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Expert Team

Texas Holdem Strategy

Texas Holdem Strategy
Welcome to our fully dedicated Texas Hold’em strategy section! This expansive collection of guides was put together by several highly-successful, past and present, professional poker players. Not only have these players been crushing the games for years, but they have extensive experience teaching and instructing students of all levels professionally. Their wealth of knowledge coupled with their experience in teaching makes for a real treat for you.

Normally, you’d have to pay for this kind of specific and valuable information. We’re offering it to you completely free of charge. The information is broken up into different sections based on skill level and specifically what you might be looking for. If you’re completely brand new to the game and don’t even know how to play, that’s ok! Take a minute and check out our complete Texas Hold’em guide. You can always come back and join us here when you’re ready to rock and roll.

For those of you that are ready, let’s dive into the strategy. If you are a newer player or not sure where the leaks in your game are, we recommend starting at the top of the guide and working your way through the entire thing. Just because something is labeled beginner or fundamental does not mean that it does not have some advanced strategy content sprinkled in. Texas Hold’em is a game that requires strong fundamentals if you have any dreams of ever being the best.

If you’re looking for specific information, we’ve added some convenient links here to the specific sections below. Click on the section you are looking for, and you will be taken to the information dedicated to that topic.

Let’s get the cards in the air and start learning how to crush Texas Hold’em.

Things You Must Know First

Regardless of your skill level, there are a few things that you must know before you get started building or retooling your Texas Hold’em poker game. In fact, the more skilled you are, the more important some of these tips are going to be to get the most out of your experience learning with us. Remember, we are not here to make you feel silly or look down on you. We are here to help you improve your game as much as possible.

Check Your Ego, Cash Your Checks

If you think you are the best and refuse to acknowledge that you can learn more and improve, you are doomed never to become a better player. Even the best players in the world admit that they need to be learning and growing their game constantly. They won’t refuse to listen to advice or suggestions because they think someone is a worse player than them. They will use their judgment on whether or not advice is important, but they are always open to improving.

You need to be the same way. Put your ego down at the door and open yourself up to changing your game. There is nothing wrong with admitting that you were doing something wrong or that there is a better way to do it. It does not make you any less of a poker player. What will make you seem like less of a poker player is if you start to struggle to beat the game because of your stubbornness.

Don’t Reinvent the Wheel Overnight

This is the most important tip from this entire strategy guide. Whenever you go to change your game, you don’t want to try and do it all overnight. If you start adjusting a million things at once, your game is going to fall apart completely. Take one area of your game and work on improving it first. Once it gets better, move on to another area.

Imagine if you were working on a car and you adjusted every single part of the engine all at once. The chances that everything would work correctly would be so minimal. In fact, you’d probably break parts that were working just fine because you were trying to change too much. This is the same with your poker game. Start small and slowly rework everything. You’ll see better results, and you’ll know what is working and what is not. If you change everything and start losing, you’ll never know which things worked and which did not.

Take your time. Poker is not going anywhere. It’s as simple as that.

Fundamental Strategy

We’re about to put the “fun” in fundamentals. Sorry for the cheesy intro. In all seriousness, we are about to have some fun building or solidifying the foundation of your Texas Hold’em game. If you’ve been playing for a while and are ready to skip this section, please wait. From our extensive experience instructing, we’ve found that almost every player except for the elite has some sort of leak in their fundamentals.

This is by no means an insult to your game, but is just us being realistic. We highly recommend that everyone at least read through this section once. If you are brand new and know that you have some fundamental leaks, then we recommend spending some time in this section before you look to move on to the more advanced stuff. The information will always be here, and the games aren’t going anywhere anytime soon so take your time and do this right! It will pay off in the long run.

Beginner’s Tips

This is the number one starting point where anyone on their poker journey should begin. We’ve collected a massive number of tips to help new (and rusty) poker players get into the action. Have a tournament or a game coming up soon and need to get up to speed quickly? Not sure where else to start? You’re in the right place.

The best part of these beginner tips is that they aren’t as obnoxiously generalized as some beginner’s tips lists are. While we do talk some general theory and strategy, we also give you some actionable steps that you can take immediately to improve your game.

