Texas Hold'em Poker Tips
Understanding betting structure of Texas Hold'em games
Limit, Pot Limit, No Limit, Tournament..
The betting structure of a game will fall under one of these types
(1) Limit games denoted by numbers such as $1/2 indicating the betting limits.
(2) Pot limit where a raise up to the pot amount is allowed.
(3) No limit games where anyone can bet their entire stack (all in) at once.
(4) Tournament poker is a format where everyone at the table starts with a set amount of chips that they "buy in" with.
Limit vs No Limit vs Tournament style games..
There is a big difference between limit and no limit games. Limit is more about selecting your starting pocket pairs to play while the no limit game has a completely different mindset having to do with the size of your stack and how much to bet . In short,, you can not get into very much trouble with limit poker. No limit, you better know what you are doing. Tournament style poker also has some considerations related to blind increases and how close one is to the money etc. All these different styles can be learned in time. But it is still possible to enjoy poker without getting into deep water right away. Low limit poker can be entertaining without risking too much at one time.
There are also the "Sit and Go" tournaments that are popular. Selecting a low buy in game lets the beginner practice without risking a bundle. These mini style quickie tournaments come in various buy in fees that can range from as little as $1 or $5 to $200. It is important to note how much rake the house is charging
A reasonable rake is 10%. So if you buy in at $5 you pay the $ 5+ 50 cents for the house. Anything much higher than will start making it hard to break even or win anything in the long run. This will buy you a preset amount of chips (ex800) . Everyone else at the table is sitting with the same amount at the beginning of the tournament. Once the table fills up, the session starts, and ends when one final player has won all the chips. This final outcome is guaranteed by increasing the blinds at every 10 hands . Typical winner circle is last 3 players to survive will finish "in the money" with winner getting 5X buy in, second gets 3X and 3rd with 2X. There is no rake, buy in fee covers this. All the different varieties of poker including limit, no limit, pot limit, of Texas Hold'em and other varieties like stud are available in SNG tournament format. Tournament style games require more skill since you only win money if you finish in top 3 Also you will need to know how to play against a full table as well as how to play against 1-2 opponents when the blinds are huge. Even a limit game can seem like a no limit game at this stage.
A Sit and Go tournament game is a good way to gain some experience at a low buy in. A $5 or $10 SNG can last a long time and provide some good entertainment value while the same $5 can be lost in a single hand at a 50/$1.00 low limit game. The downside to a SNG is that once you buy in, you are stuck at that table until it is over. At a regular table, you can get up and leave at any time.
888 Poker has a very popular 5 table (45 player) $3.50 buy in Sit and Go that stars with 300 chips pays 6 places (winner takes $60). I have never had to wait longer than a 2-3 minutes for one to fill up and they finish fast as the play style with only 300 starting chips means players are getting knocked out every few hands. The strategy for this game is to play only premium hands early as you are likely to face an all in confrontation.. Use a poker hand odds calculator like the one at cardplayer.com to check if your had had the best odds to win the showdown. If you were the underdog, adjust your play. KJ will lose against any ace. Suited aces like A3 are out-kicked easily. Low pocket pairs are a good bet against a single opponent but with multiple callers, someone will pair a high card or better. Once you have knocked out a couple of players and you reach about 1200 chips or more, slow down and pick your fights carefully. You don't want to unnecessarily risk losing your chip lead. Tournament play is all about stack management. You want to keep an eye on the blinds , who is about to bust out and who not to tangle with and risk losing all your chips. If you are on the bubble and a player is about to get blinded out , wait for em to get eliminated. Once you get in the money you can start to mix up your play and as the blinds start getting big, you will want to steal blinds. If you get to heads up play , you will be playing a lot of hands bluffing, trapping, intimidating. Its a lot of fun and winning a tournament will give your bankroll a big boost to keep playing. Tournament play rewards overall skill and is the choice game for the serious poker player who wants to make a profit.
Preflop ranking of the pocket pairs..
