Hold ’em or Fold ’em?

Summer 2014

Avi Rubin’s Top 10 Poker Tips

  1. Don’t play poker tired. Don’t drink when you play. You need to be able to focus and concentrate.
  2. Don’t play garbage hands. There are at least 35 percent of poker hands that you should just never play, except possibly heads up.
  3. Don’t bluff unless your move has a story. Your bluffs need to be consistent with what you have represented throughout the hand.
  4. Calculate pot odds. You may be surprised by the calls you are supposed to make.
  5. The most important factor is position. As stacks get bigger, this is even more important.
  6. In a cash game, you should try to squeeze from time to time.
  7. In a tournament if you are down below 10 big blinds, you should only shove or fold.
  8. Learn hand reading. You need to be more concerned with the cards your opponent might have than with your own cards.
  9. Consider implied odds. If you make a speculative call or a semi-bluff, are you going to get paid off if you hit your hand?
  10. Have fun! If you are not enjoying yourself, then find something else to do.


Garbage Hands: These are hands that are ranked well below average, such as 83 or 29. These hands connect with very few flops and are usually losers.

Has A Story: A bluff needs to represent a strong hand. If you play the hand weakly throughout and then suddenly put in a big bet on the river, what story are you trying to tell? That the river card made you strong?

Position: Your betting position relative to that of other players is important. If you get to bet last, then you have more information when it is your turn than if you have to go first.

Squeeze: When one person bets and another person calls, this can set up a squeeze play: you raise big. Here’s why this works. The first person who bet has to worry about the person behind them who called, and so they will often fold. That first player is squeezed. The second person is usually weak because they only called and did not raise. A squeeze play is very effective, especially in position.

Blinds: forced bets that two players must make every hand. The big blind bets a designated amount, and the small blind, directly to that person’s right, bets a fraction (usually a half or slightly less than half) of the big blind.

Shove: to go “all in” (to put all of your chips into the pot).

Hand Reading: trying to figure out what cards your opponent holds based on your understanding of that person’s tendencies, their betting, and their body language.