Basics of Texas holdem

There are very few people in the world that have not at least heard of No Limit Texas Holdem.  For several years now, players have been signing up by the Millions to try their hand at what is now the most popular poker game on earth.  However, many people do not know how to play Texas Holdem.  They may know how the game works, but they do not have a basic strategy.  Today, we will go over some strategy tips to teach you how to play Texas Holdem.  In this article, a relatively solid approach to playing the game will be discussed.

First, let us discuss the principle of position.  In learning how to play Texas Holdem, you will need to master this concept.  Your position is where you are at on a poker table in relation to the dealer button.  In many casino games, a white dealer button marks the dealer position.  The closer you are to the button, the better that your hand needs to be.  As you get further away from the button, you can open up your hand ranges.

Early position includes the first three players to the left of the dealer button.  This includes the blinds and the players called the “under-the-gun” player.  When you are in these three spots, you will be the first players to act after the flop is dealt.  In these spots, you really want the best hands as you will be potentially facing a lot of action.  You want to be raising with your large pairs such as aces, kings, and queens.  Middle pairs and hands like A-K and A-Q suited are really hands you want to limp in with.  Limping in is defined as calling the big blind bet.

The next three positions at a poker table are known as middle position.  Middle position players can open up their play a little bit and must keep in mind that there will be more players yet to act.  Middle pairs and A-K and A-Q suited are hands that can act as raising hands in addition to the early position hands.  Small pairs are hands that you want to limp in with from this position and hope to see a cheap flop.  A-J is also a limping hand from this position.  If you are facing a raise in middle position, you should only consider a re-raise with big pairs only.

Late position is the last three players to act at a poker table.  If action is folded around to this position, you can open the pot with a wide array of hands.  Any pair, A-K, A-Q, A-J, A-10.  A raise from this late position will allow you to take the pot in most instances.  You may want to consider limping in with any two cards over a ten to see a speculative flop.   Any other hand that you would play in late position is overly speculative for a solid style of play.

Once you are dealt your cards, you need to decide how you are going to play your hand.  While you are learning how to play Texas Holdem, you want to play a relatively tight-aggressive style.  This style stresses that you be patient and selective on what hands you play.  However, once you get a hand, you play the hand strongly.  When you enter a pot and you have a raising hand, you want to raise by at least 3 and a half times the size of the big blind.  This is standard thinking by most poker theorists, but in reality, it does not always hold true.  Pay attention to the standard raise at the table.  Sometimes you will need to raise 5 to 7 times the big blind in order to get someone to get out of the way.  If you are playing $1-$2 NL Holdem, it is going to be hard to make some action junkies fold to a raise of $5 over the blind.  Make the raise enough to make a player think twice in playing.

If you have a hand you want to see a cheap flop with, do not invest too much money into the hand.  If you have a small pair or a hand such as A-K or A-Q, don’t get carried away with calling multiple raises in the hopes of flopping well.  The cheaper you can see the flop with limping hands, the better.

Once you have reached the flop, you need to evaluate how the flop hit you.  Did you connect with the flop?  Do you have an overpair to the flop?  Did you miss entirely?  If you are in a position where you connected strongly with the flop or if you have a big pair and the board came under, you will want to bet out to reduce the field or take down the pot.  If you missed the board entirely, you will want to check unless you are in late position.  If you are in late position and nobody bet, sometimes a well timed bluff will take a pot.  Don’t go crazy with bluffing while you are learning how to play Texas Holdem.  There is plenty of time to develop that trait.

If you flop a hand that is the nuts, such as you hold A-K of spades and three spades flop, you will want to slow down your betting and let other players bet your hand for you.  If the flop gets checked around and you have the nuts, don’t worry.  Sometimes the other player will think you are weak and will bet the turn.  If they don’t, try and bet an amount that will entice them to stay in and pay you off.  You want to get as much money as you can.  Of course, if you have a player that is a calling station, meaning that they will call any bet you make, then go ahead and bet your hand.

A solid strategy is what is needed when you learn how to play Texas Holdem.  There will be plenty of opportunities for your to develop other skills that you see top pros use, but for now, concentrate on just beating your local home game buddies or some of the locals at your favorite casino poker room.

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