Welcome to the Two Plus Two Beginner Forum. This forum is the place for you to ask your basic poker questions. This FAQ will attempt to answer some of the more frequent questions and give you the resources to find the more in depth answers.
Since this is a beginner forum, we try to treat posters here with a little bit of leeway. Although the same questions might get asked many times, we still try to respond to posters with a bit of patience and try not to ridicule.
Using the Forums
Asking detailed questions will get you better answers. For example asking “what hands should I raise on the button,” will get you vague answers. Asking a question like “What hands should I raise on the button in NL after three loose-passive limpers,” will get you more detailed answers and some reasoning behind those answers. You should include whether your questions pertain to limit, no-limit, or pot limit as each of these games has a little different strategy to them.
If you are posting hands(the strategy forums are great for this, but we enjoy the occasional hand here as well) please use a hand converter
AND make sure to include any relevant reads on players.
Also remember that the search
feature is your friend. Pokey’s post
on how to use the search function gives some great pointers. You can also search using google limited to forumserver.twoplustwo.com. Many of the questions that are asked here have been answered multiple times, by searching you may find the answers to your questions.
Many of the other forums here have excellent FAQ’s with detailed information pertaining to that specific game and links to good threads. Check out the forum for your specific game and read the FAQ/stickied posts. They are often full of great information.
There’s a lot of lingo and abbreviations used in these forum. This post
has a good list of explanations.
What do the numbers xx/yy/zz mean?
These numbers are from Pokertracker and refer to three things. XX is VPIP(voluntarily put money in pot as a percentage), yy is PFR - percent of times the players raised preflop, and zz refers to aggression. These stats will vary as your game progresses and depending on the games you play. The Microlimit FAQ
has an in depth explanation of poker tracker numbers and what stats are considered normal for a full ring limit player. More info can be found on Pokertracker’s forums and in some of the FAQ's for your respective game.
I have $x what stakes should I be playing?
Bankroll is an often discussed topic in many poker forums. The general line of thought on Two Plus Two that you should have 300 big bets for limit and 20 buy-ins for no-limit. That means if you want to play 2/4 limit you should have a bankroll of $1200. For no-limit with blinds of $.50/$1 and a $100 max buy-in, you should have a roll of $2000. If you are playing no-limit short stacked, you should have at least 20 times your buy in.
However, these guidelines make a couple of assumptions. The first is that you are a winning player. A losing player doesn’t need a bankroll management since his roll will never be large enough - if he keeps playing without changing his game, he will eventually lose all his money. The second assumption is that you will not add to your bankroll from other sources. If you have $100 on a poker site and lose it, then deposit more, your roll is effectively larger than the $100 you originally had on the site.
What are pot odds, implied odds, and equity?
Pot equity is your percentage chance of winning the pot at any given point in a hand. That percentage is the amount of equity you have in the pot or how much of the pot "belongs to you".
Here's a Texas Hold 'em example. You hold AsAh and you have a single opponent with what could be any hand. Your pot equity against a random hand is about 85%, meaning that if you both pushed all-in and the hand went to the showdown you can expect to win about 85% of the time. Notice that this is for a run all the way to the river with no strategy discussion and no chance of anyone folding to scare cards. The effect is the same as if both players agreed to check all the way. Pot equity does not tell you anything about numbers of bets you can expect to win.
You're not always up against a random hand, of course. If my opponent calls my raise with my AsAh above, I can start to put her on some hands which will eat away a bit at my pot equity.
You probably won't be figuring pot equity at the table. You'll mostly be figuring it after the fact when you wonder how good your AKs was against someone's ATo (answer 75%). Use a tool such as PokerStove for help in figuring your pot equity.
Pot equity has some use at the table. Primarily it lets you know how much of the pot "belongs to you," as mentioned above. When you know your equity, you can compare it to your "fair share" which is just the pot size divided by the number of people in the hand. So, when you start a hand with pocket aces and have three opponents, you know that your fair share is about 25% but your pot equity is around 85%. Therefore, all bets that go into the pot earn you more than your fair share. This is especially useful when you're trying to determine whether to check/call vs. bet/raise with a flush draw. If you have many players in, your pot equity (the chance you'll win the hand, which is directly related to you making the flush) vs. your fair share may warrant a bet/raise rather than a check/call. That is, every bet you put in and get called is, theoretically, extra money for you when your pot equity is higher than your fair share.
Pot odds are quite simply the odds offered by the pot, that is, the ratio of money you will win if you win the pot compared to the amount you would have to bet to remain in the pot.
For instance, after the turn in hold'em there are 7 big bets in the pot when the betting gets to you. You have four cards to the nut flush. You have to put in 1 bet to continue, so we say the pot is giving you 7:1 (pronounced "7 to 1") odds. Compare that to your approximately 4:1 chance to make your flush on the next card. Since your chance of making the flush is better than the odds being given by the pot, you should call. What if there had been very little betting and there were only 3 big bets in the pot when the action got to you? The pot would be giving you 3:1 odds versus 4:1 to make your flush. Your odds are not better than the pot odds, thus the correct action is to fold.
The same calculations can help you decide if you should call after all the cards are out. Instead of comparing the pot odds to the odds of making your hand you have to compare the pot odds to the odds that your hand is good.
Implied odds are odds taking into account bets you will win on future rounds if you hit your hand.
For instance, the odds against making your hand might be 7.5:1 against with immediate pot odds (expressed odds) of 4.5:1. However, if you believe your opponents will call you down or allow you to sneak in a checkraise, you can count those bets in the current size of the pot to establish whether a play is correct or not.
Whereas implied odds are important to consider in all forms of poker, they take on special significance in big-bet games such as no-limit hold'em. It's not an exaggeration to say that winning at large-stack no-limit depends on the implied odds derived from getting poor opponents to pay off your monster hands. For example, if you play a highly speculative hand such as a small pair or connectors, you may well be willing to pay "too much" (judging by limit hold'em standards) to see a flop. When you do hit, if your opponents will pay off most or all of their stacks, then you're justified in taking a gamble with positive expected value.
What are some good books for poker study?
For texas hold-em the book to start with is “Getting Started in Hold Em” by Ed Miller. This book has a basic explanation of concepts for both limit and no-limit. From there, “Small Stakes Hold Em” and “Hold em for Advanced Players” on the limit side. For no-limit many people suggest “Harrington on Holdem 1.” Even though this is a tournament book, the concepts in it relate very well to cash games. “Theory of Poker” is an excellent all-around book and covers lots of general poker concepts.
Where else can I find information?
Use the forums here - specifically the strategy forums. Get involved in the forum for your game and you will learn and incredible amount. There are some excellent players on these boards who will openly discuss strategy and to think about hands. Use them.
This page was put up by some 2p2er's and has tons of good information.
Lostwage's Odds Chart
Raze's Pooh Bah post
This is one player's story about getting started in online poker and working his way up. Very inspirational!
7 Steps to NL Hold-em Success
by Ed Miller.
Thanks to all the Beginner Forum Guys for the help putting this together. Special thanks to Sheridancat for providing the odds info and for his repeated answering of our noob questions...