Under The Gun
Here is a DANGEROUS MISTAKE that I'd say about 97% of people
make when playing Texas
THEY DON'T KNOW THE RIGHT METHOD FOR PLAYING IN FIRST
POSITION, BEFORE THE FLOP.
This is the player immediately to the left of the big blind.
It's the first person to act as soon as the cards are dealt.
This position is nicknamed "under the gun".
And with good reason, too.
Because this is THE most DANGEROUS and COSTLY position at
1. When you're under the gun, you are FIRST to act BEFORE
the flop... and one of the first to act AFTER the flop.
This means you DON'T EVEN GET A CHANCE to get a read on the
other players before you must make your decisions about
2. The other players can check-raise you, trap you, and get
a READ on YOU much more easily when you're in this position
at the table...
3. You are more likely to get bluffed, pushed around, out
drawn, and BEAT when you're in this position.
Let's examine WHY this table position is so terrible... and
what proven strategies you can use to play under the gun
PROPERLY, so that you don't lose any more money because of
Here's an example...
Let's say you're under the gun at an 8-man table.
You get your cards and look down at an A-10 off-suit. You
decide to limp in, and you call the big blind (50).
The action goes around the table to the other players. The
man on the button (Don) decides to RAISE and make it 300
total to play.
You're not sure if this is a position raise, or if he really
does have a solid hand.
With all the chips already in the pot... plus the 50 you
already put in from your own stack, you decide to call with
There's one other caller, and both the big blind and small
blind players fold.
The flop comes out:
All different suits.
You've hit top pair. Congratulations.
What sucks is that you're FIRST to act, and you know that
Don is probably going to raise you no matter what you do...
But you don't have a read on Don or the other player. If Don
raises, you have to call, right? I mean, you hit top pair in
a raised pot.
So let's say you throw out a "feeler bet", just to see where
Don calls, and the other guy folds.
Hmmmm... so now you wonder if Don is SLOW-PLAYING a big
hand or if he's just going to bluff at this.
The turn comes. It's an 8.
You check... and now Don bets 1000.
You're "pot committed" and you still have top-pair, so you
decide to call.
Now the river comes, you check again, and Don goes all-in
for 3000 more.
You've already got about 1500 in the pot. You're getting
over 2:1 on your money, and you're really not sure if Don's
bluffing or not. So you call...
And sure enough, Don throws over his Big Slick (A-K), and
rakes in the pot.
And the REASON you lost that big pot wasn't just the
cards... it was your POSITIONING.
If you're under the gun and you hit top pair on the flop,
you're just ASKING for trouble...
Because it's very difficult to get an accurate read on your
opponents when you're first to act.
I mean... let's just look at the many ways you can LOSE your
money when playing under the gun:
- If you call the blinds, but then the pot gets raised
before the flop and you fold. (You've lost your blinds.)
- If you call the blinds (and maybe a pre-flop raise) and
the flop is no help to you. You check, and there's a big bet
by another player and you are forced to fold.
- If you bet after the flop but get raised and are forced to
- If you have a good hand but someone else has a MONSTER and
slow-plays you. (It's much easier for someone to slow-play
you when you're first to act.)
- And more...
Now multiply all of these LOSSES by the number of times you
will be under the gun every single time you play cards.
The result is a TON of lost chips...
But I do have good news:
IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY.
You don't have to lose money every time you're first to act
before the flop...
You just have to know EXACTLY WHICH HANDS TO PLAY and HOW TO
Let's take a look...
In our example above, the biggest mistake made was playing
A-10 in the first place.
Since under the gun positioning is so dangerous, you
shouldn't play anything except PREMIUM HANDS.
The rule is this: TIGHTEN UP YOUR GAME.
Only play these exact hands:
A-K, A-Q, K-Q, and pairs.
The only other hand you may want to play is suited
connectors, but that just depends on your style...
Personally, I don't like to play them here.
OK, now let's look at HOW to play the starting hands. There
are basically two groups:
Group 1: A-A, K-K, Q-Q, and A-K.
Group 2: A-Q, K-Q, and all other pairs.
Now stick with me here, because this is VERY SIMPLE to
understand and will save you a lot of money at the Holdem
When you're under the gun, you should always CALL THE BLINDS
(LIMP-IN) when you get any hand in Group 2.
That means if you get any pair between 2's and Jacks... or
A-Q or K-Q... you should CALL.
The goal is to hit something good on the flop. If someone
makes a reasonable raise before the flop, you can feel
comfortable calling it with one of these hands.
I love playing small pocket pairs, because if you spike your
card on the flop (giving you a three of a kind or a "set"),
your opponents will usually never see it coming.
Now let's talk about Group 1 hands. The monsters:
A-A, K-K, Q-Q, A-K
The way you play these depends on whether the table you're
at is LOOSE or TIGHT.
Here's the rule:
If you're at a LOOSE table (where a lot of pre-flop raises
occur), you should LIMP-IN (call) with your monster.
If you're at a TIGHT table (where not many pre-flop raises
occur), you should RAISE the pot before the flop.
If the table is LOOSE, and you limp-in before the flop, the
pot will most likely get RAISED and the action will come
BACK to you.
This is good. It means more money in the pot for your
But if you make a big bet, there's a good chance you will
NOT get raised. Because you're first to act and everyone
will know you probably have a good hand.
If you limp-in and the pot gets raised, you should probably
make a RE-RAISE. Always try to get as much money in the pot
whenever possible with your monster hand...
But you DON'T want more than 1-2 callers, because that would
increase the odds
of catching a bad beat.
Now if the table is TIGHT, you want to make a RAISE before
the flop. You don't want a bunch of players to all limp-in
and see a cheap flop...
Instead, you want to narrow down the field to 1-2 players
and get some money in the middle before the flop. Period.
Playing first position before the flop is just plain
You're first to act pre-flop, in early position after the
flop, you can't get as good of a read on your opponents, and
you're at risk to getting slow-played.
So just remember, the next time you're under the gun, follow
these three simple rules:
1. Only play premium hands: pairs, AK, AQ, or KQ.
2. With AA, KK, QQ, and AK, you should RAISE at a tight
table and LIMP-IN at a loose table.
3. With the other starting hands you should just LIMP-IN.
Play by these easy rules and you'll stop losing money and
start MAKING money from this very dangerous position.
And you'll have a MAJOR ADVANTAGE over everyone else at the
table who DOESN'T know this strategy.
Which brings me to my next point...
You should always try to have MORE POKER KNOWLEDGE than the
other guys at the table... because if you do, you've
literally "stacked the deck" in your favor.
But if other guys you're up against know MORE about the game
than YOU, you're going to be in DEEP TROUBLE...
Because poker is a SKILL game... and it is very complex. If
you want to learn how to play and WIN, you've got to know
the strategies and techniques of the pros.
P.S. I hope this can increase your level of play, because it's weekly update's like these from Mr. Rounder-that help me along the way.