Let's now take a closer look at Texas Holdem strategy and the pattern that is essential for beginners to learn. The chart shows how many hands you are supposed to play depending on which position you sit in at the table. Example: You are sitting as player 6 to the left of the dealer button and you have a king of spades and a 7 of spades. General Texas holdem poker strategy is the same for both games, but some of the specific strategies have to be different if you want to win as much as possible. This page covers Texas holdem cash game strategy and focuses on the most important areas of strategy needed to maximize your chances of winning in the long run while playing ring games. Texas Holdem Strategy Texas Holdem has quickly become the most popular casino poker game online or off. At any time, hundreds of real money Texas Hold'em tables are going at sites like PartyPoker.com, the largest online poker room on the Net. A lot of Texas Hold 'Em strategy is based on the cards in your hand. You must be willing to suffer through a series of poor hands (e.g. 5-8, 2-6, 4-9) without getting impatient. The good hands will come, eventually, and you'll be in a better position to take advantage of them if you don't waste your chips trying to get something out of nothing. Online Poker Texas Holdem Sites Tips and Strategy Conclusion. If you liked our Online Poker Tips and Information, check out our Excellent Article on Omaha Holdem Poker Hands & Tips. Its a great article on PLO and HI LOW Omaha Poker Hands Tips and Strategy with a great introduction to the game.
While almost all of the television coverage of Texas holdem over the past 20
years has been of tournament play, millions of dollars are won and lost in cash
games every day. Some players are able to play a profitable game in both
tournaments and cash games, while others concentrate on one form.
General Texas holdem poker strategy is the same for both games, but some of
the specific strategies have to be different if you want to win as much as
possible. This page covers Texas holdem cash game strategy and focuses on the
most important areas of strategy needed to maximize your chances of winning in
the long run while playing ring games.
Because this is a strategy page it’s written for players who already
understand the rules and know how to play Texas holdem. If you’re not sure about
how to play or the rules see the pages in this section dealing with these
things. You should also play a few hands before trying to digest the details on
this page. You can join a friendly home game or play for free online.
General Holdem Strategy
This section covers important cash game strategies for both limit and no
limit Texas holdem. After all of the sub sections in this section you can find
specific strategy advice for limit and no limit games.
Cash game Texas holdem is won and lost with a strict consideration of your
position at the table. Over the long run you play each position roughly the same
number of times and you’ll have the same hands in each position the same number
of times if you play long enough.
This means you have no excuse to play poor hands out of position. Remain
patient and wait for the correct hands in each position. By playing out of
position you give your opponents a large advantage.
You should only play a few hands from early position and only a few more from
middle position. The majority of hands you play in holdem should be from late
position. The blinds are in early position so you shouldn’t play many hands from
the blinds, just like early position. Blind play is discussed more below.
Unlike in a tournament, in cash games you can choose which table you want to
play. Focus on finding games that have players who aren’t as good as you. Leave
your ego at the door and take advantage of weak players.
You won’t find any glory playing against better players. If you only play
against worse players you’ll be a winning player. This logic can’t be argued,
yet most players ignore the competition when choosing a table.
Even if you have to build your own private games or wait for a seat at a good
table you’ll be far better off in the long run by choosing the best place to
play. Seek out players who aren’t very good who have money and play whenever and
wherever they’re willing to play.
Many players assume poor players with money don’t want to play against better
players because it doesn’t make sense to them. But history is filled with people
with money who want to play against the best just for the chance to beat them
from time to time.
Do a little research about the world’s best backgammon players and how some
of them travel all over the world to play against rich people. Backgammon, like
poker, is won in the long run by the best players, but in the short term anyone
can win. The thrill of beating the better player, even if it’s just
occasionally, is more than worth the long term cost to some people.
In addition, a great deal of money to you may mean nothing to someone else.
You may be surprised at how much some people spend on entertainment. $100,000 to
a billionaire is about the same as $10 to most of us.
Some Texas holdem players seek these types of people and go out of their way
to engage them in a game as often as possible. They’re going to play against
someone, so it might as well be you. Always be on the lookout for opportunities.
No matter how good you play Texas holdem you’ll go through ups and downs.
Even the best players lose sometimes and can even have extended losing streaks.
The nature of the game and dealing with incomplete information and odds means
that sometimes the cards go against you.
In the long run things even out but you have to have enough bankroll to
survive the low points so you can make maximum profit when the cards go your
This has nothing to do with luck. Even pocket aces lose sometimes. They win
most of the time but your opponent will draw out on you from time to time. Even
if they only have one out on the river they’ll win one out of every 46 hands.
The common recommendations for the size of your bankroll suggest 200 to 300
big blinds for limit players and 20 to 30 buy in’s for no limit players. We
suggest doubling these suggestions until you have a long winning track record.
You don’t ever want to be thinking about your bankroll while playing. By
having an extra large bankroll you never have to worry about it while you’re
involved in a game.
When you go on tilt you start making decisions based on emotion instead of
logic. One of your main jobs as a cash game player is to avoid this at all
costs. Every time you make a decision based on emotion instead of solid
information and positive expectation you cost yourself money.
If you make a single poor decision in every playing session based on emotion
it can make you a losing player instead of a winning player. Always be aware of
your emotions and stop playing immediately if they start changing the way you
In some ways tells are overrated, but in others they can be quite costly or
profitable. Most players aren’t good enough to pick up on tells, so in most
games they aren’t important.
