The Art of Poker Analysis

The great Doyle Brunson once remarked how the most important thing in poker is to know where you stand in the hand. So just what are the ramifications of this and how can we possibly use this to our advantage? Firstly let us look at a few examples to show you what I mean. It is folded around to the cut-off who makes it 3bb to go and you call on the button with the 10d-8d. Both blinds fold and we go to the flop heads up with 140bb effective stacks.

The flop comes Jd-4h-3s and our opponent c/bets for 5bb into the 7bb pot. Now before we continue we know that we are almost certainly behind in this situation. It is tough for our opponent to have less than ten high. However we have several things in our favour. Firstly the pot is heads up which means that we have less obstacles to get through in order to win the pot and this applies to any online poker variation.

Secondly we have some backdoor outs to the flush and straight but also outs to a pair of tens or eights which could also give us the best hand. If they have say A-Q and we pair with a ten or an eight on the turn then we overtake them?..a lot of players fail to take these outs on board simply because we cannot make top pair. Another key factor is that we have position and that is crucial in any hand of poker. However the biggest factor by far is the fact that our opponent is not a favourite to have either a strong pre-flop hand given their position or have connected with this flop.

So despite the fact that we know we don’t have much by way of actual hand strength when looked at in a conventional way, when we assess all of the other factors and take everything into account?..we actually have a far stronger position than first appears. If you only ever view this hand as “weak? because you only have ten high then you are never going to maximise your earn rate or take your game to the next level. Let us look at another example to show you what I mean which will highlight a very important point.

Let us say that we have the As-4s on a Kh-10c-5h board and our opponent has the 3c-3d. We don’t have the best hand but if we knew that our opponent held pocket threes then would that really matter – no! Because if we knew this then any raise by us either on the flop or turn will win the pot assuming our opponent doesn’t catch a three. So we can ascertain here that if our opponent c/bets and we raise that there is a very high percentage probability that they will fold. This underlines the fact that if we know our opponent is very weak then it doesn’t really matter if we have the best hand or not because weak hands fold to pressure?..end of story.

When we know that we are weak and we have no equity to fall back on then this is usually the deciding factor in whether we fold or not! We cannot try to blast our opponents from the pot every single time that we play otherwise our range will be too polarised between strong hands and junk and the more observant opponents will catch onto that.

Carl Sampson is an online poker player and poker ambassador for 888poker

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