Betting Strategy in Texas Holdem

In my opinion, poker is a game of skill.  Slot machines are gambling.  Roulette is gambling.  Faro is gambling.  Poker is an honest trade.

The luck a player has and the cards he is dealt are valuable but not the primary factor in his win ration.  Texas Holdem is unique even from other poker games in that betting strategy plays a vastly more important role than luck does.  No-limit (the most common variation and also the one played in televised tournaments) brings this betting strategy concern to a higher level with the option of placing oneself “all-in.”

Texas Holdem betting strategy is a very complicated subject and is far beyond the scope of this article, but there are a few things that the new player ought to keep in mind to increase his winning potential.

safe chipsThe first important concept in poker betting strategy is hand strength.  The value of a hand can be a deceptive thing.  If there is only one other hand better than the hand you hold, then you are betting on the notion that your opponent does not hold that hand.  If you are wrong, there are no points for a near miss.  It is all or nothing.  This means that you need to take into account the betting strategies of your opponents.

An opponent who bluffs frequently may be less likely to hold a higher hand, or it may be an elaborate ruse by a clever player.  I realise that this isn’t a very specific piece of advice, but it helps your decision making process by helping you to think of the decision properly.  Do not bet the raw strength of your hand.  Bet the strength of your hand in relation to the strength of potential hands and the disposition of the other players.

Another important betting strategy tip is learning when to cut your losses.

There is no commonly set formula for when it is best to get out of a hand, but there is a point at which it is no longer worth the price of playing.  This is again a vague piece of advice regarding the strength of your hand.  When you have already committed money to a pot, it may not be the wisest course to call further bets.  This depends on the hand you hold, the hand you suspect your opponent holds, the size of the pot, and the size of the new bet.  The thing to keep in mind here is that if you stay in to protect your money and lose you will be out even more money. It is better to lose a little money without a fight than have a glorious betting round or two and end up short stacked.

The third lesson for newer players is also the most important.

Play poker conservatively.  In the early stages of the game, hand strengths are actually somewhat lower than they appear given the number of players (and thus the number of hands).  If there are still nine or ten other players at your table, it is not wise to enter a hand any lower than a good pair unless you play a positional bluff.

These three tips should get the newer player well on their way to winning at Texas Holdem poker, but there’s always much more to learn.

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