This is the single most important information that beginners should learn. We need to know which pocket pair are premium hands, which ones are medium borderline and which ones are total losers. This is not to say that we will always only play premium hands. No.. sometimes when the time is right we will raise with crap to steal the blinds but we still need to know what is a worthless hand so we can dump it if necessary. Most expert advise suggests to play only the top 25-30% of the 169 starting pair chart. If you follow this advise, you will be doing a lot of folding. This may seem boring and you will be tempted to call to see some flops but in the long run the higher ranked cards will pay off while the lower ones will just dwindle your stack down to zero before you get real chance at the pot. Our poker hold'em helper mini app can help you learn the 169 rankings while you play. One east very basic way to start thinking about which starting pairs to fold is to ask "is there more than one way to win with this pair?". You will notice that all of the top pairs on the 169 chart have at least 2 ways to win. Take for ex. k2 offsuit and J-10 suited. The first one is garbage and the second one is almost a premium pair. That is because J-10 suited can make a str8 (if QKA flops you will get some good action also), a flush and if top pair if jacks, the 10 is not a bad kicker. If a pair only has 1 way to win, just trash it. If you wait patiently for at least 2 ways to win, you are doubling your chances which is a pretty good way to win more and lose less. Use our free HoldemHelper program to learn preflop pair rank while you play. For starters just remember this. If both cards are higher or equal to 10 you got something.. if both are suited hey.. great. If they are higher or eq to 10 AND paired wow..super. Other wise, you will be looking to bluff and steal or back off if challenged with anything else. An exception to this rule is any suited Ace will give you ace high flush or suited connectors can make a straight or a flush. Play them when you have position. and enough callers to chase a drawing hand (pot odds will be explained).
When you are dealt a premium pair
like AA,KK,QQ,AK, etc.. You will want to raise before the flop. (unless you are afraid to scare off the action). Raising before the flop with premium pairs accomplishes several things. First of all, it ensures that the big blind is not limping in with crap and making 2 pair or trips with some garbage 8-4 offsuit hand. Next, it announces to the table that you are going in with the big guns and you are demanding respect. This is a good thing. You will have fewer opponents trying to get lucky on the river if they know you have a winner and your finger is on the raise button. If there are several limpers in already, they will all be forced to call since they already have invested, Ok.. now the pot is decent and you are in charge. If you have positional advantage, you can start jamming in the bets even if you came roaring in with AK and miss the board, your opponents dont know.. you could be holding AA or KK. Jam those bets in like you mean business. Now.. if you miss the flop by a mile and you are facing a bet or a reraise, FOLD. There is no law that says if you raise you have to stay in the hand. If the board is paired or suited and you have a feeling you might be beat fold without hesitation. Even if you fold after raising preflop, you are still gaining an advantage in the long run because you are putting your money in when you have the hands that on average beat your opponents. Remember however that once you are committed, if the pot gets very big, you could have correct pot odds to stay in with inside gutshot draws and runner runner chances if there is a slim chance you could win. Knowing when to fold comes with experience and that is what will keep you afloat. When you start folding pairs (yes, even AA can be folded) when you think you might be beat, you are getting good. Even if you fold the best hand, a better hand will come along soon enough. But if you keep getting dragged to the river (remember, turn and river are double king size bets) and paying, you will soon be down to $0. This is important, focus on NOT losing any chips and the winnings will take care of themselves
When to fold AA or KK or
AA is a great hand preflop but it can turn into garbage depending on the flop. If you have 2 red aces and the flop comes all spades or clubs, now your aces are not worth so much. If 4 to a suit hits the board, you have to fold to a bet or raise unless you know your opponent is bluffing. If the flop comes 9-10-J there could be a straight already made or if a Q comes any K or 8 has a big hand. If the board is paired, someone could be slow playing a set. A full house is possible when the board is paired. AA, KK are great starting hands but dont play them like they are unbeatable. You most definitely dont want to hang around with a AA or KK if a betting and raising war breaks out.
