Texas Hold'em strategy - learn how to win
This is where you will find hundreds of articles discussing the easy-to-learn, yet complex game called Texas Hold'em. We have basic articles for beginners as well as in-depth strategy texts for experienced players.
If you want to practice the strategies you've learned we recommend the Top 3 Beginner Rooms below. If you have a question about Texas Hold'em strategy, we will answer it at the Texas Hold'em FAQ page.
Basic Texas Holdem Strategy
There is a strategy that can beat any holdem poker game. Not all strategies will work interchangeably. Because you are just learning, the assumption is that you will be starting out at low limit texas hold'em poker games.
This article is to help you form a strategy that will beat that game. As you move up in limits and find tougher opposition, your hold'em strategy will also have to evolve.
Beating low limit texas holdem isn't easy. In many ways forming a strategy that consistently wins at middle limit is easier. To begin with, there are many books about texas holdem but most are aimed at the upper limits. Using the same strategy at lower limits often will result in a loss, not a win.
Next when you are learning holdem at the low limits, there are rarely any good players to learn from so you get a warped view of how the game should be played correctly. If a player was really good and capable of winning, they would have progressed up the limit ladder to bigger games.
You may run into a good player now and then but it is rare compared to the vast amount of poor uninformed players feeding the poker community.
Lastly, when you are first starting out, you have no knowledge or bankroll to build upon. Your foundation is little or nothing since there isn't much out there to read or learn. Now with that all said, it is possible to beat low limit holdem and by no means should you think that you need to start higher.
The learning curve may be sharp but once you get over the hump you'll find that moving up the ranks is easier then first starting out. You should find comfort in the fact that all the other players are facing the same challenges you are.
Taking the step to learn strategy as opposed to just haphazardly playing gives you a major advantage. A study was performed on college students and their post graduate goals. Of those that actually set goals, more then 90% achieved them.
Right now because you are reading this you are on your way to becoming a winning player. And as soon as you do win a few times and leave with other peoples money, I'm sure you'll be hooked!
The life-long poker game
Why do some players win and others lose when everyone gets the same amount of cards?
Luck plays a very small role when you start thinking about how many hands a player plays in the course of a year. And remember that each player has the same chance of getting lucky too, so even that isn't biased.
Poker is almost exactly like investing in business. The best investor is a person who takes calculated risks and puts their money into ventures that they think have a good chance of succeeding.
Have you ever seen a successful investor that put his money into every stock and continued to do so despite the fact that it has lost all chance of improving? That seems crazy right?
But if you play cards you'll see people doing that every day in every hand. They will start out with a hand that would take a miracle to win. Then after seeing the flop with little or no help, they invest more into it either ignoring or oblivious to the fact that another player has a better hand.
This continues until the showdown where the majority of the time a smarter player/investor gladly takes their money. Notice that I used the word "majority".
What's great about poker is that occasionally their miracle happens and they win a pot in spite of their bad investing, in spite of the odds, and in spite of their lack of skill. The reason this is so great is because once they win a little here and there playing badly, they won't stop.
In psychology the strongest type of conditioning is random reinforcement. The bad player getting lucky sometimes makes him a liner of the skilled players wallets for life. So as you have guessed, you can't be a winning player if you play every hand. A much more selective strategy is necessary.
You need to "tighten" up, meaning playing fewer but better hands then your opponents. You need to take calculated risks and put your money behind them. Another analogy is a sniper. You wait for your cards, your mark, and when it makes itself visible you fire, kill, and take the pot.
A bad players approach is like a soldier using a machine gun firing away into the distance. Sure something may hit but this isn't the movies, eventually you'll run out of ammo (chips) so you better take your shots more wisely.
So what hands should you play? Is it just a matter of playing the right hands and avoiding others and a win is guaranteed?
If it was only that easy! *smile* Poker strategy is purely situational. Always and never do not exist.
The best player is the one that can adapt to different games, different players and even different hands. Because of this it is hard, if not impossible, to give exact rules that can be followed to win. That's the downside.
The upside is that because it is so dynamic, the majority of people you will be playing against in your starting phases won't know what to do and will be playing completely wrong.