You are currently viewing TEXAS HOLDEM STRATEGY FOR 2021 – THE BEST TIPS TO WIN MORE

TEXAS HOLDEM STRATEGY FOR 2021 – THE BEST TIPS TO WIN MORE

While it is easy to learn poker rules so that you can sit down and play, it might take a hell lot of time to master the game, and that is why I decided to create this Texas Holdem strategy guide. While these top 57 best Texas Holdem tips alone will not make you a world-class player, they will surely help you build the right fundamentals, avoid many costly mistakes, and outgrow a big part of your competition. To make these changes last even longer, I want to cover essential tips that will help you approach Texas Holdem as a professional player just before going into actual strategy, so make sure to go through all of it. Table of content:

TEXAS HOLDEM TIPS – BUILD THE RIGHT APPROACH TO THE GAME Mindset, performance, and your approach to the game play a huge part in your overall success as a poker player and likelihood for you to reach long term results. That being said, if you are entirely new to this game, your priority should be to master the strategy part since you want to be playing sound poker. But even then, building proper habits will help you more than you think and will not require too much of the effort if you understand the underlying need and benefits it can bring. TIP # 1. ALWAYS KEEP LEARNING One of the essential things in poker is to keep improving and never stop growing as a player. With countless poker tools and resources available these days and new players hungry for success, you are bound to work on your game if you want to reach your long-term goals. While getting a professional course or even coaching is by far the most efficient approach, you can do a lot of things on your own, which will help you take the upper hands against most players.

  • Mark and review hands – you should mark questionable hands while playing to review it later on since this is one of the easiest ways to improve your weakest areas. When you know where you are making mistakes, you can study that specific topic and step-by-step counter every leak in your game.

  • Record your session – another great option is to record your session while playing. It gives an entirely different perspective on your game since you can see how you play from the side and notice mistakes you can otherwise miss. If you have an option, you can also show your video to poker-playing buddies and get their opinion on your play.

  • Analyze your stats – online poker lets you gather statistics about your play in various spots, so you should take advantage of this information. You can identify essential poker statistics and compare it to the best players in the game to see where you are deviating from the norm and leaving money at the table.

  • Form a study group – you can create a group with a couple of other players to exchange hand reviews and study specific topics together. A lot of the time, this will help you get different insights about your Texas Holdem strategy and even make the learning process more exciting, which is always a huge benefit on its own.

However, if you want faster results, joining a training site is one of the most effective ways to improve at your game, you just have to pick what suits you. TIP #2. JOIN A POKER TRAINING SITE DEDICATED TO YOUR GAME There is no doubt that learning from more experienced players can boost your progress. That’s why every professional athlete has their personal coaches, and every high-performer heavily invest in his education in the chosen field. Being a poker player is no different since you need to perform at your best all the time. Of course, if you are playing just for fun, this does not apply to you. Still, if you want to earn a living or make a side income from poker, a training site can not only help you learn the basics faster but advance your Texas Holdem strategy to an entirely new level. If you are not sure what would be the best option for you, just take this short quiz and identify your exact situation and even get some tips for your games.

 

Here are the most common options with full program reviews that you might want to check:

Of course, you can find programs for any other game as well, so make sure to review your options before making the final decision and pick one of the best poker training program based on your game of choice and skill level. TIP #3. TABLE SELECTING COULD BE YOUR MOST VALUABLE SKILL Finding great games with weaker players is the easiest way to boost your win rate, so table selection should be taken very seriously whenever you play. While you can win some money even in tough games, your profit can easily be doubled or tripled when finding a table full of recreational players. You probably heard a famous quote from movie Rounders: “If you can’t spot the sucker in your first half-hour at the table, then you are the sucker.” So instead of showing your ego at the table, you should be looking to do what is best for you, and most of the time, it means finding a good game in the first place. If you keep battling against the best players, you will not end up winning much money. So take some time to find the best games and boost your win rate. You should be looking for:

  • Players who want to see flops and ready to call big bets preflop with random hands

  • Players who choose to open limp instead of raising when they decide to play

  • Ones who are overplaying there draws and chasing it even when not getting the right price

  • They are passive postflop and only bet strong hands making them easy to read

  • There are many multiway pots and not much 3betting going on

If you find games with such players, you can quickly fill your pockets instead of battling out against other professionals, and that is the end goal.

 

TIP #4. PLAY POKER WHEN THE BEST GAMES ARE RUNNING Table selecting is one thing, but finding proper time for your session is entirely different and also is often overlooked by many players. Of course, it depends on where you live if you are playing live or what games you choose in an online setting, but it is worth figuring out. Your goal is to identify when recreational players appear at the tables and build your playing schedule around those times so that you could take advantage of weaker competition. Firstly, you can use your common sense and think when players who want to have fun will come to play. Most often than not, it will be weekends rather than workdays, and evenings rather than the middle of the day when they are likely sitting at work. On top of this, you can get even more data by taking advantage of poker trackers like Holdem Manager, which can quickly filter out the most profitable days and times for you. If you find that you are winning a lot playing from Friday till Sunday and barely breaking even on other days, you can play only on weekends and use the additional time for improving your skills. This alone will optimize your $/hour and help you progress faster by learning and improving your skills. TIP #5. USE PROPER BANKROLL MANAGEMENT FOR YOUR GAMES Bankroll management is another vital tip for Texas Holdem, and it can make you or break you. Even if you are one of the best players in your games, you are almost guaranteed to go bust at one time if you do not follow sound bankroll strategy. What I mead by this is that you should always have enough money to outlast short term variance and only play in the games that you can afford. It also depends on your game, since MTT players need much higher bankroll than someone playing cash games, so make sure to understand poker bankroll requirements based on the format you play. Moreover, on top of the actual money in your account, these few simple tips will help you a lot:

