The Best Defense

How many times have you heard it said that “the best defense is a good offense?” While not true in every possible case when a good defense is needed, it certainly can be done in poker. The problem, however, comes in the individual player’s perception and definition of the word “good”. Any offense at all does not equal a good defense much less the best defense. Many times an offense that is improperly applied can be the worst possible choice – and as anyone knows who’s played poker for a while, the game is all about making the right choices.

You’ve likely also heard that anyone can win with a monster hand, but it is in protecting your chips and minimizing your losses that the true poker experts make their money. One of the most important ways that poker players reduce their losses is by protecting vulnerable hands with an aggressive move – which means that they will bet the appropriate amount to keep other players from getting lucky later on in the hands and turning a good hand to trash. This is especially true in tournament poker, where a player cannot simply pull more money out of their pocket to continue on if they suffer a bad beat, with the exception of the rebuy period of some kinds of tournaments.

Determining the right amount to bet in poker is one of those decisions that you have to make constantly, and some players will assess the situation and then bet too little, not realizing that sometimes a larger bet is a defensive move. You are spending a few extra chips to save your whole stack in case something goes wrong. Poker is information gathering, and if you bet too little and get a call you really haven’t learned anything. If you spend a little more money to buy some information and your opponent responds with a call or a raise – well, now you know he is likely sitting on a strong hand. Remember that the next time you are sitting with a scary board in front of you and what might be the best hand: use a good offense to gather the information you need to defensively protect your chips stack.

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