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Before the Flop

Pre-Flop Essentials

A checklist of what you need to remember before entering a pot, plus a useful chart to reveal how to proceed in all situations.

In the three previous lessons we have built on the Poker Basics course and focused specifically on correct pre-flop play in no limit Texas Hold'em cash games. There's a lot of information to process, so here is a summary of all those essentials, as well as a chart that you can download, print out and keep handy for cash game play.

You should also try your hand at the questions at the bottom of the page, which will test your knowledge of cash game play so far, and also hit the PokerStars tables again to put all of this into practice.

PRE-FLOP ESSENTIALS

It is worth repeating yet again that there will always be exceptions to every rule in poker. But stick to these guidelines to build a solid game in no limit Hold'em cash:
  • Play your strong hands aggressively
  • In general: Don't slow play 
  • Raise three to four times the big blind (BB) as default
  • If you decide to raise after player(s) have limped, then add one BB per limper to your default raise
  • If you want to re-raise (three-bet) after an original raiser has entered the pot, then raise about three times the initial raise. If somebody called the first raise, add this to your raise
  • Be aware of your position: be very tight in early position and loosen up in better positions.
  • Stay aware of the effective stacks sizes in all situations. If you want to deviate from the rules, make sure it has the potential to be worthwhile.
You should take a few minutes to remember the rules above. 

As soon as you have done this it's time for the last  set of examples:


Click here to view examples as text
 
    1. You are dealt under the gun. You should fold to avoid getting into trouble with this problem hand, especially out of position.
    2. You are dealt   on the button and face a mid-position limp. You limp as well with your speculative hand.
    3. You have  on the button and one player limps in mid-position. You fold. Ace-six off-suit should not be played even with position.
    4. You have a pair of aces in late position. A player raises to $7 from under the gun and another player calls. You should raise to $28 - three times the original raise, plus another $7 for the caller - with your monster hand.
    5. You have pocket threes in late position. A player under the gun raises to $6 and two others call. You call too with your speculative hand, hoping to make a set on the flop.

STARTING HAND CHART

We have talked about the general concepts of the pre-flop game in no limit Texas Hold'em. The following chart gives a firm idea of what kind of hand you should be playing and in what situations.

STARTING HANDS GUIDE
Your Cards Your Position Everybody Folded Somebody Called Somebody Raised Somebody Raises after you
High Pairs AA, KK All Positions Raise Raise Raise Re-Raise
QQ All Positions Raise Raise Raise Call 20
Big Aces AK All Positions Raise Raise Raise Fold
Mid Pairs JJ, TT, 99 Early Position Fold Raise Call 20 Call 20
Middle Position Raise Raise Call 20 Call 20
Late Position Raise Raise Call 20 Call 20
Blinds Raise Raise Call 20 Call 20
Small Pairs 88 to 22 Early Position Fold Fold Call 20 Call 20
Middle Position Call Call Call 20 Call 20
Late Position Raise Call Call 20 Call 20
Blinds Call Call Call 20 Call 20
Mid Aces AQ, AJ, AT Early Position Fold Fold Fold Fold
Middle Position Raise Call Fold Fold
Late Position Raise Raise Fold Fold
Blinds Raise Call Fold Fold
Suited Aces A9s to A2s Early Position Fold Fold Fold Fold
Middle Position Raise Call Fold Fold
Late Position Raise Raise Fold Fold
Blinds Raise Call Fold Fold
Facecards KQ, KJ, KT, QJ, QT, JT Early Position Fold Fold Fold Fold
Middle Position Fold Fold Fold Fold
Late Position Raise Call Fold Fold
Blinds Raise Call Fold Fold
Suited Connectors JTs to 54s Early Position Fold Fold Fold Fold
Middle Position Fold Fold Fold Fold
Late Position Raise Call Fold Fold
Blinds Fold Call Fold Fold
Everything else All Cards not mentioned above Early Position Fold Fold Fold Fold
Middle Position Fold Fold Fold Fold
Late Position Fold Fold Fold Fold
Blinds Check / Fold Check / Fold Fold Fold
 
 
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