Strategies, Outs and Odds

Simple Strategy

Only play big cards => fewer losses due to small kicker, more confident to bet, better kicker outcomes and better single pair wins. Watch numbers from late position to keep competitor numbers small => better odds with fewer players, but 'pick of the crop'.
Cards => Looser early, tight middle, loose later A,K,Q J preferred, less adjacent, adjoining.

No Card < 7 => Except A & K combos (suited =red) + Joined
AA AK AQ AJ A10 A9 A8 A7 || A6 A5 A4 A3 A2
KK KQ KJ K10 K9 K8 K7 || K6 K5 K4 K3 K2 (small numbers of players)
QQ QJ Q10 || Q9 Q8 Q7
JJ J10 || J9 J8 J7
Pairs > 7 (others early for triples)
Connected, adjoining a gapper (within 3) cards SUITED

Odds from Outs => The 2 & 4 times rule

Note: while the number of cards remaining after 6 players fold on 9 player table is reduced by 12, one or more of your outs may be included so odds remain as for 47 remaining cards.

Multiply your outs by 2 when waiting for the turn or river (4 when EITHER turn OR river)

Player Numbers within a Hand or Yet to Decide

Hand entry and continuation can depend on number of players left in the hand, or left to decide.
Fewer players => less competition and can make weaker hands playable (such as A + rag). But be careful as those that remain may be 'pick of the crop' with good hands.

Play from the Button in Poker

Raise on the button (dealer) when you can, especially if all players before the button have folded. This can force folds from the small and big blinds who have random hands. It is important to adjust to the players behaviour. If the players in the blinds are loose or aggressive it is advisable to raise less. If they're tight it means they can generally be exploited more, as they will fold.
Hands suitable for raising on the button

Strategy 2 - Aggressive

Note: a series of small bets can work wonders and can be quite effective as your opponents may be willing to pay in installment rather than a large amout up front. It is vital to keep the flow going to built expectation in your opponents that you have the best possible draw. What matters is not what you have, but what your opponent(s) thinks you have, OR could possibly have! The number of opponents is vital for outcomes => you need to control this. Two pair minimum with multiple players early when players go crazy. Its tough and very risky to win early without a super gun hand. Straights and flushes are a danger! The exception is when you want to stop access to the turn and river cards or to force a fold. Save your stack!

Below is an aggressive approach based on the traffic lights pairs and a way to dominate your opponents.

Note: While it is worthwhile doing early first round calls while the buy-ins are cheap, to get early "looks and sees" in the hope of getting miracle flops, there are dangers in this. It can lead you to bet for weak hands, which can be very expensive. Cards such as flush / adjacent pairs and A, K rags may be worthwhile. You may be better saving your money for 3-bets and other raises. While you will not be entering many hands, this strategy saves your stack for when there are only 3-4 players left, when you can open up. That is, it is akin to getting to the 'final table'. As always, it depends on the cards you are dealt.

Early MORE than 4 Players => No Card in hand smaller than a 7 except with A, K, Q;
Narrow Set of Cards; mostly 2-3 ways to win

P.S. Don't assume your opponents are stupid => they will be using the same analysis.

Bet or Fold => No calls or checks early, except single/double bind & except flush & straight possibilities => low probability

Aim to build the pot + get fewer players left in the hand => get rid of lucky junk hands

Change strategy so sometimes check and call on big hands => don't be repetitive

=> 3 bet, and follow up multiple bets, mostly as harder for others to guess what you have, and will bet smaller amounts. The exception is when you want to stop access to the next card to stop a straight or flush => make them pay.

Late in Game => Less than 4 players

Extras Cards to Above List to Include

Call or Check OK later, play most hands with a winning chance

Less emphasis on Straights and Flushes => as too costly to buy the cards

=> Any pair a winner, so fold less before the flop (any A, K, Q, J top pair has a good chance)

=> Calling, without raising, is OK as binds are already high, but extra pressure is worthwhile

=> Bet aggressively - multiple bets and all-ins


Opponent Bet Size signals:

Opponent Bets back against your run of bets or small bets,or your best pair in the flop

The response depends on how transparent is your winning(?) position.

  • => One to one - run it out - can't wait for good cards, have to work with what you have big bets against you and mostly bluffs.

  • Strategy for Various Phases / Stages and Player Numbers

    Phase 1. Initial phase with 9 players, small blinds

    Phase 2. Mid-Game generally with 6 players and medium blinds

    • Traditional tactics, betting and cards-to-play strategies apply during this phase when there is less volatility
    • Best value for smart well sized bets, during this mid-phase.
    • Fewer players and so easier to predh4ict your opponents hand range.
    • Higher bets can induce early folds to limit their potential for straights and flushes.

