Im going to devote an entire post to this.

Ask anyone who wins at poker about “going with a feeling” and Im quite sure they’ll say “when you have a feeling, trust your instincts.  If you have a read on someone, or theres a tingle in your heart that tells you the king will fall on the river, then go for it.  But its important to recognize a genuine tingle, because if it works a few times you may find yourself inventing feelings inside that personally justify certain calls.   If you feel a spark that the river will be the 4 of hearts every 5 hands, chances are they have become feigned superstitious delusions.    A feeling like that shouldnt occur very often at all unless you have some clairvoyance tendencies.  You know about straight draws, there is the open ender where you have 56 and the flop is 47Q, you can pickup a straight from a card added to either end of your draw, the 3 or the 8.  Then there is a gutshot draw, where you have 56 and the flop is 239.  You need a 4 and a 4 only.  Thats why they call it a gutshot because you have to have a real gut instinct to continue putting money into the pot to draw a 4.

Now, Id like to Quote a few things.  Somebody once asked me “Is it bluffing if I really think my K8 off is going to win a particular hand? If I just got “the feeling”, you know?  It could be semi bluffing.  You could factor in implied odds.  If the flop is 562, you could try a bet here.  You would be bluffing yes, but if an 8 comes or even a king, you would have a real decent hidden hand. It reminds me of Dan Harringtons book. He describes a situation where a player asks a pro about a poker hand.   The thing about asking how to play a particular hand, if your going to ask about it, you must be prepared to have all the background information about the hand.  This is from Dan Harringtons “Harrington on Holdem Vol 1”

Beginner: Can I ask you a question about a hand?

Pro: sure, go ahead.

Beginner:  Ok, thanks.  So Im holding king queen suited, see.  And theres this one call in front of me..

Pro:  What position are you in?

Beginner: Oh I dont know, I guess maybe I was 5th to act.

Pro:  What position was the first caller in?

Beginner: I guess he was second.  No wait, he was right under the gun.  No, maybe he was second, yeah, something like that.

Pro: How many chips did you have?

Beginner:  Gee, a lot, maybe 4, $5000, right in there!

Pro: What were the blinds?

Beginner: Oh not that much, maybe 50/100.  100/200  something like that, but anyways, I called right, and this guy behind me raises, and everyone else folded around to me and I didnt know what to do.

Pro: How many chips did he have?

Beginner: You mean the guy who raised me?  oh I dont know, who can remember all this stuff!  I want to talk about the hand!

To the beginner the hand was his cards, and what happened before and after his turn.   To a pro, the hand was an entire situation with different elements that must be factored in to be able to make the decisions.

And he is very right.  A9suited is very strong when everyone has folded to you so far, and you are on the button.  However, at a 6 man table, first to act after the cards are dealt, 3 out of 5 times I will fold this.  The reason being that so many people are left to act.  If you raise, the people that call you will be the people with AJ and 99.  Playing ace 9 suited early means only one thing :  hope for a flush.   or a 9 i guess.   But you hit that ace and its likely you will lose a lot of money to a better kicker.   But if youre on the button and everyone’s folded to you, the only people left in the hand are small blind and big blind, and you have position on both of them.  Thats an easy raise.

Unless of course its a very tight game, meaning the people are folding lots and not entering pots, and playing tight and not bluffing, combined with your previous hands that everyone saw which held up and were good hands, then I would open a raise with A9 suited because chances are everyone will fold.

King eight offsuit is a different story.  There are only a few situations where I will be in a hand with K8off.

1) you are on the big blind, everyone calls to you, you check, with K8off.

2)you are in the small blind, one or two limpers, you call the small blind because of good pot odds, the big blind checks.

3)You have won a few huge hands and the people fear you.  your on the button and the players in the blinds are weak.  you make a nice raise with K8off.

4)you are playing heads up against a tight player, and you are playing loose aggressive, and your the dealer with K8off

5) a bluff attempt at a squeeze play to minimize the field when you have a giant stack of chips.

Other than that, theres no reason to be in a hand with K8off.  If you have K8off on the big blind, and someone raises you, its probably a good fold.  Again, depends on the player who raised and his history in the game, but its 9 times out of 10 a fold.  If youre on the button witth K8off, and someone raises behind you, and someone calls that raise and now its your turn, still a fold.   I would fold K8, I would fold K9, I would fold KT.  Most times.   Chances are, you dont have the best hand.

In Doyle Brunsons book “Supersytem” He mentions one of his rules.  If he wins a hand, he plays the next hand no matter what.  Even if its 72.  His reasoning is “runs” or “streaks”   A big key in his poker game is getting on winning streaks and running with the momentum.  And winning one hand is always the potential beginning of a 5 hand winning streak, and how can you accomplish that if you fold the next hand?  So I guess thats an exemption for K8 if you like to adopt that kind of reasoning.

But go with your gut.  One of the biggest challenges I have ever faced in poker has been the feeling I get when I get caught making a bad play.  Nothing chokes my confidence more than when I am sitting at a table trying to earn the respect of the other players so I can steal from them and hammer them down when its time. and I get caught and my cards go face up and everyone can see what a horrible stupid move i made.  

