October 17, 2011

Hand Control for Poker Props

Most poker props will play NL Holdem or at least they will be looking to play NL Holdem. It is the most popular poker variant and the most popular betting structure. Poker props may be forced to play PLO or Omaha Hi/Lo instead, but whenever possible, they'll be more than willing to hit the NL Holdem tables.

NL Holdem players know that the key to being successful at this betting structure is to retain control of the hand every time one commits chips to the pot. The player who has control of the hand will be able to manipulate the odds in his favor, basically forcing Lady Luck's hand. He'll thus maximize his edges as well as the mistakes that his opponents make.

What are the basic principles behind successfully retaining control in a hand? There are 4 such basic factors, the first and most straightforward of which is position. I'm not going to go into details regarding the need to play from late position, as I have discussed it several times in other articles on this website and the whole thing is starting to degenerate into a beating of the proverbial dead horse. The bottom line is that position gives you the possibility to claim control of a hand if no one else in front of you does.

Being the aggressor is the other factor. Those who check and call show weakness and relinquish control of the hand. You do not want to be one of those guys. You want to be among those who bet and raise. The aggressor becomes the controller of the hand almost by default. While control can still be wrested from him, those aiming to accomplish that deed, need to go the extra lengths for it.

Being feared at the poker table is among the best assets a poker player can have. A player who is feared doesn't have to worry about losing control to someone who decides to be the aggressor. By using and leveraging the fear, he can regain control of a hand. This is what players like Gus Hansen and his ilk are so masterful at: they never seem in control but somehow they always are. They can basically assert control any time they want to because they're feared.

The player who has more information than his/her opponents in a hand will never find it difficult to assert control. He'll automatically become immune to fear as well as to bullying through aggression.

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