    Phase 3. Closing Game, generally with 2-3 players with large blinds

    • Much greater emphasis on the court cards especially A, K and Q. Betting high on a match for these cards, can induce a fold and win the hand. Any match-up has high win prospects
    • More incomplete games are won with a single matched pair
    • Less emphasis on Flushes and Straights as it is too costly to bet through to the end of the game
    • Pocket pairs also work well, because most of the time any pair will win.

    Phase 4. End Game Head to Head - Two Players

    • Traditional head to head tactics => Fold or All-in
    • Any pair will do
    • Bluffing to the Fore
    • Get a bet in early and seldom hold
    • Work to induce an early fold, with bluffing in the aggressive bet strategy
    • pre-fold doubling-up is a good way to build your stack when behind=> cheap bluff
    • fold less as any match up even on small cards can be a winner for all-ins

    The Problems with Calling and Checking

    Bet => “I have a good hand.”

    Call => “I'm unsure of my hand.”

    Check => "I'm weak and I can not bet now, I'm waiting in the crowd for the next card to give me the best hand

    If you are just calling => No one will fold to your call.

    It is also regarded as the most passive play you can make and it gives the wrong message to your opponents.

    The worst mistakes a beginner poker player can make is calling almost every hand, and then folding to any pressure from their opponents. They are basically telling everyone how to play them.

    If you join the 'Lets Check Crowd' you will have lost any advantage you may have had with an early bet. Better to bet small early and then do a follow-up bet when you need to 'look see'.

    Advantages of Betting

    => If you make a bet with an inferior hand, and get your opponents to fold their better hands, you win without disclosing. Being able to win pots with sub-optimal cards is an important tool to have. It's akin to bluffing.

    => Getting your opponent to fold early also keeps them from getting lucky and hitting a better hand on later streets. The benefits magnify for multiple players

    => When an opponent folds, you win the pot 100 percent of the time, and you don't have to worry about variance on further streets.

    => Betting often gets you respect at the table and can impart fear.

    => There is a psychological phenomenon that happens at lower stakes of poker where people assume the person raising frequently is getting a run of good cards. Subconsciously, rookie poker players don't want to play against that player. Keep that theme going by feeding it.

    What if Someone Re-Raises Your Bet?

    One aspect that players need to keep in mind, when they make an initial bet is that it doesn't preclude them from folding later in the hand. This applies especially if you bet was small and not a major one.

    Provided you haven't contributed most of your stack to a pot, then folding is often be the best strategy especially if the situation has changed after cards are added to the flop.

    New players tend to think there is shame in folding to a re-raise after contributing chips to a pot. They think it's like getting caught red-handed and raising the white flag. In reality there is no shame in folding everyone does it. Cut your losses.

    You could bet nine hands in a row and then fold the 10th one to a raise and >you'll still come out on top if the majority of your bets have been getting through.

    In fact, if someone folds 99 percent of their hands, and then suddenly raises, then you can almost guarantee they have something big and you should definitely fold. => There's no shame or loss of face in folding! If you are beaten, so be it.

    When Calling is Actually the Right Decision

    Calling infrequently can be an excellent strategy. The issue is that new players simply rely on the call too much. It develops a pattern of play that other exploit

    • Here are some situations where calling is often the right decision:
    • You want to control the size of the pot.
    • You want to see a flop for a cheap price.
    • You have a premium hand and you're trying to induce betting from your opponent on later streets. Alsoknown as a trap.
    • Most new players often get enamored with the idea of “trapping” and will over-utilize the call in an attempt to trick their opponents.

    Note: Slow playing (also called sandbagging or trapping) is a deceptive play in poker where a player bets weakly or passively with a strong holding. It is the opposite of fast playing. A flat call can be a form of slow playing. The problem is that trapping is generally fairly transparent. It keeps the pot small when you have a big hand. It's like letting them off the hook easy and letting them get cheap cards. It can still be a viable strategy, but it's important to switch things up.

    Don't Be Scared of Betting

    The bottom line is that you generally have five choices when the action is on you in a standard game of No-Hold'em.

    • Check
    • Call
    • Bet
    • Raise
    • Fold

    There's a time and a place for all five options. It's important to fold the majority of your garbage hands to protect your stack.

    New players generally have no problem with checking, calling or folding, but they tend to struggle with finding the gumption to bet or raise.

    You don't necessarily need premium cards. There's a good chance your opponents are getting trash hands just as frequently and may be betting with medium value hands. You might be surprised how often you take down pots with no resistance when betting instead of calling.

    Key Ways to Lose and the Warning Signs and Precursors

    Better Pair - Higher Pairs are better A, K, Q, + J

    • sign => Higher card in the flop
    • sign => small value kicker in your hand

    Triples -

    • sign => Pair in the flop

    Straights - Higher cards are better at top end, someone else may have high end card, This applies when there is a 4 card straight in the flop.