But in big situations and pots they can be the difference between winning and
losing a great deal of money.
The most important thing is to make sure you aren’t giving any tells. Focus
on avoiding giving tells until you never give any. Then you can start looking
for tells in your opponent’s play. Most players work on this backwards, and it
ends up costing them money.
Psychology covers a wide range of things at the poker table, including some
of the things in the other sections including tilt, mindset, and health. You
need to always be learning about the game and your opponents and keep the
mindset that you’re open to improving your game.
Don’t ever reach the point where you think you’ve mastered the game of Texas
holdem. The best players are always looking for another small edge and open to
learning new ways to win.
They also learn how to judge their psychological state so they can determine
when they should and shouldn’t be playing. Try to always be aware of your
psychological state when playing and when thinking about poker.
One area that hurts new players is playing scared. You can’t be a long term
winner if you play scared.
You have to get enough experience to learn how to determine positive
expectation and use it to your advantage. The opposite of this is how most
players operate. They focus on immediate results to shape how they play.
If they call with a gut shot straight draw without the proper pot odds and
win they think they made the correct play. If they make the same play again and
lose they think they were unlucky.
When you know the most profitable long run play is the one you made, no
matter the immediate outcome, you can continue making the best play in the
future. You need to make the best play every time and ignore the results.
The fact is if you make the best playing decisions you’ll be profitable in
the long run.
Your mindset plays such a huge role in everything you do in life that it’s no
wonder you need to work on your mindset in order to be the best Texas holdem
player you can be. Only by making the commitment to be the best cash game player
you can be do you have the chance to be a truly great player.
Entire books have been written about mindset, but it boils down to one simple
You either make the commitment to be the best you can be and do whatever is
require to follow through or you don’t. Nothing else matters at the end of the
day. Ask yourself the following question and answer truthfully.
Are you doing everything in your power to be the best cash game Texas holdem
player you can be?
If the answer is no you can either accept the fact that you’ll never be the
best player you can be or you can make changes.
Know the Numbers
The best Texas holdem cash game players in the world understand the numbers
involved with the game. They understand outs, odds, percentages, positive
expectation, and every other mathematical part of the game.
This doesn’t mean they can instantly determine everything to 100% accuracy,
but it does mean they know close enough to make the best play in almost every
If you don’t know and use the math involve with making positive expectation
plays you need to immediately start improving that part of your game. Start with
the simple steps of learning and using outs and pot odds. Once you’ve mastered
them keep building on your knowledge.
When you play a particular hand or situation remember what you learned about
the math and use it in the future. If you’re not sure you made the correct play
make a note and do the math after you’re finished playing the situation.
Health and Rest
One of the most overlooked areas of a player’s Texas holdem strategy is their
health and rest. Most players start playing when they’re relatively young and
think they can go forever on little rest, eating a terrible diet, and never
We just discussed the importance of your mind and the psychology behind a
winning Texas holdem cash game player. In order for you to operate at the
maximum efficiency with your mind your body has to be rested and in good enough
health that it doesn’t take away from your mind while playing.
While you are the only one that can accurately judge your health and how
rested you are, you have to take a realistic look at your life and make any
adjustments needed in order to maximize your ability to win.
- You don’t need to lose weight to get healthier; you need to lose weight
because it gives you the best chance to win. You can play longer at top
awareness when you’re healthier.
- You don’t need to get enough rest because it’s the best for your body;
you need to get enough rest because it’s the best for your holdem game.
- You don’t need to exercise so you can live longer; you need to exercise
because it helps you be more profitable at the poker table.
- You don’t need to improve your diet, eat healthier foods, and watch
every piece of food you ingest because it makes you feel better; you do it
because it makes you a better player.
Once you make the commitment to be a winning Texas holdem cash game player
you do whatever it takes to get better, and that includes taking care of your
Limit Texas Holdem Cash Game Strategy
To be a winning long term limit Texas holdem cash game player you have to
approach the game as a grinder. You constantly have to be aware of situations
where you can play with positive expectation.
This starts with entering hands with better starting hands than your
opponents, determining your outs and chances to win on every street, using pot
odds to determine if staying in a hand is profitable, and always raising with
your best hands in order to get as much money into the pot as possible when
you’re the favorite.
You don’t have the opportunity to put a great deal of pressure on your
opponents and you can’t get a bunch of cash in the pot at one time. So you have
to focus on controlling the size of the pot starting before the flop.
When you have a strong hand that’s likely to win at the showdown at the end
you need to bet and raise at every opportunity. On the other hand, if you’re
drawing to a better hand you need to minimize the amount of money in the pot
until you hit your hand while keeping the pot odds in your favor.
Focus on winning one to two big bets per hour on average and avoiding playing
in situations with negative expectation.
Much of being a winning limit cash game player boils down to mathematics. The
size of the bets are strictly controlled by the rules so you need to strengthen
your ability to play based on the numbers. With a set number of possible cards
to improve your hand you can always make rough determinations of your chances to
When you play your best starting hands like pocket aces, kings, and queens in
no limit games you can sometimes play them passively early and trap aggressive
players. But in a limit game you have to raise with them from the beginning.
