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Texas Hold 'em Strategy

08 April, 2009

In the last decade, Texas Hold’em poker has grown in popularity. Grandfathers and grandsons alike appear to be playing on the same table. Even James Bond himself plays the game. In Casino Royale, Bond makes a straight flush in the final hand to beat the bad guy Le Chiffre. But before you start playing evil terrorists for millions of dollars, you need to master the basic Holdem strategies.

Long-term success at Texas hold’em isn’t easy to achieve, but it is impossible to achieve without a solid understanding of basic strategy. Hold'em Poker is not a game like roulette where you can just put your chips down on a number and hope for the best. You must have an understanding of odds and strategy if you are to have a chance.

First Basic Principle of Texas Hold’em: Be Selective About Starting Hands

It’s okay for guys like Gus Hansen and Tom Dwan (or James Bond) to play hands like 92 off suit on television, but it’s not okay for you. Professionals are generally very skilled post flop players and have a carefully planned idea behind each play that you make. When you are starting out, you want to play only the premium hands, big cards and pairs, expanding your range slightly the later you are to act in the hand. Remember that the winner is the one who wins the biggest pots and loses the least, not the one who wins or participates in the most pots. 

Second Basic Principle of Texas Hold’em: The Power of Position

It's impossible to overestimate how important position is in Texas Hold'em. If you are one of the first to act, everyone else gets to see what you do before they decide what they will do. If you’re one of the last to act, the opposite is true. This means that it is safe to expand your range of playable hands as your position gets later. Limping in with a small pair hoping to flop a set from first position is ill-advised, since there are many players who may raise you off the hand pre-flop. Doing this from late position can be highly profitable, however, as when you flop a set and bet, players will not know if you are doing it because you are strong or because no one has bet in front of you.

Third Basic Principle of Texas Hold’em: Be Inscrutable

Predictability is death to a Texas hold’em player. If you always check when you hit the flop and bet when you miss it, good players will catch on quickly and bury you. Make sure to occasionally do something unusual for you, so opponents do not get too comfortable with your style.


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