In the world of poker one variation of the game stands out above all others in terms of popularity – Texas Hold’em. There are many reasons why it is so widely played, not least the simplicity of the game. The betting structure is also comparatively simple to understand and deploy. However the apparently straightforward nature of Hold’em doesn’t mean that it’s also easy to become a very accomplished player.
So anyone taking up the game would do well to learn a few of the basic strategies that will help to transform them from being a rookie to someone who can consistently win hands against other, more experienced, players.
For a start, here are five golden rules to set you on your way.
Poker’s a game of controlled aggression so it’s vital to play with this in mind, especially when it comes to putting in your stakes. So you should try to raise whenever there’s a face card, ace or any pair. When you get higher value pairs be bold and raise even more – even when your opponent is raising pre- flop. The chances are that they’re bluffing and this could show them up.
Use your position
When you're the last person in any hand, so to the right of the dealer, you're in the strongest possible position. That’s because you’ll have had the chance to study how all the other players are approaching it and be in a more informed position about how strong they think their cards are. But beware, the small blind is the worst place to be, so proceed with care when it’s you.
Watch your opponents
Keep a close eye on how your opponents are playing and look for patterns in their behaviour. For example, are they bluffing on weaker hands or underplaying stronger ones? And if they’re starting to look tired and distracted it could be the time to hit them the hardest. It could also be that their body language starts giving their positions away.
Know when to fold
Many beginners fall into the trap of thinking that they’ll win more if they play every hand, plus they hate to give away money that they’ve put in the pot. When they’re playing like this they often stay in to see what happens and still end up losing their stake. It’s far better to fold if the two cards you’re holding aren’t great than to rely on luck, or bluffing, to see you through.
You might be watching your opponents, but they’ll be watching you too. So mix up your play a little and they’ll be less likely to see the patterns that could help them to second-guess you. So there’s the theory, but the best way to master these golden rules will be to put them into practice – and look forward to what could be a great winning streak.