Despite the massive popularity that poker has earned within the last several years, thanks in part to the rise of online casino gaming, it is still by far the most complex game out there.
Although it relies on a heavy dose of luck and random chance, poker is one of the few games where you truly can out-manoeuvre your opponent using strategy and skill alone. However, this is what makes the many poker variations available so difficult to master. As they frequently say on the casino floors: “Poker takes an hour to learn and a lifetime to master!”
In recent years, Texas Hold ‘em has become the most popular version of the many variations of poker in existence. This surge in popularity has led to a cottage industry of internet experts publishing endless reams of information on sure-fire strategies you can employ to guarantee big winnings. However, writing a comprehensive strategy guide for Texas Hold ‘em would be an almost insurmountable task given the sheer volume of possible variations that can play out in a single game.
This article gives you a brief overview of some of the basic situations and scenarios you might find yourself in during a game of Texas Hold ‘em. Once you familiarise yourself with these common scenarios, you will have the tools to get yourself out of any number of jams in the future.
Pre-flop strategy in Texas Hold ‘em can vary quite dramatically, and there is a lot more complexity in the strategies you can employ in this part of the game than you might have initially thought. There are several ways you can approach this in general terms. The first way is to play it ‘tight’, meaning more conservatively. Being conservative in the pre-flop stage is a good way to avoid any trouble, particularly if you are hoping to stay in the game as long as possible.
A conservative pre-flop strategy involves raising only on premium hands and doing so quite rarely. This gives you more space to take more strategic betting action once you have been dealt more cards. Second, you can also be a lot more aggressive. However, this exposes you to a lot more risk, but it does allow you to quickly build up the pot in a lower risk part of the game. An aggressive pre-flop strategy is best suited for more experienced players who won’t get spooked as easily when the other players react to their bets.
First, when you are trying to establish a post-flop strategy, you should take a moment to ‘read’ the table. This basically means taking a lay of the land and figuring out the vibe at the table – how did the other players react to your pre-flop shenanigans, what sort of bets did they make, and what is their general demeanour. These are all vital bits of information you can call on to discern your next moves.
If you raised in the pre-flop phase, you need to figure out how you are going to respond to this. There is a line of thought that says you should always follow through on a pre-flop raise. However, there is another school of thought that says this is so common that it rarely causes other players to fold. There is no right or wrong answer to this, but you should use your awareness of the table to figure out what might be the most effective post-flop first move based on the table itself. It’s also important to vary this approach, as you want to avoid becoming predictable in how you react.
The impact of table size
Another common situation in Texas Hold ‘em that can have a big impact on how you should formulate your strategy relates to table size. Players are often quick to overlook the fact that table size can have a big impact on how things play out in a game. If the table is quite full and the players all seem keen to fight each other, this might be a good time to lay low and wait for the right hand. This allows you to quietly let the pot increase while the other players take each other out. At packed tables, however, you do need to be flexible in how you implement your strategies, as the action can often change direction quite quickly.
On the other end of the spectrum, if you find yourself at an emptier table, this can be a good time to take charge. At a smaller table, decent hands suddenly become more powerful, which could mean it’s a good time to be more assertive in how you approach things. This doesn’t mean you should play every hand like it’s a guaranteed win, but it does mean that you can have that little bit more confidence in what you do have. When the numbers dwindle on a table, even small advantages become amplified.
Taking it into the real world
If this article has given you a small taste of the types of strategies you can potentially implement in a game of Texas Hold ‘em, there is no better way to do this than testing it out in the real world. Experience is everything in the world of poker, so the more games you get under your belt, the better the chances of implementing a winning strategy in the future. Bitcasino is the perfect place to practice your new-found skills, as the free-to-play demo account allows you to try out new strategies without any risk to your bankroll.
Words: Josh Dixon