So you’ve learnt the basics of Texas Hold-Em, played a few (hundred) hands and are now wondering how you can improve your game and increase your winnings. This handy tactics guide will help you expand your thinking in the areas where you can make the most gains initially.
Bet In Position – Never underestimate the importance of betting last
You get an idea of the strength of hand your opponents have before you commit any of your chips. Use position to spook other players with large bets, when previous betting in the round has been light or to fold if it looks like everyone is beating you.
Never Pay Out
It’s very tempting to call on the river when you have already committed chips with a modest hand. You may as well, right? No. If your opponents are still betting strongly, discretion is the better part of valour, so fold and keep your chips for better cards.
This is most effective when you have flopped a strong hand (let’s say 3 of a kind) but there is potential for a stronger hand on the board (flush or straight draw). Check and wait to see what everyone else is betting. Players with a top pair will want to bully potential flush or straight draw players out of the pot. Look for mid level betting and then hit them with a large raise when your turn comes. By representing the higher hand, you will force the top pair holders out. If someone is confident of making the flush or straight, they will re-raise you, giving you the chance to get out early before your set is beaten later in the hand for more money.
As per the previous section, re-raising is a vital tool to represent strength, whether you have it or not. This most ballsy of moves is best used when you are confident in you hand or you suspect the other player is bluffing.
Pretending your hand is stronger than it really is can help you to mop up pots where the hands are looking weak and the betting is small and non-committal. Some people have limped in and are just waiting for an excuse to fold.
Give it to them and steal the pot.
Never Limp In
Although we know it’s not ideal to limp into a hand, we are all guilty of trying to see the flop on the cheap. Limping in with weak hands just limits your possibilities further down the board and exposes you to big losses, if are emboldened by a few cards going your way in the later stages.
Limping in can be a useful strategy in the very early rounds of tournaments but in almost all other instances, can prove disastrous.
This is best done later in the hand, when you are confident that you have the best hand and your opponents are representing weaker hands. When a large bet may scare everyone into folding, placing a smallish bet encourages them to continue betting as the cost of the call will provide value (so they think) relative to the size of the pot.
If you’re really lucky, someone may see this as a sign of weakness and re-raise you.