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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.

Asserting 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.

Whenever you’re 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.

Another 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 edge.

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.

One 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.

Let’s 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 sarcasm). Your opponent did have the much better hand, and he lost on it because he gave up control of the hand.

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. Sign up for a rakeback deal to have more control over your bankroll.

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Last Updated 28 January 2019

Asserting Control of Poker Hands

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