If the betting is getting capped, you want to be the one reraising or you want to be on the sidelines. That is not the time to passively call. Someone probably has a set or higher already made.
position is important. If you are the last to act before the flop is revealed, you are at a big advantage. You have the benefit of knowing what everyone else is going to do before you have act. You can call single bets without fearing raises behind you. The last player to act knows exactly how much it will cost to see the flop and can make the correct informed decision. The early player to act, on the other hand, has no idea how many bets and raises there will be down the line, so they have to be very careful about playing mediocre pairs. Also after the flop, the last person to act can get an idea about how strong the opposition is (watch out for check raise) by how everyone has bet before them Another aspect of position awareness is seating in relation to types of players. You will generally want to sit after somebody who likes to raise. This helps you avoid going in with borderline pair when they are raising, and helps build the pot when you do want to re-raise.
One big advantage to position is the chance to steal blinds. If you can steal the blinds at least once during the rotation, you can offsett your blinds expense. If no one has raised, throw a raise in there now and then and bet it on at the flop regardless of what you are holding. If you get challenged, you can fold without a big loss. Remember, the biggest losses come on the turn and river when the bets are doubled. Preflop and on the flop, you can jump in and try to bully your opponents . When you steal the blinds, you are not dragging a huge pot but you will be surprised and how fast those little bets add up. Those little wins will make a good buffer against those times when you get clobbered on the river by some schmuck who got lucky holding Q2 suited.
Pay attention to the game not the TV..
Pay attention.to how your opponents are playing. Who is bluffing, who is tight, who is loose, who is the maniac.. Even though online poker limits the information you can get from your opponents by looking at their body language, you can still get some "tells" from the pace of the game, from automatic raise buttons and from patterns in the overall game play. There are also little "player notes" features on most online poker software that you can use to keep a permanent record of your opponents. Use it often because you will see many of your opponents again but will not remember anything about them without the notes reminder. Some sites also have a history link that will show the outcomes of previous hands. If the round goes to a showdown, the mucked cards are listed there even though the table will say "player does not show cards" The only time you cannot see what a player was holding is if they fold. If they do not fold, look up the history to see what they had. This is extremely useful information and a lot of players do not even know that it exists because the history links are often small text labels somewhere up in a corner of the screen,.
Pick a good table..
One of the biggest advantages to playing online is the huge selection. There are literally thousands of tables active at popular Online Poker Rooms , so there is no reason to stay at a table that is boring or is not suited to your style of play. Best time to leave a table if you are so inclined is just before the blinds hit you. Find a table you like and enjoy your games. You can even play 2 or more tables if you get to a point where you can instantly make a decision without thinking about it and play well.
Read the board..
Look for possible combinations that kill your hand. If someone is raising and re-raising you stop for a moment and consider that maybe just maybe those bets you are jamming into the pot could end up in their pocket. Some of the biggest losses are those that involve heavy betting when 2 or more players have good hands. If there is a pair on the board, there are all kinds of nasty possibilites. Someone could have made 3 of a kind, A full house is possible and if a full house is flopped, they will most likely slow play it and let you catch up. Also if the board pairs twice above your lowly 44 or 55 you could even lose to AK that completely missed the board, since 2 pair on the board beats your 2 pair and they have the higher kicker. This is one of the most annoying losses. Especially if the shmuck has been betting the whole time with a missed AK. Look out for goofy straights that miraculously appear out of nowhere to annihilate your 3 of a kind.. Loose low limit tables can produce some astounding wins on the river so keep an eye out and show some caution if there is a possibility that you are beat. If 2 players start raising and reraising each other, don't stick around clinging to your precious AA. Just fold it and let the set vs flush or whatever else they are holding battle it out. Don't be the "can't let go monkey " (funny story). Always play with courtesy to your fellow opponents. If you notice someone is talking trash, tell em to stfu or report them to support. If someone wants to have fun gambling with longshots and they get lucky sometimes and win a hand, they should be able to do so without listening to Mr 50c table poker professor lecturing them and scaring them away.
Pot Odds ..
