you use your cards to rule out possible hands?
– Yes. Since you have one of the K, no one can have Four-of-a-Kind this hand.

Conclusion
– Because of the pair on the board, Full Houses are possible.
Your opponent would need to have K and either a 9,6, or 2 in their hand
to complete the Full House. Or, they may have 2-2, 9-9, or 6-6 and complete the full house in that manner.

We show on this article that with a very simple strategy it is possible to minimize the house edge and maximize your winning chances when playing Red Dog Poker.

Red Dog Poker is a very simple game to play. There are no special learning needs to play this game and a very simple strategy can be developed to maximize your winnings. If you don’t know the game rules, you can check my other article here on SharpGambler to learn all the important features of the game.

At Red Dog Poker, the only important decision you will have to make on each round is weather to raise your bet or not. After you make your initial bet, the dealer will draw to cards and you will have to make the decision to raise or not your bet. That’s the only decision we can study to maximize your winning chances. What we want is to test if there is any rule that we can follow that would give better results than a simple naive strategy. Let’s see…

In order to raise a bet we must have an expected payout greater than 1, or 100%, otherwise, by raising, we are maximizing the expected losses. We must look at the expected payoffs, that are summarized bellow.

Spread Odds Win Probability Game Probability Expected Payout (naive strategy) Expected Payout (optimal strategy)
pair tie 0.9600 0.0588 0.9600 0.9600
triple 11 to 1 0.0400 0.4800 0.4800
consecutive tie 1.0000 0.1448 1.0000 1.0000
1 5 to 1 0.0800 0.1327 0.4800 0.4800
2 4 to 1 0.1600 0.1207 0.8000 0.8000
3 2 to 1 0.2400 0.1086 0.7200 0.7200
4 1 to 1 0.3200 0.0965 0.6400 0.6400
5 2 to 1 0.4000 0.0845 0.8000 0.8000
6 3 to 1 0.4800 0.0724 0.9600 0.9600
7 4 to 1 0.5600 0.0603 1.1200 1.2400
8 5 to 1 0.6400 0.0483 1.2800 1.5600
9 6 to 1 0.7200 0.0362 1.4400 1.8800
10 7 to 1 0.8000 0.0241 1.6000 2.2000
11 8 to 1 0.8800 0.0121 1.7600 2.5200
Average Overall Payout: 90.81% 96.84%
House Edge: 9.19% 3.16%

The first column of the table shows all the different Red Dog Poker game variations. The second column shows the odds – the payout for the different game variations. Win probability is the probability you have of winning a game. For example, if the first two cards dealt are Ace and Queen, the spread is 1, and the probability you have of winning the game is 0.08 (8%). Game probability is the probability of game happening. For example, a game with a spread of 6 has a probability of 0.0724 (7.24%) of happening.

The last two columns are the most important ones for our analysis of Red Dog Poker strategy. The first one refers to the expected payout when you just click-and-go, when you never raise your bet. The second column is the expected payout for an optimal Red Dog strategy. Let’s look at a spread 6 game. The expected payout is 0.96. This means that given a spread of 6, for each dollar you bet you are expected to receive 0.96. You are loosing 0.04 dollar, on average, for each dollar you play. What this means to you? It means that you will not want to raise your bet when you have a spread of 6. Why? Because you are expected to loose money, on average, on that spread. If you’re expected to loose money, you want to minimize the loss. The only thing you can do to minimize it is not raising your bet. You will raise only for the games in which the expected payout is greater than 1.Looking at the table it is easily seen that it is optimal to raise the bet only when the spread is 7 or more.

Let’s look now at the last two rows of the table. The average payout of Red Dog Poker is 90.81%, and the house edge is 9.19%, when you use a naïve strategy of click-and-go-and-never-raise. But, if you use an optimal strategy of raising when the spread is 7 or more, the average payout is 96.84% and the house edge decreases to 3.16%.

As you can see, you can improve your overall results at Red Dog Poker by optimizing your strategy of play. The optimal strategy is very simple: raise only on spreads of 7 or more. The analysis presented here is for a Red Dog Poker game using only one card deck, but the overall result in terms of strategy of play is the same if you add more decks. The big difference is on the house edge. As you increase the number of decks, the house edge decreases and would be 2.75% with 8 card decks, but will not decrease significantly after that.

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