Texas Holdem Advice
You need to be careful of who you take advice from about gambling. Players have all kinds of systems and superstitions that can end up costing you a great deal of money over time.
This is as true for Texas holdem advice as any other game you can find in a casino. So we don't expect you to blindly follow the tips and advice on this page, but we do ask that you consider everything you read here and think about it before you dismiss what you see.
All of the advice found below will help you improve your Texas holdem game, and most of it will help you become a better overall poker player, no matter what game you play.
This may seem like generic advice, and you can rest assured that you'll be reading more technical sections below, but there's a reason we started with having fun. It can be frustrating when you're trying to learn how to play and when you're trying to improve. It can even be frustrating for experienced players when hands don't go their way.
But the point we're trying to make is that frustration rarely helps. It's always better when you're having fun, so try to stay positive, focus on the good things, and try to keep having fun while you're getting better. I you start getting frustrated take a break and try to clear your mind,
It's easy to get involved with conversations with the other players at the table and try to find other things to do in order to keep your mind occupied. If you play a tight game like you're supposed to do, it can get quite boring at the holdem table.
You need to always be paying attention at the table even when you aren't involved in a hand.
While there's nothing wrong with visiting with the other players, you can visit and pay attention at the same time.
You never know when you'll learn something about an opponent while watching a hand that you can use against them later in the session or in another game in the future. The best players always watch what's going on in hopes of squeezing a small extra edge out of a situation at some time in the future.
Never Stop Learning
This may seem like common sense, but most Texas holdem players reach a certain point and decide they're either good enough or simply stop trying to improve. Poker is a lifelong game and the best players never stop learning.
We mentioned players trying to squeeze a small extra edge out of a situation, and that's what never stop learning is about. Always be looking for a way to improve and get better. This requires constant study and effort. Look for new strategies, books, and web pages that can help you find holes in your game and learn new techniques to improve.
Focus on One Game
When you start winning on a consistent basis you can play whatever you want, but as you're learning to be a winning Texas holdem player you need to focus on one game. What this means is play either limit or no limit and play cash games, or multi table tournaments, or sit and go tournaments. You should even stick with the same close range of buy in amounts or limits.
When you jump from game to game while you're learning how to win it can have a negative impact on your results. Even though you're playing Texas holdem in each situation, each different game requires slightly different strategies and playing abilities.
The best players are able to play many different games and limits without missing a beat. And if you focus on mastering one game before adding a second one you'll eventually be able to do so as well.
Don't Bluff Too Much
Almost 100% of Texas holdem players bluff too often. We know this may seem like a shockingly high number, but it's true. The only ones who don't bluff too often are the best professional players, and even they can fall victim to over bluffing.
Just like it looks on television, bluffing your way to winning a pot is just about as cool as anything you can do at the table. But just because it's cool doesn't mean it's profitable.
The easy way to fix the bluffing too much problem is quit bluffing. Simply don't bluff a single time the next 10 times you play Texas holdem. Then when you start bluffing again, only use semi bluffs for the next 10 sessions.
You may be quite surprised at how your results suddenly start improving. We're pretty sure if you track your play you may never start bluffing again. Or at least you'll only bluff a small fraction of the time that you used to bluff.
Tight Starting Hand Guidelines
Most players enjoy action, so they want to play as many hands as possible. It gets boring sitting around watching other players while you wait for a good hand. And it's fine if you want to play a bunch of hands. Just realize that if you play too many hands you lose more money.
If you want to be a long term winning Texas holdem player you need to practice tight starting hand guidelines. This means you should probably be playing far fewer hands than you currently do.
The only players who don't need to play fewer hands are the ones who already are posting long term wins.
To understand exactly what you should and shouldn't play as far as starting hands requires a much larger discussion than we have space for on this page. The good news is we have a monster page in our strategy section that covers everything you need to know about starting hands. You should check it out as soon as you finish reading this page.
For a quick idea of how many starting hands you should be playing, the first thing you need to do is start tracking how many hands you play now. A full ring game player should be playing somewhere between 15 and 25% of their starting hands. You should shoot for 20% or less until you become a winning player.
Once you learn the ins and outs of winning holdem play you'll start recognizing the games where you can play a few more hands profitably.
As a general rule of thumb, if you aren't a winning player you should start playing fewer hands. Keep reducing the number of hands you play until you start winning.
Action may be fun, but winning money is more fun at the end of the day.
Controlled Aggressive Play
When you play aggressively, by betting and raising often, it forces your opponents to make more decisions. They have to decide if they should call, fold, or raise every time you play aggressively. Every time they're forced to make a decision they have an opportunity to make a mistake.
When your opponents make mistakes it helps you make more money.
But you also have to be controlled while playing in an aggressive manner. If you play aggressively too much you end up making plays that cost you money in the long run. You need to have a good hand to play aggressively so it's important you follow the advice in the last section. Combining strong starting hands, that come from tight requirements, and aggressive play, helps you become a winning Texas holdem player faster.
Play Against Inferior Competition
This tip is one that almost no one uses but makes so much sense that you should consider having it tattooed on your arm. If you want to start winning more at the Texas holdem table starting immediately find a bunch of players who can't play as good as you.
Fill the table with amateurs, drunks, and whatever else you can find. Just as long as your opponents aren't very good, you'll look like a professional.
It doesn't matter how good or bad you are at playing, simply find players who are worse than you and you'll start winning more money right away.
Play Extremely Tight Early
This goes hand in hand with the next section and with the earlier section about tight starting hand guidelines. Early position, including the blinds, is the worst place to be in a Texas holdem hand. You have to act before any of your opponents and will often have a hard time controlling the hand.