This thins the field and builds the pot. You don’t want three or more
opponents when you have a big pocket pair because the odd are that one of them
will flop something to help them. Against one or two opponents these hands hold
Just to be clear, you’ll still play with positive expectation in the long run
with high pocket pair against multiple opponents, but your variance will be much
You also need to avoid playing as many speculative hands in limit Texas
holdem because they don’t win often enough to be profitable. The main reason for
this is because you can’t bet big when you hit your hand.
Speculative hands are small pocket pairs and suited connectors that don’t
have face cards.
Outside of high pocket pairs, most of your starting hands need to be face
cards, preferably suited ones.
We discussed position above in the general strategy section, but winningHere’s an Example
limit cash game players always use position to their advantage. The ability to
save a single bet per hour by playing in position can be the sole difference
between a winning and losing player.
If you play 10 / 20 limit Texas holdem and are a break even player, if you
can learn to save a single bet by using your position per hour you’ve instantly
started winning around $15 per hour. This is the average between the best on the
first two streets and last two streets.
If you’re currently winning one big bet per hour, or $20, and can save a bet
per hour you’re now winning $35 per hour on average. By only playing 40 hours
per week you’ve improved your weekly profit from $800 to $1,400. This is over
$30,000 extra per year, and this is only playing at the 10 / 20 tables. If
you’re able to maintain your winning percentages and move up to 20 / 40 you’re
making a good living playing poker.
At the end of the day, if you base all of your limit playing decisions on
increasing your hourly win rate you’ll be making the correct decisions in every
part of your game.
Another area that limit holdem players need to be aware of is how much you
tip. We don’t tell players how much to tip, or even if they have to tip, but you
need to be aware of how much tips cost you every hour.
We tip for good service. If a dealer does a good job of controlling the game
and keeps it moving along we suggest tipping a reasonable amount when you win a
hand. A tip of $1 per winning hand is usually reasonable for good service. If a
dealer does a good job an receives a $1 per hand they make somewhere between $20
and $30 per hour in tips.
But every dollar you tip comes straight of your bottom line. So if you tip
$5 per hour you win $5 less per hour.
The last area that many limit cash game players have a leak is their blind
play. Too many players automatically make the half bet call from the small blind
in an un raised pot. Every time you put a half bet into the pot with a weak hand
you’re basically giving away money.
If you play a 10 / 20 game from the small blind three times an hour and
blindly make the completion bet it costs you an extra $15 per hour. This can
completely wipe out your profit or at the very least cut it by quite a bit.
Though it may seem like a smart play because you get to see the flop for aHere’s an Example
half bet, you need to consider it strictly from a pot odds point of view.
In a 10 / 20 limit Texas holdem game you’re in the
small blind against three other players and have a pair of fours. The pot is un
raised so you have to put an additional $5 in and the pot has $35 in it. So the
pot odds are 7 to 1.
This means to break even you have to win the pot at least one out of every
seven times. In addition, the rake is going to reduce the value of the pot. You
only hit a set on the flop roughly one out of every eight times. This is clearly
a position where the pot odds aren’t correct to continue.
Of course the argument can be made that when you hit a set on the flop it’ll
be hidden and you may be able to get a few extra bets after the flop. But this
is balance out by the times when you hit a set and still end up losing the hand.
But most players automatically make this call from the small blind every
single time. Even worse, many players will call a single raise from the small
blind with this hand. This is a terrible play and many players don’t even
In a no limit game, depending on the stack sizes involved and your opponent’s
playing abilities, this may be a profitable play. But in a limit game it’s a
Using the same example above but with a single raise, the pot has $65 in it
and you have to put another $15 in. The pot odds now are 4.33 to 1.
A good rule of thumb is if you’re in the small blind and the hand isn’t good
enough to enter the pot voluntarily from middle position you should fold. Some
players go so far as to fold anything they wouldn’t play from early position, or
fold anything that isn’t good enough to raise with.
From the big blind in an un raised pot you get to see the flop for free.
This is good, but you still have to get away from poor hands after the flop.
If the pot odds aren’t favorable you have to get out of the hand.
Flopping a pair out of the big blind, even if it’s top pair, usually still
leaves you behind in the hand if you started with a poor r average hand.
When the pot is raised and you’re in the big blind you need to follow the
same advice as in an un raised pot from the small blind. You’re still going to
be playing the entire hand out of position so fold all of your poor and average
Sometimes the players in late position will figure out you fold most hands
from the blinds and start trying to steal your blinds. Don’t let emotion get
involved when dealing with this. Keep folding your poor hands and wait until you
have a good hand and win back your blinds at that time.
You won’t find any honor in the misguided notion that you need to defend your
blinds. The blinds are simply part of the cost of playing. Once you put them in
the pot they don’t belong to you anymore.
Focus on your blind play and figure out how to add an additional bet per hour
to your winnings by saving the money by folding your blinds more often.
If you can figure out how to save a bet using position and by playing better
in the blinds you stand a good chance of adding two bets per hour to your
profits. This goes a long way to separating the winners from the losers in limit
Texas holdem cash games.
No Limit Holdem Cash Strategy
Some players argue that the best Texas holdem cash game players are at the no
limit tables so if you want to be the best you need to be playing no limit.
While no one knows if this statement is true, playing against the best players
isn’t a winning player’s goal. Your goal should always be to win the most money.
