Tips For Texas Holdem Poker



A Texas Holdem cash game is played on a single table with 2 to 10 players. The goal in a cash game is to win as many chips as you can. A multi-table tournament will have a number of players divided into multiple tables with 9-10 players on each table. 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. Usually, the first decision you make in a hand of Texas Hold 'Em Poker happens with your only knowledge being what your two cards are. When you look at your cards, be careful not to reveal anything with your reaction—facial or otherwise.

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In no-limit hold'em, the term 'slow playing' doesn't typically refer to players thinking about their decisions for a long time and playing their hands too slowly — although that is a commonly discussed topic these days, especially in tournaments. Rather, slow playing usually refers to a player playing a strong hand weakly in order to encourage opponents to stay in the hand and hopefully contribute more chips to a pot the player expects to win.

If you've heard the term 'sandbagging,' the idea is similar. A player who flops the nuts watches his opponent lead with a bet, and instead of raising he just calls or 'sandbags' in order to disguise the strength of his hand.

If you think about it, slow playing is a little like other non-straightforward plays like check-raising or bluffing. You have a strong hand, but you choose not to represent strength and just check or call rather than bet or raise. Slow playing is essentially a deceptive play, and if executed smartly can result in your winning a bigger pot than you might have had you played your strong hand 'fast' with bets and raises.

Below are two short lists of 'do's' and 'don'ts' when it comes to slow playing. The discussion mainly focuses on slow playing after the flop, although a player could slow play before the flop, too. For example, someone with pocket aces in the big blind might watch a very loose player raise from late position, then decide only to call rather than reraise, looking instead to start building a big pot after the flop arrives.

We're focusing mainly on postflop poker here, though — that is, the flop and the turn, streets on which if you do hold a strong hand, you have an option to play your hand fast or slow. (There's no slow playing on the river — the action ends after that betting round!)

Slow Playing: Three Do's

Let's imagine a situation when you've flopped very strong and slow playing might be an option — say, you have and an eight appears on the flop to give you a set. You almost certainly have the strongest hand. What factors might encourage you to play non-straighforwardly with it and slow play?

1. Do Slow Play... Versus Loose and/or Aggressive Opponents

Slow playing works best when you are facing opponents who play a high percentage of hands (are 'loose') and who show a tendency to bet and raise a lot postflop (are 'aggressive'). These players will frequently 'bet the hand for you,' so to speak, and start building a pot, often on the flop.

Against such players it can be profitable to just to call (or if out of position, to check and then call) on the flop, then perhaps raise the turn with your set. Of course, against some loose players you'll want to go ahead and bet your strong hand and let them raise you, as that might be a better way to get even more chips in the middle.

When you slow play you are essentially setting a 'trap' in which you hope to catch an opponent (and capture his or her chips as a result). The strategy will often work more effectively against loose-aggressive players who are more likely to fall into the trap you are setting. It also works in situations when players don't seem to be paying attention to how you've been playing, say in low-stakes live games or in some online poker games.

2. Do Slow Play... On 'Dry,' Non-Coordinated Boards

So you've flopped a set with your — let's say the board reads . That's a very 'dry' or non-coordinated flop, presenting no immediate flush or straight draws. This would be a favorable situation to slow play your set, for a couple of reasons.

One reason is that you don't fear giving a 'free card' that might complete some draw for your opponent. On this flop, there are almost no turn cards that can hurt your hand, meaning your set of eights is almost certainly likely to still be best following the turn.

A second reason is that if you bet this flop, you'll often earn folds and a tiny pot when you stood to gain so much more. As we talked about when discussing 'set mining,' it's rare to flop a set, and when we have hands this strong we want to win big pots. Lead out with a bet on a dry board like this, and anyone without a king or pocket pair of their own is likely to go away.

3. Do Slow Play... In Heads-Up Situations

The advice here isn't always to slow play when you're heads-up, but rather to be more encouraged to slow play against a single opponent than in multi-way pots. Especially if your lone opponent is loose and/or aggressive and the board is not too coordinated, slow playing can be a reasonable option to try.

Multiple opponents add complexities to a postflop situation that can make slow playing a bad option (see below).

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Slow Playing: Three Don'ts

Let's continue with the same situation — you've flopped that set of eights — and look at three factors that should discourage you from slow playing your strong hand.

1. Don't Slow Play... Versus Tight and/or Passive Opponents

Slow playing is generally a bad idea when your opponents tend to fold a lot and play few hands (are 'tight') and when they do play are doing a lot of checking and calling (are 'passive'). These players cannot be counted on to bet themselves, and so you need to do the work of building a pot once you've flopped that monster.

After flopping a set, leading out with a bet against such players is often a good strategy. If they are tight and only play strong starting hands, they are more likely to have something of value with which to call your bet. Also, passive players like to call and stick around to see turns and rivers.

Don't bother with trying to 'trap' such players by slow playing, as you're more likely to miss value postflop.

2. Don't Slow Play... On 'Wet,' Coordinated Boards

Let's imagine different flops for your set of eights, say or — boards that are 'wet' or coordinated because they potentially give your opponents flush or straight draws. It should be clear why these boards are less favorable for slow playing, and again we can cite a couple of reasons why.

