Texas Hold'Em Basic Strategies and Tips
Texas Hold'em Basics
The main aspects to study in Texas Hold'em are: 1) The Flop - the three community cards are dealt face up in the middle of the table. The Flop is revealed after the first betting round. 2) The Turn - a fourth card is turned up in the middle of the table. Revealing the Turn sets off another round of betting. 3) The River - the fifth (final) card is turned up, which leads to the final round of betting.
Players use the 5 cards on the table and their own 2 'hole' cards to form their best combination. Hands are compared - this is called the "showdown". If you find yourself playing through to the showdown and frequently losing, you need to play a 'tighter' game. This means you need to play only the better ones you are dealt. Remember, "a selective player is a smart player".
High cards are the aces and 10-value cards. Medium cards are 7s, 8s and 9s. Low cards are anything lower than a 6. The best initial 2-card hand every Texas Hold'em player is looking for is a big/high pair. The higher the better. Always play your hand if you hold a pair of high cards. Also stay in the game if you're have an ace and a high card of the same suit or any two picture cards of the same suit.
You Need to Know When to Hold and When to Fold!
Knowing when to hold and when to fold is the the most important factor in any Texas Hold'em strategy.
Medium hands (including medium pairs): these can be an ace and a high card (not of the same suit) or an ace and a medium card of the same suit. Also look out for cards of the same suit that are consecutive (which can lead to straights or potential flushes). Low pairs are considered poor hands as are consecutive low cards with different suits. If you are dealt cards lower than the combinations mentioned above, it is generally best to fold.
If you have a high pair or another strong hand, a good strategy is to bet big in order to discourage weaker players from staying in - you want them out of the way even before the Flop. Stay in for the Flop if you have a medium hand. If you have a low pair to begin with, stay in for the Flop but if the Flop doesn't give you 3 of a kind or better, fold after the flop.
A Working Texas Hold'em Strategy
After the Flop you must get through the Turn and the River. Fold when your hand is weak and to play with confidence if you have a good hand. Either or. Give a strong hand your money and toss weak hands. This strategy works in the long run and almost nullifies the benefit of short-term luck. Skill wins in the long-term.
Texas Hold'em Poker Rules
You have to learn all the technical aspects of the game. Make sure you have a clear understanding of what the rules of Texas Hold'em Poker are.
Watch how better players play their hands, both online and live.
Practice a game of Texas Hold'em Poker before you start real games. Online casinos allow you to practice for free. When you are confident enough you can play for real money.
Choose Your Texas Hold'em Poker Table
Choose a game that has low entry bids ie a low blind and then if you do lose you will not lose a lot.
Select the table . Know what the betting limts are: they must be approriate for your bankroll. Ensure that the level of expertise of the poker players is at roughly your level.
Limit Texas Holdem Poker
No-limit Texas Holdem is spreading fast and things like as counting outs, calculating odds and playing solid starting hands are best learned playing limit poker, where the lack of the ability to bluff with a huge bet forces good players to play solid, fundamental poker.
Playing a good pre-flop is the easiest skill for a beginning Texas Hold em player to learn, but it is often overlooked that it constitutes the biggest hole in most players' games. A solid limit poker player doesn't need to be a mathematical expert, but a basic understanding of the concept of Expected Value is crucial. Basically, every decision a player makes will, in the VERY long run, make or lose money.
Starting hand sizes vary with position, number of opponents, whether the pot is raised and the quality of players, among other factors.
Play very tightly with starting hands. Most players play WAY too many hands. If you become a serious player, consider purchasing programs like Poker Tracker and after thousands of hands you will see that those hands we've chosen not to play are almost all money losers.
These recommendations are general rules only. Be aware of things like: Smaller pocket pairs like either one opponent or numerous. With one opponent, you are usually a favorite versus an unpaired hand but with a lot of opponents, flopping a set will often win you a big pot. Hands like suited connectors are more valuable against numerous opponents. You won't often hit your straight or flush, but a few opponents will create a larger pot that you will win when you do hit.
In an unraised pot in a fixed-limit game, if you have a top pair, you should normally bet or raise. Be strict with your starting hands. If you have a top pair, there's a very good chance that even if someone else has top pair, you have beaten them. We must hit players who've stayed in the pot with middle or bottom pair or top pair, weak kicker.
