Rather than being just a game of chance Texas Hold’Em poker involves great strategy and skill. Players hone their skills with many years experience and you need to be patient in learning the game well. For a new player your first steps in understanding poker strategy begin before you even sit down at the table!.
There are two common varieties of Texas Hold’Em; Limit and No Limit. The difference between the two styles of play has profound influence on the strategy of the game. In Limit Hold’Em the amount that a player can raise a bet is limited. Often there are set values for the raises in the pre-flop, flop and for the turn and river. By contrast in No Limit, as the name suggests, players can make whatever raise they want, anytime they want. Although the basic strategies for both games are the same the greater freedom to raise in No Limit games greatly enhances the psychological element of the game as well as literally raising the stakes. As a general rule Limit Hold’Em is recommended for beginners while No Limit for example is used in tournament games.
Having chosen your game, a fundamental consideration is your position during play. The dealer position rotates around the table with each round and where you are sitting is central to your strategy. The positions around the table are traditionally known as early, middle, and late, with late being the furthest and last position to play in each round. The later you are the better because it gives you a chance to see how your opponents play their cards before you pitch in. In addition you can learn much about your opponents themselves by observing how they play in relation to their own positions. Are they more cautious as their position becomes early, or are they reckless? How your opponents respond to their own position can be a good indicator of their level of skill and experience so make the most of it. As a general rule, you should play more cautiously the earlier your position is especially in No Limit games. You don’t want to raise on an average hand only to have another play wade in with a huge raise after you.
With your seat position in mind you are now ready to play your cards. There are many strategies for playing each stage of the game that reflect aggressive or cautious styles. For beginner players a tight-aggressive strategy is recommended. This means you play fewer hands but bet aggressively on the strong hand that you do play As a starter, for your pre-flop play you should fold unless you have at least two high cards above ten. If another player has raised during the pre-flop you are better off mucking out. If you have a high pair then go for the flop but don’t get caught up in an extended round of raised bets.
Mucking means you fold your cards without showing them to the other players, a strategy that gives more disguise to your bluffing because you opponents will find it harder to learn your style. The less information you give away in poker the better!