  • Separate your poker bankroll from everyday cash

  • Do not withdraw too much money from your poker balance

  • Take aggressive shots to maximize your potential

  • Don’t be afraid to move down when needed

If you follow these simple tips and have enough money to outlast inevitable swings, you will put yourself into a much better position to reach longterm success. TIP #6. PLAY AT THE RIGHT STAKES Your bankroll is not the only thing you need to consider when choosing which stakes to play since your skill also plays a massive role. At the beginning of your poker career, it makes sense to play lower stakes than you can afford just to get hold of Texas Holdem strategy and environment at the table. However, you should be looking to move up as soon as you are ready. Playing on higher stakes and taking aggressive shots have a lot of benefits:

  • You will make more money since your $/hour will be higher

  • You can observe and learn from better players

  • You leave your comfort zone which forces to work on your game and become even stronger

If you take a shot at a higher stake and lose a couple of buy-ins, there is no reason to go mad about it. More likely than not, you can learn from your mistakes and identify areas where you need to improve, which is exceptionally valuable information. The same could be said about moving down. There is no point in wasting your money if you clearly can’t beat the games you play at the moment or you faced an extended period of bad luck, and there is no shame in moving down. Quite the contrary, if you can make this decision when needed, it only shows that you are not playing based on your ego, but rather consider all of the information and make the most profitable decision for you. TIP #7. UNDERSTAND AND EMBRACE THE VARIANCE Poker variance is one thing no one will be able to avoid, so you should take your time to understand what it really is and how bad it can get. Even if you are a winning player, you will face huge swings over your poker career because this is how this game works. Let’s take a look at an example of a possible outcome for a cash game player. According to the primedome.com calculator, there is more than a 30% chance that you lose money over 10.000 hands even if you are a solid winner and have a 5bb/100 win rate. So never underestimate the power of variance and better be ready than sorry. However, as hard as it is to see this as a positive thing, it actually is. Variance is the only thing that keeps the games going since weaker players would not even play if they did not have a chance to win due to short-time luck. So next time you are mad when someone hit his draw on the river, think about this. If you keep making better decisions than your opponents, you will win at the end, as simple as that. You are here for the long run, so let short term variance play its part and concentrate on what you can control. The best thing you could do to yourself is to concentrate on decision making and detach from emotions from short-term results. TIP #8. LEARN TO DETACH FROM EMOTIONS AND STOP TILTING We already talked about variance and embracing it in your games, so hopefully, it will not cause you rage attack or negative emotions when your opponent hits his two outer on the river. You know that it is meant to happen due to the nature of the game, and will be able to continue playing sound poker. However, if you feel any influence of negative emotions or are tired due to one of the hundreds of possible reasons, it will be much harder to control it. Therefore, you should:

  • Avoid playing when tired or under the emotional influence. Firstly, you should never even start your session if you are not in the right mind frame. But if you happen to start feeling emotions during your play, you should carefully evaluate if you can still play you’re A-Game, or you need to take a break.

  • Learn when to quit playing or take a break. While I disagree on having stop/loss limits, you still need to learn when to leave your session. Of course, you should be playing as long as you can keep your concentration if the games are good. However, if you get distracted and start thinking about something else, it is a clear sign that you should probably take a break. The same could be said about making poor decisions. If you let your emotions dictate your actions or simply get tired, just take a break and return when you are ready.

  • Take longer breaks to rest fully. Do not force yourself to play too much and always leave enough time to rest between the sessions. Poker is not just about quantity, it is much more about the quality of your decisions.

At the beginning of my poker career, I forced myself to play as much as I possibly can, and that never led to anything good. I was too tired to work on my game, was not able to concentrate much when playing, and constantly made emotional decisions, which killed a big part of my profits. So take things slower, leave yourself some room to rest and learn to control your emotions. TIP #9. WORK ON YOUR CONCENTRATION AND FOCUS ON THE GAME I had an interview with Eliot Roe, who is the leading poker minded and performance coach in the world, and he shared many valuable tips. To keep your concentration and focus on the game as long as you possibly can, you need a lot of energy. Luckily for you, that is a trainable skill as almost everything else, and simple things can drastically improve your performance and concentration:

  • Even a small amount of activity every day will boost your metabolism, which has a direct influence on your performance. Even if that as little as going for a walk, or as much as weight lifting, make sure to find what works for you, and you will be surprised with the results.

  • Balanced food. We will not go into an in-depth discussion about a balanced diet, but eating healthy and especially avoiding sugary and salty food can do wonders to your energy level.

  • Every time before sitting down to play, make sure to turn all distractions, such as TV, messengers, and even mute your phone. This will help you concentrate on the game and decision making, instead of checking what’s new on Facebook. (P.S. – there is nothing new there).

  • It is essential to get in the zone for playing before starting your session. For me, the best way to do it is to review some hands or read a Texas Holdem strategy article just like this one to prepare myself for the game. You can also try meditating to relax, or whatever works for you, but spending a few minutes to get ready for playing is exceptionally beneficial for your performance and concentration.

  • Have fun. Also, do not forget to have some fun either when playing, or of the table. If you keep yourself in the grind only mode all the time, you will quickly burn out and will not reach the results you desire.