Decisions are harder in a raised pot. If you draw a top pair, your style will vary depending on the type of player who raised. Beginners often raise only with big pairs or ace-king. Be cautiousr. Later, when you move to higher levels, the players are more aggressive, and you must punish them when you hit the flop. They will often try to bet you off of hands with nothing, so punish them with a check raise when you've hit top pair. You may sometimes run up against a bigger pair, but you will more often win more by making them draw to their overcards or make them lay down their hand.
If you raised pre-flop, play is fairly simple if you've got top pair (or an overpair). Bet/raise until you get a fair resistance. If you've raised with two big cards like AK (and missed), you must guage the number of opponents and the "feel" of the hand. With three or more opponents it is best to check/fold. With two or fewer, it is possible nobody has hit the flop, and to bet is usually the right move.
Proper play here is very important. In a multi-way pot, a check-raise on the turn usually indicates that someone has a set or at least two pair. It is true that your top pair is behind in the hand. If you're facing a very good hand, it may be correct to throw away your hand. Heads up, however, or against tricky players, you must just call him down.
Be aggressive on the turn. You have hit the flop with your good starting hand and have bet or raised the flop. In Texas Holdem, if you're timid, most cards can be daunting. You should bet unless it's very obvious that you're behind or beaten. Too many beginning players lose out on big bets due to being timid. A winning poker player has a strong hand on the turn. If you're heads-up, if a card hasn't hit your opponent it looks just as daunting to him as it does to you. Bet.
At the river card, your opponent will normally not fold if he's got a fair hand. If you have bet your unimproved AK to this point and gotten called, you will probably not bet out anyone who has you beat. It's probably correct to check and call against a single opponent and perhaps check/fold against multiple opponents.
If you have a fairly small holding, your betting should be guided by: "Is there anything I could beat which he would call my bet with?" If he will only call with hands that beat you, then betting is a no-win case. usually, in these situations a check will bring on a bluff bet from an aggressive poker player which will cause you to pick up another big bet.
If you do have a strong holding, bet it. A bet risks a raise and eliminates the chance your opponent will make a bluff, so be fairly confident that you've got a winner. Of course, one other time when a bet may be advisable is a busted draw. If you've been betting your draw the whole way, bet the river. In limit holdem, with the big pot your bluff only need succeed a small percentage of the time on the river to be a success.
If you have a weak hand, such as a busted-straight or flush draw that you've been backing the whole way, and you have no chance of winning, you can try to continue the bluff and make a bet on the river, hoping your opponent has also been on a draw or holding a low pair or other weak hand.
Guide for No-limit Texas Holdem Tournaments
No-limit Holdem tournaments have become very popular recently. The tournament gives players a chance to hit it big, and maybe even someday qualify for the World Series. A texas hold'em player who is familiar with tournament strategy holds an edge over the others. But even an experienced hold'em player who is accustomed to ring games may be at a disadvantage in a tournament setting. So, how does one become tournament-wise? Good tournament poker strategy requires both a solid background in fundamentals and hours and hours at the poker tables.
Survival is goal number one and fear of being eliminated is counterproductive to achieving that goal. To be generally successful, you have to take advantage of opportunities. In Texas Holdem tournaments, playing it safe is important, however it is ironic that the more courageous players are actually safer than the more timid poker players. No-limit texas holdem tournaments are all about playing the percentages. If you can get a lot of chips into the pot when you have a mathematical advantage, you will be a long term winner. You may suffer some bad beats, but long term the percentages will pay off for you.
Before the flop
Rule Number One:
When you are a beginner, you must play only good starting hands! In early position, stick to very good hands, like: AA, KK, QQ, JJ, AKs, AQs, TT, AK, KQs, AJs. In middle to late position, add a few more hands, but be judicious. Hands from Sklansky's group 3 can be added: AQ, 99, ATs, KJs, QJs, JTs, and maybe KQ and AJ. Avoid playing middle and small pairs unless you can get in cheaply, and then with the aim of flopping a set and winning a big pot. Don't play too many hands, but when you do play them, bet and raise with them. Tight poker players are not the same as passive poker players. Folding before the flop is not passive, it's judicious. Avoid playing hands which over the course of time will be money losers. Your tightness will benefit you in two different ways. For one, you'll be folding at the same time as other people are being eliminated, bringing you closer to being "in the money". Perhaps more importantly, by playing really solid starting hands you will relieve yourself of some really tough decisions. The nature of no-limit texas holdem, and tournament play, is that you can lose your stack and be eliminated by one mistake. As a newcomer to hold em tournament play, playing strong hands will allow you to know where you stand after the flop most of the time. If you've hit your hand, you will be in good shape.