First, you obviously don't want to be checking these flops and giving your opponents a chance at that 'free card' on the turn that might complete their draws. On both of these boards, there are a lot of turn cards you wouldn't like to see that could make you less confident about your set.

Also, these are boards that are more likely to have hit your opponents' hands — they may have those draws, or they might have one-pair or even two-pair hands and will therefore be more likely to call if you bet. If they do have, say, just a pair and the turn is a 'scare card' that appears to complete a draw, they might shut down after that which means you'll miss value later on in the hand.

(Be smart, though. Some boards are going to be so wet you'll want to put on the brakes — not to slow play, but to control the size of the pot. If you're looking at on the turn, your set of eights isn't such a strong hand anymore.)

3. Don't Slow Play... Versus Multiple Opponents

Finally, as we were noting above, if you flop a set or some other very strong hand in a multi-way pot, you'll more than likely want to bet the hand (or raise someone else's bet) and not slow play.

With multiple opponents there's a greater likelihood someone has a piece of the flop and will give you the action you desire. Multiple opponents also mean more turn and river cards can be potentially bad for you by improving someone to a potentially better hand.

Conclusion

We have two final thoughts regarding slow playing to consider.

First, you'll encounter exceptions to all of the 'do's' and 'don'ts' listed above — that is, in some rare instances you might actually want to play fast against a certain opponent even though the board is dry, or to slow play strong hands versus multiple opponents. Consider the tips above as rules of thumb to follow, but like all such rules in poker, be ready to break them if circumstances strongly suggest you should.

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Lastly, don't slow play a big hand just for the sake of being different or to make a 'fancy,' non-straightforward play. That's the biggest 'don't' we can recommend, actually. Only slow play if the situation suggests doing so represents the best avenue toward winning the biggest pot possible. In fact, you'll probably find in most cases the 'don'ts' will prevail and it's going to be better to bet your sets and very strong hands postflop.

Also in this series...

Holdem Poker Tips

Advanced poker strategy texas holdem

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This article was originally published on Jul. 22, 2016. Last update: Jun. 15, 2019.

Advanced Poker Strategy Texas Holdem

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    cash game strategytournament strategyno-limit hold’emslow playingpostflop strategybeginner strategy

Table Of Contents

Ultimate Texas Hold’em is one of the most popular live and online casino games for poker players.

One big reason is that if you know what you are doing, the game will feature one of the lowest house edges of any casino game.

Half the battle is just knowing the basic rules of Texas Hold’em, particularly the hand rankings which are common in most poker games.

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About Ultimate Texas Hold’em

Ultimate Texas Hold’em was developed by Roger Stone of Shuffle Master and similar formats are also known under other names including Heads Up Hold’em distributed by Galaxy Gaming.

If you have learned the basic rules of Texas Hold’em, you will quickly pick up on how to play Ultimate Texas Hold’em with the hand rankings and each player holding two hole cards being the same in both games.

As this is a casino, the house will have an edge. Players should experience plenty of winning sessions, but unlike regular Texas Hold’em, players are competing against the house and not a player.

What you might not know about Ultimate Texas Hold’em is that if it is played correctly it has one of the lowest house edges among any casino game at around 2%.

Reasons to play Unlimited Texas Hold’em

  • Low house edge of around 2% when following basic strategy
  • Fun to play alone or with friends
  • Similar to Texas Hold’em
  • Can play for just a few minutes
  • Potential to win big

Read on to learn more about the rules of Ultimate Texas Hold’em and how to optimize your play to reduce the house edge to almost nothing.

How to Play Ultimate Texas Hold’em

Usually, you can play Ultimate Texas Hold’em at a casino with up to six players and a dealer (also known as the house).

The game utilizes a standard 52 card deck. Although online, you will find many heads-up games where you will compete one-on-one against the house.

Each player must post an ante and a blind before each hand begins. You will see posted minimums and maximums. Keep in mind that your bet must be the same for both of these and that it will also serve as a base for other bets as the hand progresses.

Therefore, we recommend when first getting your feet wet to bet as small as possible to further the power of your bankroll. You can always adjust with higher bets once you feel comfortable that you have optimized your game.

There are also optional side bets which can vary from casino to casino including the Trips bet you can place before the hand is dealt which we will get into later.

Two cards are dealt to each player and the dealer after the initial Ante and Blind bets are placed.

Remember, hand rankings are the exact same as Texas Hold’em.

Check out our detailed description of how to play Texas Hold’em to brush up on Hold’em hand rankings.

You can decide to bet three times or four times the Ante and place the bet into the Play box or check before the flop comes.

A flop is then dealt and you will have an option whether to bet two times the Ante bet or check once again.

The turn and river are dealt one after the other and you will have one last option on whether to place a bet equal to the Ante in the Play box or to fold the hand.

There is a bit of basic strategy that you should either memorize or have a chart with you while playing to best optimize when to bet in the Play box, when to check, and when to fold.

Players that folded after the river was dealt will automatically lose their Ante and Blind bet.

