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Playing Solid Texas Hold’em
Before you rush into playing Texas Holdem online, it might be wise to take a few basic things to heart. This will not only improve your chances of winning, but will allow you to avoid wasting your money hoping for an improvement on a hand you should never have played in the first place.
Have an idea of starting hand standards
Not all opening hands are created equal. There are obviously certain hands that have more of a chance of standing up. Get hold of Sklanksy’s guide to starting hands as a guide to what to hold and what to fold.
Be aware of your position
Position is vital in Texas Hold’em. There is less margin for error when you’re sitting in early position (closer to the dealer button) than if you’re last to act. If you bet with a marginal hand pre-flop from early position you can easily end up being raised or even re-raised by players betting after you. This puts you in the unpleasant position of immediately having to decide whether your hand is worth the extra two bets in order to see the flop, or whether you should fold and lose the bet you already made. In late position you can see it coming and fold without having to waste a bet.
Fit or fold
If the flop doesn’t fit your hand, that is, improve it, then don’t hesitate to fold. You’ll be tempted to hold on past the flop in the hope of improving your hand on the river, but you’ll end up missing more than you’ll catch, and lose money overall. You will of course have to endure watching other players make winning hands on the river with hands that weren’t helped by the flop, and will have to resist the urge to hold on to drawing hands for longer. You’ll also see flops that make the hand you’ve just thrown away, but this happens less often than you would think. Once you’ve folded, forget about the cards you had.
This is possibly one of the most difficult aspects of playing poker. It means throwing away hands that you might prefer to hold on to in the hope that the flop will give you a shout. It also means folding after the flop if it doesn’t fit your hand, or if it brings cards that threaten what you thought was a good hand. If you’re holding a pair of Jacks and the flop brings an Ace, you can be pretty sure someone has another. At this point your pair is most likely not the winning hand so have the discipline to discard them – you’ll lose more money than you’ll win by holding on and hoping for another Jack on the turn or river.
Be able to read the board
As soon as the flop hits the board, work out what the best potential hand is, and compare what you have, or what you think you might get to this hand. If you don’t do this you run the risk of spending money drawing to a hand that is already beaten. This is known as “drawing dead”. Even seasoned players fall victim to tunnel vision brought on by having drawn the nut flush, and miss the fullhouse that beats them.