One of the most important aspects of Texas Hold'em is the value of each two-card hand before the flop. The decision of how to play your first two cards is something you face every hand, and the value of your first two cards is highly correlated to your probability of winning. In 2003 an accountant from Tennessee called Chris Moneymaker won the NL Texas hold’em WSOP Main Event after winning his seat in an $86 online qualifier. All of a sudden, Texas hold’em was synonymous with poker. Everybody now knew the game where you got dealt two cards and had to make a five-card hand in combination with the five community. 1.8 Preflop Texas Hold’em Odds; 1.9 Odds of connecting with the Flop in Hold’em; 1.10 Odds On the Flop in Texas Hold’em. 1.10.1 Outs; 1.10.2 Straight and Flush Draw Odds; 1.10.3 On the flop, when you have: 1.11 Odds of hitting a hand by the river from the flop. 1.11.1 On the flop, when you have: 1.12 All-in One-on-One in Texas Hold’em.
I just wrote a blog post about increasing your chances of winning at Blackjack, and I thought, you know what, this would make a great series of posts!
So, now I’m writing a post about how to increase your chances of winning at Texas holdem.
The good news is that the casino doesn’t care if you win at Texas holdem or lose at Texas holdem.
The house isn’t banking the game, so you don’t have to deal with beating the casino.
The bad news is that you still need to beat your competitors at the table. Here are some tips on how to do that:
If you’re not winning often enough at Texas holdem to break even or show a small profit, you probably need to tighten up. Some of the more experienced poker players reading this might think they’re playing tight enough already, but if that’s true, why aren’t you winning enough to break even?
If you’re a beginner, you might not even know what I mean when I suggest you “tighten up.”
This way you’ll be putting your money in the pot when you have a better probability of winning the pot.
It’s important that you have a gas pedal and brakes, too.
You might have a super hand preflop, but if the flop doesn’t fit your hole cards at all, you should be ready to get away from the hand before it’s too late to get out.
This doesn’t mean you have to lay down and die every time you don’t get a perfect flop. You can still make continuation bets against weak opponents.
Winning in the long run in poker rooms and Texas Holdem poker sites means losing less money on pots you probably weren’t going to win.
Saving a few dollars is just as important as winning a few dollars.
The next step is get more aggressive – this means betting and raising more often.
If you’re playing tight, you usually have strong hands.
When you bet and raise with those strong hands, you do 2 things to help you increase your chances of winning:
This means that if you have strong cards, and you’re the first one in the pot, you should bet instead of check.
I’ve read a book recently by Ed Miller where he suggests that tight aggressive players always fold when raised to. I don’t think most tight aggressive players play that simply at all.
But most players who aren’t winning enough are playing too many hands, and they’re playing the hands they are playing too passively.
If you don’t feel good enough about your hand to raise with it, you really don’t need to be calling with it, either.
I’ve seen at least one person describe a tight aggressive strategy as being a “raise or fold” strategy.
That’s not quite right, but it’s closer to optimal than you’re probably playing right now.
I laughed at a friend of mine who’s loose aggressive not long ago because he told me, “Bluffing is an essential part of the game.”
Bluffs work best when you’re bluffing against 1 or 2 opponents.
A better option – for most players – is to learn how to semi-bluff.
A semi-bluff is a bet or a raise you make with a hand that probably isn’t ahead, but it has the possibility of winning on a later round.
The classic example is on the flop in a Texas holdem game when you have 4 cards to a flush and you’re facing a single opponent who you think has a medium pair.
He’s ahead of you, but you get 2 more cards.
If you bet into this pot, he might fold. You’ll win the pot right there and then.
But some of the time, he’ll call.
When he does, you have about a 1 in 3 probability of winning at the showdown by hitting your flush.
Most beginners know what bluffing is, but they don’t know what a semi-bluff is and don’t semi-bluff often at all.
It should be a go-to move for a Texas holdem player.
You should have enough money set aside to play Texas holdem with that you’re not stressed out about every bet on every hand. Scared money always loses.
This depends, in part, on your goals as a player.
If you’re just playing recreationally, and you don’t care about the money, it’s okay to play with a smaller bankroll than you would play with if you were trying to play professionally.
The idea behind bankroll management in poker is that you want to avoid going broke because you had a run of bad luck.
This means not playing in games where the bankroll is more than 5% (or 2%) of your total bankroll. In some cases – if you’re conservative – it might mean having 150 times your buy-in as a bankroll.
Most experts agree that the bankroll requirements for a sit-n-go tournament player are different from the bankroll requirements for a multi-table tournament player.
If you want to make optimal poker decisions, you need to have a big enough bankroll that you’re willing to bet and raise when you have a small edge.
I’ve known a lot of ABC poker players who don’t pay attention to hands they’re not playing in. Once they’ve folded, they just watch television or daydream.
