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Learning Texas Holdem Poker Strategy

Everyone plays Texas Holdem by the same rules. But, becoming a formidable player requires developing a good strategy. That involves setting betting and playing thresholds and learning the value of folding early. While each players' chances to win individual pots is influenced by the cards that are dealt, maximizing your overall winnings is mostly a matter of strategy.

Another key to success in Texas Holdem is realizing that all players are different. Some people play and bet aggressively while others play conservatively. Your ability to read other players and anticipate their bets can be a huge advantage. Over time, you'll develop other skills that will impact your success such as bluffing and being able to note changes in probabilities as hands develop. Below, you'll learn basic Texas Holdem poker strategy. Understanding this basic strategy will make you a better player than most. 

Setting A Threshold From The Beginning

Most experienced players establish betting and playing thresholds for themselves. These thresholds can prove valuable in making decisions during each hand. While less-experienced players blindly chase every pot and ride weak hands, skilled players understand the value of identifying weak hands and folding early. That way, they're able to limit their losses and save their chips for future hands that hold greater potential.

Thresholds and playing strategy begin with the Hole cards, the first 2 cards dealt. Most Texas Holdem experts suggest folding if your Hole cards don't make a high pair (Aces, Face cards, or Tens), are in different suits, or aren't sequential. If you have a strong opening hand (high pairs), you should definitely stay in the hand and bet. However, lacking a strong opener, riding a weak hand in the hopes that it will improve after the flop is dealt is a strategy that often leads to losses.

Cutting Your Losses

One of the most important strategies you can develop as a skilled Texas Holdem player is learning how to cut your losses. You should literally look for reasons to fold early. That way, you can conserve your chips and use them as leverage during hands where your cards are strong. This is the way many experienced players secure high positions in tournaments.

If your Hole cards are strong and you stayed in the hand for the first round of betting, the flop should determine whether you should fold your hand. If the flop doesn't provide a major advantage for you (three of a kind, position for a straight or flush, etc.), fold. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that you should stay in simply because you're "invested."

The Turn And River

If you've made it this far into the hand, be very cautious. Chances are, there will only be 1 or 2 other players still in the hand and it's likely they have strong cards. You should already have a formidable hand after the flop. The Turn and River will either make a strong hand stronger or not help at all. That is, you should not hope that the Turn or River will make your hand. Again, the biggest mistake new players make is hoping to get the card they need late in the hand. They feel "invested" and keep pouring chips into a losing hand.

Becoming A Good Player Requires Experience

With experience, you'll learn to get a feel for other players' betting and playing style. You'll also learn how to understand the changing probabilities of the deck as the hand progresses. Remember, your goal is not to win every pot. The goal of Texas Holdem is to win the right pots. That means limiting your losses by folding early on weak cards and waiting for the strong hands. By doing this, you'll conserve your chips and be able to leverage your best opportunities.