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Poker School Online Presents... Pro Tips, With TJ Cloutier
How Good Are Pocket Tens? It All Depends!
by TJ Cloutier
How you play tens (or any other hand) is always a question of using the best tournament strategy. That's why you so often hear, "It all depends." There are times in tournaments when you might play tens like you would play deuces, especially in the early stages of a big buy-in event when lots of chips are in play and the blinds are small. You don't put a lot of heat on the pot and you don't take any heat to the hand. You might just slip in and hope to flop a set, not getting too involved if you donít. Other times, in the later stages of the tournament, you might have to take a stand with your tens because of your chip position.
Tens and jacks (closely followed by queens) are two of the most difficult hands to play in no-limit hold'em. Although you'd rather have pocket jacks than tens, one advantage of tens is that a 10 can make a straight, and it is less likely that someone else can make a straight because you have two of them in your hand. Just remember that if you don't flop a set to the hand, there are four bigger cards that can beat you. So if an overcard hits the flop, you can't play your hand with any confidence. Precisely with tens, you are a "favorite" to see one or more overcards on the flop, whereas with jacks it's about even money.
From early to middle position, you can bring it in for a raise with pocket tens, especially if you're the first one in the pot. Just determine in advance that you aren't going to take any serious heat with the hand. If someone raises behind you, it's usually time to bail out.
You also can limp with pocket tens from early to middle position, whether or not you are the first one in the pot. For example, in the early stages of a big buy-in tournament when lots of chips are in play, just calling a minimum bet certainly is a viable strategy. On the flop, you want to hit a set, but if you don't, you can get away from the hand without losing much money because you only limped before the flop.
Suppose you are in late position and only one limper has entered the pot after, for example, five or six people have passed. In this scenario, you should bring it in for a raise with pocket tens. But if the limper comes back over the top, it probably is best to fold. Now, suppose you have pocket tens one spot in front of the button (the cutoff seat). You raise, the big blind calls, and the solitary limper folds.
The board comes: 7 6 2. The big blind checks to you and you bet. Then the big blind comes over the top with a reraise. What do you do?
You can't possibly like your hand when someone comes over the top of you. Either he thinks you're on a steal, or he has a big hand that he limped in with so that he could suck you in later in the hand. If you're playing a tournament and have only a small amount of chips left, you might play the hand. But what if you have a lot of chips? In that case, pass or use your best judgment with the hand.
When I say "use your judgment," I mean that your knowledge of your opponent's play should tell you whether to continue with the hand or simply fold and get two new cards on the very next hand. For example, is your opponent capable of raising with a pair of nines or eights or even an A-7? In other words, be very cautious when you flop an overpair to the board. You can bet, of course, but if someone comes over the top of you, you can be in a dangerous situation. People like to trap in this type of scenario.
Also, as the table gets shorter (the number of players is reduced), there is the tendency for more rags to be dealt. Therefore, tens improve in value in shorthanded play. But don't let yourself get lulled to sleep during this stage of a tournament. A lot of people excuse their faulty play by saying, "Well, I knew he didn't have much of a hand." Remember that it's always possible for someone to have a big hand. In fact I've seen hands dealt three-handed when aces, kings and queens were out.
The bottom line is that you must be prepared to play in different ways against different opponents in different scenarios. If you aren't willing to modify your style of play according to the situation, you can get broke to tens (or any other hand) very easily.
Special Events all weekend in the PSO Card Room!
The Dog Days of Summer are once again upon us. Take a break from the sun this weekend in the PSO Cardroom and earn your way to your next Live event! It's another weekended of SP buy-in events, so secure your seats today!
Saturday 10am CST -10 SP buy in Pot Limit Omaha hi/lo
Saturday 8pm CST - 5 SP buy in No Limit Hold'em
PSO Ladies, don't forget this Saturday you'll have another chance to play for a seat at the 2009 WSOP Womens Event!
Saturday 3:30pm CST -2008 PSO Womens Championship (Ladies only!)
Be sure to stop by and get into the fun and we'll see you at the tables!
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