Asserting Control of Poker Hands
Always strive to assert control of the hands you play
I bet you heard professionals or
skilled players talk about how important it was to actually control
the hand they commit money on. By being in control, a player will
minimize the number of mistakes he commits, while in the same time
he’ll put himself in a perfect position to take advantage of other
players’ mistakes. This is exactly what winning poker should be
about. The conclusion: asserting control is the road leading to
success in poker.
control can be done in several ways: the simplest is to play from
position. When you are in position (the majority of the players at
the table will act before you) you’ll automatically retain control
over the hand and the pot. Being the game of partial information
that it is, poker offers an unbeatable edge to the guy who sees all
his opponents act before him: not only will he be able to collect
information on his opponents while they cannot extract even a single
bit out of him, his position will make it possible for him to
influence the events that will take place in the hand.
playing against a player you deem dangerous, try to pick a seat on
his immediate left. That way, he’ll be acting before you most of the
time, and you’ll enjoy a nice edge on him.
way to assert control is through aggression. Obviously, the player
who does the raising and the betting is exerting a much bigger
influence on events at the table than the guy who calls and checks.
Aggression will in
turn offer you a position of strength at the table: the other
players will begin to fear you and that alone will offer you a nice
A player who is feared will be able to take the rains of a pot
into hand whenever he so wishes, even if it’s actually another
player in control.
Never forget that having
more information on your opponents than they do on you is needed in
order to assert your control at the table.
Sometimes you’re better off
letting an opponent believe he is in control.
As a matter of fact,
some of the most profitable hands arise from such situations. This
is why deceit is so important in poker. By letting your opponent
believe he is in control of a hand, you’re basically letting him
pump all his chips into the middle of his own free will.
of the most important things beginners fail to understand about hand
control is why a player who is an overwhelming favorite still needs
this control. The answer to that is rather simple as well.
look at an example here: an opponent of yours hits a set on the flop
of a hand which doesn’t really give you anything. Hoping to lure you
in and make you pump some money into the pot (this is what many
rookies do) he checks the flop, giving you a free card and
relinquishing control of the hand. The card that lands on the turn
gives you a gutshot straight.
He checks again looking to possibly
move all-in on the river (or he makes a small raise, the kind that
he knows you may call even if you’re on a draw). You check too (or
make the small call) and hit your straight on the river. The big
money goes in and you take down a the pot leaving your opponent
cursing at the software which is obviously rigged (note the
Your opponent did have the
much better hand, and he lost on it because he gave up control of
That was the crucial mistake there. He should’ve piled on
the pressure on the flop and he should’ve made you fold, because his
situation was pretty clear: he wasn’t going to get more money out of
you on that hand. You had either had rags and would’ve folded to his
pressure (which would’ve earned him the pot) or you would’ve called
(or even raised him) had you had a better hand than his.
By giving up control of the hand, he made the worst possible choice:
he allowed you to build a strong hand out of your rags.
This is why you need
to have control even when the odds are overwhelmingly on your side.
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