In Defense of Poker Hand Charts
Grinderschool Free Poker Strategy Articles
Jeff "CodeRedRulez" Lipsey
Jeff "CodeRedRulez" Lipsey has been an instructor and administrator on Grinderschool.com since 2008.
For many players, the idea of playing from a hand chart is laughable, if not deplorable. In their minds a hand chart signifies a weak, rigid game that has tons of leaks. Sometimes they are right, but I want to discuss the other side of the argument.
Correctly, these players think that a hand chart promotes a tight, structured preflop game. Hand charts are meant to prevent the small leaks that turn into big ones--postflop leaks. Several awkward marginal postflop leaks can be solved just by playing correctly preflop.
Many players just dont know what types of hands to open raise or isolate with. They will call raises with hands that should have been either bluffed or folded preflop and they will try to make up for these leaks by over playing postflop.
A solid hand chart will do more for you than several hours of coaching at the start of your career. It is a tangible item that can be referenced whenever you like and is completely legal at the poker tables. Additionally, a solid hand chart will provide you with the core fundamentals and allow you to begin to understand 'why' you need to raise and not just what.
Finally, a hand chart will instill confidence that you are indeed playing optimally. Simply knowing that you are making a statistically correct play because the play is on the hand chart is a good first start to playing the most optimally in other facets of your game as well. When you and the hand chart disagree, ask your friends and ask on the forums why the deviation exists. Based on the responses, you will either change the chart or change your mind; both options are perfectly acceptable because either way, you are becoming a better player.
As a Grinderschool subscriber, you have access to several hand charts already. Some charts are more basic than others and most of them come from videos. If I give you a free hand chart right now for both 6 max and full ring, it will likely give you some help if you lack in the preflop confidence.
I think the best and most profitable way to learn is create your own hand chart, from your own research with your own customization. When you are finished, post it on the Grinderschool forums and see what other people think. I guarantee you will generate a quality discussion and will most certainly edit your hand chart after you have read all the suggestions. Then with your customized, optimal hand chart ready to go, you are ready to crush preflop like no other player at your stake.
Or, you can go the route of every other poor, weak tight player: Google "poker hand chart" and see the hundreds of different options you have to choose from. Which do you choose? What makes the top ranked hand chart better than #3 or #13? These hand charts will do nothing for you in the long run, not unless you can ask the author why he made that specific decision.
In conclusion, if you think you would benefit from a hand chart, then by all means use one... two or even three!. You could use one for your normal game, one for isolating, and another one just for 3-betting. Whatever you do, be smart and create your own; it will be the best hand chart you could ever have--because you made it.