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Poker question #1

Dear 888 Poker,
I’ve been playing online poker for a few years now and consider myself a reasonable player. I’m frequently trying to improve and start making some serious money from the game, though I don’t do too badly at the moment.

I always try and analyse faults in my game, but over the past few months, one in particular keeps recurring with an alarming regularity. It’s this: whenever I land pocket jacks, I’m invariably tempted to act – and positively. Is there a definitive or fool-proof way of playing a pair of these smiling boys – at least I think they’re smiling?

Graham
Bournemouth

Hey Graham,
As you probably already know, (and if you don’t, it’ll come as no surprise to hear) that a pair of jacks are euphemistically referred to as ‘fishhooks’. In other words, their apparent strength is the principle reason why so many players are reeled in by them.

On occasion however, there’s little doubt you should lay them down pre-flop. The question is ‘when?’. And there’s the rub. As almost all experts proclaim, “it depends upon the situation in which you find yourself.”

The established texts, from Brunson to Harrington and Sklansky, offer similar advice because while pocket jacks look like a very strong hand, their strength is relative and raising pre-flop under all conditions can be a mistake. As a result, they’re awkward cards to advise upon, although provided you’re aware that they’re not the best hand in the deck, perhaps using caution as your byword could reap dividends.

The Poker Guru

Poker question #2

Dear 888 Poker
An article I read in a poker magazine recently suggested that online poker players who call a raise a little too quickly are likely to be on a draw. Armed with this information, I re-raised an opponent I saw do this and duly ran straight into a monster hand. I ended up getting busted out of the tournament simply because I thought I had picked-up an online tell. Is it possible to identify what I did wrong?

Phillip, Kent

Listen Phillip,
You did nothing wrong, but every now and then, you just have to attribute setbacks such as the one you encountered to experience.

No-one will (or they shouldn’t) suggest that interpreting tells, be they on- or offline, is a precise art; they’re just one piece of the massive array of detail you must take into account before taking a decision. It’s also worth pointing out that many of your opponents will have read the same books of tells. Not surprisingly then, a number will be capable of deliberately faking “reverse tells”; isn’t that awful? Seriously, you should never allow a tell alone to determine your moves at the table and if you did make a mistake, it was that.

The Poker Guru