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No Limit Texas Hold'em Strategy

No Limit Texas Hold’em is a huge area of study. While it can take just a few moments to learn the basics, honing and mastering your skills can take a lifetime, and players usually need some level of coaching to break free of the common mistakes and bad plays synonymous with beginners.

There are countless strategies, with almost as many different philosophies as there are players. Nevertheless, there are a few golden rules new players should adhere to, helping them play to the odds to save money on the downside, and increase the chances of getting paid off when the going is good.

Avoid Limping Pre-Flop

If you’re sitting with nothing in your hand, and others are raising and bidding up the game pre-flop, you probably want to fold. Limping along in these cases, just to see the flop, is an expensive leak of bankroll — especially when the flop yields little. Never be afraid to fold, especially when you have weak hands.

While many beginners think sticking around to see whether their hand gets made is a worthwhile investment, this is a classic mistake, basically inflating the pot for whoever happens to be sitting on a strong hand. Take your medicine and get out, unless it’s free to stick around to see if your weak hand develops.

Don’t Call Big Post-Flops Bets

Unless you’re sitting on a solid hand after the flop, get out of the game. Playing on is likely to cost you, and in this instance you’re gambling — versus playing the odds in your favour. Once the flop is out, players who are pushing to raise are likely sitting on very strong hands. Sure, on occasion they may be bluffing, but where you’re sitting on nothing post-flop, it’s not up to you to find them out.

Players who are calling big after the flop are almost always doing it for a reason, and the more players at the table, the more likely it is someone has the nuts. Unless it’s you, run for the hills. You need to protect your bankroll, as well as win hands, if you want to succeed, and this is a classic instance where your money is vulnerable to your own subpar decision-making.

Keep Other Players Involved

When you draw a strong hand, don’t suddenly get all wild on your bets. In these instances, you need as much money in the pot as possible, so that by the time you get to showdown, you’re well in the money. Your mission when you have a very strong hand is to take the game to showdown — the longer the hand wears on, the more money there can be in the pot for you to scoop when all is said and done.

By betting too aggressively on your good hands, you’re giving a tell to others, who will respond in kind by folding at an early stage, leaving you out of pocket. Great cards don’t come along every hand, so you need to be certain to make the most of them when they do, and that means encouraging every other player at the table to stick around and bet up the pot when you know you’re going to win it.

Read Your Opponents

There should be no element of mystery about your opponents and the hands they hold. When you’re moving through each round, you want to be thinking about how your opponents are betting, and what this says about the state of their hands. This is almost a more important concern than what’s in your own hand.

Obviously you won’t be able to gauge exactly what other players have until showdown, but you can use your best judgment and knowledge of outs to figure whether you’re in a strong position. The more you can think about the game in three dimensions, the better placed you will be to make informed betting decisions the majority of the time. Remember, it’s all about the percentages, and giving yourself the odds over time to emerge profitably from your game.