The most important decision you will make is choosing to play a starting hand. The biggest mistake a player makes is playing too many hands. Being aware of your Position in relationship to the dealer is important in Texas Hold’em.
You need a stronger hand to act from early position because you have more players acting after you who may raise or re-raise the pot.
It is important that you are Patient and wait for Powerful starting hands to play from the correct position.
The player to the left of the big blind acts first before the flop. He along with the other two players to his left are in early position. The next three players are middle position and the ones after that are in late position. The blinds act last before the flop and first after it. Here are some guidelines for stating hands that I recommend you play when you are starting out. They are fairly tight but will give you a good foundation to work with until you learn a little more about the game.
In Early position
Raise with A-A, K-K and A-Ks from any position. (s denotes suited cards) Call with A-K, A-Qs, K-Qs and Q-Q J-J, T-T and fold everything else.
In Middle position
Call with, 9-9, 8-8, A-Js, A-Ts, Q-Js, A-Q, K-Q
In Late position
Call with A-Xs, K-Ts, Q-Ts, J-Ts, A-J, A-T and small pairs. (note x denotes any card) It takes a stronger hand to call a raise than it does to make with one, If there is a raise before it is your turn to act you should fold.
Once you post your blind the money no longer belongs to you. Many players feel they must defend their blinds by calling all raises even with marginal hands. Don’t waste additional money on marginal hands. Also, don’t automatically call with the small blind if you have nothing. Saving a half bet will pay for your next small blind.
Deciding whether to continue playing after seeing the flop will be your second biggest decision. It can also be one of the most costly decisions if you continue after the flop with an inferior hand. It is said that the flop defines your hand. That is because after the flop your hand will be 71 percent complete. Where does this figure come from? Assuming you play your hand out to the end, it will consist of seven cards. After the flop you have seen five cards or 5/7 of the final hand, which is equal to 71 percent. With this much of your hand completed you should have enough information to determine whether to continue. Poker Author Shane Smith coined the phrase “Fit or Fold. If the flop does not fit your hand by giving you top pair, or better or a straight or flush draw, then you should fold if there is a bet in front of you. If you played a small pair from late position and you do not flop a third one to make a set you should throw the pair away if there is a bet.
If you think you have the best hand after seeing the Turn card and are first to act, then go ahead and bet. Many players will try to get fancy and attempt to check raise in this position. If the other players also check, you have lost a bet or two. In low limit games the straight forward approach is usually the best as there are plenty of players who will call you. Make them pay. Why give them a free card if you don’t have to.
If another player raises on the turn and you hold only one pair you are more than likely beaten and should fold.
If you have been playing properly you will not see the river card unless you have a strong hand that is a favorite to win or you have a draw to a winning hand. Once the river card is turned over, you know exactly what you have. If you were drawing to a hand, you know whether you were successful or not. Obviously if you do not make your hand you will fold.
As with the Turn you should bet your hand if you are first to act.
If you bet and the other player folds then they more than likely would have just checked if you had checked in an attempt to check raise.
When you get to the river there are two mistakes that you can make. One is to call a losing bet, which will cost you the price of a bet. The other is to fold your hand, which will cost you all the money in the pot. Obviously folding your hand will be a far more costly mistake then merely calling a bet. If there is a slight chance you may have the winning hand you should call. I’m not advocating calling with nothing but you should call if there is a chance to win.
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