So if the best players are at the no limit tables shouldn’t the limit tables
be softer and easier to win at? The truth is you can find soft limit tables and
soft no limit tables if you know what to look for and are familiar with some of
the players seated at the table. We covered limit games in the last section, so
here are some strategy tips for no limit Texas holdem cash games.
Limit games have a set betting limit so you can only win or lose a set amount
on any given hand. No limit tables have rules that make it possible to win or
lose an amount equal to your entire stack at the beginning of the hand.
This can be frightening for inexperience players, and it can cost poor
players a great deal of money in a short amount of time. But if you learn how to
play well, know how to use pot odds, outs, and understand positive expectation,
and have the proper bankroll the no limit tables offer a chance to win a great
deal of money.
But just like other forms of poker, no matter how good you play you’ll
experience ups and downs. Sometimes your opponent who called your all in with a
four out draw will hit their hand. In the long run you want your opponent to
make bad calls because that’s how you make money, but it can be painful in the
In the section above about tilt and the one about psychology we discussed
making plays base on facts, not emotions, and we talked about controlling your
emotions. The no limit Texas holdem tables test your emotions all of the time.
They probably put you in emotional danger more than any other form of poker.
So one of the most important things to remember is you’re playing one long
game that doesn’t end until you die. In the long run your strong hand is going
to hold up the right percentage of the time, even if you have been drawn out on
the last three hands.
You can play a wide range of styles and still be a winning no limit player,
but until you become a consistent winner you should lean toward playing tight
and aggressive. Tight starting hand requirements mean you enter the pot with a
better hand than your opponents most of the time, which gives you a better
chance to win.
When you play aggressively it forces your opponents to make more decisions.
The more decisions they have to make the higher their chances of making a
mistake. Every time an opponent makes a mistake it helps you win more money.
When you’re playing no limit Texas holdem you have to always have your head
in the game and be paying attention. Missing even the smallest detail can lead
to a loss of your entire stack. If you’re not willing to pay attention the
entire time you’re playing you probably shouldn’t play.
See who raises from each position and the range of hands they raise with. Pay
attention to who limps with big hands or tries to slow play their best hands.
Pay attention and remember the players who chase draws when they aren’t
receiving the proper pot odds to continue.
The more you can learn about your opponents the better your chances to win in
the long run. Even though no limit makes it possible to win and lose large
amounts in a short period of time, the truth is that the game is still a long
grind that requires winning players to make the best plats more often than not.
Use every possible advantage you can find, including the playing tendencies of
your opponents to help you in this life long grind.
One of the things that the best Texas holdem players live by, whether they
consciously think about it or not, is maximizing the amount they win when they
win and minimizing the amount they lose when they lose. This is more important
while playing no limit Texas holdem than in any other form of poker.
You can win less than one hand per hour on average and still end a playingHere’s an Example
session as a winner. This doesn’t happen often, but it’s possible.
You play a six hour session at a no limit Texas holdem
cash table. The blinds are 5 / 10 and the average stack size is $1,000. The
average number of players during the session is nine and 25 hands are dealt per
hour. This means that you play the small and big blind roughly 17 times during
the session. If you fold all of your blinds and don’t voluntarily enter the pot
any other times your cost to sit at the table for six hours is $255.
If you received pocket aces once during the six hours and was able to get a
single opponent all in and win you’d still finish the session up around $700
based on the average chip stacks.
While this is an extreme example, it perfectly illustrates the point that you
don’t have to play many hands to be a winning holdem player as long as you
maximize the profits from the hands you do play.
This also shows that you’re probably playing far too many hands. Of course
you need to play a few more than one hand per six hours or everyone will fold
when you do play, at least if they’re paying attention. But you can probably be
profitable playing only a couple hands per hour, instead of the dozen or more
per hour that many players play.
Continuing with the idea of maximizing your wins and minimizing your losses,
you need to learn when you’re behind in a hand and when you’re leading in a
hand. When you’re behind you need to minimize the amount you put into the pot.
Smart opponents try to make you put as much as possible in the pot when you’re
chasing, so there’s a constant battle between the two sides.
Of course this isn’t simple, but it’s important enough that you need to
dedicate a great deal of time to improving this part of your game. The way to do
this is by using the other strategies on this page to improve your game.
The more you play and the more you learn the better you’ll get at seeing when
you’re ahead and behind and how to shape the structure of each hand.
If you’ve played at many no limit holdem tables you’ve seen and heard players
complaining about bad players. They complain when a player makes a bad call and
draws out on them and they complain when bad players enter that pot with a bad
starting hand and flop a winner.
It seems as if they’re trying to run the bad players off or would rather play
against players who don’t make dumb plays.
You want as many bad players at the table as possible because they help you
make money. Playing against a bunch of bad players will threaten to be
aggravating at times, but in the long run remember that you make money every
time an opponent makes a mistake.
Even if a player makes a bad play and ends up with a large stack, they’ll
eventually give it all back to other players by making more mistakes. Your job
is to put yourself in position where you can benefit when they make more bad
plays and give the money back.
So the next time you get beat by a bad player and want to start abusing them,
instead remember that you need them in the game an simply tell them nice hand
with a smile on your face.
Becoming a winning Texas holdem cash game player requires mastering a wide
range of strategies. We’ve covered the important areas above, so you need to
start working on any weak areas immediately.
