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A Beginner's Guide to Texas Holdem

Introduction

A Beginner's Guide to Texas Hold'em is not an introduction to the basic rules of Texas Hold'em but a guide designed to help you better grasp the concepts of Texas Hold’em and retain a better general understanding of how the game works by including tips on how to become a better Texas Hold’em player. We do hope that the guide is of interest to you, but if you would like to find more detailed information on the rules and how Texas Hold’em is played, please visit our rules page.
The first thing you should know is that Texas Hold'em is the king of all poker games and requires a ton of skill. However, even the most skilled player in the world can't beat a player who is just getting lucky. This is what keeps the game interesting, because anything can happen. Be that as it may, it is still wise to know the most essential strategy assessments if you plan on taking up Texas Hold’em as a game.

Start at the Bottom

Even if you turn out to be the world’s biggest poker big shot, it is always wise to start at the bottom and work your way up. By starting out with low stakes limit games or tournaments, you have a chance to get a lot of hands (and practice) under your belt which is a good way to warm up your game without taking big risks. Limit games can often be tricky and they lack the element of bluffing, but bluffing really isn’t something for a new player to try right away. Limit games are safer because they are much more controlled and less risky, thus allowing you to experiment, which is a sure way to learn fast. Plus, these games are good for practicing and we all know that practice makes perfect.

Don't Trust your HUGE Play Money Stack!

If you've won a ton of play money with play money poker games, you probably think you have what it takes to become a really good "real" money player as well. Although you have very good possibilities of mastering the "real" game, you might want to keep in mind that play money games and real money games do differ a lot, so don’t jump right in. Why not get your feet wet with a low stakes game to start out before you decide to jump into the high waters. You are ready to take on a real game, just not the highest one right away. You’ll enjoy the real low stakes game, however, and you might even be surprised to see that they can sometimes even be wilder than play money games!

Starting Hand Value

Your two pocket cards, or hole cards, are the only difference your hand has against the hand of any other player at the table. For this reason, it is very important to learn how to play your hole cards to your advantage. Playing your cards incorrectly could be fatal to your game. A pair of Aces, for example, has much more value than say a 6-2 combo, so always remember to play any good starting hand and fold on the bad ones.

Playing Position

Although being first is good for a lot of things, it’s always better not to be first in the seating arrangement of a Texas Hold’em game. Actually, it’s quite the opposite, the later the seating position, the better. The reason for this is because, by being later in line to play, you can often observe the plays and decisions that your fellow players are making and you don’t have to be so conservative in your own game. If you were first, you would have to be much more careful of the risks, because you don’t know how everyone else is doing. Knowing how the majority of players are doing in the game is a huge advantage. Keeping this in mind can help you immensely and make you a really good player. A good starting hand in an early position can actually be worse than a lousy hand in a later position.

Folding

Plain and simple: if you’ve got nothing and you can’t draw anything either, then you should just fold.


Hand Nicknames

AA

Pocket Rockets, Bullets, American Airlines

KK

Cowboys, King Kong

QQ

Double date, Canadian Aces, Siegfried and Roy

JJ

Fish Hooks
99 German Virgin
88 Snowmen
77 Sunset Strip
66 Route 66
55 Speed Limit
44 Magnum, Sail Boat
33 Crabs
22 Ducks
AK Big Slick
AQ Big Chick
AJ Black Jack, Jack-ass
KQ Royalty, Marriage
KJ Kojak
J5 Jackson five
Q3 Gay Waiter
95 Dolly Parton
A8 Dead Man's Hand (Made famous by Wild Bill Hickok who was shot in 1876)
K9 Canine
J4 Flat Tire

Beginning Hold’em Strategy

It's true that in Texas Hold’em any two cards can be a winner. But we’re talking about cards here, not dice, so although luck does play a part in every hand, your strategy can take you farther than your luck may ever be able to.

Texas Hold’em is a game in which you should pick and choose your battles wisely. It really isn’t about playing every single hand, but more about choosing the right hands to play. Playing more hands can, of course, lead to more pot winnings, but will likely include many loses as well. Playing the right hands at the right time, will leave you with more chips in your stack.

Take seating positions, for example. Timing is everything because some hands are playable in certain circumstances but not in others. A bad hand that could have killed you in an early position can actually ride you through in a later position. This is why seating position is a key part of the circumstances that dictate whether you should play a hand or should wait for a better opportunity to present itself.

Professional poker players have that "je ne se quoi" that allows them to sense what their opponents have in their hands. If you are a new player at Texas Hold’em however, you don’t really count on this particular card sensing ability. If you take a moment to read the cards on the board carefully, you can easily tell with certainty what your opponents do not have. Knowing what the board holds allows you to know what hands are possible and from there you can use whatever else you can get from your opponents to determine what hands are plausible.

Players will often find themselves in need of a card to complete their hand. These hands are known as drawing hands. When on a drawing hand, it's nice to know what your odds are really like. Armed with those odds, you're better able to play your hand correctly. Make sure you consult the drawing odds page for a chart that will tell you the odds on completing your gut shot straight, flush, or three-of-a-kind. Remember: Information is power at the table, and this information is part of the basic skills that winning poker players possess.

Right alongside drawing odds is the concept of pot odds. When you know you're waiting on a card to complete your hand and there's a bet before you, you'd like to know if calling that bet is a good idea or not. If you familiarize yourself with the concept of pot-odds, you'll be well equiped to make that decision. When you're ready to have that kind of power at the tables, make sure to read the section on pot odds.

 
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