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Texas Hold ‘em remains one of the most popular games in the world of poker. Easy to learn and fun to play, Hold ‘em is a game of skill and strategy. Below are a few pointers for the player who has the basics down and is looking to improve their overall game.
Wait for a good hand before betting big. It’s great to have a big hand and be the first player up but it’s not great to be the first player with a bad hand. If in doubt fold and wait for pocket pairs before laying out the cash. Patience is a key to success in Hold ‘em. Just wait for the right hand before acting.
The earlier your position at the table (i.e. your proximity to the left of the big blind player) determines what hands you should play. If you are very early, choose kings, queens and aces high or pairs only. If you sit in the middle of the table, go for it with nine, tens and jacks. If you are in the end position or furthest away from the big blind call with ace high or even small pairs; you never know who’s bluffing.
Don’t waste time with a bad hand after the flop. Once you see your chances of taking everything are low to not at all, don’t waste your money. Fold as soon as you see the flop and use this as a way to bluff later on. If you are running low on chips and you suspect another player is bluffing in a heads up situation you might want to play a bad hand; if you think you can bluff your way through it. Don’t make a habit of this as it will quickly become a tell.
Avoid check raises after the turn if you can help it. If the other player checks back then you have lost out on adding money to the kitty. Be sure to raise or call if you feel confident in your hand. There is no point over playing a hand, especially if the pot is low.
One of the basic strategies many Hold ‘em players forget is the importance of learning the odds of getting or playing a particular hand. Counting cards is illegal but having an idea of the likelihood of getting certain cards based on what you have in your own hand can really improve your game. Remember there are only 52 cards in a deck and in that four aces, four kings, four queens and four jacks. Be wise and keep the odds in mind all the time when playing.
Be sure to mix up your game so those you regularly play with have difficulty in predicting your strategy. Be aware of the tightness of a particular game and how well your hand will hold up against the raises and bluffs around the table. When things are tight only push forward with a really good hand. Throw in a really weak hand to mix things up occasionally and keep opponents guessing.
Remember not to blow pocket aces. A pair of aces is a great way to start out a game but don’t bet too big too soon. Assess your players and begin by playing just enough to stay in the game. When you get down to heads up and have seen the flop, start placing larger bets. Many a player gets excited when they see pocket aces, creating a major tell and losing them a good hand. Your goal is to use your good starting hand to force another player to go all in and then swoop down on their money to victory.
Texas Hold ‘em poker is easy to understand and difficult to play well. Practice makes perfect and common sense combined with patience will help you bring home the bacon every time.