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  • September 27, 2020

Marginal Hands in Texas Hold'em

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Most players when starting out in Texas hold’em will receive as their primary instruction: “Play good starting hands.” It’s true that the biggest mistake many new Texas hold’em poker players make is playing too many hands. Limiting oneself to playing only the strongest hands can usually minimize losses and often ensure a modest profit. However, is there any time to play those marginal hands?
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When Should You Play Marginal Hands in Texas Hold’em?
In Position
If you’re in late position in a Texas hold’em game, you’re in a much better position to play a marginal hand. You can see how many players are coming in ahead of you and there’s a better chance that you will not get raised because there are fewer players to act after you. Furthermore, you will be in a better position to take advantage of your opponents if you should hit your hand.
Against Tight Opponents
If you’re playing very tight opponents, it’s okay to loosen up your starting hand requirements. Since these players generally only play with very strong hands, they will miss many flops which you will be able to pick up with aggressive play. When you hit a well-disguised monster hand, anyone who is still in with you will probably have a strong enough hand to pay you off.
To Change Your Image
If you’ve gained a reputation as a very tight player, you may not be getting the action you want on your good hands. By showing down a few marginal holdings, you’ll let opponents know that you don’t need the nuts to play, and they will be more willing to pay you off when you hit.
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Marginal Hands Have Potential
Marginal poker hands come in all sizes and shapes but are mostly good drawing hands such as connectors, suited cards, smaller pairs, and even two gapped cards like J9, T8, 53, etc. These are the hands that don’t figure to win without improvement but with improvement they have lots of potential. This is because no-limit hold’em is a game of implied odds and a marginal hand can become a monster – and can take all of an opponent’s chips in one fell swoop, if played correctly.
There is a big difference between playing marginal hands and playing junk hands. Generally speaking, marginal hands have the potential to become strong hands while with junk hands you need your opponent to abandon their holding to take down the pot uncontested. Most junk is normally played out of the big blind for free. If you find yourself playing junk from other positions then you’ve probably wandered too far.
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