Rule Number Two:
Always raise if you are the first to bet. You play only the best hands, so the chances are you have the best hand pre-flop. So make people pay to play against you. Your raises should be a standard size. Raise the same amount with pocket Aces as you do with AQs. This way, your opponents will not be able to "put you on a hand". When the blinds are small early on, you can raise quite a bit more than the big blind, let's say somewhere between five and ten percent of your total stack. For example, if players begin with one thousand chips and the blinds start at five and ten, think about raising fifty or more. Later on, when the blinds are bigger in comparison to peoples' stacks, a decent rule of thumb is to raise the amount of the pot after your call. So, if the blinds are one hundred and two hundred and you're first to act, raising an extra five hundred (making it seven hundred), is a sound poker play.
Rule Number Three:
If some of your opponents enter the pot before you, raise with big pocket pairs, otherwise just call. The pot will now big enough that you will be satisfied in taking it without a fight. Raise at least the size of the pot (or even more) with AA, KK and QQ. You will either win the pot right away or have people putting a lot of money into the pot with a lesser hand. With a non-premium holding, your edge won't be so large, so you can see the flop before deciding how to proceed. The difference between this advice and rule one is that the early callers already in the pot will be more likely to call your raise, so it would be much more difficult to win the pot without a fight. However, if you have a poker hand like AK, and there's only one caller ahead of you, raising may isolate you with that one caller. You should be more inclined not to raiseif your hand is suited or there is more than one caller ahead of you. You should be more inclined to raise with good pairs or unsuited hands with an Ace, especially if the caller is a loose player (who probably doesn't have a strong hand). If there are several callers, you can call a small bet (say up to 5 percent of your stack) with a small pocket pair, hoping to flop a set. As you gain no-limit holdem tournament experience, you may also decide to call in this situation with suited connectors like 76s or suited acess. These hands, however, require more skillful play and are probably best left to more experienced texas hold em tournament players.
Rule Number Four:
Be careful when responding to raises! If there is a raise before you act, play only if you think you have the best hand. If you are raised after you've entered the pot you have more leeway, but must still be very careful. Many normally solid starting hands are highly vulnerable in these situations. Don't hesitate to fold hands like KQs or 99 if you respect the raiser; you are likely either a small favourite or a big underdog, so in the long run it's a losing play. Hands like KQ are dangerous in that you can hit your hand but still lose to bigger pairs or better kickers. That can be the end of the poker tournament for you, so avoid these large confrontations and be patient. If you have Aces, Kings or Queens, or another hand you think is better than the raiser's, then reraise the size of the pot or go all in. These are top hands and come around infrequently, so make the most of them before the flop. With hands that are not as strong but could be the best, like Ace-King or pocket Jacks, you can call if it doesn't cost you that much, maybe 10 or 15 percent of your stack. If you get a good flop, proceed aggressively, and get out if the board looks too threatening. If the initial raise is so big that you can't get this information reasonbly, then get out. Your actions depend also on the previous actions of your opponent. Against a holdem player who raises a lot, you might reraise all-in with pocket Jacks, or play AJs the same way you might normally play AK. This is a grey area often best left to more experienced texas holdem tournament players, so be careful.
Rule Number Five:
After the flop, bet and raise a fair amount. The flop tells you where you stand. With an overpair, top pair with good kicker or a set, you're looking to take advantage of the situation. These opportunities come along infrequently, so go for it. A pot-sized bet is standard, but for our purposes a bet of twice the pot might be preferred. You don't really want to get callers unless they are made to pay for it. You do not want to let weaker hands draw too cheaply, and you don't want to be put into an awkward situation if it is possibly avoidable. These large bets will force your opponent to make difficult decisions which could cost him his stack. If they fold, you win without a fight, otherwise they're probably risking a lot of chips at a big disadvantage. Your bet size also depends on how many chips you have. Either bet up to about one third of your stack (this way you have enough for another good sized bet on the turn), or else go all-in. If you're up against a single opponent, base these proportions on the smaller stack, since they havethe maximum number of chips that can be wagered. For example, suppose both you and your opponent have a thousand chips and the pot is at one fifty. Betting three hundred is strong; it leaves enough for a big all-in bet on the turn if your opponent calls you. If either you or your opponent had just five hundred, then betting three hundred isn't as good. You shoud either bet one fifty now or move all-in right away. If get a favorable flop and are bet into, either raise big or move all-in right there, unless for some reason you feel you're beat...then fold! Your opponent's bet probably means he's got something good, but you have a good chance to win a big pot if your hand is just a little better, which is likely given your strong starting hands. Again, you you have to play aggressively even though it may spell your defeat. If you get called and the turn card is not too scary, make another big bet or go all-in. You get your chips in with an edge...that's your goal. Of course, texas holdem isn't always cut and dried, so there will be many grey areas. To be a successful no-limit texas holdem player, you have to take some chances and make your opposition prove their hand is better. Sometimes you must be disciplined enough to muck a good hand when things look too scary. For the most part, raise or fold, and if you lose, learn from it for the next time.