If you’re just starting your Texas holdem career you may be feeling a bit
overwhelmed at this point. The way to get started if you need to work on a
number of different strategies is pick one and start working on it. The key is
to get started as soon as possible.
Once you work on one area and feel comfortable add another area. Keep working
on new strategies and you’ll quickly see an improvement in your game.
For beginning players you should start playing limit Texas holdem and become
a winning player before attempting to play no limit. Any mistake you make is
magnified when you’re playing no limit so while you’re learning to be a winning
player it’s best to protect your bankroll as much as possible.
Texas holdem poker is the most popular card game in the
United States. It’s also hugely popular in Europe and other
countries. Omaha has a firm foothold in other countries, too,
but Texas holdem has a big following just about everywhere.
If you want to be a winning poker player, it’s almost a given
that you’ll need to learn at least the basics of Texas holdem
strategy. After all, you’ll be able to find more games (and more
weak players) at those tables than anywhere else.
Texas holdem strategy is a huge subject, too. We have
literally dozens of pages on various subtopics related to the
subject. Below we provide brief introductions to many of the
strategic concepts you need to understand. In almost every
instance, we link to a comprehensive page devoted to that
Low Limit Strategy vs High Limit Strategy
The strategies you use when playing for lower limits differ
from the correct strategies at higher limit games. As a general
rule—and make no mistake, there are exceptions—you’ll find more
unskilled players at the lower limits than you will at the
For one thing, it means that a more direct approach to the
game will often be rewarded. We can sum up this direct approach
in 2 sentence:
Get the hands. Then bet the hands.
What does that mean?
First of all, it means don’t bother trying to play second
rate hands. Don’t spend a lot of time trying to bluff. Unskilled
players have a hard time laying down hands, and bluffing only
works if your opponents are willing and able to fold.
Second, it means that when you do get good cards, start
putting your money into the table. Bet or raise. Don’t
cold-call. Don’t check. Get paid off for your hands.
Finally, keep in mind something called “the schooling
effect”. Lots of players at this level are calling stations.
This means that if you have a speculative hand, like suited
connectors, you can often get enough other players into the pot
to get paid off big when you hit a strong flop.
When you start playing in higher stakes games, you have to
get more creative in order to win. Skilled players are likely to
notice if you’re playing ABC poker, and they’ll be able to take
advantage of that. So you’ll have to learn how to mix it up.
Microlimit strategy is another aspect, too. The same
strategic concepts that apply to microlimit games, only more so.
It’s important to know how to play from the blinds. In fact,
the blinds are some of the most important positions in a Texas
holdem game. Correct blind strategy is a complicated subject,
Here are some of the basics:
What most players concern themselves with is defending their
blinds. A situation that comes up often is that everyone will
fold before the action gets to the player before the blinds, and
you’ll wind up with some aggressive player who will raise into
you when you’re in the blinds. They might be holding nothing.
Texas Holdem Poker Online Strategy Games
You’ll need to be paying attention to your opponents’
tendencies when deciding whether or not they’re just trying to
steal your blinds. It’s okay to fold when someone raises you in
the blind, especially if you have junk.
But it’s not okay to fold EVERY time someone raises your
Sometimes you need to call and then raise on the flop.
And sometimes you need to re-raise their raise before the
Some of this depends, too, on what cards you’re holding. If
you have a solid hand (like KK or AA), and someone raises into
your blind, don’t be afraid to try to get them all in.
In fact, premium hands almost play themselves in this
situation. As long as you avoid slow-playing, you’ll be fine.
It’s the more speculative opening hands, like low pairs and
suited connectors, where you have to start making decisions.
And the best guideline to making those decisions is your
knowledge of your opponents’ playing tendencies.
If you’ve done ANY reading at all about playing styles in
Texas holdem, you’ll know that players are often categorized
according to how many hands they play and according to how often
they raise or bet.
- Players who play a lot of hands are called “loose”, and
players who play only their best hands are called “tight”.
- Players who bet and raise a lot are called
- Players who call and check a lot are called “passive”
Most experts agree that tight-aggressive play is the winning
formula, especially at lower levels. This means you should focus
on playing good hands, and betting and raising when you have
You’ll also find plenty of players who do well with a
loose-aggressive style. They play a lot of hands, but they bet
and raise so often that they win a large number of pots without
If you win enough smaller pots, you can use that money to
“freeroll” your way into hands where you have more speculative
holdings. This is an especially important strategy to think
about when you get into higher limit play.
Guide to Playing Styles
Odds and Probability
Understanding the odds and probability involved in Texas
holdem are a critical skill. The most important aspect of this
to understand has to do with comparing the odds of hitting your
“outs” and the pot odds being offered.
The first concept to understand is the concept of “outs”. AnExample:
“out” is a card that will complete your hand and give you the
You have 2 cards in your hand, both hearts. And the flop also
has 2 hearts on it. So you have 4 cards to a flush.
There are 13 hearts in a deck of cards. 4 of them are already
out there, so 9 of them are left in the deck. And there are 47
cards left in the deck.
Those 9 cards are your “outs”. Those cards will give you what
you need to have a winning hand. (Assuming that you have the top
flush at the showdown, anyway.)
You can compare those odds to the odds that the pot is
offering you to decide whether or not to call a bet.
