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Texas Holdem Tips

Ronald Norris
US players are welcome

These Texas Holdem Tips are neither strict guidelines, nor the only way to win the pot. You should understand that each player develops a unique set of tricks and strategies matching his own style of play. However, the following tips are an extract from the most successful strategies, which can be very helpful in development of your own strategy of play, which is especially useful for novice and upstanding Texas Holdem players. This means that you are free to use these tips, but at the same time, you shouldn’t forget to think, evaluating the game, understanding its niceties and building your inimitable and successful style of play.

Note that specifically, these tips refer to Texas Holdem poker, but they are also applicable in some other poker games and are directed towards novice and upstanding players.

First of all you must play just good starting hands. Foolishness and loose play are only allowable in home and play money games, where even weak and worthless hands usually see the showdown. Real money Texas Holdem games require you to perfectly know good starting hands, worthy enough to see the flop. Don’t hesitate to fold weak hands. You’ll just waste your money, because even if one weak hand out of a hundred wins the pot, it’s rather an exception than a rule. So, the strong hands to hit the pot with preflop are: a pair of Aces of any suite, a pair of Kings of any suite, a pair of Queens of any suit, Ace and King of any suite, a pair of Jacks of any suite, Ace and Queen of any suite and a pair of 10 of any suite. Worthy hands to call with are Ace and Jack of any suite, King and Queen of any suite, a pair of 9 of any suite, a pair of 8 of any suite, a pair of 7 of any suit, Ace and 7 of the same suite. Keep in mind that these hands are worthy to call just a couple of times. The rest of the hands must be folded preflop. In case if you notice your opponents forcing weak hands to the showdown, then you can easily defeat them by tightening up until hitting a good starting hand. This set of good starting hand refers to Texas Holdem Poker and may vary in other poker games.

Avoid playing to loose and tighten up against loose players. Remember that even if your opponents play more hands, in the long run, disciplined and tight players are always more successful than super-loose players that play even weak hands. Keep track of wins and losses and you will see that tight players always earn more than even the luckiest loose players.

You must learn to quickly read the flop and make reasonable decisions, earlier than you will have to press the button in order to stay in the pot. You know that online Texas Holdem is much faster than its live counterpart, thus you must get accustomed to the faster pace of the game and learn to analyze the flop and make decisions much faster than in a casino. Flop analysis is a very important aspect of the game, but usually you have just up to ten seconds to decide whether to fold, call or bet. During these 10 seconds you must find answers for two questions. Are there any cards to form a strong hand in combination with your pocket cards and what are your odds of hitting a good hand during next betting rounds? Some poker pros recommend sitting out a couple of hands and keep an eye on the game. If the game seems too fast for you – find another table.

Choosing to play Texas Holdem online, you need to adjust to some specific features of online poker rooms before throwing your chips onto the table. Even if you have some experience of playing poker in casinos or at home, there are still a lot of things for you to learn. Despite being two branches of the same game, with identical rules and game process (number and sequence of betting rounds), live and online Texas Holdem have some important differences, which can appear to have decisive meaning at the table. Moreover, certain features and aspects of the game may vary even room to room. What you need is to get used to online poker room software and learn to benefit from each feature provided by the poker room. For instance, most online poker rooms provide players with the detailed statistics of each game and each hand you play, thus helping you to analyze your games, spot mistakes and weak points to correct them in the future and thus improve your play. If you’re a beginner – start with play money games, or low limit real money games and take enough time to learn new room’s software before getting involved in tight and aggressive action.

Take notes and keep track of every game you play, unless an online poker room, where you play provides all necessary data in statistics. And even if it does, you still need to take notes about your opponents, their strategies and tricks, etc. Write down each mistake you make and then try to analyze and understand your week points in order to avoid some pitiful mistakes in the future. All Texas Holdem pros diarize their games and benefit from these notes. It doesn’t matter whether you use paper diary, or any software application matching your needs – the point is to keep track of all mistakes and good conclusions, which helps improving your play.

Texas Holdem is not a “luck game”. If you rely on luck, then it might be better to consider some “luck games”, such as roulette, slot machines, etc. Texas Holdem is a highly intellectual game, where smart and inventive players earn more than even the luckiest ones and one of most important aspects of all intellectual games is an ability to evaluate your opponents and bluff. Of course both evaluation and bluffing are way more effective in live games, but you mustn’t underestimate the importance of these things in online poker games too. For instance, if one of your opponents checks or rises right after the previous player, you can conclude that he either has a strong hand, or uses auto check-boxes, which is a sign of non-professionalism – you will determine this at the showdown, or when such player folds. Keep an eye of your opponents and try to notice some changes in their behavior when they have weak or strong hands and in a couple of games you will be able to “read” them. And you can use the same “behavior signals” to bluff and trick your opponents too. For example, you’ll definitely look uncertain making long delays before making your move and vice versa.

