Texas Holdem is more than Luck
Do you think Texas Holdem is all luck? Do some players seem to sit down at the table winners while others are destined to walk away broke and put to shame? When you don’t know Texas Holdem strategy, a poker game can feel like a game of luck. The good news is that you can move beyond luck and start winning more if you start thinking strategically.
Understanding the Basics
Each round of a Texas Holdem game includes two forced bets. One is known as the big blind, and the other is known as the small blind. One player starts off each round, and the play moves clockwise around the table. When it is your turn, you have four possible moves:
If you decide to bet, you count out enough chips to equal the big blind and put them into the pot. If you don’t want to add to the pot, you can call. This simply means you are matching the bet placed before your turn. If another player has placed a bet and you want to bet even higher, you can raise them. This means you add what the previous player bet plus extra to the pot. If you don’t have a good hand and feel a loss coming on, you can fold your cards and go out.
Extreme Betting Types
Once you start playing Texas Holdem actively, you will notice that there are two extreme, and quite obvious, approaches that some players will adopt to betting:
1. Manic Betting
This player is hyperactive when it comes to betting. He will bet and raise even when he doesn’t have a good hand. He is the first to triple up his stack, and you will find him taking one loss after another because other players easily spot his manic behavior.
2. Passive Betting
This player is underactive when it comes to betting. He routinely checks and calls because he is extremely cautious when it comes to raising and betting. You will know when he has a great hand because he will suddenly jump into the action with a huge bet or raise. Just like the player who bets manically, you will find this player refilling his bankroll or sitting out because he is easy to read.
The Importance of Strategy
Extreme players are easy to spot and beat, so you don’t want to be one of those players. This game is about far more than tossing chips into the pot or hanging in long enough to get a peek at the flop. You should implement clear strategy so that you fly under the radar and win as much as possible from all of your great hands. If you play it right, you will even profit from not-so-great hands.
Why Do You Bet?
According to David Sklansky, you should only bet for one of these five reasons:
1. You want to increase the payout available in the pot.
2. You hope to convince other players to fold.
3. You have a bad hand but want to bluff or semi-bluff your way into winning.
4. You want a free card.
5. You are studying the other players and want to see how they react.
Never throw out a bet without asking yourself why you want to toss in your chips. If your reasoning doesn’t fit any of these five criteria, it probably is not time to bet.
Five Poker Strategies to Remember
Before you hit the table with your chips, study these five Texas Holdem strategies so that you can take your game beyond mere luck.
1. Value Bet Strategy
You could also call this strategy the “feeler” bet. You throw out a bet just to feel out your competitors. Once you see how they respond to your bet, you can gauge the potential strength of your hand versus their hands. Without feeling your way around, you have no insight into the cards others are holding.
2. Steal the Blind Strategy
If you pay attention and size up your competitors appropriately, you can steal uncontested pots and blinds. In most cases, you can earn more money than you lose just by employing this strategy. You may not have the strongest hand at the table, but if others are not competent in their hands, you can still walk away with the blinds. This strategy requires accurate assessment of the strength of other players because a skilled player may figure out your strategy or employ the same strategy themselves.
3. Trapping Strategy
This is also known as the check raise strategy in some circles. The goal is to downplay the strength of your hand in order to convince your opponents to play strong. They may try to bluff because they think you don’t have much. They may also place a bet thinking they have a pretty good hand, and that means more chips for you to collect when they realize they were mistaken about your hand.
4. Continuation Strategy
The goal with this strategy is to get most players to fold. You will end up with just one or two competitors at the end of the round if you do this correctly. Start by showing strength pre-flop, and then continue that display of strength even if you don’t hit the flop. This leads others to believe that you have a stronger hand than you may actually be holding, and they will at least consider folding.
You have to bet post-flop if you raise another player pre-flop. Even if you don’t hit the flop, you must follow this rule or your strategy is exposed and you lose. Continuation strategy takes balls, but it is better than throwing out a strong raise and folding post-flop.
5. Squeeze Strategy
If another player at the table has a straight or flush draw, they won’t always want to risk the hand if you throw out a bet. The player knows that they can easily miss their hand, no matter how good the odds look at the beginning. Your strategy is to throw out a bet or raise them higher in hopes that they will doubt their hand enough to fold. This can sometimes fly back in your face if your hand is not strong enough and they decide to risk their stack in hopes of hitting their hand.
Are you in the mood to start tossing chips? Don’t just leave your next game up to luck. Start experimenting with these strategies to see just how lucky you can get with deeper thinking on your side.