Exceptions to the Rules in Poker

Continued from: Star Qualities of Poker Players

I think we've covered a lot of ground on these pages, and I hope that I've accomplished my original goal of helping you to understand some of the important fundamentals of no limit hold'em poker without creating a stringent or mechanical system for you to memorize and follow.

Poker Rules Exceptions

The game of poker is an ever-changing battle of attrition. Each hand is as unique as a snowflake or a fingerprint. You will never run into exactly the same situation twice. That is why it is so important for a serious player to understand the philosophies and principals on which the game of poker is based.

I have read countless books and seen numerous charts that give advice in an "if-then" sort of logic. If you have this hand then do this, if he does this then do this, and so on. If you try to learn poker from a book like that and memorize a simple chart or system or set of charts and systems, I think you would be doomed to learn the hard way that "poker is a people game played with cards". There are so many variables that virtually any question you would ask a seasoned player would be answered in the following way, "It depends." Hopefully these pages have helped you to understand what "it depends on" and why. I'm going to end here, but not before I give you just one more list.

I realized while I was nearing the completion of my work that there are so many tiny little pearls of wisdom or "gold nuggets", if you will, that I was never able to fit into my writing. I didn't want to be cliché or regurgitate anything you may have read before, so that's why these nuggets just didn't seem to fit in. For that reason I have decided to end with a list of these handy tips. Every one of them is a strong point, and every serious poker player will hear them at one point or another. That's because they are all strong points and important ones.

Please remember that some of these little tidbits of advice are largely misunderstood and some of them are taken way too seriously. You must remember that there are exceptions to every rule. That statement rings truer in poker than in any thing else I can think of. Therefore, take these tidbits seriously, but use them in the light of everything else you know about the game. Long ago, limit players discovered an idea that seemed so obviously true that it became a steadfast rule that was followed by every professional player in existence. It goes something like this. "If your hand is good enough to call with if your opponent bets, and you have to act first, you are better off to go ahead and bet yourself". To paraphrase, if you intend to call with your hand you might as well go ahead and bet yourself. That concept became so popular and seemed to make so much sense that nearly every good amateur or second tier professional is still practicing it today.

It is, however, in a word, wrong. Mathematical geniuses and computers of today agree that that is far from always the case. One professional, Mike Caro, has run countless simulations on his poker computers to dissolve myths of that sort, among many other reasons. He has discovered that there is nothing more natural than checking with a hand not quite strong enough to bet with and then calling when there is a bet. I don't have a poker simulator handy, but I will try to supply you with a list of "gold nuggets" that is neither outdated nor misleading. If you are new to the game of NLH and you skipped every single word I've written and read only this next section, you will be sure to learn more in the time it takes you to read this short list than you would likely figure out for yourself in a years worth of playing poker. I'm going to end this crash course in NLHE with my 20 favorite tips for beginner and intermediate players.

♣ Continued at: Hold'em Poker Tips #1-5: Golden Nuggets

♣ Back to the index of Dead Money's guide to hold'em strategy.