In a game of Texas Hold’em poker before the flop a player sees only his two pocket cards. Five cards are unknown. There is a fair amount of uncertainty and the betting is usually cautious. However after the flop a player sees five out of the seven cards available to him to make his poker hand. Now the picture is much clearer and most of the wagering takes place after the flop but before the turn. At this time players to make estimates about their opponents cards from their betting patterns and other tells. But the only information that is dead certain are the five cards they can see. Therefore poker strategy is formulated largely based on the character of these cards.
If these five cards themselves result in a hand that usually wins, without needing any card on the turn or river, then the hand is known as a lock hand. For example the player holds pocket kings and the flop shows another king and two fives, the player already has a full house. With this hand the player has a very good chance of winning. Therefore the player’s strategy should be to increase the pot to the extent possible. He should avoid aggressive play that might scare the opponents into folding and should keep the betting going with as many players as possible.
The second type of hand is the strong hand. This hand has the potential of become a winning hand with a large number of outs. An example of this type of hand is two pocket hearts with two hearts in the flop. If the turn or river show any of the nine remaining hearts then the player lands up with a flush. In this case the strategy is to drive out players with marginal hands who might get lucky in the turn or river. Therefore the betting needs to be aggressive and anyone who wishes to remain in the fray has to take a risk that is not commensurate with the return.
Marginal hands are those hands that have a small number of outs. They can become winning hands but with only a few cards. Pocket queens with a queen in the flop is an example of a marginal hand. The fourth queen would make four of a kind but the chance is remote. However this chance is worth taking provided the player does not have to pay too high a price. Marginal hands can be played if there have not been too many raises and the betting levels are low.
Hands that have little hope of winning on their own strength but depend on other players holding worse hands are weak hands. Players should not enter with weak hands, except perhaps at the heads up stage, when there are only two players involved. Loose players hope to convert weak hands into marginal ones with the turn and then hope that other players will suffer a stroke of bad luck. They fritter away their bankroll in this manner. The correct strategy is for the player to fold immediately and preserve his bankroll for better hands.