7 In-Game Tactics to Improve Your Hold’em Game

By in Poker on
7 Minute Read
Texas Holdem and Money

Becoming a quality poker player is an uphill battle that many gamblers struggle with. The rules of the game aren’t complicated, but the intricacies in strategy render it impossible to master.

The most popular variation of poker is a great example of this reality. It’s easy to learn how to play Texas Hold’em, but it takes a certain kind of gambler to win money playing it effectively.

But with consistent play and practice, even the most inexperienced gamblers can learn to play winning poker.

To get you started in the right direction, here are 7 in-game tactics to help immediately improve at Texas Hold’em.

1 ‒ Scout the Competition Before Betting Heavy

When starting, poker players are often too aggressive or too passive. The way to win, at least early on, is to reside in the gray area between those two styles of play.

Regardless, some players come on too strong out of the gate and cost themselves early. Trying to assert dominance early isn’t a terrible strategy if your play can back it up.

However, if your skills are lacking, other players will easily rip you to shreds.

Poker Table

Instead of being overly aggressive in your early hands, you should consider analyzing your competition. It will take some time to get a feel for your other players, and the initial hands will help you do so.

The best poker players are masters of avoiding repetitive play and revealing too much about their style.

More often than not, you will play against some players who reveal their style quickly. If you jump into the fray too early, you can deprive yourself of being able to recognize these players.

2 ‒ Pick Out the Weakest Link at the Table

If you can’t figure out who the worst player in the room is, it’s most likely you.

Until you learn an effective strategy and establish yourself as a quality player, seasoned gamblers will dominate you. That shouldn’t dissuade you from playing, though; instead, consider it as a rite of passage.

As you develop and become more skillful, you’ll begin to notice signs of a bad poker player. There are several easy tells that you should be on the lookout for.

Once you locate the fish, you can easily eliminate them and take their chip stack over time. If you’re the first one to notice the weak players at the table, you’ll have a much better shot at winning.

  • Bad poker players often overcompensate for their play by making excuses for losses
  • Beginners bluff far too frequently, often with very little success
  • They have a tendency to bet out of order
  • They are unfamiliar with common jargon more experienced players understand
  • When they win they are easily excitable
  • But, when they lose they’re petulant and dejected

Once you locate the fish, you can easily eliminate them and take their chip stack over time. If you’re the first one to notice the weak players at the table, you’ll have a much better shot at winning.

3 ‒ Don’t Feel Compelled to Defend Blinds

One of the most dangerous mistakes in poker is to feel invested in a hand if you’re the big blind or small blind.

I understand that the logic makes sense in theory because players don’t want to lose money. If you’re already in on a hand, you might as well continue to play.

When you play according to this mindset, you can very easily lose money at a rapid pace.

Poker Blinds

Being the big blind or small blind is awful; every savvy gambler will tell you so. Those 2 positions are commonly regarded as the worst positions at the Hold’em table.

That’s because everyone gets to bet after you even though you’re forced to buy into hands. Once your money is in the pot, it’s challenging to fold a hand regardless of its quality.

Once you understand that you don’t need to continue to bet, your poker game will improve. Never think you’re too far gone to fold.

A popular strategy amongst Hold’em players is to try to steal blinds. That means certain players will try to be aggressive before the flop. If you have nothing but feel like you have to keep betting, this strategy will destroy your bankroll.

4 ‒ Take Advantage of Limpers

Those of you unfamiliar with poker lingo might not understand what limping refers to.

In the simplest terms, limping means calling bets instead of raising. Limping into a pot can occur before the flop when all players must call the big blind.

When you consistently limp into a pot, you’re setting yourself up to bleed chips and be taken advantage of by other players.

Limping is common practice amongst newer gamblers who have little to no knowledge about Texas Hold’em.

If you’re playing and notice someone rarely raises but plays a majority of hands, it can be easy to take their chips. Limpers are some of the most predictable types of gamblers, and it’s very easy to figure out their strategy.

Once you have their number, continue to press the issue and make them uncomfortable.

If they bet aggressively, they most likely have a good hand. But, if they continue to limp through hands, put the pedal to the medal.

5 ‒ Don’t Fall in Love With Any Hand

Every solid poker player has been burned by a hand they thought couldn’t be beaten. It’s just part of the game.

The mystery and deception associated with Texas Hold’em can make it next to impossible to figure out what cards other players have.

When you think your hand can beat anyone’s, you can get yourself into some trouble.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t be aggressive if you think you have a good hand. Betting a few hands aggressively is one of the best forms of strategy in poker.

However, inexperienced gamblers often fall in love with hands too early, bet too aggressively and lose money.

2 Aces

Say you’re dealt pocket Aces; no one has a better hand than you before the flop. But post-flop, everything can change.

If your hand doesn’t improve on the flop or any subsequent street and you continue to bet like you have the best hand, you’ll get burned. Never fall in love with a hand too early.

6 ‒ Start Stealing Blinds

As I said above, gamblers have a natural tendency to want to defend their blinds. If you enter a poker game knowing this, you can use it against other players.

Isolating a lousy poker player and stealing their blinds is a fantastic and simple in-game maneuver. But, it must be used strategically.

Stealing a blind involves raising before the flop and forcing everyone else to fold.

You might be thinking this directly contradicts my earlier point above bad gamblers defending their blinds.

However…

Stealing blinds can be extremely profitable in the late stages of games when players are pushed up against the wall.

The best time to attempt to steal blinds is when you’re the last to bet pre-flop, and several players have folded. If your cards are good enough, consider trying to steal the blinds.

Don’t try this tactic on more experienced players, at least until you have some more experience under your belt.

7 ‒ Avoid Consistency and Lethargy

Predictable poker players rarely win.

Earlier I said you should try to avoid being too passive and too aggressive. Similarly, you should never be too predictable or unpredictable.

I know that probably sounds complicated and noncommittal. But, it’s the only way you can develop good habits early on and learn to win.

If you play every hand the same way, another player will take notice and beat you. On the other hand, if you are out of control and reckless, you will make foolish mistakes.

The gambling community refers to reckless gamblers as maniacs, and they’re universally despised in the gambling community.

The way you approach each hand should depend on the cards you have, your position, and your relative amount of chips.

As you continue to develop as a player, you’ll learn to analyze these factors to make the best decisions possible.

Conclusion

Learning the rules and basic strategy of real money Texas Hold ’em is mostly straightforward. The difficulty arises in adequately implementing that knowledge during games.

For those struggling to win money, there are simple things you can do to improve.

To start, consider starting conservatively to understand better the people you’re competing against. Picking out the weakest players at the table can lead to early victories.

Playing in the position of the small blind and big blind is no fun for anyone. Just because you have to buy into a hand, doesn’t mean you have to defend that investment. But if you find yourself in a position to steal blinds, it can be incredibly profitable.

If you spot someone limping, exploit their predictability and inexperience. On the other hand, if you realize you’re limping into hands, reconsider your approach.

One of the easiest mistakes you can make is falling in love with your hand too early. Just because you’re dealt a pair of good cards doesn’t mean you’re untouchable down the road.

Michael Stevens

Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...

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