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If you play multiplayer poker games on the internet, one great feature is that you can look at your hand histories, which are logs of the hands you've played. Looking at your own hand histories is useful, but what's great is swapping with another player and discussing hands that you would have played differently from each other.
Poker in casinos does not allow you such freedom, unfortunately. Many strong players keep a notebook at the table, and that helps them remember what happened on interesting hands so they can discuss it with others later.
There's a powerful play in limit Texas hold ‘em called the free card play. Suppose there are two people left in the pot, and you're in position, meaning you get to act last. The opponent bets, you raise, and he calls. Now on the turn, he checks to you. If you choose, you can take the free card and check behind. This play is usually used with either a mediocre made hand like 2nd pair or with four cards to a flush.
One of the appeals of the play is that you get to the river cheaper this way than if you call bets on the flop and turn (two small bets vs. one big bet and one small bet). The only play I would not recommend using this play is in free multiplayer poker where there is no money on the line. In that case, your opponent is likely to reraise with any kind of garbage holding.
When you're playing multiplayer poker online, you should make sure you check out the hand history while you're playing. A lot of sites will publish information there that you might not know is available.
The most common one is that if you bet on the river, I call, and you have the best hand, sites will not flip my cards over and expose them. However, you can see those cards by clicking the hand history. It lets you know whether I've called off my chips with a garbage hand or if I had a reasonable hand and just got unlucky. Of course, it also lets you review the hand, which is really useful too.
When you get down to the last two people in a no limit Texas hold ‘em tournament, everything changes. Usually the blinds will be quite high compared to your stack. For most of the tournament, you wouldn't think of playing a hand like A3, but once you're down to two people, it's a powerhouse. There are two reasons.
The first is the obvious one – there is only one other person instead of up to nine, so A3 has a very good chance of being the best hand. The second is that the blinds are usually very high at this point. You don't have time to wait around for a hand that would be playable in a 10-person game – you've got to get you chips in as soon as you see something remotely playable. Players who fold too much when there are two players left are committing the worst mistake of multiplayer poker.
We're going to talk about one more time it's correct to fold aces before the flop in a no limit Texas hold ‘em tournament. Remember that these situations are basically just little mental riddles and trivia factoids – I've played tens of thousands of hands of multiplayer poker online and never once dreamed of folding AA before the flop.
Suppose you're playing in a $10 one-table tournament with 10 players. First place pays $50, second is $30, and third is $20. On the first hand, you're in the big blind with AA, and amazingly, everyone goes all-in before you act. Should you call? At first it seems like you obviously should – you've got the best hand in poker. But look deeper. If you call, assume you win 40% of the time. In actuality, it will be significantly lower, but assume it's 40%. If you call, you'll win $50 40% of the time, and the 60% that you lose, you'll split the second and third place money nine ways, which is $50 / 9, or $5.56. Forty percent times $50 plus 60% times $5.56 is $23.33.
If you fold, you're guaranteed second (as long as there is not a tie for the pot), which is worth $30, plus you might get lucky and pull out an unlikely first. So, not that it will ever come up, but if you find yourself in this spot you should fold AA!
Sometimes when one person is describing a hand to another, the conversation will go something like: A: The flop came down ace – 3 – jack, two diamonds B: Which cards were diamonds? A: Why's it matter? The reason it matters is that suited aces (like Ad 8d) are much more playable than any other suited cards, especially from early or middle position. That means if the flop includes the flush ace (in this case, the ace of diamonds), the odds that the opponent is drawing to a flush go down significantly.
*In a free multiplayer poker game where there's no money on the line, this tip will be much less useful, since there will be plenty of people playing 7d 4d from any position.
When you're playing multiplayer poker and get late in a no limit multiplayer poker game that's a tournament, you should basically never just call before the flop (which is called limping). Either raise or fold. The reason is that the stacks will be small compared to the blinds, so limping and then folding to a raise costs you a significant portion of your stack.
Good players will realize that you're limping too much, and they'll start giving very difficult decisions that you don't want to make. Tournament play rewards survival, and limping means that there's no chance you're going to win the pot without seeing a flop.