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Intermediate Texas Hold Em Strategy

After getting some of the basic concepts like position and starting hands taken care of, there are some other intermediate strategies that need to be covered so you can become a more consistent and effective hold’em player. In this article, we will cover things like reading players and playing questionable hands, plus cover a few more issues on position.

Reading Players

Once you have nailed down the basics of Texas hold’em like hand selection and position, you can move on to more advanced topics. First and foremost you will need to learn some basic skills in reading players. Poker, especially Texas hold’em is all about figuring out what your opponents are holding or are likely to hold. The good thing about this is that there are some basic truths to reading players when it comes to Texas hold’em:

  • Players acting strong more often than actually have weak holdings. While its true that saavy players will play strong when they are strong, a majority of players usually try to use some sort of deception and if they are acting strong, it would be safer for you to bet on them having a week hand.
  • Players being very cautious, quiet or timid could very well have a monster hand, especially if the board is capable of producing one, such as with three of the same suit or a possible straight. The one thing to remember about players acting weak is that there is usually no reason to act weak other than to cover up a hand. Acting weak when you are weak is not a great strategy and because of that fact is not usually employed, or if it is the player won’t be hanging around long anyways.

Some other things you will want to look for are how players respond when each of the board cards fall. Look for clues and insights that might tell you how the card that fell on the turn helped your loan opponent. While some players are very hard to read, most will give some type of indication as to how the card helped them. Watch their neck for indication of a fast heartbeat or other things like a deep breath that may indicate they are excited, which of course would mean you should exit the hand!

Playing Questionable Hands

When you first start playing Texas hold’em you should mainly concentrate on only the best hands, but as you progress, you will need to start playing other hands in order to be successful. Some examples of questionable hands are those like AX suited, KJ offsuit and hands like 89 unsuited. The thing to remember with questionable hands is that they may not necessarily be questionable, but more likely they are situational. The thing you have to learn is how to identify the best situations from which to use them. Here are some guidelines to playing questionable hands:

  • Situational hands are usually best played from late position. The reason for this is because you need a lot of money in the pot to justify the odds of making your hand. Say with a hand like 78 unsuited, you really have no flush possibilities and the hand will almost never win unimproved. The hand you are really hoping to hit is a straight, but that doesn’t happen to often so you need to make sure that if it does happen, you are paid off well
  • Every now and then it is a good strategy to play a questionable hand out of position to throw off your opposition. If you do this however, make sure you maintain your aggressiveness throughout the hand.
  • Playing low pairs can be very effective and sometimes they win without improving, but your general thought should be that you need enough money in the pot to justify the fact that about one out of every eight times you will flop the set you are looking for.

Game Specific Strategy