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How to Not Fall For Trap Hands

February 17, 2023
by Lex Veldhuis

Providing valuable strategy tips for low stakes poker players, this video highlights how you can avoid falling into traps, regardless of the cards you have in the pocket. By exploring the importance of stack size and flop cards, Lex discusses how to play certain hands, and how other player betting could give a clue to their cards.

Assess Your Hand Strength Relative to Position

It’s vital to consider how your hand strength compares to the range of hands possible for the position you’re in. If early position opens indicate a strong range, hands like A-3 are usually not strong enough to continue. Think about which hands dominate you and how often you’ll face them. Hands with few “redeeming qualities” should usually be folded to preserve your chip stack.

Don’t Call Speculatively

Be wary of calling raises speculatively with marginal holdings. While the pot odds may seem appealing, hands like A-10 don’t block many strong hands that could dominate you later. You’ll often end up paying to see several streets then folding, wasting chips. Tighten your calling range in multi-way pots, especially in lower stakes tournaments.

Adjust Your Strategy as Stack Sizes Change 

As stacks get shallower, it’s important to tighten your range for open-shoving and calling all-ins. Opponents are more likely to call wider when they’re looking for eliminations, so choose hands that can withstand multiple callers. Pocket pairs decrease in value for instance, while suited Kings and Ace-King gain value as the hand plays out. Consider how hands play against a range of possible holdings, not just one hand.

Stay Patient When Short-Stacked

It’s easy to panic when short-stacked, but patience is key. Look for spots to get your stack in with an advantage, but don’t waste chips. Even the best players face variance and go through short-stack periods. Focus on making optimal decisions, not rushing to get unstuck and not falling into traps to earn more chips. Playing this way will help increase your stack size.

Block Bet for Deception

You can use small “block bets” with strong hands to get value from weaker holdings, even if you have a weaker hand yourself. A small bet may entice calls from hands like K-9 or K-8 on a K-6-4 board, allowing your set of fives to stack them on later streets. Include some bluffs in your small blocking range at higher stakes to stay balanced.

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