How to Play Texas Hold Em: Blockers
Learning how to play Texas Hold Em involves more than understanding the mechanics of the game. It includes the implementation of more advanced tactics. The concept of blockers is one such tactic that can be added to your repertoire.
Determining Opponent’s Probable Poker Range
When you play Texas Hold Em at Juicy Stakes Poker, you have one overriding mission… and that is to use what you can see in order to help determine what you can’t. That means figuring out what your opponent is – or, more likely, isn’t – holding based on two factors: the cards in your hand and those on the board.
Once you have a better idea of your opponent’s probable poker range, you can play with a higher level of confidence. In our how to play Texas Hold Em’ gaming guide, the focus is on blockers. As a concept, it can enhance your poker strategy and lead to an improved win rate right here at Juicy Stakes Poker!
Before we get into blockers and the impact they can have on gameplay, here is a quick refresher course on how to play Texas Hold Em.
How to Play Texas Hold Em at Juicy Stakes Poker
When you play Texas Hold Em at Juicy Stakes Poker, your objective is to construct the best five-card poker hand. You have seven possible cards at your disposal. They are:
- the two cards you are dealt, face down, and
- the five cards on the board, the so-called community cards.
Gameplay consists of distinct stages, or streets, each followed by a betting round. Once the initial cards are dealt, forced bets – known as the small and big blind – are placed to kick off the betting. At that point, you have the option to call, raise or fold.
The preflop action is followed by the first stage or flop. During this stage, three cards are dealt face up to the table and betting continues as above. Over the second and third stages, a fourth and fifth card – known as the turn and river – is added to the board.
At the latter two stages of the hand, players can opt to check and pass the betting action on to the next player. Or they can call, raise or fold as usual. When there is more than one player remaining in the hand, the showdown commences and each player reveals their holdings to determine the winner.
Now that you know precisely how to play Texas Hold Em, let’s move on to the subject of blockers.
What are Blockers in Texas Hold Em Poker?
As the name suggests, blockers are cards that block the construction of certain hands. They are the missing links in flushes, straights and royal flushes. They are also the cards that make your opponent’s poker hands, from high pairs and up, less likely.
The easiest way of understanding the concept is by way of an example. If, for instance, you are holding a pair of sevens and the board is showing 10-9-6 on the flop, you can be relatively certain of one thing. The probability of your opponent holding the nuts is low.
In fact, you can even put a statistic to that. He or she is 50% less likely to have the cards required to complete a combination. How come? Two of the four cards that are fundamental to a straight are in your hand as hole cards. With that knowledge, you can raise and bluff your way to a win holding nothing more than a pair.
Similarly, when there are three diamonds on the board and you are holding the Ace of diamonds, plus an arbitrary card of another suit, what does that tell you? Yup, you don’t have the makings of an Ace high flush. That said, neither does your opponent.
In this instance, the Ace is the blocker. It is a crucial bit of information to have stashed away in the memory bank, information that will have a major impact on how you play the hand. More importantly, it is an indication of whether your opponent is value betting or simply bluffing!
When you know how to play Texas Hold Em taking blockers into account, it can be a powerful tool in your overall strategy. Now that we mention it, Texas Hold Em Poker is not a game of pure luck, so you might want to brush up on your strategic gameplay as your decisions directly impact the outcome of each round.
When and When Not to Use Blockers as a Tactic
The one scenario where blockers can prove to be invaluable is during preflop play. When, for example, one of your two hole cards is a king, you know the probability of your opponent holding the same is low. That immediately reduces their chances of pocket kings… by as much as half.
Why half? Well, there are four kings in a deck capable of forming six combinations of pairs. By virtue of the fact that you are holding a sole king, the possible number of combinations is reduced by half. Armed with that information you can happily bluff preflop – or catch your opponent in a bluff of their own!
As with all concepts or tactics, blockers should be used sparingly and only when the situation demands. The danger is to put too much emphasis on the information they can provide. Ideally the concept should be used in tandem with other hand analysis factors.
What is the first rule in the how to play Texas Hold Em playbook? To have more than one weapon in your arsenal. If you are too reliant on blockers and what they can reveal, you may come up short across the streets. On that note, why not watch a few of the best movies about poker – you might find tips on how to pull off the perfect bluff!
Here are the most common errors novice players make when using blockers as guides:
- In a bluff scenario, raising when there is zero possibility of your hand being strong enough
- Bluffing when your hand has more than enough showdown value to call
- Bluffing too frequently
Blockers in Texas Hold Em poker are only one factor to consider. They provide key bits of information that can be used in your favor. When applied along with poker strategy, your bankroll at Juicy Stakes Poker may last a little longer.
That is how to play Texas Hold Em – by knowing what your opponent is and isn’t likely to have as hole cards. When you have that information, you can raise, call and bluff with a much greater level of success!