It might look like small and irrelevant things, but it can entirely change your results on the tables and life quality in general. I went through all of those fazes and lost 21kg on the way, which gave me a lot more energy while playing and led to much better results. Another thing that helped me a lot was getting a regular sleeping routine by going to bet and waking up at the same time. Sleeping is the most essential part of resting, so you should not skip it lightly. If you want more advanced strategies on how to optimize your performance, I highly recommend taking a look at A-game masterclass and learning from the best.

 

TIP #10. HAVE A SCHEDULE AND PLAN IN ADVANCE Planning your sessions in advance will help to avoid wasting your limited mental energy deciding when to play, and you will be able to use that focus where it is needed the most – in your games. However, the most significant advantage comes from the ability to plan your learning sessions. From hundreds of students that I worked with, I noticed that without a fixed schedule, more than 90% of players find some excuses to postpone learning to the future. Most of the time, they never even start working on their game. As you can guess, this leads to pore results and tremendously slows down improvement, so if you want to reach high stakes or mane a lot of money, planning is essential for you. TIP #11. HAVE SOME FUN The last Texas Holdem tip I want to cover before going into actual strategy is about enjoying the process and identifying what you like in this game. Firstly, do not force yourself to play too much since that can quickly lead to burnout, which is undoubtedly not much fun and can drastically reduce your volume and results. On top of this, always leave some time to do what you actually love outside of poker, be it watching funny videos online, enjoying a movie, going out with friends, or visiting the gym. Whatever helps you relax, make sure to add it to your daily routine. If you just happen to lose interest or just want to rest from your main game and have some fun at the tables, you should try something new. If you are playing Texas Holdem, you might try PLO or even Short Deck poker to relax and have some fun at the same time. Just don’t make your life a constant grind and learn to enjoy the process, or you will struggle to keep up with everyone else n the long run. TEXAS HOLDEM STRATEGY TIPS – CRUSH YOUR OPPONENTS We already covered Texas Holdem tips that will help you approach the games as a pro, but we also need to analyze a strategy part of Texas Holdem so that you could make better decisions when playing. TIP #12. LEARN TO PUT YOUR OPPONENTS ON A RANGE Do you know what separates professional poker players from the rest? They never try to guess the exact hand of their opponents. One of the most important skills you can grow as a player is putting your opponent on a range of cards instead of guessing his exact holding. The fact is that reading your opponent and putting him on likely holdings has little to do with guessing, and it is a mathematical approach comparing different probabilities of him playing in one way or another. If you want to take your game one step further, you will have to learn how to put your opponent on a range, and this is the simplified explanation of how to do it in Texas Holdem:

  • Assign your opponent a preflop range based on his position (what hands he would play from that spot)

  • Reduce his range based on his action on the flop (consider which hands he is likely to bet and which to check)

  • Continue narrowing down his possible holdings based on his play on the turn and river

Of course, everything is a bit more complicated than that, but if you follow this approach, you will have a good idea of what he could have on the river and can make a decision based on that information. This is an advanced topic that is further broken down in the hand reading lab, so check it out when you are ready to progress with this subject. For now, always put your opponent on a range instead of trying to predict what exact hand does he have. TIP #13. PLAY FEWER HAND BUT DO IT AGGRESSIVELY Proper hand selection in Texas Holdem can help you avoid many costly mistakes on later streets, so learning to adjust your opening ranges based on your position and opponents is very important. The best way to quickly learn it is to grab a poker cheat sheet with all of the balanced ranges for different positions. When you know which hands you should be playing in a standard situation without any reads, you can easily adjust it based on various opponents and their mistakes. Playing fewer hands is one of the best Texas Holdem strategy tips you can ever get. If you avoid unnecessary hands pre-flop, you will have much less room to make mistakes postflop as well, so naturally become a better player. On top of this, when you decide to play, you should do it aggressively to put your opponents in tougher spots, so be raising and betting much more than calling or checking as a rule of thumb. TIP #14. TAKE FULL ADVANTAGE OF THE POSITION AND EMBRACE ITS IMPORTANCE If you choose hands correctly, you will be playing most pots when you are in position, which gives you a huge advantage over your opponents for a couple of reasons:

  • You get to see what they do and only then need to act

  • You have an option to c-bet and win uncontested pot most of the time

  • You have fewer streets to bluff catch if you decide to check on the flop

  • You can control betting and build many profitable bluffing spots later in the hand

This clearly shows the advantage of being in position, so you need to carefully select holdings that you choose to play from early seats. The closer you are to the button, the less chance you have to be OOP after the flop, so you can play more hands and realize your EV in that way. TIP #15. DO NOT LIMP PREFLOP (UNLESS YOU HAVE A VERY GOOD REASON) When you are the first player to enter the pot, you should not be limping and should raise or fold instead. There are a couple of reasons why you should not be limping first-in:

  • You can’t win the pot preflop

  • You are not taking the initiative

  • You are letting your opponents see the flop with all kind of holdings

  • You are not defining their range, and it will be hard to put them on it later on

