Texas Hold’em Poker Tips & Strategy

Texas Hold’em is currently the most popular poker variant in the world, and thus generally the first game today’s newer generation of poker players learn. The difference between whether that player enjoys the game for its complex entertainment, or as a profitable venture, however, comes down to what, if any, poker strategy that player employs.

In short, Texas Hold’em is a fantastically enjoyable game in and of itself, but if you want to play to win, you’ll need to develop and maintain a solid Texas Hold’em poker strategy.

There are several aspects that go into a good poker strategy, including the obvious, such as Starting Hands and Player Types (reading your opponent), but also things like Player Position and Bankroll Management. We’ll cover each of these elements individually.

Texas Hold’em Poker Strategy – Player Types

There are generally four types of poker players:

Tight / Passive: Slow bettor that only plays the best starting hands.
Tight / Aggressive: Assertive bettor that plays only the best starting hands.
Loose / Passive: Will play any hand, but play it slow.
Loose / Aggressive: Bets belligerently on any hand.

From these four player types, you have two goals to accomplish. First, you need to become a Tight / Aggressive poker player. This is the best proven poker strategy, popularized by many of today’s top pros. The second goal is to play against Loose / Passive and Loose / Aggressive players. Loose poker players are the easiest to overtake when using a Tight poker strategy.

Simply knowing the tendencies of each categorical player type will help you identify them at the tables.

Through behavioral observation or your opponents, a player can modify their poker strategy as needed for maximum effectiveness. For instance, if you notice one player always starts up a conversation or cracks a joke when he’s bluffing hands, or another player always Checks or Calls with a fantastic hand. These little observations can greatly increase your profit potential if you modify your poker strategy to counter-attack.

Texas Hold’em Poker Strategy – Starting Hands

Starting Hands consist only of two Hole Cards; the first cards dealt to you, that no other player is able to see. When playing a solid, ‘Tight’ Texas Hold’em poker strategy, the following hands are the only hands you should move on with, unless in position. (See ‘Texas Hold’em Poker Strategy – Player Position’ below.)

Pairs: A-A, K-K, Q-Q, J-J, T-T
High Sequence: A-K, K-Q
High Suited: A-K, K-Q, Q-J

Note: Sequence means the values run in order; i.e. a potential Straight. Suited means the cards are of the same suit; i.e. two Spades.

Texas Hold’em Poker Strategy – Player Position

Aside from heads-up (one-on-one) play, there are generally three positions in Texas Hold’em, Early Position, Middle Position and Late Position. At a full table of 9, it would lay out like this…

Early Position: First (after Big Blind), Second or Third bettor – Terrible position because you have no chance to read your opponents Pre-Flop. Requires an excellent Starting Hand to move on.

Middle Position: Fourth, Fifth and Sixth bettor – Decent position, giving some info on your opponents, but not enough to alter your strategy. Stick to great Starting Hands only.

Late Position: On the Button, Small Blind and Big Blind – When you are in the dealer’s position, the last to receive cards, you are in the best position of all. You have been forced to pay nothing up front, but will get to see almost everyone’s reaction in the betting round before making a decision. The Small Blind position was forced to wager half of the opening bet, therefore, if none have raised, it only costs half to see the Flop on a moderately workable hand. The Big Blind is another great position to be in. On the down side, you are forced to wager the opening bet, but on the upside, you see all player reactions and, barring a raise, will get to see the Flop. Late Player Position generally allows a player to make a move, even without the best of Starting Hands.

Texas Hold’em Poker Strategy – Bankroll Management / Table Selection

Even though we’ve listed this poker strategy last, it is monumentally important to a good poker strategy. Bankroll Management and Table Selection go hand in hand.

The first thing a poker player does before entering into a game is decide how much money to bring to the tables. First off, never bring more than you can afford to lose, or are willing to lose, in a single game. Never bring the mortgage or grocery money. It could turn out disastrous, and it causes nervous play, which will most assuredly disrupt your Texas Hold’em poker strategy.

Next, make sure your bankroll will last at the table you choose. The rule of thumb is to make sure you can afford 300 Big Blinds in a Fixed Limit Game, or 2,000 Big Blinds in a No Limit game.

Let’s try a few examples. If you have a bankroll of $150 and plan to play Fixed Limit Texas Hold’em, you can afford to choose a table with stakes up to $.25/$.50. Playing No Limit with only $150 bankroll would leave you choosing from Micro-Limits of $.01/$.02 or $.02/$.04.

The idea behind bankroll management and table selection is to be able to outlast a downward swing in play. Every poker player experiences these downward swings, but if you follow the ‘Starting Hands’ poker strategy and bring enough money to the table, you should overcome it long before your bankroll bottoms out.