Factors Affecting Starting Hand Requirements

Texas Hold’em hands start with pre-flop action. This is your first and arguably biggest decision that you’ll make in the hand. If you have a firm grasp on which hands you should play from what positions, you’re going to set yourself up for success. If you don’t, though, you may be starting yourself down a dark road where you’re destined to lose a lot of chips or money.

Have a chart that you follow? If you follow the same starting hand requirements for every position every time, then you definitely want to read this guide. There are A LOT of different factors that go into what hands you should and should not be playing. We cover all of this and more in the guide below.

Trouble Hands Strategy

Trouble hands are probably the number one profit killer for poker players. These are hands that look great, they feel great, and they make you think they’re great. However, they’re hands that are easily dominated and can get you in a lot of trouble. They have a fantastic knack for giving you the second-best hand which is about the worst position you can be in with poker. We break these hands down and how to protect yourself from falling victim to their beautiful trap.

Bluffing Strategy

Bluffing…everyone’s favorite thing to do that they typically do the worst. Bluffing is an important part of no-limit Texas Hold’em and is integral to your success as a player. Does this mean you should be bluffing a ton? It does not. The biggest problems that people have with bluffing are that they do it too often and they do it at times that don’t make sense. Bluffing is all about telling a story that makes sense in a situation where it is profitable. We’ll walk you through every aspect of bluffing and turn you into a “professional bluffer” if there even is such a thing.

Pre-Flop Raise Sizing

One of the quickest ways to identify a bad player is by looking at their pre-flop raising sizes. Believe it or not, mistakes here can give away an enormous amount of information about your hand. As we already mentioned, mistakes pre-flop can set you up for failure on the rest of the hand no matter how well you play. This does not exclude pre-flop raise sizing. Learn the dos and the don’ts to help set yourself up for success.

Tournament Specific Strategy

If you’re playing Texas Hold’em tournaments the same way that you’re playing cash games, you’re going to have a bad time. While the game that you’re playing is exactly the same, the nuances in the formatting and the end goal of each make the strategic implications lightyears different. In the guides below, we walk you through the important strategies needed to crush tournaments and the specific strategies needed for each tournament type.

Differences from Cash Games

As we mentioned briefly above, tournaments are WAY different than cash games. Your goal is to outlast the rest of the field, not just win some chips. The blinds don’t stay the same, and the conditions of the game are always changing. Because of this, you have to be prepared to adapt appropriately or else you will get swallowed up by your opponents.

Understanding Blind Structures

A lot of players don’t realize that the structure of the blinds and antes plays a huge role in how you approach a tournament. As all structures aren’t created equally, all tournament strategy plans should not be created equally. We will walk you through how to interpret a blind structure, how to understand it properly, and most importantly how to alter your strategy accordingly. You’d be amazed at how many players struggle with this.

Deep Stack/ Early Stages Tournament Play

The early stages of a Texas Hold’em tournament play way different than any other part of the tournament. You have more chips, lower blinds, and a lot more reckless players and fish still left in the field. The value of certain cards and hands increase while the value of others decreases during this stage. It’s important to understand what you need to change to succeed through the early stages. If you never make it out of the early stages of a tournament, you’re never going to make any money.

Medium Stack/Middle Stages Tournament Play

As you now know how to work through the deeper stack stages of a tournament, you need to shift your focus to eh medium stack/middle stages of the tournament. As stack sizes shrink, your strategy is going to need to change. Things that you could do during the deep stack phases are no longer viable. Hands that were more valuable during the deep stack stage start to become less valuable. Hands that were less valuable start to grow in value.

While each stage of the tournament is important, this could arguably be one of the most important to get good at. Mistakes in this stage can be costlier and ruin your chances of making the money. Never fear, though, we will teach you everything that you need to know.

Short Stack Tournament Play

Being on the short stack is not somewhere we ever want to find ourselves in a Texas Hold’em poker tournament, but it inevitably will happen more often than you’d like. While you don’t have a lot of wiggle room to make moves, there are a lot of strategies that you can employ to steal chips, get that double up, and get yourself back into contention for the win. Playing the short stack is much more complicated than most players are aware of.

