Back in December 2009 when Robbie Strazynski was just starting this Cardplayer Lifestyle blog, he published a column by Chris Granger entitled “4 Good Tips for Winning at Poker.” It was a great column for those who seek to be winners. When debating what topic I should cover in this month’s article, I felt that I could add 6 additional Good Tips for Texas Hold’em. So, before we have a look at a half dozen new tips, which I’m sure will prove helpful to your game, let’s briefly review the four tips from that decade-old strategy article.
- Only Play Good Hands. Note: My book (Hold’m or Fold’em? – An Algorithm for Making the Key Decision, see ad below) can help you select good hands; also, there are charts available from other sources. According to Granger, most good players will play fewer than one-half of the hands dealt to them. Based on my experience, I would lower that to fewer than one-third of the hands.
- Watch the Other Players and Their Cards. “Much of poker is about psychology and observation,” Granger says. Tells provide valuable information, and some famously televised poker hands, clips of which you can still see on YouTube, illustrate this well.
- Play Rationally, Not Emotionally. Don’t play if you are stressed out. Do not mix poker and drinking. Have self-control. If you feel the need to let loose a little and gamble it up, check out a site like scr888-malaysia.com and have some fun. Once you’re ready to buckle down again, head back to the poker tables.
- Know When to Bluff. “A bluff will only succeed if you use it at the correct point in the game, and against a player with the right psychology.” I’ve also penned a couple articles on bluffing for Cardplayer Lifestyle that you might be interested in.
After that brief refresher, it’s time to list another 6 good Texas Hold’em tips for winning, for beginners. Keep in mind, the game we’re focusing on is limit hold’em.
- If your hand does not improve on the flop, be prepared to muck your cards. However, if everyone checks, take the free card. This might sound like a simple tip, and indeed, it is, but it tends to save you quite a lot of money over the long run.
- Don’t bluff too often; on average, once or twice an hour ought to suffice. If you get caught in a bluff, wait about 30 minutes (or approximately one orbit at a full table) or so before trying to bluff again. Always use the Esther Bluff tactic to reinforce your bluff, thereby encouraging your opponents to fold. (See The Art of Bluffing, advert below)
- When a tight player raises, be prepared to fold – unless you have a powerful hand (preferably, the “nuts”, in which case you should re-raise, of course). There’s no shame in folding; unless you do so too often.
- When playing against a very aggressive player who often raises (a “maniac”), try to be seated to his left so you can see how he bets before you must act. Then, you can easily muck marginal/mediocre hands pre-flop. If you are seated to his right, play only hands that are strong enough to “withstand a raise” and try to ask the dealer or floorperson for a seat change or table change.
- After the flop, you will often hold a “drawing hand” – one that must improve to have a reasonable chance of winning. Count your “outs” (number of cards that would give you a “made hand” that could win without further improvement. Then, estimate your card odds (multiply the number of outs by 4). Compare this to the pot odds (total number of chips in the pot divided by the number of chips to call to see the turn). The pot odds must be higher than your card odds to warrant calling a bet (a Positive Expectation).
- Be sure the texture of your table suits you. (It depends on the types of opponents seated there.) At very tight tables, with few players staying to see the flop, the pots are bound to be small. After the casino takes it’s cut (rake) and if there’s a drop for a Bad Beat Jackpot, that means there will likely be few chips left to win – hardly worth your investment. Time for a table change. Furthermore, at very aggressive tables with two or more maniacs who always raise and re-raise, your cost to see the flop usually is more than your hand warrants as a starting “investment.” Get a table change as soon as possible! While waiting, be cautious; play only very strong starting hands. (If you are using the Hold’em Algorithm criteria for starting hands, I would suggest at least 26 points.)