That feeling of shame is heavy.  Im trying my hardest to get through these games and I have earned a lot of respect along the way, and sometimes I struggle and sometimes I have my chips in with the worst hand, but I guarantee you that most peoples notes on me are to be careful, and good player etc.   Ive sat with the sharks and proven myself, Ive earned respect of players way better than me, and players who have tonnes of profit.  And for the longest time I recoiled in shame when I had a showdown with somebody who validated my shitty play. Id have A4offsuit and they raised me and I raised them back and they called.  The flop came A8Q, I bet they called, the turn was a 6, I bet huge, they called, the river was another ace I bet big, they raise me all in and I call, they have AK and the kicker kicks me out of the game. 

Back in the older days  I liked to call lots of hands from the big blind, because one of the first pieces of poker advice I ever read was “Defend your blinds!  Its a great piece of advice that I still follow, but within reason.   And many times I would call big raises from the blind with hands like 59.  Id hit a 5 on the flop and it would be reason enough to stay in the hand.   by the time the river came there would be aces and kings all over the board, and he is still betting to me.  Pot odds are good and I might even win the hand by the looks of it because he bets small on the river.  There have been times in my life in situations like this where I just thought to myself, wow, you stayed in the hand with 95 this whole time and now look how many of your chips are in the middle.  And I would fold to a small bet because it occurred to me the guff I would receive  in the chat box if I won or even lost and had to show my hand, because I knew it was a fishy call to make, and I knew I was trying to suckout hands and I knew that this would not earn me respect or make me a better player, so there were lots of times I folded to save myself the embarrassment of being such a fish. 

In my early years I got laughed at a few times for certain calls.  Id post questions on forums and people would say son, do yourself a favor and put down the cards.  I hear checkers is pretty fun.  Or snakes and ladders! 

And these were good poker players with profits and skills and I wanted to be in that position.  So I learned what I did, and now I am here with the ability to make something happen, and I am trying, and I am trying to share it.  So now, there is discipline and I stick to certain styles and I have a criteria of what hands to play and which not to at any certain point.   I dont put myself in embarrassing situations where I can be humiliated because of horrible calls.

You know? Like if someone raises you and you have 22, and you raise them back, and they raise you again.  The flop comes 488 and you go all in, they call and show KK.  That would be a horrible play in most situations, and Id probably laugh a bit myself if I was the guy with KK there.  Now a days thats a fold, or a flat call if you know no one else will have a chance to raise it higher. 

These days I am happy with most hands I raise with, even if its 64suited or J9suited.   And if I raise with 38 every once in a while, the difference is if I get reraised, I fold.  If I get called I play the hand accordingly, and if I win to somebody who had QQ but didnt reraise me then, well its their bad!   There is something else we should talk about from Dan Harringtons book.   Its also fitting here since were talking about playing bad hands at certain times.  

Most good poker players have read, or been told to read Harrington on Holdem, by Dan Harrington.  The part where he talks about baseball and tennis, and describes the hero pitcher, in the last inning, winds up for the fastball and Boom, strike one.  The batter prepares for the second pitch and its a fastball straight down the center, Pow strike two.   Now the batter is ready and hes gonna crank it, the pitcher winds up and sends it down the center.  But the timing is off, the batter blunders a swing but its too early, the fastball was a curve ball!  strike 3.   He goes on to say Youll make your easiest money when you make plays that are opposite your normal style.  I spent a lot of time thinking about that and its very true.  The analogies were good too.  Everyone expects the fastball, and you throw em a curveball.  Well when your at the table and these people Know you dont slowplay kings, you can pull in some giant pots doing something you arent known for doing.   `He cant have kings! no way!  he wouldnt slowplay kings! My raise range in position typically is anything from AA to 9Tsuited to 46suited.   People I play against can  expect me to have atleast suited cards or connectors like 89offsuit or two facecards.  The other day I raised with 23offsuit, in position, and when the flop came K23, I bet like I always do, I was raised, and I reraised.  By the time he was all in with KQsuited, I had shown my 2 pair and I caught another 3 on the river for the full boat.   Yes that could have went bad for me, but online poker is so fast, you have to get it while you got it, theres not always time to wait for better hands.  But I won the hand, and it threw the entire table off since I had been showing down excellent hands up until then.   So I took advantage of this and started raising a lot after that, with better hands than 23 obviously, and now they each knew that to enter a pot with me was going to be a tricky thing to overcome.  Needless to say I won the tourney.

Always remember how youre perceived by the table.  If you have folded 17 hands in a row and now youve just made a raise for 5 times the big blind, its likely you wont get more than one caller IF that.   If your in every single hand betting and calling and chasing, your probably not gonna be able to bluff anyone very easily.  Use your “table image” in your favor.  If you appear tight and dont play a lot of hands, you will be able to steal a few pots because they think you have a good hand this time.  If you are playing fast and aggressive, its going to pay off when you have AA and your playing your typical big bet game. 

And always remember, half of the people you know are below average 😉