No Limit Texas Holdem Guide

by PokerFanatic | posted in Poker articles

Beginners guide to playing no limit Texas hold’em

Guide to Playing No Limit Texas Hold’em – Rules and Strategy Fancy playing Texas hold’em? Want to be a true competitor at the table from the get-go? Then take your time to follow this guide to playing no limit Texas hold’em. In this article we will reiterate most of the rules and in addition we will show you how these rules translate into a proper Texas hold’em strategy. .

Texas hold’em rule:

There is always one player who receives the dealer button but who does not actually have to deal the cards. The dealer button rotates one player to the left with every new hand played. The position of the dealer button decides who acts first on every betting round.

Position in Texas hold’em

Besides that the above hold’em rule can lead to a lot of confusion about which player was supposed to have the button in a certain hand again during home games, this rule also introduces the concept of position to the game. The dealer button is a reference for every single player’s position at the table. Players who are seated closer to the left of the button have to act before the players who are seated further to the left of the button (with the exception of the blinds). These players are therefore said to be in early position. Conversely, those who are last to act are in late position. Position in Texas hold’em is a very powerful thing. Because Texas hold’em is a game of incomplete information based on which you have to make as many of the most correct decisions as you can, those who have the most information about their opponents available will have an advantage. Players in late position have an advantage because they get to see what their opponents in early position do before they have to act themselves. And as an added bonus there are fewer people left to act behind the players in late position who could potentially hold a stronger hand. If the player ‘on the button’ (i.e., the player with the dealer button) decides to play a hand then (s)he is guaranteed to have the last position after the flop. Therefore the button is regarded to be the best position you can have in Texas hold’em and you’ll find out that most of your winnings will indeed be made when you are on the button.

Texas hold’em rule:

The player directly to the left of the dealer has to make a forced bet before the cards are dealt called the ‘small blind’. The player to the left of the small blind has to pay twice as much: the ‘big blind’.

Stealing the blinds in Texas hold’em

This Texas hold’em rule adds incentive to play to the game. Because those blind bets have to be paid every round you can’t wait to get dealt pocket aces before considering to play your hand. You have to get busy with other cards too, or otherwise your chip stack will blind away at a steady pace. Those blinds might not seem to be worth much, but they really add up every orbit. It can therefore be very profitable to regularly try to ‘steal the blinds’ when you are in late position and you are first to act pre-flop (others have folded before you). Blind stealing means as much as opening the pot pre-flop with the intention to win the blinds. You can do this by raising the hands you want to play, because then you could already win pre-flop if the blinds just fold. And if the blinds do decide to call then you still have the advantage of being in position post-flop.

Texas hold’em rule:

Every player gets dealt two cards face down starting with the small blind and then going clockwise. These two cards are called the ‘hole cards’. After the cards have been dealt every player can choose to fold, call or raise, starting with the player ‘under the gun’; the player directly to the left of the big blind.

Texas hold’em starting hand selection

You get to see only a small portion of your final hand, yet you already have to decide whether you want to pay to play. If you structurally decide to play the wrong hands then you’ll find out that you have to fold very often after the flop because you don’t improve your hand or that you loose money because you make weak second best hands. And this is why good Texas hold’em starting hand selection is very important. When you are not a very experienced poker player yet you should be looking to play strong Texas hold’em hands only. This will help you to stay out of trouble as much as possible. What are strong hands you’re asking? Well, it depends (you might want to start getting used to this small phrase, because you’ll encounter it a lot more often if you really want to study this game). As a general rule of thumb medium to high pocket pairs (77 and higher) and big ace high hands (AQ and Ak) are strong Texas hold’em hands. They can very often be played profitably and won’t get you in trouble all that often. Other Texas hold’em hands such as broadway hands (like KQ, QJ, KJ etc) and suited connectors (hands which can make both flushes and straights) are also strong, but they need a little bit more caution when you decide to play them. However, there are a lot of things that could make a hand like KQ very strong in one situation but very weak in another. That’s why it depends. And one of these things is your position like we discussed above. A hand like KQ is a weak hand to open with pre-flop from early position in a full-ring game. It can also be a weak hand to call a raise with. But it’s a very strong hand to be stealing the blinds with. For more information you could follow this guide about Texas hold’em starting hands at a site called First Time Poker Player. It gives a very useful explanation of which Texas hold’em starting hands are weak or strong and what you should be looking for in order to select your starting hands well.

Texas hold’em rule:

After the first betting round in Texas hold’em, three community cards called ‘the flop’ will be dealt. Another round of betting takes place followed by two more rounds which both bring one extra community card on the board: the turn and the river.

Playing a hand in Texas hold’em

You won’t know your final hand in Texas hold’em until the river has been dealt and there can be a lot of betting before you get to that point. Sure, sometimes you’ll flop a great hand of which you know it can’t improve to an even better hand on the turn or the river. Mostly however you’ll flop nothing, a weak made hand or maybe a draw. Then what? Well, although you don’t know your final hand on the flop yet, you can already figure out which hand you’ve got at that point and you should always compare your hand to the range of hands your opponents are most likely to hold. When you compare your hand to the range of hands your opponents could possibly hold you will get an idea of the relative strength of your hand. You’ll have to at least look at the betting pattern of your opponent, the position of your opponent and the community cards to get an idea of what hands could be out there and to estimate how big your chance of winning at the end of the hand will be. Depending on the relative strength of your hand you should figure out a betting strategy for the remainder of the hand (with ‘betting strategy’ referring to betting as well as folding and calling). It is very important that you know at least a thing or two about poker odds to choose the right betting strategy. Do you think your opponent is very likely to hold a draw because the flop makes several draws possible and you have a very strong hand yourself already? Bet big to get some value and protect your hand! Do you have a draw yourself and you don’t get the opportunity to see the turn for free, because your opponent most likely has an overpair? Try to figure out whether the odds you get are good enough to make a profitable call or otherwise just fold. Do you have a straight draw on a flop that is paired and also offers the possibility for someone to hold a flush draw? Don’t be willing to put a lot of chips in the pot (if any), because you could very well be drawing to a second (third; fourth?) best hand with your straight draw.

Texas hold’em rules and strategy – conclusion:

If you want to become the ‘true competitor at the table’ we talked about in the first line of this article it is very important to really grasp the various Texas hold’em strategy concepts mentioned. Try to always have a plan throughout the hands you play based on these concepts. Also take a look at this no limit Texas hold’em strategy page on the site mentioned earlier in this article. It can really help you understand the various poker strategy fundamentals such as position, poker odds and relative hand strength. Practicing your Texas hold’em strategies online is a very effective way to blast away your competition from the get-go in home games or live games in general. An online poker room that is perfect for this purpose is Partypoker.com because they offer a very wide variety of Texas hold’em games (tournaments, shorthanded and full ring cash games, etc). And you know what? They now give their new players a healthy bonus too! Your first deposit will give you up to $500 free when you sign up and make a deposit.  Go staight to Party Poker and open an account.

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