It may sound like a lot to take in at first, but it’s important when playing Texas Hold’em poker to know a little about strategy before you get going. Understanding player position, your opposition and when to raise or call are just some of the basics we can help you with to give you that much-needed advantage.
Texas Hold’em Strategy: Table Position
A key thing within Texas Hold’em is undoubtedly your table position. While the dealer is always considered the most powerful player given their ability to bet last and therefore garner the most information, the player to the right arguably has even more clout given the ability to raise bets, essentially putting the dealer out of play.
Those taking an early position are often said to be weakest given their lack of information and therefore possessing less ability to make informed decisions, so try to avoid this.
Whittle Down the Opposition
While many believe that more players means more money, it also means more competition and so you need to simply get rid of it!
Try to remove as many people as possible, winning smaller pots more regularly as doing this is a better long-term strategy than waiting for that one big win.
To do this; keep bets small early on and watch the others. You may notice some profligate play from the others and you can use their aggression against them to take their money when they make silly bets. By playing conservatively at first and then betting big when the time is right, you can be more versatile and harder to read.
Know When to Raise
There’s no definite science here, but you can choose to raise to get information. Raising means other players need to raise too, call or fold. This means you gather information about how strong you believe their hand to be.
If you believe yourself to have the best hand, then just go for it – and raise big. Doing this will separate the wheat from the chaff as weaker players will fold and you are then essentially whittling down the opposition.
When to Go All-In
It always works in the movies, but in truth going all-in gives us both the largest payoff and the largest risk, so be careful. Do this only if you’re pretty sure you have the best hand in the game, with your opponents potentially convinced that you wouldn’t risk this unless you have the best hand leading to them folding.
When to Call Your Opponent
You may have a great hand, but perhaps you want to keep that to yourself for now in order to raise the stakes later in the game and if so, calling is the way to go. Calling is the sort of move that often gives those in later positions the feeling they should stay in the game, thus raising the pot.
Many good Texas Hold’em players call when they believe the odds are in their favour so they want to stay in the game, but still limit any potential losses. You may want to bluff later in the round, so calling in the early parts of the game can hide this and make everyone else think you have a better hand than you actually do.
Play the Players, Not the Cards
This is a psychological game and regardless of how good some players think they are, some tells are just hard to avoid.
The best in the business can recognise things such as repeated touching of the face, blinking, looking at the cards too much, fiddling with the chips or many other things that may only happen for example when a hand is good.
While you cannot see another player’s cards, you can perhaps recognise that their behaviour tends to be the same when they are doing well, thus second-guessing what sort of position they believe themselves to be in.
Of course, while you are attempting to read your opponents, they are doing the exact same thing to you. There are various ways to deal with this, from trying to appear “blank” and expressionless, to attempting the old reverse-psychology, i.e. trying to appear happy or excited when you have a bad hand, or a little underwhelmed when in fact your hand is good.
Whether it’s in poker or a police interview, one thing people always look for is covering the face and so this is the simplest advice. People tend to put a hand up to their face in some way, or scratch a cheek when they are under pressure and are lying – so keep a good eye out for that and see how you get along!