In this case, the odds of hitting the hand you want are 9/47,
or about 1/5, or 4 to 1. But you get 2 chances at it.
Texas Holdem Poker Online Strategy Video Poker
Suppose there’s $100 in the pot, and it only costs you $10 to
call and stay in the pot. You’ll lose 4 times for every time you
win, but you’ll win 10 to 1 on the 5th time. Overall that’s a
Comparing pot odds to the odds of hitting your hand is just
one example of probability in action during a Texas holdem game.
Another factor expert players consider is how likely it is
that other players will fold. You have to take this into account
when making decisions, too.
If you’re playing against a super-tight opponent in the
blinds, and you estimate that there’s a 90% chance he’ll fold
against any raise, raising is almost always the correct play
But you can’t estimate these kinds of odds unless you’re
playing close attention to your opponents’ playing tendencies.
Preflop and Postflop Playing Strategy in Texas Holdem
The first 2 cards you’re dealt in a hand of Texas holdem are
your hole cards. That’s considered your “preflop” hand, and you
need a strategy for how to play them. We’ve seen estimates that
suggest you can break even if you master preflop play, even if
you’re only an average player after the flop.
We mentioned a tight aggressive approach, earlier. This holds
especially true when playing before the flop. It’s also
important to take into account position when you’re playing
It’s easy to find a lot of suggestions about which hands you
should and shouldn’t play from various positions before the flop
in holdem. Our favorite way to think about these hands is to
Here are some categories of preflop hands to think about:
High pairs are 2 cards of the same rank that are ranked 10 or
higher. The higher they’re ranked, the better. Aces and kings
are super hands to play preflop, but the value of these pairs
drops dramatically when you’re looking at queens, jacks, or
Most experts recommend raising from any position with a pair
of aces or kings regardless of what your opponents have done.
But you need more judgment when dealing with a pair of queens or
jacks. If you’ve seen 3 players before you bet and raise
repeatedly, those queens might be an underdog. Some of this
depends on your opponents’ tendencies, too.
Smaller pairs are legitimate starting hands, too, but you’re
hoping for them to improve on the flop. The higher the ranking
of the lower pair, the better off you are. A pair of 9s isn’t
terrible, but a pair of 2s borders on worthless. That’s because
even if you hit another 2 on the flop and make your 3 of a kind,
there are a lot of other potential 3 of a kinds that could beat
Suited connectors can be some of the most interesting
starting hands to play. These are 2 cards of the same suit which
are also close in rank. The 10 and J of spades would be
considered suited connectors. These are speculative hands,
because you need them to improve in order to win. But they have
lots of potential—you could make a flush or a straight, for
example. And if the suited connectors are high enough in rank,
you might even wind up with a big pair.
Big-little suited is even more speculative, because you’re
missing some of the straight possibilities. The higher the
cards, the better. An AK suited or an AQ suited is almost as
good as a pair of queens or jacks, but an A4 suited is pretty
speculative. Everything needs to go right in order for you to
win a hand with those cards.
The tendency is to want to bet and raise with your really
strong hands before the flop, but with more speculative hands,
you want to check and call, hoping to get into the hand cheap
with a lot of other players so you’ll get paid off if you hit
Who has acted before you and what they did is also super
important to your decision here.
We have entire sections devoted to preflop play, starting
hands, and starting hand charts. All of these topics are closely
Guide to Preflop Strategy
Guide to Postflop Strategy
Tournament Strategy and Sit n Gos
Tournaments require a different strategy than ring games,
because the goal is to be one of the last men standing in a
tournament. In a ring game, you can play forever, and the chips
are worth what the chips are worth.
But in a tournament, the values of the chips change as the
game continues. The blinds increase on a regular basis during a
tournament, too, so your strategy has to change based on the
size of your stack versus the size of the blinds.
Some Texas holdem players specialize in tournaments. Others
prefer ring games. The thing about tournaments is that they have
a higher variance. Some players like this, but others prefer a
steadier stream of winnings.
Here’s what we mean:
You might play in a dozen tournaments with an average buy-in
of $100 each. You might only place in the money in one of them,
but you also might win $4000 in that one, so you’re profitable.
But it took you a while to become profitable.
A ring game player, on the other hand, might play steadily
and win $1000 a month consistently 5 months out of 6, having a
losing money only occasionally.
Your temperament will determine which is better for you.
We have sections about tournaments in general and about sit
in go tournaments specifically, too. (A sit n go is a specific
type of tournament that’s most prevalent on the Internet.)
Psychology, Tilt, Tells and Texas Holdem Strategy
The psychology of Texas holdem covers multiple subjects. For
one thing, understanding what your opponents’ emotional
tendencies are can be a big edge in any Texas holdem game. If
you know that one player likes to be the sheriff (he calls a lot
of hands to make sure you’re not winning money by bluffing),
you’ll know the best way to extract the most money from him.
If you know that a player makes bad decisions when he’s mad,
and if you notice what makes him mad, you can subtly manipulate
his anger to take advantage of those bad decisions. In fact,
this is a serious phenomenon called “tilt”.
A player who is tilting is putting money into the pot because
of anger, not because it’s the mathematically correct play. It’s
easy to take advantage of players with that tendency.
