Texas Hold’em Strategies
Poker is a game of chance, skill, and strategy. No hand is an automatic winner or loser. The best strategy for increasing your odds is to know the game inside out. But remember, no amount of knowledge can guarantee a win.
Before you play at a casino
A casino is not the place to learn how to play poker. Serious players play to win and they won’t hesitate to take advantage of novice players.
Before you make the decision to play at a casino, make sure you know your stuff, inside out.
Know the hands
Understanding how to evaluate your own cards as well as being able to predict possible hands of other players can help you know when to stay in the game and when to fold.
Know when to walk away
Knowing when to get out of the game is the best way to keep from losing more than you can afford.
It’s perfectly normal in poker to fold your cards for a few rounds and “cool off” (unless you’ve paid your blinds, or get a good hand).
If you’re feeling tired or hungry, you can opt to take a break and still keep your seat at the table. Similarly, if you win a big hand, don’t feel pressured to keep playing. There’s no rule that says you must stick around. You could play one hand, win, and leave if you wanted.
If you miss too many “blinds”, you can lose your seat. Ask the dealer to better understand your casino’s break rules.
Don’t go “on tilt”
Try not to go “on tilt” – that’s when someone lets losing a hand get the better of them, and they start playing aggressively, maybe even doubling up their bets to try and win back their money. More often than not this strategy leads to further losses.
Going “on tilt” is also known as chasing your losses, and it’s a bad strategy: no hand is guaranteed, and you could lose your chip stack in a few short hands.
Betting strategies to know
There are some unwritten rules around betting in Texas Hold’em that can help you stay in the game longer and limit your losses. Here’s what you should know.
Betting from an Early Position
If you’re one of the first to bet in a round, it’s recommended that you be more selective of the hands you play. A good rule of thumb is, the weaker your position in the betting order, the stronger your hand should be.
Betting from the Middle
While the middle positions in the betting order are more advantageous than the early positions, you still have limited information. Keep in mind, if those ahead of you fold, you’ll move to an earlier position in the betting order and therefore, have more limited information during subsequent betting rounds. Place your bets accordingly.
Folding on the Flop
Folding is a key part of the game and many people fold before the flop. If you don’t fold, because you have a promising hand, don’t be surprised if after the flop your hand doesn’t look as good. If betting is heavy, on the flop and your hand isn’t strong, you may want to fold.
The odds of improving a pair to 3-of-a-kind is 8 to 1 against. If you don’t improve on the flop, be prepared to fold.
Playing Fewer Hands
There are 169 possible outcomes for a starting hand. But only 5 are considered premium: AA, KK, QQ, AK (suited), JJ. A premium hand has a good chance of winning but, if a player raises before you, and if there are callers or re-raises, reconsider playing anything below Aces or Kings. Ultimately, the decision is up to you.
If you apply this logic to your game, expect to fold around 80% of the time.
Get to know the players
Keep your eyes on the other players at the table. You may be able to spot patterns in their behaviour. Look for “tells”, which are indicators of a player’s betting intentions or hand value. Examples of a “tell” include changes in behaviour like leaning forward or back, fidgeting, doing chip tricks, displaying nervous tics or changes in tone of voice or facial expressions. A tell can help you determine if your opponent has a high hand or is bluffing.
You must be able to identify “the nuts”. The nuts is the best possible hand that can be made using the five community cards. If your hole cards combined with the community cards don’t add up to the best possible hand, you don’t have “the nuts” – which means someone else might, and you could lose in a showdown.
Playing conservatively and only betting or raising with strong hands can help to extend your play time and budget.
If I play more, will I win more?
Playing more can increase your skill and knowledge, but no level of skill can guarantee a win. When it comes to Texas Hold’em, no matter how much you practice, there is no system or sure way to win. Over time, the average poker player is more likely to lose than to win.
Remember, if you’re paying a session fee every 30 minutes to stay in the game, the longer you play, the more it will cost you.