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Biggest Mistake while playing Texas Holdem POKER

Written by:   Rory Monahan

The BIGGEST MISTAKE you can make while playing no-limit Texas Holdem is to focus too much on your cards... If you're playing draw, stud, limit, or any other form of poker, then it's important to concentrate on MATHEMATICAL ODDS and PROBABILITIES.

But no-limit Holdem is different. MUCH different.

You can be a math WIZARD and know the odds of every possible scenario in the deck... but it won't do you much good at the no-limit table. Hell, you can even know how to COUNT CARDS... but I'll still knock your socks off and take your rent money if you face me heads-up. Because no-limit Holdem is a game of PSYCHOLOGY. To win, you must learn how to play the PLAYERS, not the CARDS. The reason no-limit Holdem is so different from other types of poker is because it's possible to bluff HUGE pots and go ALL-IN... And the only thing that separates YOU from your OPPONENT is just two down-faced cards that are dealt at the beginning of each hand. That's it. Just two cards. The reality is this... No-limit Holdem is PSYCHOLOGICAL WARFARE, and if you want to WIN, you've got to learn how to get INSIDE THE HEADS of your opponents. You've got to know them better than they know themselves... and predict their every move. But how? There are a lot of strategies and techniques around identifying "poker tells".

A poker TELL is a habit or mannerism of a player that is a "giveaway" to the strength or weakness of their hand. Like a twitch of the nose... a crack in the voice... a shaky leg... or a rapid pulse... Tells like these are IMPORTANT.

And you must learn how to spot them and take advantage of them.

But there's one tell that's MUCH, MUCH MORE IMPORTANT... and it has NOTHING to do with body language, voice, or mannerisms. In fact, this tell is technically not even classified as a "tell". But it WILL give you a read on your opponents. What am I talking about? BETTING. Stay with me here. BETTING is the KEY to getting a read on your opponents... It is through BETTING that you find out the strength or weakness of another player's hand, which is how you WIN in no-limit Texas Holdem... BETTING is how you get inside your the heads of your opponents. Especially the ones you've never met or played against before. Now, I'm not talking about just ANY kind of betting... I'm talking about the bets YOUR OPPONENTS make IN RESPONSE TO THE CONDITIONS AT THE TABLE. Think about online poker, as an example.

How do the pros quickly and consistently win at ONLINE POKER... where you can't even SEE your opponents? That's right... The answer is BETTING. You've got to watch and STUDY what each player does in response to the action... This is true no matter WHERE you play no-limit Holdem... whether it's online, at home, in a casino, or in a tournament. Now notice how I said IN RESPONSE to the action... This is the key.

Because you can't get a good read on an opponent every time they make a bet. The best time to get a read is when they have to REACT TO ACTION AT THE TABLE... When they have to make a DECISION. Because this is the time when they're NOT in control of the hand... For example, let's say the action is to Drew to call a $10 bet... Does he fold, call, or raise?

Does he hesitate, or immediately make a decision? If he makes a raise, he's representing a good hand, and takes control of the action... If he hesitates and then calls, there's a good chance his hand is weak... If he immediately calls, he may have something or be on a draw... You get the point. You can get a read on your opponent when your opponent has to REACT TO ACTION. Unfortunately, your opponent won't always HAVE TO react to action at the table.

In fact, your opponent will often take CONTROL of the action and force YOU to make a decision. Which means everyone will get the chance to get a read on YOU... And that is NOT what you want. So how do you counter this? How do take control of the action AND force your opponent to a decision? The answer is this: FEELER BETS. Feeler bets are bets made in order to "see where you're at" in the hand. They're named "FEELER bets" because they allow you to "feel" out the strength or weakness of your opponents... And they're a CRUCIAL part of becoming good at Texas Holdem poker. Let me demonstrate with an example... Let's say you're fifth to act in a $1-2 no-limit game at a 10-man table. You've got over $200 in your stack. You look down at pocket nines.

You're not too excited about your position right here, but you've been on fire the whole game. The action is on to you to call the blinds. This is where you make a FEELER BET... which would be a pre-flop raise in this situation. "$10 to play", you say as you splash the pot with ten white $1 chips.

