Intermediate Strategy

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Once you have got the feel for how Texas Hold’Em is played and have learnt to recognize which hands you should go to the flop with and which you should fold you are ready to take your skills to the next level, and that means how to read the flop.

After the flop, if you haven’t got at least two pairs or a top pair you should fold. A top pair is a pair that is made with the highest card on the board. Other than that, you should have at least four cards towards a flush or straight. After all, you can now see five of your seven cards and if you haven’t got anything then now is the time to get out.

It is very important to take note not only of your own hand but of the other possible hands that can be made with the community cards. Sometimes even if you are holding an average hand the community cards may not make a better hand possible and then you know you are on to a winner.

Your betting strategy depends on which of the above you are holding. Holding a top pair is a strong position so you can raise once, but call or check all other bets. If you are heading towards a straight or a flush avoid raising bets and get to the turn just on calling or checking.

The turn will give you a pretty good idea of whether or not you are going to win the hand. If after the turn you still only have a top pair you can stay in the round but only if no other player raises before you. You can raise once but no more. If other players start raising the stakes then get out. If you have a three of a kind then raise because you have a strong hand. If you are still one card short of a straight or flush you should only call but don’t bet or raise.

Following the river if you are still only holding a top pair you should check or call but not raise. If you failed to get your straight or flush then fold, but of course if you do have a straight or flush then raise away because you have a very strong hand.

As you develop your game take care to avoid some of the pitfalls that many poker players fall into. Top of the list is playing too many hands. Most hands should be mucked and don’t worry if you think you are throwing away too many. In practice, only a little above 20% of the hands you are dealt are winners and that is about the number you should play. Also, don’t get too emotional with your game. There are good hands and bad hands and there are bad beats and they happen to everyone. Stay focused, and don’t let the last hand get to you. Finally, your bankroll you should control your game and not the other way around. Don’t play with prayers and cash you don’t have!