Understanding your own psychology is just as important. You
have to know when you’re on tilt. You also need to know how to
avoid tilt to begin with. If you realize you’re on tilt, it’s
time for a break. You might even need to take the rest of the
night off from playing poker.
Tells are another aspect of poker psychology. Tells are
subtle physical clues as to what kinds of cards your opponents
are holding. Most players have tells. And most players aren’t
good at spotting them.
Entire books have been written about spotting tells at the
poker table. Tells are only one aspect of Texas holdem strategy,
but they’re a “sexy” aspect of it. Some players, especially
beginners, spend too much time and energy thinking about and
trying to spot tells.
Guide to Psychology
Guide to Tilt Strategy
Guide to Tells Strategy
Texas Holdem Tips and Advice
We have pages devoted to Texas holdem tips and Texas holdem
advice, too. These are a great way to get introduced to some of
the more basic concepts in holdem.
We can provide you with a couple of quick pieces of adviceTip #1: Read Books
and a few tips, here, too:
You’ll find a lot of really great books withTip #2: Take Notes
in-depth treatments of poker strategy. The Theory of Poker by
David Sklansky is essential reading for any poker player,
regardless of which game you’re playing. Super/System by Doyle
Brunson (and others) is also worth reading, especially the
sections about limit and no limit holdem. Anything by Ed Miller
is worth your time, too. And those are just for starters. Expert
Texas holdem players are almost always well-read Texas holdem
If you’re playing online, you should use theTip #3: Get Aggressive
note-taking function in the poker room software to take some
notes on your opponents. If you’re playing live, you should keep
a journal and write about what’s going on. You should keep book
on your opponents, but you should also track your results and
how you got them. Texas holdem is a thinking person’s game. Few
things clarify your thoughts on a subject better than writing
Good players bet and raise. Weak playersTip #4: Play Tight
check and call. You can find loose aggressive players who are
profitable, and you can find tight aggressive players who are
profitable. What you can’t find are passive players who are
profitable. Loose passive players are calling stations, and they
lose money right and left. Tight passive players are rocks, and
they lose money, too—just more slowly than calling stations.
If you’re a beginner, you probably need to playTip #5: Start Small
fewer hands. As you grow more proficient, you can play more
hands. You might even be the type of player who can succeed as a
loose aggressive player. But we don’t recommend that as a
starting goal. That’s something to experiment with once you’ve
mastered tight aggressive play.
If you’re new to the game, play for stakes youTip #6: Talk
can easily afford. Microlimits online are a great place to
start. If you’re playing live, start with the lowest stakes
limit games you can play. You can move up in stakes as your
bankroll grows and as you become more confident in your skills
as a player.
Find some buddies who can talk intelligently aboutTip #7: Detach
playing Texas holdem, even if they’re only online buddies. You
can find excellent discussions of poker strategy on various
forums. Two Plus Two is one of our favorites, although they’re
not as friendly toward newcomers as we would hope.
Being detached from the outcome of each hand is aTip #8: Stay Sober
crucial mental skill that many players can’t master. If you’re
getting mad about results all the time, you’re going to have a
hard time playing correctly. How do you become detached from the
outcomes? Pat yourself on the back for making the correct play,
regardless of the results. You might also spend some time
studying meditation techniques. These can help you get your
emotions under control.
There are no advantages to being drunk at theTip #9: Ignore Televised Poker
poker table. Alcohol impairs your judgment, period. It’s better
to just stay sober. We know players who “pretend” to be drunk at
the table in order to take advantage of other players. But most
of them are not really pretending. If you smell like booze,
you’re probably drunk.
A lot of players try clever fancyTip #10: Think
moves at the poker table because they’ve watched too many
episodes of World Poker Tour. Here’s the secret about those
shows: they’re heavily edited. Most poker hands are boring in
the extreme. They show you the most exciting ones. But it’s easy
to get confused and think poker is played one way based on what
you’ve seen on television, but it ain’t necessarily that way in
We mentioned this before, but Texas holdem is a
thinking person’s game. If you want to succeed, you need to pay
attention to what’s going on, even when you’re not involved in
the hand—which is going to be most of the time, because most of
the time you won’t have playable cards. Think about the numbers.
Think about what cards the other players might have when they’re
making their decisions. This will go a long way toward improving
Our best Texas holdem advice?
Don’t get suckered into thinking you’re a great player just
because you’re on a winning streak. This is the biggest mistake
most new players make. Texas holdem is a high variance game.
That means luck is a big factor.
We have an entire section devoted to advanced strategy for
Texas holdem players. We won’t get into a lot of detail about
advanced tactics on this page, but we will say that advanced
strategies only start to matter when you’re playing other expert
You don’t need advanced strategy to beat novice players.
Solid ABC poker is good enough to beat novice players.
But once you start dealing with thoughtful, expert players
with lots of experience, you have to start taking things like
game theory into account. You have to start bluffing and
semi-bluffing occasionally. Deception becomes more important.
(We also have a section explaining Texas holdem and game
Raising with your good hands and folding your bad hands is
good enough to win when you’re playing novices, but when you’re
dealing with advanced players, you need a more multi-dimensional
Cheats, Cheaters, and Cheating
We don’t recommend cheating at Texas holdem. It’s an easy
enough game to beat if you play honestly—if you’re willing to do
the work of becoming an expert player. And the risk-reward ratio
for cheaters is awful.
