Starting Hand Charts - Good or Bad?

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As I’ve stated many times in past articles of mine, I‘ve always been an advocate of the idea that in the hands of a good enoughpoker player, pretty much any hand can be a winner.

After all, poker is basically a post-flop betting game, where people who outwit their opponents prevail.

In order to be a good player one needs to learn to think the right way. There is a lot of thinking involved in poker and those who can’t do it right or are just too lazy to do it, won’t ever become winners.

The problem is, that most mediocre players are too lazy to do the work necessary to play well. They’re looking for all sorts of alternative solutions and shortcuts to cut the workload somehow, and that is how they come to rely too much on starting hand charts.

Let me make it clear that I’m not about to speak up against the use of these charts. They’re very useful and one needs to make use of them too in order to improve certain aspects of his play. After all, there are 169 possible starting hands, not all of which are playable ( actually, only about 80 are, but the whole thing depends on a myriad of factors)

You definitely need to take a long and hard look at the cards you’re about to see the flop on, however, if you rely on these starting hand charts in everything you do, you’re not going to play well. The problem is, that it’s a hell of lot more comfortable to just apply and reapply something you learned somewhere, than constantly invent new means of stripping your opponents of their bankroll.

Most people are way too comfortable to bother to discover things for themselves and that’s why they turn to charts and books to get an early edge in the game. I read somewhere that in schools, learning something by means of discovering it for oneself is far more useful than just taking information for granted and trying to memorize it. Now, I’m not a specialist in education, but the above seems to make a lot sense.

In much the same way, people striving for early advantages by learning starting hand charts and different poker concepts won’t have an edge in the long-run, over those who simply learn by playing.

The former, deprive themselves of learning to “think poker” while the latter literally learn the most important aspect of the game on the go.

Furthermore, because of the nature of Texas holdem, Chart-lovers will often find themselves in situations they won’t know how to deal with. If the chart tells you to do a certain thing with a certain starting hand, what do you do if the flop completely misses you in the follow-up?

People who think, know WHY the chart says what it says and they also know what to do on an inconvenient flop.

It seems pretty straightforward, but you’d be amazed to learn how few people are really aware of what really matters in poker. The same way, you’ll find a whole bunch of guys signing up for rakeback offers just because they read somewhere that it’d help their game big time. Then they fail to rake anything and wonder why rakeback was supposed to help them in the first-place.

In poker and online poker, it will never do to just know what you have to do. You have to know why you have to do it, and you also need to be disciplined enough to actually do it too.

Once again: don’t you dare throw your charts out the window, but by all means do try to figure out why the chart recommends something instead of another thing. Try to make heads and tails of the whole deal, not only will you become a better player in the process, but you’ll also find that learning the chart is much easier.

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