The title may sound somewhat misleading, of course you need cards in poker otherwise how could you ever play the game? This is not what I am talking about of course and what I actually mean is, do you really need strong hands to play? It all depends on the situation and it would be a big mistake to generalise here.
If you knew with a hundred percent certainty that the blinds would fold and you are on the button then you can raise without even looking at your hand. With online poker of course then you have no option but to look at your hand but you get the drift with what I am saying here.
As you gain experience then you can begin to see just how certain hands shape up in certain situations. This is what novice players seem to struggle with, it is difficult for them to see how it can be correct to fold AK on one hand and re-raise with J-9 on the next.
How can you fold AK pre-flop in a cash game? The answer is very simple, when you know that it is the worst hand. If you see two players who are the two tightest players on the table raise and then re-raise then where do you think that your AK stands in the pecking order?
At best you may be a marginal underdog against QQ or JJ or you may on a good day be tying with another AK. However, you could well be buried here against AA and KK. It is better to simply fold the hand and stay out of trouble. But this is once again where novices fall down, they see a strong hand and immediately think that they have to play it.
Let us look at an example, it has been raised to $3.50 in a NL100 ring game and our hero re-raises to $12 from the button with QQ. The big blind re-raises again and the original raiser makes a deep stack all-in shove. Our hero is sitting there with his QQ and he thinks for a while but eventually sticks his money in the middle….the big blind also calls.
Now there is literally no way with this betting sequence how a pair of queens could be the best hand against two deep stacked players who have been prepared to get all-in pre-flop. Against one opponent and you may just about justify the call but I am not convinced even then.
Against two opponents then you are virtually dead in the water. When the cards were revealed, one player had KK and the other had AA. I actually saw this hand played out with my own eyes while sitting at a table and I knew what was coming. The true art of poker is knowing when you can take junk and win with it and when you have to fold strong hands.
In no-limit hold’em then the big hands will often get you into a whole world of hurt and that’s even when you have the skill to play them well. If you don’t have that skill then you have no future playing no-limit hold’em if you continually overplay big pre-flop hands. If a hand is big pre-flop then it is only big after two cards out of seven have been seen. That equates to only 28% of the actual hand……do you still fancy your chances.
This article was written by Carl “The Dean” Sampson