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Before you get started with online poker, make sure you're completely up to date with your Texas Hold'em strategy. Never played before? This guide has everything you need to know - and more!

Texas Hold'em strategy – A beginners guide

How to play Texas Hold'emIf you are new to the game of Texas Holdem, or even if you’ve been playing for many years, you may not be aware of some of the basic strategies used and how effective they can be. Knowing what to do before and after the flop is the key to winning at Texas Holdem, and even the best of us can forget some of the simplest ways of succeeding.

Even though it’s ultimately down to you when to use some of these strategies, or even to use them at all, you must still remember that without a strategy and a game plan you are going to lose quickly.

Here is our beginners guide to Texas Hold'em pre and post flop strategy:

Pre-flop strategy – your two hole cards

Poker hole cardsYour two hole cards are the only cards that are dealt which distinguish you from the other players, so it’s important to understand the different strategies which can be used right from the start!

Knowing what to do with these two cards can be tough, and it’s important to realise that the biggest mistake beginner poker players make are over-playing them. Professional poker players only play around 10-30% of the hands dealt, so you must take note of this and begin to fold more if you are well above this percentage.

There are simple rules to follow if you are unsure of what to fold and what to play. First of all you should seriously consider folding if you have two non-pair cards which are less than 10. Some players often fold even if they are less than a Queen!

Depending on your style of play and how the betting is going around the table, you may also look to fold even if one of your cards is less than a 10 – even if you’re holding an Ace. This is especially important if you are playing at a table with a lot of players, as your Ace-six may easily be up against an Ace-King.

It’s important to remember that when playing with 6 or more players there is a very good chance that another Ace has been dealt to someone else as well, and if you don’t have a very good second card to back it up, then your odds of winning before the flop are not great.

However, you can of course play these hands if you are sat in the blinds and don’t have to pay much to see the flop. Or if you end up heads up and your chances of winning have dramatically increased. Again, it all depends on the amount of players still left in the hand and your chance of winning with these two cards.

This very simple and effective strategy should save you a lot of chips, and also give you a much better chance of winning after the flop. If you find yourself playing with friends at home, then watch the other players the next time you play and you will see how many chips they throw away with terrible starting hands. You are much better sitting it out!

Finally, it’s also important to hold back from throwing a lot of chips in when you have suited hole cards and/or if they are consecutive. A lot of players make the mistake of betting with cards like a nine-ten of diamonds, because they think they have a great chance of making a flush or a straight. Unfortunately what they don’t realise is that the chances of making such a hand are very low, and the majority of hands are won with a top pair.

Again, if you are not faced with many players still left in the hand and the bets are not too high, then you may decide to limp in with these cards. You shouldn’t fold everything just because it isn’t an Ace, but at the same time you need to be wary of playing too many hands with weak cards against players that will have far better hole cards and increased odds of winning after the flop.

Post-flop strategy – the flop

The flopAgain, the biggest mistake beginner players make is betting when they don’t hit anything on the flop. If you know you’re beat then why not save yourself some chips and fold, rather than hoping and praying that the turn or river card will make you your straight or flush. The chances of this happening are just too low, and it’s an expensive way to play the game!

A lot of players think they can get away with bluffing all of the time if they don’t hit anything, but bluffing in real life is very different to what you see in the movies, and professional poker players very rarely bluff unless the timing is perfect. You will also struggle to bluff after the flop if you are faced with 2 or more players, because the chances of them folding are very small.

Play poker now!So if you don’t hit at least the second best pair available on the table, then you are going to lose the majority of the hands if you continue. Being aggressive at this stage is very risky if you’re new to the game, because you have to hold great cards for it to work.

However, it is important to remember not to only bet with the very best hand otherwise the other players will soon wise up to this and fold very quickly, leaving you with very small pots every time. You need to find that balance between knowing when to play and knowing when to fold. There is no sure fire winning strategy for this, but it’s important to understand when you are just committing suicide by betting on a mediocre hand.

Another popular mistake amongst beginner poker players is betting with the second pair that’s held in the hole cards. For example, let’s say you have a pair of Kings for your hole cards and the flop shows Ace-ten-3. This means that you still only have a pair of Kings and it’s very likely that someone else could have hit a pair of Aces.

Unfortunately a lot of players still think the Kings are fantastic and get blinded by how good they look when you peal the corner of the cards over. You have to remember how important it is to see all of the other possible hands your opponents can make, and if there are too many hands that beat yours, it could be time to fold.

Post-flop strategy – the turn and the river

The riverThe turn and the river give you two more chances to either win big, or lose big. For beginner poker players this is where it gets really tough, and folding for most people is just not an option at this stage. However, you must fold if you have a very good feeling you are beat. You are not being negative by folding at this stage if there are too many ways for you to lose – you are being sensible!

Again, look at how many other players are still in the hand and how many bets are going into the pot. If you don’t have a decent hand then you are just burning your chips. You would be much better waiting for another opportunity to come where you can bet confidently and win a sizeable pot.

The best piece of advice we can also give here for the turn and river is not to stay in the hand with the hope of hitting the nuts. A lot of people stay in the hand because they only need one more card to make that flush or straight. This isn’t always a bad thing to do if there aren’t many players left and hardly any bets are going in, because you can probably check your way through and find out for a small amount of chips. However, if there are any big bets going in to the pot, then try not to forget that you could be throwing away a lot of chips on the very small chance of hitting something good.

Conclusion

Leave bluffing to the professionals and focus on maximising your best hands and cutting your losses. If you can balance winning good pots with folding weak hands, you are instantly going to be a much better and more successful poker player – fact!

Don’t worry too much about all of these complicated strategies that involve semi-bluffs and check-raises, and try to focus on the basics and how the odds determine what you should do when faced with a difficult situation.

If the odds of you hitting a flush are extremely low, then don’t play the hand. If your hole cards are weak, then don’t play the hand. If someone is betting big and you don’t hold the nuts, then don’t play the hand. Sometimes it can just be that simple in order to improve your game and find yourself being the last player at the table with a huge stack of chips!

For more tips and tricks on mastering Texas Hold'em including cheat sheets, visit Howtoplaypoker.guru.