Not Playing By The Book
Phil Gordon

Once I am involved in a hand, many of the actions I take after the flop are
automatic, or nearly automatic. Therefore, the most important decision I
have to make in No Limit Hold 'em takes place before the flop:

Should I play the two cards I've been dealt?

When I first started learning how to play, I reviewed the standard charts
that suggest which two cards to play from each position. But while they
provided useful guidelines, the charts don't tell the whole story. Poker is
not a game that is best played by the numbers. Poker is a game of

In blackjack, there is always a correct decision to be made - a "perfect
strategy." Once you have compared the strength of your hand against the
dealer's "up" card, the odds will -- or at least should -- dictate whether
you should hit, stand, split, etc.

Poker, however, is a game of incomplete information. There are many factors
to consider that go above and beyond what "the book" tells you to do. Some
of them include:
* My opponents' tendencies
* My state of mind
* My opponent's state of mind
* Our respective stack sizes
* My image at the table
Computer programs can look up hands in a chart. Real poker players analyze
situations and make their own decisions after processing all of the
available information. I might raise with A-J from early position in one
game, and fold the same hand from the same position in another.

A good chart can help give a very specific set of circumstances, namely:

* You are the first person to voluntarily put money into the pot and are
going to come in for a raise of about three times the big blind
* You don't know much about your opponents
* All the players at the table have an average-size stack
* The blinds are relatively small in relation to the size of the stacks

When the above things aren't true, you'll want to look beyond the charts.
If you're a new player, these tables are a great place to start. The more
poker you play, however, the more comfortable you will feel letting your
experience and your instincts serve as your guide.

Play Online Poker
Play Online Poker