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  1. Poker is a game that's inviting to anyone who wants to play and has been around a long time. I would imagine that a huge percentage of society has played poker at one time or another. Poker is also a game that welcomes any player: male or female, big or small, old or young. Everyone has an equal opportunity to win. MacroPokerprovides filterable news services, a free poker odds calculator, the ability to watch and share interesting hands, and a free statistic service for SNG and MTT results from the largest online poker rooms. Visit MacroPokerfor details. I remember when I first started playing poker in home games about 20 years ago, I hadn't been around poker nor did I know much about it, but as I started to learn the games, I realized that when you get the money in good, you usually win. Maybe I was fortunate to be around a bunch of average players at best, but from the time I started playing, I remember feeling like I had a decent shot to win. I also remember being able to spot the fish, but had no clue how to exploit them. I played poker spastically over the years until 2004, when I heard about online poker. I started playing online, but was just clicking buttons. In 2005, poker was legalized in Oklahoma and I started working at a casino in the poker department. At first, I was all about work, but after being around poker every day, several of us began to get the bug to play. We couldn't play where we worked at first, so we would travel an hour to play. It was during a drive to the casino when, for the first time ever, I met someone who had read books and tried to improve at poker. Unluckily for me, I still felt I was good and never asked enough questions. I am sure it was mostly ego, but it wasn't until 2010, after four years of losing online, that I finally decided I had to figure out what I was missing. In 2010, I started a poker chat group and a player referred me to a training site. After hearing good things, I joined the training site and remember my jaw dropping during the first video I watched. I was amazed when I realized how much time I had spent playing poker with false thoughts of being good. I began to watch lots of videos, play a ton of volume, and discuss as many hands as possible. I was also fortunate to meet a couple of good players who let me watch them play, which helped me begin to understand more and more about the game. I am sure we all have different stories of how we started at poker, but for any of you who are still stuck in the ego rut I was in for so long, I want to offer a few thoughts to help you improve. The last few weeks, I have been playing more live than online and have been amazed at some of the mistakes I've seen players make. Here are two poker staples that everyone should be familiar with. The first is one of the most common mistakes I see players making. I have seen way too much limping from all positions, calling most small raises, and then check-folding the flop. I think this mostly comes from people wanting to play and trying to hit the flop. In my opinion, we would be better off selecting better starting hands and opening for a raise instead of limping. Let's start with a baseline for opening hands. Obviously, depending on the table and your opponents, this can vary, but here is a baseline range for opening hands. HJ+4: AQo+, AJs+, 88+. HJ+3: AJo+, ATs+, 77+. HJ+2: ATo+, A9s+, KQo+, 66+. As you can tell, at HJ+4, also known as UTG at a nine-handed table, the opening range is AQo+, AJs+, 88+ and then drops one hand in each column for the next two positions. When reaching HJ+1, HJ, CO, and BU, the opening range can depend on many factors, but should slowly widen and be the widest on the BU. These opening hand guidelines will help players avoid getting in too many pots out of position with marginal holdings and help players learn more about position. Another mistake I see often is players calling off huge percentages of their stack with a speculative hand that requires them to hit to be any good, for example set-mining or suited connectors. When calling with a speculative hand where we feel we need to hit a set, flop two pair, flop trips, flop a straight, or flop a flush, we should not be paying much more than 5% of the effective stack without a good reason. For example, let's say we are playing $1/$2 NL with a $200 stack. We open for $6 from the HJ with 55, the CO folds, and the BU makes it $24 with $250 behind. The blinds fold and now it's on us to call $18, raise, or fold. The general thought on set-mining is that we shouldn't pay more than 5% of the effective stack. The effective stack is the shorter stack in the hand. In this case, its us with $200, so 5% would be $10. For us to call, it's $18, so truly we do not have the right price to call and so should fold. We are also out of position and unless we hit a five on the flop, it's unlikely that we can call any c-bet on the flop. If we were in position and felt we could win the pot with position, the decision could be different. Just remember that any time, especially out of position, picking the spots to play when we have the correct price is very important. I know this information will be common knowledge for several players, but I hope to help any new players, or players who have been held back by ego like I was. I want you to know that poker is a deeper game than some people realize and we can all improve. I see so many players going through the motions and playing lots of hours, but never doing much to improve. Why keep making the same mistakes over and over? If you're playing live, start reading as many articles in the poker magazines as possible and try to apply what you read. If you have any trouble understanding any of it, find someone to start talking poker with and improve together. Talking poker is a great learning tool. If playing online, players should try to join a poker chat and a training site and be active in the forums. The great thing about poker is you get back out of it what you put into it, so get to work! This article was written by John cracker9ballReynolds, who hails from Tulsa, Oklahoma. If you are interested in taking poker lessons or would like any information, contact him at variance101@gmail.com or visit Variance101.com. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.

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