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Texas Hold-Em Pre Flop Strategies

Updated on February 25, 2011

Pre Flop Play when Short-Stacked

Playing Texas Hold-Em poker is a source of great fun for many.  But players tend to rush in to games without thinking about the most important aspect of the game – pre flop strategy.

You’re down to your last $5 in a 50c $1 game and you are sitting on two nines – what do you do?  Many people will see this as the perfect opportunity to push all-in and hope for the best, but is this the best option?  Well, that depends on any one of a number of factors, specific to the table you’re at.  You need to think about how the game has been played out and the individuals you’re up against. 

The first thing you should consider, however, is how many people you’re up against.  By the very simple law of averages, the more people you face in a hand, the more likely it is that your pocket nines will be beaten.  If you’re in an early position with ten players at the table, those nines aren’t looking particularly good for an all-in shove!  However, if there are only four or five at the table or you’re in late position with no raise, it’s probably a good idea to get the rest of your stack in the middle!

You must also take notice of any aggressive players at the table and where they sit in relation to you.  If you have a loose aggressive player, who has consistently been raising pre-flop with a huge range of hole cards, don’t be put off by another pre-flop raise.  This may be the one time the maniac has pocket aces, but the likelihood is that he’ll be playing over-aggressively again.  Similarly, if you have a super-tight player who raises before you, those pocket nines are going to look pretty weak and it might be best to fold and wait for a better spot.

It is vital that player bets pre-flop with position in mind.  A late position will allow you to see what the other players at the table do.  You will then have the opportunity to see exactly how strong your nines are.  It may be that only one or two of your competitors are in the hand, giving your nines a good chance – if you’re only up against one player, you are a 72% favourite to win the hand!  An early position is much riskier however.  What do you do if you bet $2 of your remaining stack only to be re-raised twice with two more calling?  All of a sudden those nines now only have a 23% chance – that’s about 3/1 against!

Many people will move all-in at any position with a pocket pair.  Having only five big blinds limits your options severely.  One thing you should never do is call a bet with such a short stack.  Imagine you are in middle position with your nines and the guy before you raises to $3.  Calling here will leave you with just two big blinds.  Even if you get two aces on the next hand, how much damage can you do with just two big blinds?  There is also the possibility that someone behind you will re-raise.  What are you going to do now – fold?  Of course you’re not!  Practice and your natural style will dictate exactly how you play in these positions.  Experience is vital, but remember - you may lose a lot of hands before your strategy improves!


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    • manthy profile image

      Mark 6 years ago from Alabama,USA

      I gave this an up - although I really don't think there is alot of strategy playing pre-flop unless it is when to shove all your chips in when you are short stacked.

      Most holdem players who are winners know how to play after the flop.