What is winning poker strategy? That question has many answers, and of course it also differs a lot depending on what type of poker game, and format, you are referring to. In this we will primarily talk about the winning concepts for the most popular poker game – No limit Texas Holdem, also called NL Holdem.
Basic poker strategy
One of the most fundamental aspects of the game is that you should not play too many hands. If you do. Stop it. The more hands you play, the more difficult spots you are going to face – that will lead to mistakes. Therefore the best tips to most poker beginners is just to start fold more preflop. Pick your spots, and you’ll both win more and become a tougher opponent to play against.
Also, the blinds and antes you play a vital role in how many hands you choose to open. If there is low pressure from let’s say only one small and big blind every orbit you can play a really conservative style at a full ring table. And when you do open, you should generally not just limp or call. Start of raising right of the bat when you do start to play.
The tight aggressive style that is introduced above is also called TAG, if you ever here a poker player being described as such you know that you are facing an opponent that at least know the fundamental basics of the game. The opposite type of style is loose passive, which is the best type of opponent you can face. It’s just to wait and bet against them when you have a strong hand – waiting to get paid off. This is also called ABC poker.
When the basic strategy is applied there is one other thing that you have to have in mind during each Texas Holdém pot, that is position, position, position. I can’t say that to many times. It is so crucial for success at the tables.
Players well aware of their position will play way more hands when they are in late position such as the cut off or the button, which is the best spot of them all. When you sit on the button you will act last and get the option to close the betting (or check behind) on every street except preflop.
When you are on the button and noone else has opened the pot before you, the best option is usually to raise with a ton of hands. Especially when the players in small and big blind are passive (not reraising often).
One other important concept is table selection. Before you sit down at a poker table you most often have several choices whom to play against, and in some settings also what seat to sit down. Use that to your advantage, and don’t be afraid to change table if you see that there is juicer games somewhere else.
For example even the 10th best player in the world, would be losing money in the long run if he chose to always face a table where the top nine in the world were playing.
The more weak players at the table, the better for you. Choose your games wisely.
One of the most fun and challenging parts in poker is reading your opponents hands, and choose the correct strategy against their range. It is a very good exercise to observe your opponents and guess their holdings in each and every pot, even though you are not involved yourself.
For each bet, check, raise and call your opponent do they tell you a story. If they raise under the gun (worst position at the table), the tell you right from the start that they have a good hand. At least that is true for most players, and it is up to you to categorise them and put them on preflop raise ranges from different spots.
When you are playing online you can also get help from advanced statistical tools to get accurate numbers for this, for example their preflop raise and call tendencies. Even though more and more poker sites are banning these softwares now to tackle the problems with bots and cheating networks.
Back to the actual hand reading.
If your opponent raises under the gun and the flop comes 68T and they bet again you first got information that they probably got a good hand preflop, like AJ+ or 99+ to compare with a range that could serve as some median player. If the player is loose/aggressive you could probably expect a wider starting range than that. And the opposite if the player is known to be tight.
Then when they bet on the flop you get further information that the current flop probably gave some future hope for their hand, thus narrowing the range of potential holdings even further. And like this it goes on for each round of betting, when you can get more and more specific about which type of hands your opponents hold.
The poker legend Mike Caro has written a full book of this important topic. Without thinking about it, poker players give away information about their holdings by the way they act and talk during a hand. This is called tells.
A very overlooked factor when deciding about your next move at the poker table is table dynamics. Did you just raise three hands in a row and got caught with a bluff last hand? Then you should probably open with a much tighter range than usual next hand. Because you are basically not going to get any credit.
The opposite applies when you have been playing tight for a long while without action. Then it is a great spot to loosen up your range and pick one or two spots where you raise and try to steal the pot. Either as a three bet bluff or a standard blind steal. In their view it looks very probable that this is the time when you actually picked up a hand. This is called “switching gears”.
It is also important to watch your opponents and adjust your actions and your reads on their ranges based on the dynamics at the table. Are this guy steaming now after getting caught bluffing? Someone on tilt raising every hand? Those things do happen and it is very important to pick up those patterns and adjust your style.
The most common mistakes for begginers are.
- Playing to many pots (to loose)
- Playing too passive
- Don’t think about table dynamics, just watching their own hand.
- Not thinking about the payout structure of the SNG or Tournamnet. How much percent do the winner, runner up and third get? How is the price structure`?
What is your best poker strategy tips?
Whats your own bet strategy tips for Texas Holdem? Did we miss some important factor that shoud be addded? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
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