If you decide to limp first, then you are just hoping to hit a magic flop since you will be playing against multiple players a lot of the time and will not have a chance to bluff them. However, if someone already limped before you, you can join the action with some speculative holdings like small pocket pairs and suited connectors just because you are getting great odds. However, this is more an exception than a rule, and if you want to take advantage of other players, you should be looking to raise more hands rather than play limped pots. TIP #16. ATTACK LIMPERS AND EXPLOIT THESE MISTAKES If you notice players limping in front of you, you have a perfect opportunity to take advantage of their play. Be ready to raise even medium-strength hands when there is a limp in front of you. This will help you isolate weaker players and play heads-up against them, which is always a desired outcome. On top of this, even if your opponent calls preflop, they will fold a lot when facing a c-bet, and you will take many pots uncontested. So you should be attacking limpers both in cash games and MTTs alike. Since tournaments have more dead money because of the anty in play, you should take advantage of this opportunity and build your stack. However, you should play quite carefully against limp/raises since this is a move that often indicates a lot of strength, and if you do not have a particular read on your opponent, continue with caution. TIP #17. SLOW PLAY ONLY WHEN THERE IS A REASON Many new players somehow get a habit of slow playing too often without any particular reason, which leaves a lot of money at the table. As a rule of thumb, you should be playing your strong hands aggressively to protect your equity and build the pot while you are ahead. That being said, sometimes, you will flop complete monsters on very dry boards where your opponent is not likely to have much, and that could be a reason to slow play. When considering slop playing in Texas Holdem, you need a couple of things to be true:

  • You block a big part of your opponent’s value range

  • Your hand is not likely to be outdrawn by next cards

  • There aren’t many scary cards that can prevent the action

However, you should rarely slow play on wet boards where your opponent can easily outdraw you and should go for maximum value unless you have an excellent reason not to. TIP #18. USE BLOCKERS TO YOUR ADVANTAGE Blockers play a huge role in the Texas Holdem strategy, so it is essential to understand what it is. Blockers are cards than reduces the possibility of your opponent having a specific holding, or than card hitting the board. For example, if you have an A ♠ and a board with three spades like T ♠ 7 ♠ 3 ♠ K ♦ 2 ♦, you know for sure that your opponent does not have a nut flush because you are holding that card in your hand, so you block this possibility. Having blockers gives you a piece of information, which can be used to make better decisions:

  • When choosing preflop bluffs (having an Ace or King reduces the possibility of your opponent holding premium hands)

  • Turning your hands into a bluff (just like in the previous example where you have Ace of spades, you can bet big on the river because you know your opponent does not have NUTS)

  • Making think calls (when you block strong hands that your opponent might have when betting, it becomes more likely that he is bluffing)

These are a few examples of how it can help you make better decisions, but here you can find more information about blockers in poker. TIP #19. CHOSE PROPER BLUFFING SPOTS Texas Holdem is a complex game, and you will not be able to win without learning how to bluff. However, you surely do not take it too far and try to win every pot, which is a massive mistake that many players make at the beginning. Most of the time, you should concentrate on playing strong hands and avoid getting involved in unnecessary ego battles trying to prove something to others. However, you will need to bluff from time to time not to become too predictable, and there is a couple of things you should know:

  • Bluff when you have a range advantage

  • Mostly use hands with some additional equities (on turn and river)

  • Choose hands that block your opponent’s strong hands

  • Do not bluff against passive players who are not willing to fold

While this is an extensive topic, these Texas Holdem tips alone will help you choose more profitable spots. TIP #20. DO NOT BE AFRAID TO TRIPLE BARREL BLUFF While bluffing could be profitable in many different situations, one of the best spots to take advantage of this play is to fire a triple-barrel bluff. While many players are used to calling on the flop or even on the river with medium-strength hands, most of that goes into the muck on the river. Therefore, it creates a great opportunity to take down many pots by using your aggression. Of course, randomly firing all streets with every single hand you have is not going to be a winning proposition, but if you choose your poker hands properly, you will rake in many pots. First and for most, barrel hands that have some blockers and reduces the possibility for your opponent to have a holding that he can call all three streets with. Also, some additional equity is a benefit when bluffing on the flop and the turn since it gives you added ways to win the hand, by either improving it or continuing your bluff. TIP #21. LEARN TO BLUFF CATCH Since bluffing is a stimulating play and one of the reasons why some players choose Texas Holdem games in the first place, you need to understand how to counter this move. Bluff catching is calling with a hand that can only beat the bluff. You will surely need some practice to get hold of when bluff catching is a profitable move, but you will get better with time. However, you should consider a couple of things when you are just starting:

  • Call more often when all draws missed on the river

  • Use blockers to choose proper hands

  • Evaluate your opponent’s possible holdings based on his actions

So instead of randomly folding or calling based on your feelings, take some time, and evaluate this information before making your final decision. TIP #22. DO NOT CALL TOO MANY 3-BET OOP Calling too many hands out of position against 3-bets is not a sound Texas Holdem strategy most of the time. Therefore, you need to learn to fold speculative holdings OOP to avoid costly mistakes later on. Even more so when you have a relatively short stack because these holdings lose a lot of value in such a situation. While flatting suited connectors might be ok with 100+ big blinds stack, it is rarely the right play with 50bb or so. Instead of flatting too much OOP, you should add more hands in your 4-bet bluffing range and fold the weaker part of your range. TIP #23. ATTACK YOUR OPPONENTS BY SQUEEZING Do not be afraid to take an aggressive line and use a squeeze play when you are in a good situation since many players are vastly over-folding against this play. If one player opens the pot and someone else calls, you should be looking for every opportunity to squeeze them out of the pot. Make sure to use proper bet sizing of at least 4x the original raise, and use good hands with some blockers like broadways or Ax holdings. A lot of the time, you will take down the pot uncontested, but even if one of the players decides to call, you will be in a favorable situation since you are the one dictating the action. TIP #24. FLOAT SOME HANDS WHEN YOU ARE IN THE POSITION Floating can give you additional ways to win extra pots and is something you should add in your arsenal. So what is floating in poker? Floating is calling a bet with a weak hand with the hope of bluffing your opponent later on. However, this is something you should not do randomly, and most of the time you want this to be true:

  • You are heads-up – floating against multiple players is not a good idea

  • You need to be deep – using this move with short stacks is also not a profitable

  • It is ideal to have backdoor equity – a hand that can hit runner-runner straight or a flush

  • You are in position – this is the most important thing since floating OOP is surely a losing play

If you can pick the right spots for floating, it could be another tool in your Texas Holdem strategy and help you take down quite a few additional pots. TIP #25. CHECK-RAISE SOME BLUFFS Check-raising lets you build the pot when you have a strong hand, but it also should be used to put pressure back on your opponent with some weaker holdings. You need to carefully consider the board texture since you should mostly use this play when you have a clear range advantage. This will help you represent strong hands and get more folds with your bluffs, and it is precisely why you should not be check/raising only strong holdings. If you choose the situation correctly, you can have even more bluffs than made hands and still put your opponents in many thought spots, which will move more pots in your direction. TIP #26. PLAY MOST OF YOUR DRAWS AGGRESSIVELY While playing Texas Holdem poker, you will flop some kind of the draw rather than the made hand most of the time, so learning how to play it is quite critical to your over poker success. Not all poker draws are equal in value, but if you are not sure what to do, taking an aggressive line is probably a better option. That being said, you should not play all of your draws aggressively, especially when you are out of position. TIP #27. DO NOT OVERPLAY YOUR GUTSHOTS OOP Another Texas Holdem tip is to play your inside straight draws carefully when out of position, and aggressively when IP. Many players believe that you should almost always be betting your draws, but if you keep firing even with weak hands out of position, you range will be way too weak, and that can easily be exploited. Therefore, while it is ok to be betting gutshots in position, you should mostly check these hands OOP as well as some of your stronger holding to protect your entire checking range. TIP #28. EXTRACT ADDITIONAL VALUE WITH MEDIUM-STRENGTH HANDS Extracting value is vital in Texas Holdem games, and the more chips you can get from your opponent with medium-strength hands, the better your win rate will be. Thin value betting is one of the best ways to maximize your profits. It means that you should be betting even medium-strength hands where your opponent is likely to bluff catch and call with weaker holdings. This is mostly true on the boards where all draws miss, and your opponent will be able to think that you missed your flush or straight draw and now are bluffing, so will call very lightly. On top of that, you should be thin value betting against players who are known to call too much and are identified as “calling stations” since you can drastically increase your winnings by that. TIP #29. ATTACK WHEN YOUR OPPONENTS SHOW WEAKNESS More often than not, players are ready to give up in the pot and move to another hand when they show weakness. This is where you should take advantage of probe bets. When you are out of position, and your opponent decides to check on the flop, you should fire most turns and rivers. This way, you will win many pots right away and build plenty of profitable bluffing spots on the river. As a rule of thumb, I am always looking to make a probe bet in these situations. If the board is connected and hits your range pretty good, an aggressive line will help you put many chips in your pockets, and this is one of the most underused moves in poker. TIP #30. LEARN TO FOLD “PRETTY” SUITED HANDS TO AVOID COSTLY MISTAKES Many players overplay suited connectors and pay a high price in regards to their chips for their simple mistake. While being a pretty hand as it is, it is not always the best option to get involved in large pots with these speculative holdings. Suited connectors gain value as the stack depth increase, but are quite weak hands when playing short stacks. The most important takeaway when playing suited connectors is that they should be mostly played aggressively preflop. While it is ok to use this hand to raise or 3-bet, it is rarely a profitable option to be just overcalling another player’s raise. TIP #31. BE READY TO GO BROKE WITH ACE-KING Is there is one hand that is often misplayed by beginners it is Ace-King. If you can detach from emotions and learn how to play this hand correctly based on the math, you will quickly realize how profitable it can be. If you have a chance to put all your money in before the flop, go for it when holding Ace-King. Unless you have very deep stacks like 150 bb+, you will be a mathematical favorite to win the hand. Even against an extremely strong range of JJ+ and AJ+, AK is a favorite. If we add all the possible bluffs and weaker holding or account for dead money in the pot, this is a slam dunk. Even if you miss the flop, you still be ahead of your opponents range most of the time, so learn how to play Ace King in the right way to maximize your profits. TIP #32. ADJUST YOUR STRATEGY IN MULTIWAY POTS While you will be playing heads-up pots most of the time and all of Texas Holdem strategy tips perfectly applies in these situations, you need to understand how to adjust against several opponents. The most important thing to remember is that you should be betting much less in multiway pots. Your bluffs are less likely to work against several players, and you will surely do not want to be value betting your medium-strength hands, so you need to check more often. If you happen to hit a strong hand, there is no reason to slow play it, and you should start betting as soon as you can to deny other players free cards and opportunities to outdraw you. TIP #33. ADJUST VERSUS PLAYERS WITH SHORT STACKS No matter which Texas Holdem format you choose to play, you will encounter players with different stack sizes, and you need to adjust to it since your hand value changes based on this situation. For example, while suited connectors have a lot of value when you are deep stacked because it can flop strong hands and win huge pots when this happens, it is not very good holding in short stack situations. When you stack becomes relatively shorter, hands with blockers gain much more value. So a hand like K9o is a better candidate to try and steal the blinds than something like 65s, which is not something many players consider. Generally, you have to play tighter against short stacks not just because suited connectors and small pocket pairs lose a lot of its value, but also because these players are likely to 3-bet shove wider and you do not want to be folding to that too often. TIP #34. TAKE YOUR TABLE IMAGE INTO CONSIDERATION While it is essential to observe other players, and we will talk about that just in a minute, you should also know that your opponents are likely watching your play and can take advantage of this knowledge. When players make an assumption about your play, they are not likely to notice a change in your strategy, so you should take full advantage of your table image and shift your gears when needed. If your opponents see you as an extremely tight player, they will not expect many bluffs from your part so you can take advantage of this situation and bluff raise them in a big pot. This will force them to fold even very strong holdings and will move the pot your way. Contrary to this, if your opponents see you as an overly aggressive player, you can switch to playing only made hands, and they will likely pay you off most of the time. TIP #35. OBSERVE YOUR OPPONENTS AND TAKE NOTES (BOTH LIVE AND ONLINE) To adjust against various players, you firstly need to observe your opponents and notice their mistakes. More often than not, poker software will do the lion share of the job if you are playing online, but you have to rely only on yourself in a live setting. However, even if this requires additional focus and concentration, knowing what mistakes different players commits will help you make better decisions and significantly increase your win rate. That’s probably the reason where there are some poker books on this subject. One thing that can have lasting results is taking notes about irregular lines that a specific player makes in the game. If you build a habit to take notes about your opponents, every time you sit down to play in Texas Holdem game with the same players, you instantly know how to adjust versus them. If you notice that one player is a calling station and is ready to call your three street barrels with merely third pair, you can widen your value betting range and force him to pay more. Just like this, you can mark other things in both live and online games and increase your chance of winning. TIP #36. LEARN TO IDENTIFY RECREATIONAL PLAYERS AND EXPLOIT THEM You do want to be one of the players who follow Texas Holdem strategy blindly, without considering the skill level of your opponent or his mistakes at the table. While learning a GTO poker strategy is essential if you want to reach success in today’s games, it should only be used as a starting point or when playing against very tough competition. In most other cases, you can win more money by exploiting specific opponents or even population tendencies, but for that, you need to learn how to categorize different players. A lot of the time, recreational players fall in one of these categories:

  • Players who hate folding

  • Ones who only play when they have it

  • Ultra aggressive opponents who try to win every hand

Each of those groups is making massive mistakes that you can easily exploit. You should not bluff against someone who hates folding and be willing to fold even reasonable hands when passive players show a lot of aggression. Of course, these are just simple common sense adjustments, but if you want to learn more about this specific topic, I created a detailed guide on how to play against different players that you can read. TIP #37. DO NOT PAY-OFF OTHER PLAYERS WHEN YOU KNOW YOU ARE BEAT When you know how to identify recreational players, you can take one more step and learn how to save some of your money for later use, and this is especially true in lower stake games. If the player who has been very passive out of nowhere stars raising your bets, it is a good time to fold even strong hands. More often than not, tight passive players will not start bluffing out of nowhere, so you can easily fold much more than you should in theory and exploit their play. Even if you end up making some wrong laydowns, the times you will be right will pay for it many times over, so this is a very profitable adjustment you should have in mind. TIP #38. LEARN TO CALCULATE YOUR ODDS AND OUTS Texas Holdem is based on math more than anything else, and while you do not need an advanced knowledge of it at the beginning, learning how to calculate your odds and outs will help you a lot. Whenever you have a draw, there will be some cards that can help you make the best hand. For example, if you have a straight draw with JT on 98 4, you have 8 outs to hit your straight (four queens and four sevens). When you know your outs, it is easy to figure out how likely you are to hit it using the “rule of 2 and 4”, and base your decisions on that. If you want to know how likely you are to hit your draw on the next card, you just need to multiply your odds by 2, and multiplying your odds by 4 will show you how likely you are to hit your draw with the next two cards, turn and the river. Here are a couple of common situations:

Probabilities of hitting your handYour draw:OutsThe probability to hit on next cardThe probability to hit till river (two cards to come)Insight straight draw48.5%16.5%Any pair with unpaired cards612.8%24.1%OPED straight draw817%31.5%Flusf draw919.2%35%Flush + open-ended straight draw1531.9%54.1%

Here you can find more poker odds and outs that you should know and learn some advanced stuff. TIP #39. CHECK SOME STRONG HANDS ON THE FLOP Building proper c-betting ranges requires some studying, and many training sites such as Upswing poker lab can help you with this. However, you should know some of the basics even before sitting down in the games, and one of the most important things is to have some strong hands in your checking range on the flop. If you keep betting all your made hands like top pair and better, your checking range will be very weak, and you will have to fold to aggression much more than you would want to. So checking some made hands helps you balance this out, and also gives your opponent a chance to bluff with his air hands, which he would snap fold when facing a bet. While you want to check some strong hands when you are in position, it is even more critical OOP, so make sure to check enough hands so that no one can exploit you by bluffing whenever you check. TEXAS HOLDEM TOURNAMENT TIPS AND STRATEGY All previously mentioned Texas Holdem strategy tips can be used in both cash games and tournaments alike, so no matter what you play, you can significantly improve following these tips. However, there are specific situations in MTTs that require additional adjustments, and this is something we are going to cover next.