This feeler bet accomplishes four things: 1. You get to find out who's strong and who's not... 2. You get control of the action at the table... 3. You're not allowing your opponents to get a good read on you... 4. You're getting a read on your opponents by forcing them to make a decision... Okay... so let's say the action around the table continues as Nathan and Greg- who are both sitting left of you- call your raise. The next few players muck their hands, and then Cindy, who is just to your right, jumps into the action and calls. You really didn't want this much action with your pocket nines. But hey, you've built up a nice pot, and you might get lucky and spike on the flop. Plus, everyone simply called your pre-flop raise (no one came back over the top), which is a good sign. The flop hits: K, 7, 4. Not too great of a flop for you, but not that bad either. You would feel a lot better off without that King on the board. Cindy, first to act right now, taps her hand on the table and checks to you. This isn't surprising, since you took control before the flop. So the action is to you... This is where most poker players would CHECK.

Big mistake. Right now, you have absolutely NO WAY of knowing who has the best hand at the table. And that is PRECISELY why you must make a feeler bet... Think about it:

If you CHECK, you're portraying weakness to your three opponents... letting them know that the flop didn't help you.

Which gives one of THEM the opportunity to make a bet or try to buy the pot. And you still won't know where you stand. So instead of checking, you throw out a small FEELER BET that isn't going to get you into much trouble. This isn't a bluff. This is just a bet to find out who has a real hand and who doesn't. And it keeps you in a position to WIN the pot. "Thirteen dollars", you say as you push in a stack of chips. Remember, this FEELER BET isn't going to get you into trouble. You're not going broke if you lose this pot... because you've got over $200 in your stack of chips. And this is the ONLY WAY you've got a chance at winning this hand.

Nathan and Greg both immediately muck their cards. The action goes to Cindy now, who thinks for a few moments while peeking at her hand a second time. Finally, she calls your bet.

Your feeler bet worked well. You got rid of two players... and you've got a read on Cindy now. Because she called, you think she might be on a draw or might have the King without a decent kicker. The turn card is an Ace. This is GREAT for you. It's great because you made that feeler bet...

Because you're confident that Cindy is NOT holding an Ace. If she had Big Slick, she would've made a pre-flop raise, rather than simply limping-in and calling your feeler bets. She checks again. This is where you can take the pot down with a real bet. "Forty dollars", you say as you push in a stack of chips. Cindy folds, of course, and you rake in a nice pot... all of which was SET UP through your two feeler bets.

If you hadn't made your feeler bets, there's no way you would've won the hand. Because you wouldn't have scared out the other players, you wouldn't have created good positioning for yourself, and you wouldn't have had a read on Cindy.

This is why I make feeler bets all the time... and why you should too. I throw out "feelers" with top pair, second pair, bottom pair, or draws. These bets are the only way I know whether I have the best hand at any particular point in time... Sure, I get re-raised often. And that's when I fold the hand and lose the bet I just put in. BUT THAT'S OKAY.

Because I found out EXACTLY WHAT I NEEDED TO KNOW. If you get re-raised after a feeler bet, then you know you probably don't have the best hand at the table... so muck it. Losing the few dollars you made with your feeler bet is perfectly fine... Because it's MUCH BETTER than just CALLING bet after bet without getting a read on your opponents... and then losing after all the cards get flipped over. That's a SUCKER way to lose a pot. And you'll go broke that way.

Plus, my feeler bets give me CONTROL and create ACTION at the table... If a nine had come out at the flop in the example above, I wouldn't have needed to slow-play it...

And I wouldn't have been worried about having a monster and not winning any money with it (which happens to a LOT of amateurs)... because I had already created action with my FEELER BET. So the next time you play no-limit Texas Holdem, throw out feeler bets consistently and use them to your advantage.

Nothing too big... just enough to get a read on your opponents and find out where you're at in each hand. You'll IMMEDIATELY realize the POWERFUL EFFECT that feeler bets will add to your game. Because you'll have HUGE stacks of chips in front of you at the end of the night... While EVERYONE ELSE will just be sitting there, with their jaws wide-open, wondering how in the world YOU BEAT THEM SO BADLY... If you want to learn how to KICK ASS like this in no-limit Texas Holdem poker... night after night... then go to my website. There you can read about more great techniques and download my online eBook. You can download it right now by clicking on this link:

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