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Crash Course in Texas Hold'Em

Texas hold’em is with out a doubt the most popular form of poker in the world right now. It would be to your benefit to learn how to play this game quickly so that you can take advantage of the legions of bad players who regularly frequent both live and online tables. While Texas hold’em is a game that can take a lifetime to master, there are strategies and tactics you can study and learn quickly to put you on the road to success. This article will give you those first critical lessons that are absolutely necessary to every hold’em player!

Hand Selection

Some will argue that before you even get to hand selection you need to consider other factors such as table and game selection. That is true, but if you don’t know what hands to play once you sit down, you are going nowhere fast, so let’s concentrate on starting hand selection.

When in early position, which is the small and large blinds plus one or two positions to the left, it is critical you only play the best of hands. We stress premium hands that can win without improvement and that are versatile. Play the following hands from early position.

  • AA
  • KK
  • QQ
  • AK suited
  • AK

Come in strong with any of these hands and re-raise in most situations. As you move into middle position you can add a few more hands:

  • JJ                                   
  • TT
  • AQ suited
  • AQ
  • KQ suited
  • KQ
  • KJ suited
  • JT suited
  • 99
  • 88
  • 77
  • AT suited

Most of these hands are quite playable from middle position, but you will want to be careful. If there is action in the early positions, hands like KJ suited or TT might be outmatched. Pay close attention to who is doing the raising and don’t get involved if the early raiser is a good player or has shown down with great hands in the past.

As you move to the final three positions at the table including the button, you can play a lot more hands. From late position you have the distinct advantage of seeing nearly everyone else at the table act before you. This allows you to play less powerful hands and still stand a chance to win. From late position add the following hands:

  • 22 through 66
  • Suited connectors above 45
  • Unsuited face cards
  • Suited gapped connectors 57 and above
  • AX suited
  • Unsuited connectors above 67

Keep in mind that many of these late position hands are intended to be played against multiple opponents. To play many of these hands, make sure the pot has grown large and that you will be paid off when you hit your draw.

Considering Position

Position is one of the most important parts of being successful at Texas hold’em. The basic idea is that you need to be incredibly selective in early position and then loosen up as you get closer to the button. In early position a good rule to stick by is that if you are going to enter the pot, do so with a raise. Calling your way in from early position is pretty silly and doesn’t convey strength to your opponents. Another consideration is that if someone in early position has raised before you. If you cannot raise this person back under the impression that you have a better hand, then you need to ask yourself if you should even be in the hand. Most likely you should just fold! From middle and late positions you can and should be aggressive, but just don’t be an idiot about it. When early position action is absent, that is when you can conclude that some of the less powerful middle and late position holdings are worthy of coming in with a raise.

For more information on Texas hold’em move on to our intermediate and advanced strategy articles.

Game Specific Strategy