If you are a beginner or even an upstanding player, you must consider low-limit Texas Holdem games, especially when entering new online poker rooms. Remember that you won’t meet loose and weak players in tight and aggressive no-limit games, or games with rather high limits. Try to find loose and juicy tables, where other players are either weaker than you, or match your current skill level. Upgrade to tighter tables just when you feel skillful enough to face stronger opponents and always make sure you have a sufficient bankroll to play at least 150 hands, when you take your seat at the table. Do not hesitate to move back if you fail to earn at a tighter table. It is better to spend another month improving your skills than lose your entire bankroll and regret about your imprudence in a play money room.

Texas Holdem is a very serious game that supposes discipline and self-control. You must keep to a strict schedule without forgetting that you live in a real world, where you have your job, your family and your leisure time. Dedicate special “poker hours” and don’t play in any other time, unless you participate in some really worthy tournament, which falls out of your schedule. It is a fact that tired players cannot concentrate on the game and often lose even worthy hands. That’s because it is very hard to succeed, when you are sleepy, or if your brain is stuffed with some unaccomplished tasks. As an upstanding Texas Holdem player, I could afford just an hour a day, but it didn’t make serious impediment on my steady way to success. I felt more comfortable playing my favorite game after a walk or a dinner with my family than when I tried to play after the midnight or at work. On the other side, you mustn’t get involved in any side activities during your “poker hours”, when somebody or something can possibly interrupt you.

Texas Holdem requires concentration and attentiveness – that’s why you must feel comfortable during the game. Make sure that everything’s ready before you login to your online poker room account. Clean your computer desk of all unnecessary things and get ready to dive into the world of Texas Holdem without leaving anything that may interrupt you during the game. If you are usually playing at home, choose the coziest place and the coziest chair you have and don’t forget to prepare as much drinks and snacks as you may want during the game. Your goal is to create ideally comfortable atmosphere, which will help you to stay concentrated throughout the game.

One of the most important qualities of a Texas Holdem pro is an ability to keep to your bankroll. You must learn to stop, when you have to stop and don’t treat Texas Holdem too seriously until online poker becomes your primary income. First of all, don’t even think of depositing money you cannot afford to lose and don’t waste a monthly bankroll during a couple of days, even if you expect to win. Split your monthly bankroll in equal amounts according to your playing schedule and strictly keep to this plan. Don’t even think of depositing your “scary money” – the money you need for life, even if you feel confident about your luck, or somebody is trying to assure you of success. Luck and misfortune always go together and you cannot predict when they come, so you mustn’t do things, which may result in a bitter and unpleasant situation.

In the end of this article, I would like to give you some useful Texas Holdem tips provided by poker pros and collected across the web:

One of the most popular tips suggested by Texas Holdem pros is to quickly and aggressively play high pairs and other good starting hands before the flop, which will contribute more money into the early pot and force weak and crappy hands to fold.

WSOP and WPT winners of the last year suggest avoid drawing to the low end, or both ends of a straight. That means that if you get 7, 8 and 9 at the flop, you wouldn’t want to play neither J and 10, nor 6 and 5, or 10 and 6.

Perry Friedman, a Full Tilt Texas Holdem pro, advices not to play unrelated medium and low value cards, which appear to be worthless in the majority of cases. This tip concerns suited cards, which cannot flop a straight, including both ends of a 9 and 5, which fall into this non-effective category too.

David Sklansky, the author of the “Holdem Poker” book, suggests playing low pairs cautiously. This concerns any pairs from 66 down to 22. Low pairs are only worthy in the late positions. If you see that nobody seems to have strong hands at the Turn and River, you may risk taking the pot with your low pair.

I suggest playing tightly and aggressively when you get a two-way draw after the flop. It’s a worthy decision if you can make a flush, straight, or trips out of your hand and you usually bet or raise after this.

The seventh, or as it’s usually called the “lucky tip” is betting an Ace or a pair of high over-cards after a worthless flop, when the entire flop is unrelated cards of medium and low value. Note that it’s better to fold if one of your opponents raises at such a worthless flop.

Keep an eye on the flops of 6, 7 and 8 sort, because they can make out a straight, which will overcome a high pair and some other worthy hands.

It is very important to know all possible combinations of Texas Holdem hands in order to quickly and easily determine what hands you can form using your pocket cards and community cards dealt onto the table. This is important because you might be short in decision time and some players even forfeit good opportunities by missing to notice a card, necessary to form a strong hand.

One of the most important details of a successful Texas Holdem strategy is evaluation of your opponents and bluffing. You must learn to bluff and you must learn to determine when your opponents are bluffing, trying to trick you, force you to raise or fold, etc. First of all, try to evaluate the habits of your opponents. For example, if a person is usually chatty during the game and then he suddenly becomes silent, this might suggest that he’s finally got a strong hand and tries to squeeze each cent out of his luck. And at the same time you must learn not to be predictable to. You mustn’t change you behavior whenever you hit a strong hand, or when anything else happens. You must look confident in any situation, because your emotions may help your opponents to win, just as evaluation of your opponents can help you to easily defeat them even with a weak hand.

Vary your strategy to confuse your opponents. Keeping to the same strategy, even to a good one, for an extended period of time will allow your opponents to resist your tricks and finally win the pot.

These Texas Holdem tips were collected and reviewed by Ronald Norris, the threefold winner of Maryland Poker Championship.

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