Texas Hold’em Strategy

The best Texas Hold’em strategy is the one that the player develops over time and tests at the tables to see what works and what doesn’t. There’s a lot of advanced strategy out there, with terms that might confuse new players, but you can use these quick Texas Hold’em tips to help you start playing the game with confidence even if you don’t know a straight from a flush.

Consider Your Table Position

Where you sit at the poker table will have the biggest effect on how you play Texas Hold’em. If you’re in early position, you will be one of the first players to open the action, while sitting in late position or acting as the dealer gives you the luxury of time as others before you call, bet, raise or fold. Sitting closer to the dealer gives you the opportunity to play loosely, while sitting in early position may need to fold more often to preserve their stack.

Know Your Starting Hands

If you don’t know whether you’ve got a made hand, need to wait for the action to unfold or just need to fold and wait for the next round, you’re going to have a very frustrating Texas Hold’em experience. Make sure you know what your hole cards can possibly create, and you’ll be prepared for the pre-flop action and the community cards that follow. Have a look at the Starting Hands to learn more.

Know When to Call, Raise or Fold

You need to know whether to call, raise or fold at all times. New poker players often make the mistake of betting it all on hands they think are strong, only to discover at the showdown that they’ve underestimated their opponents. Have a look at the following example:

You’re sat in the cut-off with a pocket pair like 9-9 and 7, 8 and J have just come down on the flop. Everyone behind you so far has limped into the pot, matching the bets made by the blinds and nothing more. Raising sounds like a foregone conclusion, as you have the makings of a straight, but then the player sat to your right (the “hijack”) raises big - maybe four or five times the big blind. With such high-value cards on the table, you’re no longer sure you have the hand it takes to grab the pot. They might have a much better hand than you - a higher-value straight or even a royal flush, and your stack isn’t as large as you’d like it to be. You fold, and the turn reveals a 3 and the river a 4, and the hijack reveals a straight and wins the pot. This proves that your action was the right one to take to protect your stack.

Look for Tells

A good Texas Hold’em strategy reminds the player to devote some of their attention to the behaviour of other players as they look for tells that could reveal something about their opponent’s hole cards. Ultimately, you want to identify any patterns that are out of the ordinary for the player and act on them accordingly, exploiting their behaviour for your benefit.

Pay close attention to how others at the table make their bets or behave. Do they limp into the pot pre-flop, then suddenly raise when the flop comes down? Are they the first to raise, nervously fiddling with their stack as they wait for the player next to them to act? How closely do they watch your chips as you prepare to complete an action?

A lot of casual players will try to trick or bluff their opponents into thinking that they have a strong hand when in actuality they have very weak hole cards, and vice versa. They may act aggressively towards others when they hold a 2-7, trying to make everyone else fold before the showdown, or limp along when they hold A-K to keep people playing into the pot as they wait for the flop, turn and river to yield good results.

If you play Texas Hold’em online, you can still uncover a few tells about others at the table by keeping track of their betting patterns and how quickly they tend to complete hands.

Calculate the Odds

Depending on how many people are playing, there will be a number of unknown cards in play that could possibly come up on the flop, turn or river. Calculating the poker odds, or the probability of a card being dealt, is one of the best Hold’em strategies you can learn.

Here are your approximate odds of improving a hand:

Cards Held Cards Drawn Improved hand Approx. Odds
One Pair 3 Two pair
Three of a kind
Full House
Four of a kind
Any improvement
5.3:1
7.8:1
97:1
360:1
2.5:1
One Pair plus kicker 2 Two Pairs
Three of a kind
Full house
Four of a kind
Any improvement
4.8:1
12:1
120:1
1080:1
2.8:1
Three of a kind 2 Full house
Four of a kind
Any improvement
15.3:1
22.5:1
8.7:1
Four straight cards
(open both ways)
1 Straight 5:1
Inside straight 1 Straight 10.8:1
Four card flush 1 Flush 4.2:1
Four card flush
(open ended)
1 Straight Flush
Straight or better
22.5:1
2:1
Four card straight flush
(inside)
1 Straight Flush
Straight or better
46:1
3:1

There are even approximate odds for the various poker hands:

Hand Number of Ways Approx. Odds
Royal Flush 4 649,740:1
Straight flush 36 72,192:1
Four of a kind 624 4,164:1
Full House 3,744 693:1
Flush 5,108 508:1
Straight 10,200 254:1
Three of a kind 54,912 46:1
Two pairs 123,552 20:1
One pair 1,098,240 1.37:1
No hand 1,302,540 1:1

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