In fact, we’re firmly convinced that cheating at gambling is
a bad idea for lots of reasons. Karma is one of the significant
If you don’t want to get cheated, don’t try to cheat other
players. Being a good player is more fun and more satisfying,
And there’s not much risk involved in becoming an expert
Bluffing and Semi-Bluffing
New players think that bluffing is a more important part ofExample:
Texas holdem strategy than it actually is. There are several
things to keep in mind about bluffing. Most of them just flat
out have to do with the math.
Let’s look at an example of a situation where you might want
The first player to act bets. The 2nd player to act raises.
Player 3 re-raises. A couple of players fold, so now it’s your
turn to bet. (This is preflop.)
Trying to bluff these 3 players doesn’t make a lot of sense
from a mathematical standpoint. They’ve all indicated a strong
hand—sure, one of them might be bluffing, but all 3 of them?
After all, the good cards have to be somewhere.
Let’s look at another situation. You’re the last person to
act before the blinds, and everyone has checked. (Again, this is
You fire off a raise.
But you don’t have good cards. You’re just hoping that
everyone else has weak cards.
What are the odds that the player in the small blind, the
player in the big blind, and all the other players who checked
have weaker hands than you do? And even then, what are the odds
that if they all have weaker hands that they’re all going to
fold? Or that some of them won’t improve?
You then have to compare those odds with how much you’re
going to get paid off if they do all fold. There would have to
be a lot of money in the pot.
Let’s say you assume that each of these 4 players at the
table have a 50% chance of folding in the face of your raise.
50% X 50% X 50% X 50% = 6.25%. That’s the probability that
they’ll all fold in the face of your raise. That’s about 15 to
So to make that a profitable bluff, you’d need to have at
least 15 units in the pot for every unit you bet. With that much
money in the pot, even some of the less sophisticated players
are going to stay in just in case their longshot comes through
Semi-bluffing, on the other hand, often makes a lot more
sense. This is when you bet and/or raise even though you
probably don’t have the best hand, but you still have a chance
at drawing to the best hand.
An example of this is when you have 4 cards to a flush on the
flop. You figure your opponent has a high pair. He’s the
favorite to win, but when you add together the chance that
you’ll outdraw him with the chance that he’ll fold in the face
of your bet/raise, you have a positive expectation situation.
Texas Holdem Poker Online Strategy Game
You have a 33% chance of hitting your flush (roughly). But
suppose you also have a 30% chance of him folding. You don’t
need a lot of money in the pot to make that a bet worth making.
We have an entire page devoted to the subject of bluffing and
Cash Game Strategy
Earlier we mentioned that there’s a difference between
tournament strategy and cash game strategy. We want to reiterate
that here and point you toward that section of our site.
Texas Holdem Poker Online Strategy Poker
Your goal when playing in cash games is to maximize the
amount of money you win per hour. That might seem obvious, but
when you’re mapping out a specific strategy for a specific game,
you need to start with what winning looks like. In cash games,
it means maximizing the amount won on average per hour.
Contrast this with strategy during a tournament. Your goal
isn’t to maximize the number of chips you win per hour. Your
goal is to maximize your return on investment on the entry fee.
The chips have no real value. Another way to look at it is to
say that the value of the chips varies based on where you are in
If you’re “on the bubble”, which means that almost everyone
has been eliminated except for the players who are going to land
in the money, a short stack of chips might be “worth” a lot more
than your starting stack of chips.
This has interesting implications for your playing strategy.
Coaches, Coaching, Trainers, and Training – Where to Get
Texas Holdem Lessons
We’re not convinced that everyone needs a poker coach.
Coaching is probably not a bad idea if you’re serious about your
game, though. The distinction between a Texas holdem coach and a
trainer is probably not great—we don’t know of any training that
differs in any significant way from coaching. In fact, we’re
confident in saying that the two words are synonymous in this
Where to get Texas holdem lessons?
We’re not convinced that you need them, but if you’re looking
for a poker coach who gives lessons, we suggest taking a look at
some of the more reputable poker forums online. Get to know some
of the players there, develop some relationships, and when you
start to get comfortable with some of these folks, ask someone
for a recommendation.
We offer more observations and tips about finding poker
coaches and lessons on a page devoted specifically to that
When to Fold in Texas Holdem
Really you can ask multiple questions about betting options
in Texas holdem:
- When should you fold?
- When should you bet?
- When should you call?
- When should you check?
- When should you raise?
- When should you bluff?
None of these questions, including “when should you fold”,
have definitive answers. Some situations are clear folds—if
you’re out of position before the flop and you have 27 offsuit,
you should probably fold. If you’re in late position facing lots
of callers, and you have pocket aces, you should almost
The goal is to get your money into the middle of the table
when it’s a positive expectation move to do so.
The other goal is to avoid putting money into the pot when
it’s a negative expectation move to do so.
We go into a lot more detail about when to fold in Texas
holdem on our main page.
Texas holdem is a lot of fun. Luck’s a big factor, but Texas
holdem strategy is the difference between long term winning and
long term losing.
We’re constantly expanding this section. Entire books have
been written about some of these concepts. We’ve tried to
provide comprehensive explanations of each off these concepts,
but we might have left out a detail here or there.
If you see a mistake we’ve made, or if you think we should
add something to cover the subject more completely, please
contact us and let us know.