If you’re going to increase your chances of winning at poker, you need to pay attention to how your opponents play the game.
Every hand they provide you with information about their playing tendencies, whether you’re paying attention or not.
If you have an opponent who raises every time he sees a flop, you won’t know his tendency unless you’ve been paying attention to how he plays.
In fact, most opponents aren’t this predictable. You should pay attention to your opponents’ ranges.
Do they bet into the pot 50% of the time? 70% of the time?
What do they do most of the time on the turn and the river?
Understanding these tendencies is critical to winning against such opponents.
Some poker players are naturals and learn everything they need to know at the table.
Reading Harrington on Holdem isn’t going to do anything but improve your game, no matter how much experience you have at the table.
At least read David Sklansky’s Theory of Poker.
You can pay for tutoring and coaching. You can even buy a MasterClass membership and learn from Daniel Negreanu and Phil Ivey.
I lost at poker big-time and consistently until I started reading books about the game. The first book about poker I ever read was Andy Bellin’s Poker Nation, which isn’t the best strategy guide ever.
But for a beginner, it was a lifesaver.
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This probably sounds like some frou-frou hippy-dippy nonsense, but if you take better care of your health, you’ll make better decisions at the poker table.
This means drinking enough water, eating a variety of nutritious food, getting enough rest, and exercising regularly.
A Texas holdem player isn’t an athlete in the traditional sense, but a strong mind resides in a strong body – so do what you need to do to keep your body healthy and strong.
Some very talented poker players have destroyed their poker careers and their lives by abusing drugs and alcohol. Read about Stu Ungar if you want a specific example.
You increase your chances of winning at Texas holdem by becoming a more skilled player.
At lower stakes, this probably just means folding more often and betting or raising more often than you’re doing now.
When you start playing for higher stakes, it will take more effort to be a winner.
But it’s worth the hard work.
It’s not uncommon for people to hear of cheating when they hear the term “card counting”, but the technique doesn’t actually have anything to do with cheating at all. What’s more is that you don’t need to be a math wiz to be able to learn how to do it.
Nevertheless, it’s not uncommon for people to want to learn how counting cards works, and in poker specifically, it can be an effective strategy that can give you the edge over your opponents. When you first start learning how to count cards, you only need to get a hang of three simple things, namely Texas Hold’em odds, counting your outs and pot equity. This guide will show you the basics of counting cards so that you can improve your Texas Hold’em game:
Any good poker player needs to be able to count outs. Learning how to count outs will help you improve your game and give you excellent preliminary knowledge before you truly understand how to count cards in poker. So, what is an “out”? The term “out” in the context of poker refers to any card that will make your hand stronger or give you the potential of turning your hand into a winning one. To be able to identify cards that will do this to a hand, you need to have good knowledge of hand rankings. Thankfully, calculating outs is relatively simple:
Remember that counting cards is not an exact science. Unlike the example above, you will never know which cards your opponent is holding. As a result, you need to pay attention to how they play, when they produce their flop cards, how much they are betting while also considering the possible available combinations. Don’t forget that they could always be bluffing!
You will be able to grasp pot equity when you get the hang of counting cards. It’s a natural extension of card counting and involves calculating the likelihood of your chances of forming a winning hand and thus taking the pot.
There’s a method for calculating pot equity, and it’s known as the “Rule of Two and Four”. It is only applied during the flop and river stages of a round, and that’s because they are the only two stages where more cards are revealed. Here the two simple rules within the Rule of Two and Four:
For example, if you had a draw with 12 possible outs on the flop, you would multiply this by four, giving you approximately a 48% chance of getting the right cards to complete your hand. Furthermore, if you are left with 12 outs on the turn, you would have a 24% chance of completing your hand. Calculating your pot equity can be extremely useful when it comes to determining your moves in a game, reducing the number of needless bets you have to make, and proving the importance of learning how to count cards in poker.
The underlying mathematics of this process is complex, but worth knowing if you want to calculate your equity on the fly. Say you have 10 outs on the turn with 46 cards left in the deck, your probability of hitting is 10/46. By imagining that there are 50 cards in the deck, the probability is 10/50, or 20/100, meaning that your chance of getting the pot equity is 20%.
However, the real probability of 10/46 is expressed as 21.7%, which would mean that the number of outs would have to be multiplied by 2.174 – an incredibly hard sum to do when your opponent just raised €50! Regardless of how you choose to use it, if you want to learn how to count cards, you need to know how to judge your pot equity.
To give you a greater understanding of how difficult it can be to predict an opponent’s hand, as well as giving you a better insight into how to count cards effectively, it’s important to know the odds of receiving some of the best and worst hole cards. In addition, we’ll give you the probability of winning with these hands in a standard four-person game.
Now that you’ve learned the ins and outs of how to count cards, pot equity, and Texas Holdem odds, why not put your skills to the test of one of our online poker games?