I’m a winning Texas holdem player, but it took me many years and it cost me a lot of money to reach this point. I had to learn every sad truth there was about Texas holdem to figure out how to win.
I’ve put together a list of the 7 sad facts that you need to learn about Texas holdem first to help shorten your learning curve. It’s still going to be a long and painful journey, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.
1 – You Can’t Play Many Hands
I can’t count the number of new Texas holdem players that I’ve played against over the years. They almost all make the same mistakes. And some of them never learn from their mistakes no matter how long they play.
By far, the main mistake that new Texas holdem players make is they play too many hands. This is a bad habit for 2 reasons. I understand why they play too many hands. They want the action and think they can’t win unless they’re in the hand.
The first reason why this is a bad habit is because when you play too many hands it reduces the amount of money you have to put in the pot when you get a good hand. You must learn how to maximize the value of your winning hands and minimize the losses on losing hands. This starts by playing fewer hands.
The second reason why playing too many hands in Texas holdem is a bad habit is a matter of simple mathematics. If you join the pot with a better 2 card hand than your opponent or opponents, you have a statistical advantage over them.
In other words, starting with the best hand is more profitable in the long run than starting with a weaker hand. By reducing the number of hands you play, you make the hands you do play stronger. Fold every weak and questionable hand and wait until you have a hand that has a good chance to win.
2 – Even When You’re Right You Can Still Lose
Consider the following example: You’re playing no limit Texas holdem and have a straight after the turn. The board has 2 spades on it and it looks like your opponent is drawing to a flush. The pot has $400 in it and you bet $400 because you know you have the best hand right now.
Your opponent calls you bet so they can see the river. You played this situation perfectly because you have the best hand and you’re making your opponent pay a premium to draw to a flush.
A third spade lands on the river and you lose a big pot. You did everything right, but you still lost. This is a sad fact about Texas holdem. You can do everything right and still lose.
Continuing with this example, your opponent had 4 spades and needed the river to be a spade to win. The deck only has 13 spades, and 4 of them have been accounted for. Let’s say that you had 1 spade in your hand, so in truth there are only 8 cards in the deck that can beat you.
Even assuming that you know the value of the 4 board cards, your 2 cards, and the 2 cards in your opponent’s hand, this still leaves 44 possible cards to land on the river. You’re a huge favorite before the river, but there are still 8 out of 44 cards that beat you.
If you look at this another way in the exact same situation 44 times you win 36 times and lose 8 times. The 36 times you win you win a nice pot, but the 8 times you lose are painful.
3 – Steep Learning Curve
Don’t make the mistake of expecting to learn how to be a profitable Texas holdem player in a short amount of time. It simply doesn’t happen.
You have to put in 100’s or hours of study and play, if not 1,000’s of hours. You simply can’t take many shortcuts.
The truth is that there’s really not any reason to start playing Texas holdem if you aren’t committed to the long haul. If you’re not willing to invest 100’s or 1,000’s of hours into mastering the craft, you’re better off learning to play blackjack or something else.
The only reason to start playing real money Texas holdem is to learn how to win. If you’re not going to learn how to win you might as well play an easier gambling game. You’re going to end up with the same results.
4 – Some Players Never Improve
The sad fact is that many Texas holdem players never learn how to win. They either ignore their mistakes or refuse to try to learn from them.
If you want to learn how to win when you play Texas holdem, you have to learn from every mistake you make. Just because you lose a hand doesn’t mean you made a mistake. And sometimes you make a mistake and win the hand anyway.
Learn how to recognize when you make a mistake whether you win or lose, and then learn how to correct your mistakes so you don’t make them in the future.
This is how you become a winning Texas holdem player.
5 – Pot Odds Are Hard
If you don’t know what pot odds are, you’re lucky that you’re reading this article. Pot odds are 1 of the key things that winning Texas holdem poker players use, and it’s rare that a losing holdem player uses them.
I’m warning you now that learning how to use pot odds isn’t easy. But once you learn what they are and how to use them you’re going to profit from them every time you play poker for the rest of your life.
Pot odds are a way to compare your chances of winning a hand and the amount of money in the pot so you can decide if it’s more profitable to stay in a hand or fold. And there’s a straightforward mathematical way to do this.
Understand that straightforward doesn’t mean easy. But you can learn how to use pot odds with some work. Start doing some research to learn what pot odds are and how to use them right now. Then start practicing until you can use them without thinking about it.
6 – It’s Hard to Win Without Using Math
As you learned in the last section, it’s hard to win without using some math. I know that you might not enjoy math, but if you want to be a good holdem player you need to use it.
The good news is that you don’t have to be a PHD level mathematician. In fact, once you start using the math you need, you’re going to see that there’s nothing so difficult that you can’t learn how to use it with a little practice.
Start With Learning About Basic Odds
This is basically how likely things are to happen using a deck of cards. Once you learn basic odds, advance to pot odds like I explained in the least section.
Then start learning more about poker expectation and expected value. Once you master these things you’re well on your way to making money at the Texas holdem tables.
7 – It Costs Too Much Money to Learn
The sad fact is that you have to invest a great deal of money to learn how to win at Texas holdem. You need to invest in good books to learn a lot of what you need to know, but the biggest cost is playing, losing, and learning from your mistakes.
You can play free poker online, but the play is so bad at the free tables that you don’t learn much. You have to play for real money to start learning some things. You can start at low limit tables and move up as you improve your skills.
Keep a close eye on your bankroll and don’t get in a hurry to move to the next level. Make sure you’re making money at 1 level before trying the next 1.
If you put in the work and learn from your mistakes, Texas holdem is 1 of the best gambling games you can play. It can make you money instead of costing you money like most gambling activities.
But most players never reach the point where they’re winning on a consistent basis. And if you’re not careful you might end up in this group.
If you really want to get better, stop playing so many hands, learn how to use pot odds, and embrace the math you need to use. It might take a long time, but you can overcome the 7 sad truths about Texas holdem in this article.
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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