Knowing when to play that hand with PSO

Your favorite hand is J-10 and you love to play it every time it comes your way, but you end up folding it more often than you would like after a big raise. (I always tell people my favorite hand is A-A, and they shake their head and call me a nit. Go figure.) You always hate throwing your poker hand into the muck, but they can't stand a big raise ... or can they? It seems you have to be psychic in order to tell. But those small pairs are another thing entirely. You never miss an opportunity to raise with them in the hope of driving out those calling stations that act behind ... if only they would.

And so it goes. You hate losing money with your good hands, and it seems like that's what happens more often than not. You rate yourself a tight aggressive player, but no one seems to be catching on to that, although it seems perfectly clear to you. (I feel your pain.) How to know what to do?

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PokerStars PokerSchoolOnline may be able to help with their course on position and playing style. Let's take a look at those small pairs, for instance. Did you know that small pairs can sometimes be considered trash hands? So how do you know when to hold those fours and when to play them? Here's some clarification from the "Starting Hands" lesson in the "Playing Position" section: "Small pocket pairs can sometimes be dangerous if they do not improve. Another player would only need to match one of his or her hole cards with a bigger community card to make a higher pair. If you hold 4c-4d, you would lose to a player holding 7s-Jh if there was either a jack or a seven on the flop, turn or river."

Okay, that makes sense, you say, but what about my tight-aggressive image? What am I doing wrong there? Maybe it's not a matter of how but when to be aggressive. The PSO lesson on tight aggressive style gives us some guidelines: "(Loose-passive) players play from early position, when minimal information is available, instead of waiting until later when they can act on what their opponents are telling them. Sometimes they compound this error by not paying attention and not making the most of their positional advantage (tight-aggressive)." To see some examples and determine when to ramp it up or pull back, check this section.

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But this is only the beginning of what PSO has to offer. If you prefer getting your information in video format, there are lots of lessons available to walk you through the questions you have about the game, including this one on playing position. After you've watched the video, you can test yourself here to see how much you remember with the review tutorial. And that tight-aggressive style we were talking about? Here's the video that breaks it down and then tests you at the end to see if you're really a TAG or just deluding yourself.

After you've watched some of the videos you may want to check out the PSO league, which offers some live practice to bring it all together. The forum also has a very active community to discuss and analyze hands and strategy to your heart's content.

PokerSchoolOnline has too much to offer to be discussed in one article, so we will be back soon to discuss pre- and post-flop play as the next in our series. And if you missed the first one a few weeks ago, here's the link to that article on learning the game.

For more videos and strategy, see the PokerStars Women home page, where you can also access all of the latest news and promotions.

Rebekah Mercer
@PokerStars in PS Women