Poker Essays

Hold 'em strategy for beginners
By July 2006

You've learned the basics of hold'em poker. You know a flop from a river, a big blind from a button. What you don't have is a solid grounding in hold'em strategy. While hold'em strategy is a large and complex subject, there are some basic elements of hold'em strategy everyone should know.

The most important aspect of hold'em strategy is hand selection. You should typically be playing about 20 percent of the hands you are dealt. There are not too many very strong hands in hold'em and when you get involved in a pot, you want to have one of these strong hands. If you are limiting the hands you play to premium holdings, you will have an advantage over your looser opponents in that when you get involved in a pot with them, you will start out with a better hand on average.

Another element of hold'em strategy is the concept of tight-aggression. As mentioned, you want to play only the strongest hands. When you do play them, you want to play them aggressively. It is usually a mistake to just check and call and hope your hand holds up at the end. Proper hold'em strategy is to bet your hands and put pressure on your opponents. Force your opponents to make decisions. The more decisions they have to make, the more likely they are to make bad decisions, which can end up putting poker chips in your stack.

Finally, no hold'em strategy discussion is complete without considering the importance of position. Hold'em is a game of information and the later you act in the round, the more information you have. For this reason you want to play fewer hands when in early position and more hands in later position. Knowing how many opponents you are against and how much they like their hands can add strength to your own hand and your ability to play it.

These hold'em strategy basics should get you started. As you continue to play and gain experience, you will build on this knowledge and start to develop some more advanced strategies. Good luck.

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