Texas Hold’em poker is undoubtedly the most popular poker variation in the world, offering a perfect balance between chance and skill. It’s also easy to pick up, but difficult to master, which is why so many beginners and competitive players are drawn to the game.
If you’re someone who understands the Texas Hold’em poker rules but looking to improve your game, here’s why a strategy is important and eight pieces of advice to help you win when you play Texas Hold’em online.
Why a strategy is important
When you’re playing gambling games like slots, roulette or craps, there’s no need for strategy. These are games of pure chance where you have little to no influence on the outcome of a game. However, poker is a game that combines elements of skill and chance, and while a strategy won’t affect the outcome of every single poker hand, it can help you increase your overall win rate over time. This is why it’s important to have some sort of idea on how you plan to approach each game of poker, and why good poker players study poker to become better at the game.
Key elements of an effective Texas Hold’em beginner’s strategy
In poker, there are many elements that make up an effective beginner’s strategy. Here are eight key practices to make a part of your approach to Texas Hold’em.
1. Know all the rules of Texas Hold’em
As a beginner, it’s important that you understand all the rules of Texas Hold’em. From how each turn plays out to the blinds to the winning hands, it’s vital that you know all the rules so that each game goes as smoothly as possible, and so that you can avoid being exploited by dishonest players.
2. Understand the value of your starting hand
Whether you fold or play is determined by the cards that you get in your starting hand. On one hand, there are certain hands that are inherently weaker than others, and while there are rare circumstances where they may combine with the community cards to give you a winning combination of cards, 99% of the time it will make sense to fold when playing with these cards. On the other hand, certain hands are inherently stronger than others, and even though there’s the odd occasion that your opponent will have the nuts (the best hand possible,) 99% of the time it will make sense to play these cards to the showdown.
Knowing which cards to play and which ones to fold before the community cards are revealed will go a long way to helping your win rate in the long run.
3. Know how your position in a round affects the game
In poker, your turn in a round can dramatically affect how you play. A player that’s “under the gun” (first to play pre-flop) has the least amount of information to work with when deciding to check, raise or fold. This is why their decisions have the most risks and why players must adjust their decision-making accordingly. However, the button (or dealer position if you don’t have a dedicated dealer) is considered the best position because you’ll have the most information to work with before you check, raise or fold.
Learning the subtle differences between your position in any round of poker will help you understand how you should approach Texas Hold’em poker hands.
4. Learn to control your emotions
Regardless of whether you are playing Texas Hold’em face-to-face against other players or against anonymous avatars in a game online, staying calm and clear-headed is another important skill to help you win more games.
In poker, entering a negative emotional state, more commonly known as “tilting,” is known to be detrimental to your decision-making. Being on tilt can result in a variety of different poor plays, such as betting on hands that you’d otherwise know are weak, making wagers with money that you know you shouldn’t or playing to try and regain your momentum when you should just call it quits.
5. Understand the power of folding
There are certain situations in poker where it’s almost always a good idea to fold. Here are the most common situations where folding is the right decision:
- Your pre-flop hand is weak.
- Your post-flop hand is weak.
- When a player is betting big and you haven’t seen them bluff after multiple games or you know they are a tight player.
- An opponent raises big and your hand is marginal at best.
- Your hand doesn’t have much chance to improve.
In poker, it’s also a good idea to avoid falling victim to the sunk cost fallacy when deciding whether to fold or not. The sunk cost fallacy is a concept where someone continues with a certain behavior, action or strategy, even if it’s a bad decision that could lead to further losses, and they know that they cannot recover whatever they’ve already committed. For example, if you raise a bet pre-flop in a game of poker and you have nothing at the flop, it’s better to fold than try to bluff your way to a win.
Knowing when to fold in poker means the difference between making money and losing money in the long run.
6. Don’t multi-table just because you can
As an online poker player, you may be tempted to multi-table to either win more or, at the very least, play more games and gain more experience. However, there are downsides to multi-tabling, such as splitting your focus, which are even worse when you’re a beginner. Avoid playing at multiple tables until you have a good understanding of the game.
7. Bluffing isn’t for beginners
When you’re starting off in poker, you should avoid bluffing too much or at all until you’ve gotten a firm grip on the basics. This is because a bluff is very risky and can cost you if you don’t know when or how to use it.
8. Practice with low-stakes games
The final piece of advice we have for beginners who are looking to develop an effective poker strategy is to practice in low-stakes games. Being a low-stakes game, even if you lose a pot, you won’t take a big financial hit. Also, you’ll be able to gain valuable game knowledge and experience without your wallet suffering at the same time.
Put our Texas Hold’em tips into practice at BetMGM
If you’re looking for an online poker site to test out your Texas Hold’em strategy and to grow as a beginner Texas Hold’em player, take a seat at BetMGM’s virtual tables. We offer great online cash games for those who want to enjoy a few hands of poker, as well as thrilling online poker tournaments for those who want to put their competitive skills to the test. And if you want to mix things up, we also offer other fun poker variants, including Seven Card Stud and Omaha.
No matter what type of poker player you are, you’ll find what you’re looking for when you register at BetMGM.