 

TIP #40. USE THE ICM MODEL WHEN MAKING END-GAME DECISIONS One of the first things you need to understand about Texas Holdem poker tournament strategy is that your chips are not equal to real money, and this is where ICM calculations come into play. ICM can tell you the value of your stack by converting your chips into real money value at any moment. It is especially crucial on the bubble or final table with high price jumps. If you lose your whole stack in this situation, you will go bust, but if you double up, you are not guaranteed to win. Of course, this is a very simplified explanation, but the chips you lose are more valuable then chips you win in these situations, and ICM helps you learn mathematically correct plays. Undoubtedly, it has some limitations since it does not take into consideration your skill level or specific dynamics, but ICM offers one of the best ways for mastering end game situations. TIP #41. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE BUBBLE Bubble in poker is a situation where there are just a few players left until everyone reaches paid places, and it creates a perfect atmosphere for building your stack. A lot of armature players are merely waiting for the bubble to burst since they want to reach the money phase and avoids all confrontations. That’s why you constantly see all of those short stacks going crazy as soon as everyone reaches paid places. The same could be said about middling stacks. These guys do not want to risk it all and bust against chip leaders, so they will quietly sit and wait until the bubble is over. It gives you many opportunities to build your stack. While you should not go too crazy against big stacks, you can take calculated risks against medium and short stacks. Of course, if you have built a big pile of chips yourself, this is a time to go crazy cause you can literally be opening almost every hand if the money pressure is bit and other players are scared to play. TIP #42. MASTER PUSH-FOLD STRATEGY Push fold is a tournament stage, where you have a very short stack that only allows you to move all-in if you decide to play. It can happen late in the game, or early if you manage to lose a significant part of your stack, but either way, it is vital to play it correctly. Most of the time, when you have less than 10 big blinds left in your stack, you will just have to go with the hand or fold it. You can’t afford to raise and then folding after investing a significant part of your stack according to the GTO poker strategy, so this is where push-fold comes into play. The closer you are to the button, the more you should be shoving since stealing blinds in such a situation will significantly increase your chip stack and might give you a fighting chance to take it all down. On top of, that you should avoid entering the pot if someone has already raised unless you have a premium hand and want to play for your stack. TIP #43. STEAL THE BLINDS AS MUCH AS YOU CAN While stealing blinds is profitable in cash games, there is no need to go crazy and steal very wide. However, that changes when you start playing MTTs. When you have antes in play, stealing blinds can add a lot of additional chips in your stack. Of course, this does not mean that you should be stealing all the time, but if you are in late position or have a huge stack on the bubble, you should opening almost any two cards and taking advantage of your situation. TIP #44. DEFEND THE BLINDS VERY WIDE Another strategy tip for Texas Holdem that is specific to tournaments is to defend blinds extremely wide. It all breaks down to simple math. If you face a small raise and have dead money in the pot (antes), you are getting insanely good odds and should defend any playable hands. For example, if you face a min-raise and everyone folds around to you, you need to call 1bb while the pot is already 4.5 big blinds (2bb raise from a player, 1bb posted by you, 0.5bb posted by small blind and around 1bb in antes). So you only need 18% equity against your opponent range, and even 72s has around 31% against a range of 20%. Of course, it will not be easy to realize your equity out of position, so you can fold some hands that are close in regards to the math, but everything else should be defended, so you see how wide you can go. TEXAS HOLDEM POKER TIPS FOR LIVE GAMES Live games are also very different compared to online formats, be it Texas Holdem or anything else, so you need to understand at least the basic adjustments before hitting the casino. TIP #45. TAKE YOUR TIME TO MAKE DECISIONS One of the most significant advantages of live games is that you can take all the time that you need to think through your choices, and you should take advantage of this option. It is much better to take some extra time than regret your decision as soon as you make it. Of course, this should not become just wasting time when you know what you are going to do, but giving yourself enough room to consider all of the options will also help you improve your Texas Holdem strategy and progress as a player. TIP #46. DO NOT SHOW YOUR HAND WHEN YOU DON’T HAVE TO Often you might be tempted to show your hand even when you don’t need to, but resist this feeling and much your holdings. Showing your hand when you don’t have to only reveals information about your strategy. So if your opponents table a winning hand when you call his river bet, do not show what you had with a hope to get some sympathy just because you got very unlucky and simply muck it. Giving away information is never a good idea, so play it smart rather than let emotions control your actions at the table. TIP #47. UNDERSTAND POKER TELLS AND USE IT TO GAIN ADDITIONAL INFORMATION While playing live, you have an added benefit of seeing your opponents, and this opens the door for observing them and finding some patterns. I will not list all of the tells in this place since that is beyond the scope of this article, but you can check a full list of poker tells here. For now, I want you to remember one statement: If your opponents pretend to be strong, he is likely weak, and if he shows uncertainty and weakness and then bets, he is more likely to have a very strong holding. So the old saying weak equals strong and strong equals weak is true in poker, and it makes complete sense. Imagine a situation where your opponent hesitates, shows many signs of uncertainty, and then raise your bet on the river. Would he be doing it with a weak hand? He could, but it is extremely unlikely. If we had a weak hand, he would not show you that weakness since he would want you to fold and, more likely than not, would try to pretend confident and robust. While tells should not be your only source of information when making decisions, observing simple signs can be very valuable additional information, so use this option when playing Texas Holdem games in a live setting. TIP #48. OBSERVE OTHER PLAYERS BEFORE LOOKING AT YOUR HAND Observing other players can give you a lot of information just as we discussed in regards to poker tells, and one of the best