Bubble Play

The bubble of a Texas Hold’em poker tournament is either an exciting time or a terrifying time depending on what kind of player you are. For some, it’s a time that they can beat up on scared players who are trying their hardest to squeak into the money. Those players that are terrified of not making the cash despise the bubble time. We’re going to teach you which of these players you need to be, how to prepare yourself mentally to do that, and then how to strategically pick up a lot of chips to win the tournament. A lot of professional poker players would argue that a tournament is often won on the bubble and not so much at the final table.

The Art of the Deal

Sometimes in tournaments, you are presented with the opportunity to make a deal to end the tournament early. Players will negotiate how much each player will earn and if they want to continue playing for any portion of the prize pool. This happens when a tournament is top heavy or there is a steep increase in prize money.

For example, if first place is $1,000,000 and 2nd place is $500,000, the final two players might not want to play heads-up for half a million bucks. Instead, they might agree to each take $700,000 and play for the last $100,000 and the trophy. This is called making a deal. Making a deal requires some skills and finesse to make sure you get the best deal and don’t screw yourself out of some serious cash.

Selling Action

What you may or may not know is that a large percentage of the time poker players do not have 100% of their action during a tournament. What does that mean? It means that a lot of times they have not paid their full buy-in themselves. Someone else or several other people have invested money into that player with hopes of a return.

Selling action is a great way to get into bigger tournaments that you might not otherwise have been able to. It’s also a great way to cut down on risk. It does have its drawbacks as well that you need to be aware of.

Types of Tournaments

As there is a multitude of different types of no-limit Texas Hold’em tournaments, there is also a multitude of different ways that you will want to approach these events. You aren’t going to want to play a freezeout the same way that you are playing a satellite tournament. While some of the strategies will bleed over for each format, there are things that will be independent for each style.

In the guides below, we walk you through what each type of tournament is as well as what specific strategies you need to use to dominate that format.

Cash Game Specific Strategy

At this point, it should be very clear to you that cash games and tournaments are lightyears different in a lot of ways. Not only are they formatted differently, but the strategies used to beat each are different. In the guides below, we’ll walk you through the specific things you need to know to beat no limit Texas Hold’em cash games.

Game Selection

One of the most overlooked strategies for Texas Hold’em cash games comes before you even sit down at a table. Game selection is the process of choosing which game you’re going to play. While this has some to do with which stakes you’ll play, it has more to do with picking a table within those stakes. Finding games that are easier to beat can be the make or break to your poker session. We will walk you through all the nuts and bolts of selecting the most profitable game to play.

Tracking and Analyzing Sessions/Software

Cash games are all about finding small edges and hammering them home. As the conditions you play in stay relatively the same (blinds/table size/etc.), a small leak can turn into a big one when it happens over thousands and thousands of hands. If you’re playing multiple tables at once, these leaks will compound and could have an even bigger effect on your end of the session bottom line.

This makes it that much more important to track your sessions, track your play, and use the tools available to analyze this information to make improvements to your game. We’re going to show you the right (and wrong) ways to track your data, the best ways to analyze it, and the tools and software available to help you do all of this more efficiently.

Advanced Strategy Concepts

If you’ve jumped straight to this section, we highly recommend that you go back and at least read through the earlier sections once. Properly understanding these sections depends on you having a firm grasp of the concepts we have already gone over. The worst that happens is you solidify your fundamentals and are that much more technically sound. Don’t worry, we will wait for you.

Now that we’re all on the same page, let’s jump into our more advanced concepts. The titles of some of these sections may seem less advanced to you, but that’s ok. Part of taking your game to the next level is knowing the advanced sides of the easy concepts. We hope you enjoy what we have put together for you here. This is the gold pot of this guide, and our Texas Hold’em guides.

Establishing Ranges

If you’ve never heard the term range before, we have a lot to go over which should be exciting to you. Poker is not ever about putting your opponent on an exact hand. If you have the ability to do this successfully, you’re probably already the best in the world. We can tell you, though, that’s probably not the case. Texas Hold’em poker is about putting your opponents on potential ranges of hands that they might have based on information you’ve taken from the hand and from history.

