Texas Hold'em Strategy Tips and guide to improve your game
It’s been said that Texas Holdem is an easy game to learn, but difficult to master. Having the right skill set to know how to play and how to play well will enable you to crush the majority of your poker games as well as dominate your opponents consistently over the long-term.
Winning is what makes poker a thrilling and fun game to play, but it’s important to take the time to develop your abilities so that you'll win much more often than you'll lose.
While there are many new concepts that you can to learn and develop to help you improve your game, here are 5 essential tips you must know to start improving your play immediately.
Let's start making your Texas Hold’em skills better!
Texas holdem Strategy
1) Narrow Down Your Starting Hand Range
When you first play, you’re going to be more inclined to play almost any hand, hoping you “bink” the flop and make a strong two pair or even trips! However, more times than not, this isn’t going to happen. You’re going to lose far more money by entering pots at a minimal cost hoping to improve, than if you play a very selective range of hands that can help you win big pots!
To start with, pairs are usually strong hands to play. Big pairs have much-increased value, as they can dominate smaller pairs that opponents hold or have at showdown. Small pairs hold their value in implied odds, meaning that they can win big pots when they hit three-of-a-kind of the board, as the strength of their hand is very disguised!
Suited connectors are another category of hands that can have big potential value. Like small pairs, their value comes from implied odds, which means that they have the potential of winning big pots, if they can improve to a straight or a flush.
Big face cards also have good value. However, it’s important to be selective about which face-card combinations you play. Ace-King, Ace-Queen, and Ace-Jack are usually strong holdings. King-Queen is also typically strong. However, you must use caution when playing weaker hands like King-Jack, and Queen-Jack, as often times, these hands can be dominated. (For example, when your opponent has AK, you have KJ and a King comes out on the board, giving you both top pair.)
Playing certain hands relative to your starting position is also going to help improve your profitability. The earlier your “position,” the more you’re going to want to play strong hands to try to make up for your positional disadvantage. When you get into later positions, your hand opening hand range can begin to widen.
2) Use Position to Your Advantage
Having “position” in Texas Holdem on your opponents means that you’ll be acting after them on each round of betting post-flop. Being in position has many positive benefits, including the following:
- You Get the Most Information: By acting last, you get to see how your opponents act first. If they check, this might mean that they might have a weak holding and a simple bet – even as a bluff – could win you the pot. If they bet first, though, and you have nothing, you can easily throw your hand away without committing any more chips to the pot.
- You Control the Size of the Pot: By being last to act, you can help control the pot size. If your opponent checks to you and you want to keep the pot small, you can easily check behind and see another card; if you want to build the pot, you can bet when it's checked. If your opponent bets first, you can choose to either just call (keeping the pot small), or raise and inflate the size of the pot for future streets.
- You Can Widen Your Starting Hand Range: Players (even the very best in the world) are much more profitable playing in position than from out of position. Because you have the most information post-flop and can control the size of the pot, you can also widen your starting hand range in position and still be able to play profitably.
3) Get to Know Your Odds in
Some people say that poker, and esspecialy texas holdem, is a very mathematical game, and to an extent, this is true. Knowing “when to hold'em and when to fold'em” is an important part of becoming a winning player. Also, knowing if you're getting the right odds to make a call is going to be an important part of playing optimally.
- Odds of Improving: An “out” in poker is a card that can improve the strength of your hand. If you have two hearts and there are two hearts on the flop, you have 9 outs (9 remaining cards in that suit that are left in the deck) to improve your hand to a flush. The “Rule of 4 and 2” is a guideline which helps you understand your odds of winning. If there are two cards still to come, multiply the number of outs you have by 4 to get your percentage chance of improving by the river; with one card to come, multiply your outs by 2. For example, if you have an open-ended straight draw and have 8 outs with two cards to come, you’ll multiply 8 by 4 to discover that you have about a 32% of improving to your straight by the river. If you don’t hit it on the turn, then you’ll only have about a 16% of making it, with one card to come.
- Pot Odds: Pot odds refer to the amount of money you have to call in order to potentially win a pot of a specific size. For example, if your opponent bets $20 into an $60 pot, then the size of the pot is now $80. You now have to call $20 in order to potentially win $80. The pot odds your getting are $80 to $20, or 4 to 1. This means that you must have about a 20% of either winning or improving your hand, in order to profitably continue.
