Hand Strengths

Before I get started though, I need to talk a little bit about hand strengths and assessing a board. Being able to quickly determine how your two hole cards connect with the community cards is one of the most important and basic tools that you need to have as a poker player. And it is something that a lot of newer players struggle with.

This goes beyond knowing what beats what though. Everybody knows that. You need to really understand the relative value of different types of hands. This can change depending on what type of game you are playing.

In limit hold’em for instance, with the structured bet sizes, top pair type hands have a lot more value because the potential payoff for someone chasing a draw just isn’t there. But it’s a whole different ballgame in no limit because of the large stack sizes and the ability to bet it all at any time. This brings up the value of speculative hands and brings down the value of top pair type hands.

So it is important that you clearly understand the relative value of different hand types before I really get into the nuts and bolts of postflop play at the micros.

No Pair Hands

Let’s start with the worst type of hand that you can have; a no pair hand. This is actually the most common hand that you will have. If you do not have a pair before the flop, you will still not have a pair the majority of the time after the flop. This concept alone really cuts to the core of what it takes to be successful in no limit hold’em. Always remember that most of the time, nobody actually has much of anything.

Under no circumstances can you turn these types of hands into winners in microstakes full ring. There are a wide variety of different no pair hands from,

Example:

on,

for three high with no draw where you beat absolutely nothing to,

Example:

on,

for the nut ace high with a flush and straight draw. You are actually a sizeable favorite (over 60%) against a lot of made hands such as,

or

But the facts remain the same. You aren’t going to win in the long run with these types of hands. So for the most part you should just give up or check it down. There are some exceptions, which I will talk about later, but in general, these are garbage hands. And you want to put the least amount of money in the pot as possible with them.

Pair Hands

Most of the time with one pair hands, it is going to be a good idea to play a fairly small pot as well. While these hands have much more value than no pair hands, you still won’t win much with them in the long run. And as with no pair hands there is a wide range of paired hands.

on,

for top pair top kicker (TPTK) down to,

On that same board for bottom pair, no kicker.

You should only be getting involved with top pair hands most of the time at the micros. There are some exceptions of course but by and large you should be giving up most of the time with all of your middle and bottom pairs.

Even with your top pair hands, against all but the biggest of fish, you will usually want to employ some kind of pot control, often by checking the turn. That said, a top pair top kicker hand has a lot more value than a regular top pair hand and should be played quite a bit stronger. But as I said, it will be difficult to get three streets of value in either case.

And it’s pretty easy to see why this is the case. When you have top pair, it’s hard for somebody else to have top pair as well because you hold one of those cards in your hand. When you have a set or an overpair it is easier for your opponent to have top pair and delude themselves into feeling really good about it. Don’t make that mistake yourself! For the most part, top pair hands need to be played cautiously.

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