This means you need to have a strong hand when you do decide to play from early position. The strength of your opponents in comparison to your skills also plays a part in what range of hands you can play. But the tighter you play from early position the better.
In some games you should stick to pocket aces, kings, queens, and ace king only from early position. This sounds overly tight, but early position play requires tight starting hand decisions if you want to turn a profit.
Late Position is for Winners
This might seem like a cute saying or it may have made you smile when you read the title of this section, but it's a serious truth that every Texas holdem player needs to burn into the front of their mind.
You should be playing around 75% of the hands you play from late position. Make sure you understand that it didn't say you should be playing 75% of the late position hands you see. It says that of all the hands you end up seeing a flop with, 75% of them should be from late position.
Late position gives you the advantage of seeing what all of your opponents do before you have to act and also lets you check for a free card on the turn or river many times. These advantages go a long way toward profitable play.
Make the Right Decision – Everything Else Takes Care of Itself
One of the biggest mistakes made by inexperienced Texas holdem players is basing their thoughts on how they played a session on their monetary results. This may seem like the best way to judge how you play, but it only gives you a true picture over the long run.
The best players understand that they need to make the best playing decisions in every situation and that no matter what happens in a given hand or playing session doesn't matter where results are concerned. In other words, you can play a hand wrong and still win it, but over time if you keep playing it wrong it'll cost you money. And you can play a hand correctly and lose, but in the long run you win more by playing hands the best way.
If you have pocket aces, raise from early position, a player raises, you move all in, and they call, you've played the hand as well as possible. If you can get all in heads up with pocket aces before the flop you'll win a great deal of money in the long run on the hand.
But every once in a while your opponent will get lucky and you'll lose with pocket aces. But remember it doesn't matter what happens on this hand, as long as you play it right.
You have a gut shot straight draw after the flop and face an aggressive player who keeps betting into you. You keep calling hoping to hit one of the four cards to complete your straight, but you aren't receiving anywhere close to the correct pot odds to call.
Sometimes you're going to hit the gut shot straight on the turn or river, but not enough times to make money if you're not getting the correct pot odds. You'll hit your gut shot on the turn four out of 47 times and if you don't hit it on the turn you'll hit it on the river four out of every 46 times.
Focus on always making the best playing decisions and let everything else take care of itself. The higher the percentage of the time you make the right decision the more you'll win in your poker career.
The Simple Formula
It seems as if everyone is always looking for the shortcut or simple formula. How else can you explain all of the money the people selling get rich quick schemes continue to make? Some call this the fast food culture. We want it and we want it right now.
Texas holdem is fairly easy to play but it requires a great deal of study and practice to become a winning player. But there's a simple formula that every winning player uses. And the best news is you don't have to wait until you have more experience or learn more to start using it. You can start using it today. Here's the formula.
When you're favored or ahead in the hand you need to maximize the amount of money in the pot and when you're drawing to a winning hand or behind in the hand you need to minimize the amount of money in the pot.
Don't discount it because it seems so simple. The truth is that even though the formula is simple, it's not easy. But when you combine the advice in the last section about always making the right decision with this simple formula you'll be amazed at how much better your Texas holdem results are.
The next time you play Texas holdem think about every hand you play in terms of where you are in each hand as it progresses.
- Are you ahead or behind in the hand?
- How can you maximize the money in the pot or how can you keep the pot as small as possible?
Maximizing the amount in the pot isn't as simple as betting as much as possible. You have to bet the most possible while keeping other players in the hand as well. If you move all in and the other players fold you haven't maximized the amount you can win.
Of course if you're playing limit Texas holdem you simply bet and raise at every opportunity when you're ahead in the hand. And when you're drawing and / or behind in the hand you check and call.
The next challenge is determining when you're actually leading a hand and when you're behind. The truth is that sometimes even the best players don't know where they stand in a hand. But they usually have an idea and can make a good guess using what they know, odds, and percentages to determine the likelihood that they lead or trail at any point in a hand.
You'll be able to use the same things to help you determine where you stand in a hand as you gain experience.
Your bankroll isn't directly related to your results at the tables, but it can have direct consequences on your mental state while playing. The general idea is you should try to have a large enough bankroll that you can play in any profitable situation that you run across.
The reality is that most players have a bankroll that somewhat limits their opportunities. But the important thing is you have to be able to play at a level and limit where you're comfortable. You never want to think about your bankroll or money while playing Texas holdem.
This may sound funny because you're playing with chips that represent money, but when you start worrying about your bankroll or money it impacts your game in a negative way.
Play at limits below what you think you can beat and use the winnings to increase your bankroll. Never be afraid or ashamed of stepping down a limit or two. If you ever worry about your bankroll you need to play a lower limit immediately.
The lowest limits most live poker rooms spread are 1 / 2 no limit or 5 / 10 limit. If these are higher than you feel comfortable playing you can play at an online poker room for stakes as low as .05 / .10. For $10 or less you can play at the micro limits and not have to worry about your bankroll or money at all while playing Texas holdem.
It's easy to get a feeling of being overwhelmed when you're trying to learn how to be a better Texas holdem player. Even when you're reading a straightforward list of advice like you found above it can get complicated quickly.
So to help you absorb and use all of the advice on this page we suggest either printing it or bookmarking it, or both, so you can review it again at least once a week until you've incorporated all of the advice into your game.
Take a couple sections and work on them each week and before you know it you'll be winning more than you lose on a consistent basis. We're confident that any player who can successfully incorporate all of the advice on this page into their game will be a winning player.