We’ll talk about how to build these ranges, how to apply those built ranges to your strategy and talk about how those ranges fit with your own ranges. It may seem confusing at first, but it will take your Texas Hold’em poker game to the next level. You want to know what the elite players are thinking about? This is what you’ve been looking for.

Continuation Betting

In the early days of poker, the continuation bet was the secret sauce. All you had to do was raise pre-flop and then blindly bet 100% of flops, and you would win in the long run. Unfortunately, those days are behind us. We will talk about why that used to work, why it doesn’t, work anymore, and what you should change about your game to effectively use continuation bets to turn a profit. This is one of those sections that surprises people that it’s more in-depth than they thought it could be.

Floating

If you think this has something to do with laying on top of the water, you’ve got a lot to learn. Even if you do know what floating is in regard to Texas Hold’em, you probably still do have a lot to learn. Floating is an advanced concept that was developed to combat the continuation bet. We’ll break it down for you and let you know the best ways and places to employ it for maximum efficiency.

Pre-flop Raising vs. Limping

This is one of those topics that might seem pretty self-explanatory, but we see players screwing this one up all the time. While there are no hard and fast rules on the topic, there are some things that you need to be aware of. How you choose to implement them into your strategy will be up to you. Whether you use a strategy or not, it is important that you know them in case it is something that your opponent is choosing to do.

3 & 4-Betting

3-betting is a concept that most players know they should be utilizing, but few do enough. Out of the ones that are utilizing it, a large number of them are using it incorrectly. On top of all of that, we see a lot of players reacting incorrectly to other player’s 3-bets. If there’s a top list of sections that we highly recommend you read in this strategy guide, this section would be on that list. Do yourself a solid and take a few minutes to go through the information we have put together for you.

While 4-betting is slightly less important depending on the stakes you are playing at, we still wanted to cover it. 4-bets can be important to protect your opening ranges and also as a nice combat to a player who is 3-betting incorrectly. If you’re confused, that’s ok. We will take you through every aspect of 4-bets and how to use them properly. We’ll also touch on how to react to 4-bets.

As a bonus, we will also touch very briefly on 5-bets for those of you that are clinically insane and like to light money on fire. There’s nothing like a cold 5-bet to get the juices running in the morning.

Live Poker Specific Strategy

Live Texas Hold’em and online Texas Hold’em are essentially the same game, yet there are some strategic differences that you need to be aware of. In the guides below, we’ll walk you through a few of the things you need to be aware of to crush live poker in a brick and mortar setting. This includes home games as well as playing in any casino poker room in the world.

Reads and Tells

One of the big advantages for most players playing live is that they can see their opponent’s faces. This allows a trained eye to catch tells and reads about what a person might be holding. We did say that this was an advantage for most players, but we specifically did not say all. One of the more important aspects of reads and tells is making sure that you are not giving off your own. Your opponents may not be great players, but you don’t want to give them a leg up on you by wearing your cards across your forehead.

Online Poker Specific Strategy

Just as there are strategies specific to playing live, there are strategies specific to online Texas Hold’em. A lot of people think that online poker is just clicking buttons. While they are somewhat correct, there is a lot of strategy that is different than playing in a brick and mortar setting. We will break everything down for you to help you be the best internet poker wizard there ever was.

Reads and Tells

There are reads and tells on the internet? Believe it or not, there actually are. While these sometimes can’t be trusted with as high of reliability as the live poker ones, they’re still valuable to know. Let us show you the parts of online poker that only the most brilliant and OCD of minds can see.

Putting It All Together

If you’ve made it this far and have not gone crazy from information overload, congrats! We’ve just unloaded years and years of knowledge on you in a very short time. Hopefully, you’ve learned a lot and have already started implementing these changes into your game. If there are sections you are unclear on, take some more time and go through them again. We don’t expect you to have picked up everything the first time through.

Remember, Texas Hold’em poker is a game that is learned quickly but takes a lifetime to master. There’s no reason to rush things and get ahead of yourself. Take your time and make small changes, so you don’t throw your whole game out of whack. The sky is the limit for you, and with hard work implementing what we taught you here today, you’re going to be crushing the world soon.