Rule Number Six:
You should normally play tightly and use good draws to bluff on occasion. Call only if your odds are there to take off a card. Bluffing is a most important part of no-limit texas holdem, and no poker strategy is sound some bluffing, otherwise you're too easy to read. Draws are great semi-bluffing opportunities, giving you chances to win even if you're called. A good draw with overcard(s) gives you very good chances of making your hand by the river. Take note of your opponents. If there are a lot of them or are facing a calling station, forget about trying to bluff. Most of the time you will face one or two typical holdem players, and a bluffing is sound poker strategy. Bet just like you would with a strong hand. You're a tight player and play solid cards. Good hold em tournament players will notice this and act accordingly, respecting your bets and bluffs. If your bluff gets called and you don't hit your draw, you should usually check the turn. If you have position, you will probably get a free river card. If your opponent bets, anything other than a small bet will not provide you with the odds to call. So fold. If you're in last position, bet or raise right away. Don't slowplay the hand unless you're absolutely positive it will bring you more money. In general, your opponent has more reason to call the turn, so he can see another card, so a really big hand should not wait 'til the river to try to extract money from the other poker players. If you hit your overcard and not your draw draw, bet like you would with top pair. No limit texas holdem players often misplay their draws. In fixed limit Texas Holdem, the odds are almost always there for your draws. The big bet ability in no limit holdem means you can only calculate your odds on the current card. Your implied odds are higher, of course, as hitting your draw offers the chance to take a monster pot. Beware of paying too much for a draw though...it's one of the biggest errors made in no-limit texas holdem.
Rule Number Seven:
You must steal blinds!. They are bigger as the tournament advances so you must take risks. The large blinds will rob you of time, so you must pick off other players' blinds fairly frequently. With a small stack, you will probably have to go all in when you have less than a significant amount more than the big blind. You may have to risk it all on hands you would've folded earlier. Hands with aces and mediocre kickers or middle pocket pairs are good enough to push in your chips if you are first in. You may get called and lose, but it will take a lucky flop to beat you usually. Again, get your chips in with an advantage. High card strength is more important than suitedness at this point. Use judgement...if you don't think you can win the blinds with a raise, then don't try it. Remember, your tight reputation will help you here. Similarly, in the late stages of the tournament you also must defend your blinds strongly with decent holdings. Use your judgement based on the aggressiveness of the stealer. You may have to call with Ace high if he's aggressive.
Rule Number Eight:
Nurture your last chips! If you seldom have more than the big blind, remember that you need a better hand to call than to raise. Be patient...wait for a hand that offers you a chance to go all-in. If you're already in the money, remember that survival is your objective. You may even fold a really strong hand if there are already two players duking it out, as one may be eliminated. A recap: Play strong starting hands only, and play them strongly. When you hit your flop or have an overpair, be ready to go all the way with it. Raising or folding are usually your best options. Bluffs are effective in strong drawing situations. As the blinds grow, try to take them by force. Survival is the goal, but this is not accomplished by holding back. When you're down to just a few chips, be patient and wait for a big hand to commit them, even if it means waiting until the blinds force you all-in. Remember, no limit texas holdem tournament play improves greatly with experience, so use this as a guide to better poker, but hop on the tables and go for it!
Rule Number Nine:
Get in tune with your accelerator pedal. There are days when everything will seem to go against you. There are days when you will not believe how 50-50 outcomes go your way. Some days AK will work for you. Other days it will wipe out your whole pile of chips. Know this and accept it as part of poker. Also know that these days are not random. They are largely determined by your transits and are beyond your control. Start using them by entering tournaments and bigger cash tables when they are blazing. Still try, but slow down when they are against you. You will soon feel how they help you and begin to cash in on them.
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