    • sign => 2 or 3 connected cards in flop - low risk
    • sign => 4 connected cards in flop - high risk
    • sign => A and cards 2-5 cards in flop - high risk when running with an A
    • Flush - A high card in your hand is essential when you have only one card, less so if you have a pair in hand.

      • sign => 2 or 3 suited cards in flop - low risk
      • sign => 4 suited cards in flop - high risk

      Doubles - Very hard to detect, higher cards are better, Rarely can be beaten by a better hidden double

      Guide to What to Look for and Avoid in the Flop

      The first question is "Has the Flop helped your opponents?"
      The answer lies in guessing what hands or range of hands you think they might hold?
      You need to recognise the danger signs by examining the flop and what draws could unfold.

      Look for:

      Whenever you think your opponent has a likely draw (i.e. he needs one more card to complete his hand), then you must make them pay dearly to see more cards. It is very bad strategy to let him have a free card by checking. The only exception is when where you have the possibility of drawing an even stronger hand your self (ie with a higher suited card.

      Flush Draw – Is there a Flush possibility on the flop? (i.e. if there are 2 or 3 suited cards on the flop then someone could have already hit a Flush, or someone could have a Flush draw the the remaining cards).

      Straight Draw – are all or most the flop cards adjacent which could give you opponent the chance of holding or developing a straight. Check all the ways a straight can be formed.

      Is there a board pair on the flop - for example AA, 10 10 etc. This opens up a lot of possibilities for strong hands, e.g. three or four of a kind, or a full house.

      Are you in front Post-Flop? Quickly assess whether you are in a better or worse position post flop. Can your opponents draw to a better hand? If so you need to protect against this? A raise may force them to fold => make them pay. If your hand is very weak compared to hands your opponent may hold then it may be best to simply fold.

      If your position is marginal then make your opponents pay to see more cards. Never give them free cards for them to hit a hand which could overtake you with a simple check.

      You flop Top Pair - well and good, but beware of the dangers!

      First, consider the number of opponents, as the more opponents you have, the weaker your top pair will be if its not AA.

      Second, you must consider your kicker value. If your kicker is good, your hand will be strong and worthy of a raise. But the lower your kicker, the more you should be wary about your hand strength.

      Third, you must consider any obvious draws or even made hands visible on the flop. For example a straight or a flush. You must consider them on a draw and beware of any draw-completing cards on the turn or river.

      Fourth, you must consider the strength of your pair itself. The higher the card you paired (the higher the top card is on the flop), the more comfortable you can be with your hand. If you flop top pair, but that pair is a ten, you need to be concerned about other players staying in with one or two overcards and possibly pairing that card on the turn or river, thus beating your pair. Top pairs (ten and higher) are always worth betting one bet with, but be wary of the 3-bet.

      The further you proceed in the hand, the weaker top pair becomes, if it remains unimproved. While it is almost always still worth a bet, it's unclear that it's worth a raise: if another player decides to lead bet at the pot, it is probably wisest to merely call on the river if you only have top pair: a new lead bettor is essentially claiming they can now beat the top pair that you were representing. If it is obvious that a player has made their draw (e.g. made a flush) and there is more than one player left in the field and other players are calling and/or raising, it may even be advisable to fold a mere top pair. The more players in the pot on the river with a flush showing, the more likely it is that at least one of them has a flush, small as it may be.

      The 2nd Best Pair Flop

      Flopping the second best pair puts you in a risky position of being beaten by the higher pair if some other player has it. You may get an early indication of this from the betting.

      It depends on your position, how skilled your opponents are, your image, the number of players in the pot, and the texture of the board.

      Early position
      => bet to bluff, pretending that you have the best pair
      => check to see if someone else bets for the best pair
      => bet small to guauge a reaction and avoid losing too much

      Late position, all checks
      => assume no one has the best pair, from early betting, and so bet large to bluff for it
      => bet medium and hope for a triple or second pair to flop your way
      => check, rather than raise and hide your pair till the end

      Multi-player Pots
      => If it is a multi-way pot with 3 or more people, you shouldn’t be betting second pair. It just risky to assume that no one has the top pair.