- Implied Odds: Implied odds refer to how much money you have to call now, in order to potentially win a much bigger pot by the river. For example, you and your opponent both have stacks of $200 and they raise to $6 from early position. Their opening hand range could very well include strong pocket pairs (many of which would beat your starting hands), and on the button, you’re holding pocket deuces. If you call pre-flop, though, and hit your set on the flop, you have the potential of winning his entire stack. You're calling $6 now to potentially win $200 by the river, if you hit your set and they can’t fold their overpair to the board! Consider you’ll hit a set about every 1 in 8 flops, you’re certainly getting the right implied odds to call here.
Ultimately, knowing when it’s correct to fold is going to save you a lot of money when you play. Unless you’re getting the right odds to call, it’s important to know when you’re beat so that you can cap your losses and maintain profitability over the long-run.
4) Learn To Size Your Bets Correctly
Starting with pre-flop action, it’s important to always enter the pot with a raise. In cash games, 3x the big blind is usually the norm. In tournaments, as the blinds start to increase, 2x to 2.5x the big blind is more typical.
Coming in first with a raise is important due to the following reasons:
- It helps you start to create a juicy-sized pot, right from the start.
- It deters your opponents from playing very marginal hands, which could outdraw you (especially if your opponents are easily enticed into playing for cheap pot in limped pots).
- It could win you the pot right then and there, if everyone folds!
Post-flop in cash games, you’re often going to want to size your bets between one-half and the full amount of the pot. This will help you build a pot, while charging any draws your opponent might be on, and gaining fold equity – meaning that your opponent could fold and award you the pot; simply because you bet and they don't want to continue.
In tournaments, as the blinds go up, each chip you have gains in value. Sometimes betting anywhere from one-third the size of the pot to just over half will be more commonplace in the later levels.
5) Become a Master of One Game Type to Start
When you log into you favorit poker operator for around or two of texas holdem or for the first time, you’re going to be hit with a multitude of options of games you’ll be able to play. From cash games to sit-n-go’s (SnG’s) to multi-table tournaments (MTT’s), the options are truly endless when it comes to the types of poker games you can choose!
It’s going to be difficult to master all the different poker game types when you’re first beginning, so start by seeing which game type you enjoy the most. Once you've discovered that, dedicate a good amount of time to studying that game and developing the necessary skills until you can become a winning profitable player over the long term.
- Cash Games: If you fancy 6-max cash games, you’re going to have to be a lot looser with your starting hand range and aggressive in the pots you want to win, simply because there are fewer players. Bluffing (not sporadically, but at opportune times) is going to be a key element of winning shorthanded pots. The chances of someone having an actual hand (or a good hand) in a 6-max game significantly decreases when compared to 9-max games. Conversely, in full-ring games, you’re going to want to play fewer hands – the hands which have the most potential to win and/or win big pots – because the chances of other players having good hands increase with more players. For cash games, you’re also going to have to master deepstack play, as you’ll often be playing with a stack of around 100 big blinds. This means your hand-reading abilities need to be on par (as there will be much more post-flop play). The number of post-flop mistakes you make will have to be minimised because cash games can truly make you pay dearly when you make a faux-pas.
- Tournaments: In tournaments, because the blinds increase, you’re going to have to learn how to play effectively with a short stack of various sizes, usually somewhere between 10 and 50 big blinds. Once you reach 10 big blinds, your main move should either be to go all-in or fold. Therefore, you’re going to want to spend some time learning optimal starting hands and positions dictating when to go all-in (initially, or from 3bet jamming, even from a slightly larger stack). Learning all about push-fold scenarios will create optimal tournament results over the long run.
- Sit-N-Go’s: These tournaments usually play out quicker than MTT’s, as they have significantly fewer players and are often played only at one table (STTs). Knowing your push-fold ranges (like tournaments) is going to be key for this tournament type, and you’re also going to have to play well with your stack size relative to everyone else's. For example, short stacks should be looking for good spots to double up, while big stacks should be picking on the middle stacks more often. The middle stack is more prone to want to get into the money with ease and will put up the least resistance.
While the above tips might help you to get started playing Texas Hold’em, there’s no form of study that can replace true experience.