Pot odds is not necessarily a complicated subject that the beginner cannot easily grasp. Nor do you have to be a math whiz computing long division in your head. In simple terms, when you are calculating pot odds, you are assessing the current value of the pot, the amount of money your are about to bet, and your chances of improving your hand to make a winner. The more money there is in the pot the better your long term results will be when you are trying for 3 of a kind, straight or flush. So..how exactly does a bigger pot make it correct to try for these long shots? Lets say you are trying to make a hand that only hits 1/4 times. If the pot is big, you will more than make up for the misses. But if the pot is tiny, you will miss 3 times and when you hit on the 4th you are still in the hole overall. This takes us back to the importance of position. If you are the first to act, you have no idea how many people are going to be in the action with you therefore you have to throw away many hands that you could otherwise play if the pot odds are right and you are on the button and last to act with a lot of callers already in.
Playing poker online relieves many of the concerns with possible cheating and card manipulation. The software deals shuffles and accurately keeps tracks of bets and winnings. There is however one form of cheating that online players should be aware of. This is collusion. Collusion is when 2 or more players agree in private to work together and split the proceeds. Here is a simple example of how collusion can increase the winnings of the cheater. Lets say one partner is in early position and another on the button. The button player gets AA and signals the partner to raise. The guy raising may have established a reputation of playing loose so nobody is scared of his raise the there are several callers. Now the guy on the button raises.. all the callers are now trapped since they have committed and will likely have to see the flop. The early position re-raises.. etc. Online poker rooms are aware of this possibility and they have some safeguards to prevent it. Multiple accounts from the same location are not allowed. Suspicious raising and folding, and the same players following each other to the same tables will be flagged. The nice thing about online games is that you can get up from a table and jump on another table in an instant. If you are uncomfortable at a table for whatever reason, just leave. Also remember that it is possible for some betting patterns to appear strange when it is just a normal part of the game dynamic .
Going on Tilt and how to avoid it..
Going on tilt is a reference to the actions of a player that is playing badly after becoming upset over a long losing streak and bad luck. The player will start to play hands they would otherwise fold, call and raise bets when they should know better. And if they don't have the discipline to quit and keep bringing more money to the table, their reckless play breeds more "bad luck" which causes more reckless play etc. etc.. Ok.. how to avoid this demon. First, dont play with more than you can afford to lose. Next, bring to the table, an amount that will not irritate you to lose. For example, if the default buy in at 50c limit table is $25. Losing that amount may trigger some emotional reactions enough to induce some tiling symptoms. If you reduce your buy in to $15 you can leave the table and take a break without feeling a need to "get even" regain your composure and return to a hopefully more profitable session. You will have losing sessions. There is no way to avoid it.. That is the nature of the game. Some sequences will have you suspecting that there is something fishy going on. But if you have watched some of the televised poker shows, you will see that even on a real table with a real dealer, ther can be some spectacular turn and river cards that are just as incredible. Just laugh ( or cuss depending on who is within earshot) and forget about it. I like to play with whatever I cam to the table with and if it dwindles down to zero, so be it. I leave, take a break and come back to another table later. Sometimes, if your stack gets too low, and you get a good hand, you will run out of bets and this can be frustrating and costly. Playing with a small stack is a bigger problem in no limit games but even in the low limit , you may want to keep at least enough on the table to cover capped betting . Play at the lowest limit that you can without getting bored.
Low limit games are sometimes called No Foldem Hold'em. Players will hang on to their hands if they have the slightest chance, they will play mediocre pairs that turn into monsters on the turn and river, and they will call your raise, sometimes just out of curiosity. This makes bluffing almost futile. This is not to say that it doesnt exist. You will get plenty of players who will try to bluff you. And you can also find bluffing useful when the players are timid and folding a lot. Go ahead and raise preflop and bet on the flop to see if you can steal blinds. If you get called and or reraised on the flop you can fold. Remember that even if the preflop is capped, we are still at the low end of the betting. Raises on the turn and river are where the chips vanish fast. If you suspect someone is bluffing, wait until you have a decent hand before you challenge them. Raise their blinds to see if they are calling everything in sight. Dont call a bluff if you dont have anything.. ie dont "call to keep em honest". The nature of low limit and high ratio of callers will work to effectively collude against the bluffer. Knowing when to fold is an intuition that is sharpened with experience