Those remaining in the hand will turn over their cards as will the dealer. If you have a better Texas Hold’em hand than the dealer you win the Play bet for the same amount as bet.

The Blind bet can also only be won if you have won the hand. Assuming this is the case, it is paid out on a sliding scale and can be worth as much as 50 to 1 for a straight flush. However, if you don’t have a straight or better, you will simply just get your bet back as a push.

Here is a look at the potential different payouts of the Blind bet which can vary slightly from casino to casino.

HandPayout
Royal flush500 to 1
Straight flush50 to 1
Four of a kind10 to 1
Full House3 to 1
Flush3 to 2
Straight1 to 1
All OtherPush

The Ante bet is a bit trickier. If the dealer doesn’t qualify with at least a pair, you will get your Ante refunded as a push. This is the case whether you had a better hand or not, as long as you didn’t fold your hand.

If the dealer qualified with a pair or better, you will need to beat the dealer in order to win this even money bet.

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Best Ultimate Texas Hold’em Strategy

Tips For Texas Hold'em Poker

You should quickly get the hang of the rules of Ultimate Texas Hold’em by reading the rules above and potentially watching a few hands being played.

However, we don’t recommend that you hop right into Ultimate Texas Hold’em until you learn some basic strategy as it could turn out to be a nightmare to play based on gut feeling.

For example, if you decide to blindly bet four times your bet in the Play box every hand, you will be subject to a house edge of around 14%. Likewise, if you aren’t betting at the right times, you will also increase the house edge.

You should always bet the maximum allowed in the Play box before the flop when you bet. The following chart should serve as a guide to when you should place a bet in the Play box and when you should fold preflop.

*AKQJT98765432*
ABBBBBBBBBBBBB
KBBBBBBBBBBSSS
QBBBBBBBSSCCCC
JBBBBBSSCCCCCC
TBBBBBCCCCCCCC
9BBBBCBCCCCCCC
8BBBSCCBCCCCCC
7BBSSCCCBCCCCC
6BBSCCCCCBCCCC
5BBCCCCCCCBCCC
4BSCCCCCCCCBCC
3BSCCCCCCCCCBC
2BSCCCCCCCCCCC
  • B = Bet four times in Play box
  • C = Check
  • S = Bet four time in Play box if suited, otherwise check

The strategy gets a little easier if you didn’t bet preflop. You should bet two times on the flop in the Play box if you have two pair or better, a hidden pair, or a flush draw with a hidden ten or better. A hidden pair means that there isn’t a pair on the board and you are using one or more of your hole cards to create that pair.

Texas Holdem Poker Tips For Beginners

River strategy can be particularly tricky. It is easy to memorize what to do but not always easy to make the optimal play in real-time.

Place a bet of equal to your Ante bet if you have a hidden pair or better or the dealer has less than 21 outs to beat you. After some practice, determining how many outs the dealer has to beat you will become more second nature but take your time at first as it’s your money and the game typically doesn’t have a time limit with the exception of some multiplayer online games.

Side Bets

Side bets are usually a way for online and live casinos to extract a little extra money per hand, spin, or dice roll at extremely bad odds.

This isn’t necessarily the case in Ultimate Texas Hold’em with its optional Trips bets that you will see on just about every table.

It all comes down to the odds that they are paying on the Trips bet as it could be an under 1% advantage for the house under optimal conditions if you can find them.

Your Trips bet can be a different amount than your Ante and Blind bets and is only paid if you wound up with trips or better. In just about every case you are paid 3 to 1 for trips or a set and 50 to 1 if you nail down the elusive Royal Flush.

What you should be looking for if considering to place a Trips bet is a bet table similar to below which gives the house less than a 1% advantage.

HandPayout
Royal Flush50
Straight Flush40
Four of a Kind30
Full House9
Flush7
Straight4
Trips/Set3
All Others-1

Other payout tables might look similar with a Royal Flush paying 50 to 1 and trips paying 3 to 1. However, some smaller differences in the middle of the pay table can make a big difference.

Texas Holdem Poker Odds Chart

For example, the pay table below would give the house a more than 6% advantage and should be avoided at all costs.

HandPayout
Royal Flush50
Straight Flush40
Four of a Kind20
Full House7
Flush6
Straight5
Trips/Set3
All Others-1

There are other side bets that online and live casinos make available including hole card bonuses and bad beat jackpots.

In general, any side bet that isn’t the Trips bet gives the house a huge house edge and therefore should be avoided.

One exception might be in the case of progressive jackpots where the jackpot is high enough to make the house edge low and, in some cases, even give the player an advantage. One pitfall even here is that the jackpots are few and far between and thus will likely cause you money unless you hit at least one jackpot in your lifetime.

Conclusion

Ultimate Texas Hold’em is a fun online and live casino game that can be played whether you have a few spare minutes or want to grind a long session.

Texas Holdem Chart

The rules are easy to learn and before long it is possible to master the strategy of the game to reduce the house edge to approximately 2% in the base game.

While it isn’t likely you will become a long-term winner in this game without a bit of luck, it is more likely than many other games to have winning sessions and go on runs to win a chunk of change.

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