If there is a universal theme running through most of the lower limit NL Texas Hold em players that I observer, it is that they continually disregard kickers. Probably one of the quickest ways to shore up your poker game and increase your profits is to quit playing hands that involve poor kickers unless there is a very compelling reason to do so (late in a tournament, short stacked, etc)
Obviously, as I have talked about before most players play too many hands. Playing K-4 and A-6 off suit will just get you into trouble, but I think as well as playing those starting hands too much, there are also a group of players who end up in a “trouble” hand and simply talk themselves into playing it further than they should.
For example, you are in the BB with A-4 off. 3 players limp in and you check your option. The Flop comes A-Q-7 rainbow. You check and everyone else checks as well. DON’T talk yourself into thinking your Ace is good! One of those players in front of you may very well have an Ace and you are hopelessly out-kickered. Do not fall into these types of traps. They are basic and easy to spot.
A better play in a situation such as this would be to lead out with some type of qualifying bet to find out if your hand is good or not. Make sure the bet is enough to get some actual information. In other words, don’t bet $80 into a $480 pot and think that you are getting a read just because someone calls. Many players would call with just about anything if you give them the proper odds. Make sure it is a significant enough bet that they have to have an Ace (or trips) in order to call. Then if you are called or re-raised, drop it. You are out-kickered and no amount of hoping is going to change that.
There will be times when you luck out and your high pair with a low kicker is good. Enjoy those hands and don’t try to pound a square peg into a round hole when you are obviously beaten. Your bankroll with thank you for it!
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