      Win / Loss Rankings and Ways to Lose

      The table below is a guide for how the win expectancies changes after the flop

      Most players and not stupid and so you can expect them to follow the same priciples trying to beat you

      RANK Very Good Good Medium Low

      Win / Loss Rank 2 Pair no sign, but bigger cards better Lose to higher 2 pair - rare

      Triples Triples

      10 Two in Hand one in flop no sign, but big better rarely beaten
      9 One in hand pair in flop visible rarely beaten

      Win / Loss Rank Win
      Lose Pairs Straight, Flush

      Pairs in Hand Pairs in Hand Pairs hidden
      10 AA

      3 in flop
      9 KK
      AA kick 3 in flop
      8 QQ
      AA KK QQ kick 3 in flop
      6 JJ
      AA KK QQ JJ kick 3 in flop

      Win / Loss Rank Win
      Lose Pairs Straight, Flush

      Paired Flop Win Lose Opponents know pairs to match or beat
      7 A A kick
      6 K K A, K, kick
      5 Q Q A, K, Q, kick
      4 J J A, K, Q, J, kick
      4 10 10 A, K, Q, J, 10, kick


      2 cards for straight in hand Win Lose Hidden
      8 high, 6 med Connected 3 in flop Higher card
      7 high, 6 med Close 3 in flop Higher card
      6 high, 5 med Distant 3 in flop Higher card

      1 card for straight in hand Win Lose Visible
      7 high, 6 med Connected 4 in flop Higher card
      6 high, 5 med Close 4 in flop Higher card
      5 high, 4 med Distant 4 in flop Higher card


      2 cards for flush in hand Win Lose Hidden
      9 high, 8 med A, K, Q 3 in flop Higher card
      8 high, 7 med J, 10, 9 3 in flop Higher card
      7 high, 6 med Rags 3 in flop Higher card


      1 card for flush in hand Win Lose Visible
      8 high, 7 med A, K, Q 4 in flop Higher card
      7 high, 6 med J, 10, 9 4 in flop Higher card
      6 high, 5 med Rags 4 in flop Higher card

      Outs and Probabilities

      See further information on probabilities

      Concept of knowing your outs

      The table below shows an example of the outs for various draw hands

      Type of Draw Hand The Flop Specific Outs # Outs
      Pocket Pair to Set 2 2 Q + 4 +9 2 2 + 2
      One Overcard A 8 J + 5 + 2 A A A 3
      Inside Straight Draw J 9 Q + 8 + 4 10 10 10 10 4
      Two Pair to Full House K Q K + Q + 5 K K Q 4
      One Pair to Two Pair or Set A Q A +10+ 3 A A Q Q Q 5
      No Pair to Pair 9 7 2 + 3 + J 9 9 9 7 7 7 6
      Two Overcards to Over Pair A J 8 + 2 + 5 A A A J J J 6
      Set to Full House / Four of a Kind 6 6 6 + 7+ J 6 7 7 7 J J J 7
      Open Ended Straight Draw 9 8 7+ 10 + 3 J J 6 6 6 6 8
      Flush Draw K J A + 6 + 8 2 5 7 10 Q 9
      Inside Straight & Two Overcards A K Q + 10+1 2 J X A A A K K K 10
      Inside Straight Draw & Flush A K J + Q + 3 10 X 2 4 9 Q 12
      Open Straight and Flush Draw K Q 10 +J + 4 9 X A X 2 3 5 8 J 15

      Outs and Odds

      The general rule of thumb for estimating odds from the number of outs is:
      your winning odds are approximately four times your number of outs on the flop, and 2.2 times on the turn

      Flop to Turn Turn to River River Turn and River River
      Outs % Odds % Odds % Odds
      20 42.6% 1.35-1 43.5% 1.30-1 67.5% 0.48-1
      19 40.4% 1.47-1 41.3% 1.42-1 65% 0.54-1
      18 38.3% 1.61-1 39.1% 1.56-1 62.4% 0.60-1
      17 36.2% 1.77-1 37% 1.71-1 59.8% 0.67-1
      16 34% 1.94-1 34.8% 1.88-1 57% 0.75-1
      15 31.9% 2.13-1 32.6% 2.07-1 54.1% 0.85-1
      14 29.8% 2.36-1 30.4% 2.29-1 51.2% 0.95-1
      13 27.7% 2.62-1 28.3% 2.54-1 48.1% 1.08-1
      12 25.5% 2.92-1 26.1% 2.83-1 45% 1.22-1
      11 23.4% 3.27-1 23.9% 3.18-1 41.7% 1.40-1
      10 21.3% 3.70-1 21.7% 3.60-1 38.4% 1.60-1
      9 19.1% 4.22-1 19.6% 4.11-1 35% 1.86-1
      8 17% 4.88-1 17.4% 4.75-1 31.5% 2.17-1
      7 14.9% 5.71-1 15.2% 5.57-1 27.8% 2.60-1
      6 12.8% 6.83-1 13% 6.67-1 24.1% 3.15-1
      5 10.6% 8.40-1 10.9% 8.20-1 20.3% 3.93-1
      4 8.5% 10.75-1 8.7% 10.50-1 16.5% 5.06-1
      3 6.4% 14.67-1 6.5% 14.33-1 12.5% 7.00-1
      2 4.3% 22.50-1 4.3% 22.00-1 8.4% 10.90-1
      1 2.1% 46.00-1 2.2% 45.00-1 4.3% 22.26-1