Dos and Don’ts for a Preflop Poker Strategy That Works

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BetMGM Apr 18, 2024, 3:13 AM

If you play online poker tournaments, you’re likely to know what preflop is. But if you’re new to the exciting world of poker, let’s fill you in on a crucial aspect of the game: the preflop round. This is where each player is dealt two cards, face down, before the flop is revealed. Don’t underestimate its importance — the preflop stage is where it all begins. 

Now, here’s the deal: many who play online poker may make less-than-optimal decisions during this phase, but fear not. We’re here to help you understand why your preflop poker strategy is so important. 

To excel in poker, mastering the preflop game is essential as it sets the tone for the hand. If your preflop decisions are weak, you’ll face challenges later on. To be successful, you need to approach the preflop stage with a strong strategy and understanding of the game. Read on to learn how to take your poker game to the next level.

What Is a Preflop Poker Strategy?

A poker strategy is like a supercharged version of selecting your starting hand, but with a twist that can make your game more profitable. You see, it’s not just about the cards you hold, but also your position at the table. A preflop strategy takes it a step further by considering how your hand might unfold in various scenarios and whether you can actually make a profit from those situations. 

It’s like unlocking a whole new level of strategic thinking. Instead of just relying on luck and the strength of your initial hand, a preflop strategy empowers you to anticipate and make calculated moves. By carefully evaluating potential outcomes, you can position yourself to maximize your winnings and minimize your losses.

This means having a well-defined game plan is essential for increasing your chances of winning in poker. Operating without a clear strategy or a loosely constructed plan can significantly diminish your odds of success.Think of it as seeing the bigger picture before the flop even hits the table. It’s all about making smart decisions that set the stage for success, whether that stage is the casino floor or a party with friends in your own home. If you want to know exactly how to set up poker games at home, here is a guide.

Preflop Betting Tips

1. Have a Plan

To give yourself the best shot at victory, it’s crucial to know precisely which hands to open-raise when you’re folded from each position. Additionally, you should be aware of when to raise or consider limping, as well as the range of preflop poker hand rankings you’ll continue with if the player in front of you raises. 

Most players struggle to provide strong, well-thought-out answers to these critical scenarios because they didn’t take the time to make a plan. By taking the time to ponder and refine your preflop strategy, you’ll already be leaps and bounds ahead of the competition.

With a comprehensive understanding of these key aspects, you’ll be equipped to make informed choices and navigate the preflop poker odds with confidence. Remember, a solid plan is like a roadmap to triumph, helping you seize the opportunities that arise and maximize your winning potential.

2. Never be Afraid To Bet or Raise

Perhaps one of the first things you’ll hear when learning how to play poker is to kill your fear. It’s useful here in preflop, because by raising, you encourage only players willing to enter a raised pot with you to call. This reduces the number of opponents you face, increasing your chances of going heads-up with a premium hand. Mathematically speaking, having fewer opponents improves your equity, especially with a powerhouse like pocket aces. The goal is to maximize your equity by having more money in the pot and minimize the risk of losing to multiple opponents.

Raising sends a strong message about your hand’s strength, creating “fold equity.” This credibility increases the chance of opponents folding, enabling you to claim the pot. Raising is usually preferred, except for specific strategies like limp re-raising. For marginal hands, both raising and limping can be valid options, depending on your overall strategy.

3. Always Make Solid Three Raises in an Unopened Pot

Don’t shy away from the 3-bet because you’re afraid of playing big pots. Understanding preflop poker odds is vital to knowing how and that your 3-bets are profitable. But here’s why: you’re able to extract more value and increase the pot size early on, while also maximizing your potential gains by opening with a strong 3-betting raise. In addition, 3-betting acts as a defense against multiway pots. You can often isolate the original raiser and head to the flop in a one-on-one confrontation. It also preserves the equity of your strong hand and improves your chances of having the best hand at showdown. Embrace its potential to maximize your value and protect the strength of your hands. 

4. Raise Instead of Limp

Limping refers to calling the big blind instead of raising preflop. Many players avoid it as it slows pot growth and may signal weakness to experienced opponents. Experienced players prefer making strong entries by raising instead of limping. It’s best that you increase the size of your raise when facing limpers

How To Plan Your Strategy Ahead

Planning your strategy ahead is a crucial aspect of successful poker play. Here are some key steps to effectively plan your strategy:

Study the Game

Continuously improve your understanding of poker by studying various aspects of the game. Read books, watch training videos, analyze hands and participate in forums to gain insights from experienced players. The more you learn, the better equipped you’ll be to develop a solid strategy.

Positional Awareness

Understand the significance of position in poker. Plan your range and actions based on your position at the table. Being in a favorable position allows you to make more informed decisions and exploit opponents effectively.

Know Your Goals

Set clear and achievable goals for your poker journey. Define what you want to accomplish, whether it’s improving your win rate, moving up in stakes or mastering a specific poker variant.

Bankroll Management

Determine your bankroll and adhere to proper bankroll management principles. Knowing how much you can afford to play with and setting stop-loss and win goals will protect you from unnecessary risks and emotional decisions. You may also want to consider different stack sizes in poker while planning your strategy. 

Hand Selection

Develop a strong preflop hand selection strategy. Use preflop poker charts as a reference, but also consider the dynamics of the table and your opponents’ tendencies to adjust your range accordingly.

Things You Shouldn’t Do With a Preflop

  • Don’t fail to have a strategy. A solid strategy — one that addresses key questions about open-raising, limping, facing raises and responding to 3-bets from different positions — will give you a significant advantage over other players.
  • Neglecting positional awareness can result in playing weaker hands out of position, impacting your overall profitability.
  • Limping is an ineffective strategy, as it denies you the opportunity to win the pot preflop and puts you at a disadvantage, allowing opponents to exploit better positions.
  • Extremely large 3-bets can save you costs and should be reserved for strong hands. Instead, contemplate 4-betting with your premium holdings.
  • Frequently calling opens from the small blind may expose a weak range and leave you susceptible to squeezes from the big blind.

Choosing a passive approach by calling instead of 3-betting against raises can lead to missed value and reduced equity in multiway pots.

Plan To Win With BetMGM

Preflop may be a tricky stage, but doesn’t have to be difficult. For those who play poker online, this guide has covered the strategy, dos and don’ts, and how to plan your approach. 

So, get ready to take your poker game to new heights by delving into the exciting realms of preflop poker. Register now to get started.

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.