Texas Holdem, like many poker variants, is a deceptively simple game. Of it's millions of players worldwide, very few have made a study of winning the game, or even realize that there are Texas Holdem strategies that can drastically improve the odds of winning. If you're a newbie to Texas Holdem, or you feel that it is time to take your play to another level, than this overview of important Holdem strategies may be of help -- whether you're playing sit-n-go's or tournaments, limit or no-limit games, online or off. join : kokiqiu.com
Behind what would appear to be the luck of the draw in Texas Holdem are may subtleties that make the game more like chess than dice. It probably explains why so many physicists, mathematicians and those with understanding of probabilities and odds are drawn to the game. These folks are your real competition, but interestingly enough they are not the ones you're going to make money from. No, that crowd is the newbies and the amateurs. They've got the money that is easy for a skilled player to win, and they don't understand Holdem strategies for the most part at all. In a sense, they are your "target market."
The reality is, most players that give the game any thought at all only think and play Texas Holdem tactically. Tactics are about winning battles, whereas strategy is about winning wars. The average player simply thinks about winning the hand. That's it. And while there's nothing wrong with this (in fact it's a valuable skill and many players are good at it), it's barely scratching the surface of what's possible when using proper Texas Holdem strategies. The true pros and experts think big like this: how can I win the war (i.e. run the table)? It is this strategic aspect of Texas Holdem that puts the pros on another level entirely.
The Holdem strategies listed below are not in any way shape or form exhaustive. There simply isn't space for such detail here. Any one of these entries could be an article in and of themselves, so consider visiting my website, the bookstore or library, or one of the many online poker references for more information.
• Texas Holdem Strategies #1: Know Your Opponents
When you sit down at a table, you never know exactly what you'll be facing. It may take a few hands to get an idea, but who they are and how they play is a very powerful indicator of how you should play. Learn to read body language, styles of play and tells. These last are easier to see in person, but even faceless online foes have tells if you know what to look for. Watch to see how aggressive people are. Do they make smart plays? How do they bet? Do they tend to bluff? What do they do well, and what are their weaknesses? Further, learn to identify and sort the serious players from the casual ones. The latter are your meal ticket, while the former may end up eating you if you are not careful.
• Texas Holdem Strategies #2: Know The Table
Each table has a "vibe" and sometimes it won't be right for you. Beyond that, there are practical concerns as well. The number of players determines the likelihood that any one person will hold a killer hand. The more players, the more cards in play and the great the chance of a flop and pre-flop match -- for somebody. Also, your position at the table has an impact on play, as does that of others. People in "late" positions have the ability to influence the pot disproportionately. As play proceeds, individual playing styles become apparent, but so does the "vibe" for the entire table. You need to get a feel for the other players within a few hands. This is a skill that comes with practice, and if you find you can't figure out what's going on on the table you're at, it's time to move on.
• Texas Holdem Strategies #3: Know The Hands And The Odds
For nearly all kinds of poker, knowledge of the ranking of hands -- in other words what beats what -- is a bare minimum. But for Texas Holdem, you need to understand the significance of the hole cards, and then how the flop effects later play. The general rule is that it's always better to fold on a dubious hand (particularly at pre-flop) than to see it through to the bitter end. It makes little sense to throw money down when there's little chance of getting it back. In fact, that's the kind of play you should be looking for in others! There's the old saying: he who runs away lives to fight another day. In poker, "cowards" arent' seen as yellow: they're seen as smart, particularly if they win big pots. Your chance of winning big pots is dramatically increased by protecting your bankroll, playing smart and folding on the pigs.
• Texas Holdem Strategies #4: Know How To Bet
The key to successful betting is knowing what you are trying to accomplish. Are you betting low to stay in and see about your hand? Are you betting high to force the play? Are you betting in the middle of the pack to conceal what you've got, so you can milk the table? It's all about knowing when to bet and how. Some players use formulaic (and I should add generally predictable) betting systems, but I believe it is better to be unpredictable -- at least to a point. You want to keep 'em guessing, and you never want to "telegraph your punch." On the other hand, too much unpredictability upsets the equilibrium of the game. Bluffing, under-betting and over-betting have their uses. Like poker itself, betting is both an art and a science. In short, don't bet just because it seems like the thing to do. Only bet if you know why you are doing it and what you want to accomplish by doing so.
• Texas Holdem Strategies #5: Know Your Limits
Your limits should always include how long you can play and stay fresh, your tolerance for risk and how much of your bankroll you're willing to lose (assuming it comes to that). You need to be able to think on your feet, too, so if the game is too fast or the environment too distracting, it's time to get out. The Holdem strategy here is to keep your wits about you at all times. Many people drink during play (Casinos love to play players with booze for obvious reasons), but smart players are careful about how they do it. Drinking and betting, like drinking and driving, is a bad combination. Even at a table, it can lead to serious injury -- in this case, to your pride and your bankroll! Get too soused and you'll make mistakes that cost you plenty. Stick to your limits and you'll be a happier -- and likely more successful -- poker player.
• Texas Holdem Strategies #6: Know Thyself
Not to sound too Biblical here, but the good poker player has made an effort to "know thyself." You must must make a study of your own strengths and weaknesses. Among other things, you've got to keep a cool head, think on your feet and always know what you're striving for. Look for weaknesses in your game. Do you play too aggressively? Are you easily rattled by the aggressive play of others? Do you stay in games when you should get out? Do you have tells? What are the Holdem strategies being followed by the others at your table (and if they have them, they may not be people you want to play against for money)? Keep a diary and study it -- it will tell you things you might not otherwise ever see. Besides the diary, it's very helpful to have an experienced mentor or tutor who can help you identify your weak areas and round you into a better overall player. Get yourself one if at all possible!