Texas Hold’em Strategy For Beginners
Texas Hold’em is certainly the most popular poker game in the world and even has the nickname “The Cadillac of Poker”. One of the main reasons is the simplicity of the rules. You can learn how to play the game in no time at all.
However, this can be a bit deceiving as Texas Hold’em is hard to master. Before the Internet revolution, it could take years to gather enough experience and knowledge. Nowadays, it’s not that hard but it still costs time and money if you play with real cash. This article will give you a set of tips that can boost your strategy if you’re just entering the world of Texas Hold’em. It won’t prepare you for the World Series of Poker, but it will at least help you avoid some of the biggest mistakes beginners make.
The main points covered are related to your play before the flop. This is the most important part of the games, especially for beginners. If you make good decisions at this stage, it will be a lot easier to play well later on.
The Power Of Position In Texas Hold’em
Your position in each particular hand is of crucial importance in all poker games and Texas Hold’em is not an exception. The game is based on information and acting last means you will have more information than your opponent. He will have to do something before you and often this will be enough to get a good idea what are his cards.
This is why the button (also called dealer) is undisputedly the best position in the game. You are always last and have the advantage postflop. Cut-off is the position just before the button and is also a good one. As you could imagine, the likes of Under the Gun (UTG) and the blinds are the worst based on the same logic.
You should always consider your position and make the maximum out of it. Stick to more ABC plays and avoid risks if you’re in an early position and be more aggressive when you’re in a late one.
Select Your Starting Hands
New players are eager to get some action and find it boring to fold a lot. However, the selection of starting hands is one of the most crucial things in Texas Hold’em, especially if you are an inexperienced poker play. If you play too many hands, you will often end up in tough spots that will cost you. This is why you should stick to a rather conservative strategy and play mostly strong starting hands. Here the groups you should consider and a couple of tips for each of them.
High pairs from JJ to AA, AK and to an extent, AQ and TT can be considered premium hands. They are the strongest and have a high chance of winning, even if your hole cards don’t connect to the board in any way.
Your main advantage with premium hands is before the flop and on the flop. You don’t want to see the turn and river against more than one or two opponents, because the relative strength of premium starting hands is not that big in the later stages. This is why you should play them very aggressively preflop and on the flop. Make large bets and don’t be afraid to drive your opponents away. It will inevitably happen either way, but when it doesn’t you will be rewarded handsomely.
Middle and small pairs
Once you gather enough experience, you can play middle and low pairs differently. However, before that we recommend you to treat all pairs from 22 to 99 pretty much the same way. They are decent starting hands, but they often need some help from the board to win. This is why your strategy should be to see the flop without much investment and hit a set. It’s one of the most profitable combinations in Texas Hold’em, as it’s well-disguised.
There is one exception to the general strategy, though, and it’s related to the late position. While you should be simply limping or calling small raise with middle and small pairs, you can play more aggressively from a late position. This gives you the chance to steal the blinds or take the initiative in the hand with decent hole cards.
There is a lot of value in playing suited connectors such as 78 from the same color, but it requires a lot of experience. You probably won’t listen, but our advice would be to fold these until you have played some poker and know what to do postflop. The sole exception would be to limp or call small raises from a good position and against multiple people. Your goal in such cases would be to flop a huge hand like a straight or a flush.
Other hands that could be played
There are a bunch of other appealing hands, most notably two broadway cards like AT or KJ, for example. While it is correct to assume there is positive expected value to play them, they also require at least some experience. The biggest risk with these is that you could hit a hand that seems good, but you are way behind. The typical example would be to get a K-high board with KJ. You have a top pair and a somewhat decent kicker. However, if one of the other people at the table shows any sign of strength, you will often face higher kickers or an even stronger combination. This is why we recommend you to play those hands only from a late position and always be careful.
Some Postflop Tips
Sticking to ABC poker at the beginning is important and the tight preflop play is the way to go. However, there are a couple of tips when it comes to postflop you need to know:
- Don’t bluff too often: bluffing is extremely appealing, but could cost you a lot. It requires skills and experience that beginners usually don’t have. The same applies to bluff catching, so don’t try to be a hero and call with air based on your hunch;
- Don’t slow play too often: similarly to the first point, it’s a good technique that can work well if you know what are you doing. For a start, it would be better to bet your good hands properly;
- Don’t go too far chasing draws: hitting a straight or a flush could bring you a fortune, but that doesn’t mean you should give half of your stack on a draw.
These tips might seem simple and create a boring image of Texas Hold’em, but they are the best way to start playing without getting crushed. Finding a lot of action might seem fun at first, but if you keep losing you will certainly change your mind.
The tips here are a solid start that can help you build a good strategy. From there, you can steadily improve. The important thing is to always keep learning because Texas Hold’em is too complex to become complacent.