The game of Texas Hold’em is exciting and entertaining, and it’s arguably one of the best card games in existence. In the poker world, there’s a large disparity in the skill level of players. At any given table, you can find gamblers who have been playing for decades and younger players who have never played a serious game of poker in their life.
If you fall into the second category and find yourself bleeding money at the tables, there are several steps you can take to improve your chances of success. Here are seven ways newer gamblers can make sure they’re surviving longer at Texas Hold’em.
1 ‒ Learn the Rules
Real money Texas Hold’em is one of the most straightforward poker varieties to learn. But like most card games, specific rules and pieces of strategy can be hard to apply during a game. One of the keys to winning while playing cards is to have a good idea of how the game operates and flows throughout the game’s entirety.
The purpose of Hold’em is to have the best combination of five cards out of anyone at the table. That combination comes from the two cards you are dealt with, combined with five cards that each other gambler plays off. The hierarchy of possible hands is also relatively straightforward.
While the game may sound simple to understand, the gameplay is more convoluted. Each player is initially dealt the two cards before engaging in several rounds of betting before the flop (when three cards are dealt), the turn card, and finally, the river.
In theory, players with stronger hands will try to eliminate other players to secure the pot. Several resources around the internet can better help you gain a mastery of the basic rules.
2 ‒ Practice Online or With Friends
There’s a massive difference between playing a casual game of Hold’em with people you’re familiar with and a legitimate cash game with strangers. Some people may argue that the best way to improve the fastest is to throw yourself into the mix, but I’m afraid I have to disagree with that statement. By spending time playing casually, you’ll figure out how the game works in a comfortable environment and come into your own playing style.
I learned how to play Texas Holdem poker with my family and eventually started playing with my friends and peers as I got older. I personally wouldn’t have it any other way. Admittedly, I felt overwhelmed by the stark contrast between the two types of poker games, but that’s expected.
If you can’t conjure up a poker game, you can always turn to the internet, where there are dozens of options. Additionally, many quality applications on your phone provide a comfortable and accessible way to learn the game when it’s convenient for you.
3 ‒ Figure Out a Plan of Attack
Once you spend time playing the game consistently, you will begin to learn what kind of player you are. Every good poker player has a strategy in mind before they sit down at a table, and the more time you spend practicing, the easier it will be to figure out a game plan.
This point is somewhat subjective because different venues and environments might call for different strategic decision making. If you’re going to play a cash game with a group of friends, you can most likely be more relaxed. On the other hand, if you plan on playing a tournament or at a casino with other gamblers who might be better and more experienced than you, a relaxed approach might be detrimental.
When you first start playing Texas Hold’em, I recommend maintaining a balance between playing conservatively and being overly aggressive. If you are too timid, a more seasoned player will rob you blind. But you can wind up betting on bad hands and losing your stack within a few hands if you’re too aggressive.
4 ‒ Don’t Bluff
Avid fans of gambling have probably seen many movies where the protagonist bluffs their way to winning a huge pot.
There’s an effective way to bluff, but odds are, you’re not going to be savvy enough to convince other gamblers during a serious game. I’ve won countless pots against new gamblers who I immediately knew were bluffing. Typically, these gamblers have a very obvious tell that even the most average poker players can pick up on.
Bluffing is inadvisable at the early stages of your poker playing journey, especially if your hand is garbage. Betting a large number of chips with a weak hand to steal a pot might seem like a smart tactic, but it usually ends in defeat. Learning to bluff will come with time. But for the inexperienced gamblers reading this, consider avoiding bluffing when you first start playing.
5 ‒ Don’t Play While Impaired
In my experience, younger poker players have visions of themselves as suave, sophisticated gamblers who can sip drinks while simultaneously cleaning up at the tables. What starts as one drink quickly turns to two, then three. And the next thing you know, the least experienced gambler is unable to play well because they’re drunk.
Drinking while gambling is a skill that needs to be acquired over time. It takes a ton of practice to win a legitimate game or tournament, and if you show up impaired or plan to do some heavy drinking during the game, you’re impeding future success.
Most games you’ll play during your development as a player will feature several better, smarter, and more experienced players than you. Good poker players are trained to sniff out the weakest links and exploit their weaknesses. If they notice you drinking a lot, they’ll play the waiting game and eventually pounce when you make a poor decision fueled by alcohol.
6 ‒ Stay in Your Financial Lane
Most casinos offer several different Texas Hold’em tournaments with varying minimum and maximum buy-ins. One of the keys to success for newer gamblers is to locate the table where you’ll feel most comfortable financially. I always recommend buying in for the max if you can afford it, so you’re not limping through a game.
If you can’t afford the max and feel uncomfortable spending a certain amount of money, then the table in question isn’t for you. Even if you decide to buy in, other gamblers with bigger bankrolls will pick you apart and take your chips. You should never gamble with money you can’t afford to lose, and if you approach a table where the amount gives you pause, avoid it at all costs.
7 ‒ Don’t Be Afraid to Fold
Newer, younger gamblers tend to be cocky and, at times, even somewhat arrogant. While you should never be pushed around at a poker table, there’s such a thing as being too proud. When I first started playing, I took it as a personal slight when another player would consistently raise me or try to one-up me at every turn. This mindset is toxic, and you should never allow yourself to feel offended by other players’ actions.
Poker is a game at its core, and like many games, there are a variety of players using different tactics to win the game. A common type of player is one who tends to goad people into making mistakes by getting under their skin. If you come across a player who seems overly aggressive, there’s a good chance they’re trying to provoke you.
What typically happens with newer players facing a gambler like the one I mentioned above is that the game devolves into a battle of pride, rather than intelligence. If you get sucked into a betting war with a fellow player, and you don’t think your cards will stand up, never be afraid to fold. It’s always best to give up on the hand and live to fight another day.
With all of this information, you should be better suited to carry yourself more professionally while playing Texas Hold’em. The more serious you approach the game, the better you will perform in the long run. Before you decide to play your next cash game or in a tournament, make sure you have a solid understanding of the rules. Once again, for whatever reason, poker tables can be daunting, especially if you’ve never played with strangers before.
Ensure you have a plan of attack in place and stick to a strategy that works for you. Don’t bluff too often, or ever, especially if you’re brand new to the game. You’ll most likely be playing with people who are better and more experienced than you.
To ensure success, make sure you’re at your best mentally and physically and avoid getting too sloppy at the tables. Drinking in moderation is okay, but don’t allow your decision to become impaired by alcohol or other substances. Finally, remember to play within your means and don’t get bullied into playing bad hands. It’s always best to survive and advance rather than squandering your bankroll on bad cards.
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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