times to do it is to notice how they react after seeing their cards. While it is not your time to act, observe other players and only then take a look at your hand. This a great moment to identify some tells since players tend to react quite differently when seeing strong and weak holdings, so try to notice their reactions. TIP #49. DO NOT PLAY TOO MANY HANDS JUST BECAUSE YOU ARE NOT GETTING THE GOOD ONES It is easy to get bored when playing live if you are used to a lot of action and multi-tabling in an online setting, but you should resist your desire to play more hands than you need to. No matter if you play live or online, you should stick with proper pre-flop hand selection. The fact that you are playing in a live setting does not magically change the value of your hands or let you profitably play trash. That being said, since you are likely to face weaker competition, you can play a few more hands, but do not take it too far. If you are really boards, just build a habit of observing other players while you are not in the hand, and it will surely be way more profitable than playing weak hands in the long run. TIP #50. FOLLOW PROPER POKER ETIQUETTE Poker is an exciting game, and many recreational players choose it mostly because of that, so you should try to keep it this way and don’t ruin all the fun at the table. It’s considered extremely rude to slow roll other players, and can even break the game when the atmosphere gets heated fast, so you should avoid it as much as you can. On top of this, it will not win sympathy points and might even close some doors for you in the future, so it is not worth it. Of course, you can accidentally angle shoot someone without even knowing that you are doing something wrong, so it is worth studying this subject and prepare for your first trip to bricks and mortar poker room. As a rule of thumb, always be kind, do not insult other players, and don’t offer your advice about the hand if no one asks, and you will be good. TIP #51. AVOID STRING BETTING One of the most costly mistakes new live game players often commit is string betting. String betting happens when you fail to put all of your chips in one motion that you intended to bet. It might lead to a very costly scenario, where you will be forced just to call in a situation you wanted to raise and create many ridiculous problems. The good news is that you can easily avoid this misunderstanding by verbally announcing your play, and saying how much you are going to bet. Then you can place your chips however you want, so if you are not sure how to proceed, always choose the latter option. TIP #52. PLAY ONLINE TO GAIN EXPERIENCE Even if you are exceptionally playing only live games, joining an online poker site to practice your skills could be the best thing you can do to yourself. You can play many times more hands online in the same timeframe and gain experience at a better pace. On top of that, you will find many useful tools that can help you progress even further and will quickly leave your live game opponents behind if they fail to improve at least at the same pace. ONLINE TEXAS HOLDEM POKER STRATEGIES AND TIPS Last but not least is online poker and all of the nuances that come with this format. Just like live games require specific adaptation, you also need to adjust your Texas Holdem strategy and how you approach the game in an online setting, so let’s cover this topic. TIP #53. REMOVE ALL DISTRACTIONS SO THAT YOU COULD CONCENTRATE ON WHAT IS IMPORTANT While you can’t control your environment when playing Holdem in a casino, you can set up everything in a way you like or want it to be when playing at home. Removing distractions before your session will give you a boost in concentration and focus. So, you should mute your phone, turn off the TV and close all irrelevant internet browsers or do anything else that will remove the distractions. This will force you to concentrate on your games and will help you play at your best for an extended period, which has a massive influence on your overall results. TIP #54. LEARN TO MULTI-TABLE WHEN PLAYING ONLINE With an online setting, you have the privilege of playing a few tables at once and many more hands than playing poker in live games. While you should not mix different formats at the same time, multi-tabling will help you boost your $/hour. Of course, if we assume that you will dedicate some time to table select, which is also vital when multi-tabling. It is better to play a couple of good tables, than 10 games but with much tougher competition. It all breaks down to how much you are making per hour, and that figure will be way higher in passive games with weaker players. Experiment how many tables you can comfortably play at the same time, and carefully select the best games. TIP #55. BUY-IN FOR THE MAXIMUM AND AUTO-TOP-UP IN CASH GAMES This tip mostly applies to cash games, where you want to make sure to maximize your earning potential. You want to have all weak players covered at your table, so buying for maximum and auto toping up will help you increase your EV. Imagine a situation where you have a player who open-shoves every hand, and you call his bet just to lose the big part of your stack and are left with 5bb after the hand, and you get AA before reloading your stack. If you would have auto-top up enabled, you had been automatically refiled and had 100bb in your stack when AA arrived, making that much happier situation for you than winning 5 big blinds back from weak player. Of course, this is an extreme example, but there are many situations where having low stack or auto-top-up disabled will cost you a lot of money, so take a better approach and always be prepared. TIP #56. GET HUD TO SEE STATS ON YOUR OPPONENTS Online players can get a lot of help from the best poker tools and software available today. All things considered, tracking software is one of the most essential parts of your poker set-up. It will help you see your opponent’s real-time statistics so that you could make better decisions based on math, not only the feeling. It shows much more than just VPIP or PFR poker stats, so you can analyze the most profitable lines both in-game and while studying away from the table. So if you do not have one, make sure to grab one of many available options and start using in in your games. TIP #57. FIND THE BEST POKER ROOMS WITH THE BEST BONUSES Finding the best rakeback deals and rewards can also increase your win rate by quite a bit, so you should research where to play instead of randomly jumping to the most known or biggest site. While I would say that the level of your competition is the most important thing to consider, bonuses also play a significant part in this equation. If you decide to go with any decent room that is regulated and offers fair services, your only job is to identify the weakest players and best bonuses to strike the right balance between them. No matter what and where you play, always make sure to have some fun and enjoy the games.

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