How to Win at Texas Holdem

There’s a certain sense of romanticism surrounding Texas Hold’em. It’s one of the most popular poker variants in the world, often associated with badass Western movie characters or daring gamblers that risk enormous amounts of cash. It’s merely cool to play it.

But there’s much more to it than just being cool. Professional players of poker games actually implement a series of tactical and mathematical calculations to ensure a win. They don’t put all that money on the line expecting nothing but divine forces to favor their bravery, after all. Many amateurs and aspiring professional players don’t realize there are tactics that statistically make them much more likely to rake in the chips.

So what are the best strategies for Texas Hold’em? It’s true that Texas is mostly a game of chance, and therefore, never truly predictable. Nevertheless, implementing some wise advice goes a long way to winning more games overall. If you’re looking for important tips on how to win at Texas Hold’em, you needn’t look further than this article.

Position Matters

Most newcomers to Texas Hold’em fail to think about the importance of each position on the table. Since the turns take place in a clockwise fashion, starting from the dealer’s left-hand side, there’s a kind of power dynamic going on at the table.

It’s well-known that the dealer has the most powerful position in the game. That is because they get to act last in each betting round. As a consequence, their decisions are the most well-informed, seeing that everyone else has already made their move. They are far from invincible, however. The one who plays right before the dealer has the power to force their hand, so to speak. For example, they can raise by so much that the dealer feels the need to fold.

Conversely, the person that bets first is generally in the tightest of binds. Since they start the wagering portion of the game, they effectively play blind (even more so than normal). You can imagine how much of a disadvantage that presents. The key takeaway is that not all are equal on the table, and one person is always the closest to winning the pot.

It’s a Numbers Game First

People usually believe that poker mostly revolves around luck and reading other people’s actions or reactions. While both certainly have a part in the game, in truth, playing poker demands a much more mathematical approach. More precisely, you will mostly rely on probability. You have to calculate the chances of someone carrying a better hand than you in addition to determining what cards your adversaries most likely hold.

A lot of Texas Hold’em can indeed be subjected to theoretical speculation. David Sklansky’s “The Theory of Poker” explains a comprehensive statement about the game’s nature. The gist of it is that any decision with the highest estimated value (EV) will most probably yield positive results. If you’ve ever heard that EV abbreviation in conversations about poker in general, that’s what it means: any action that should — in theory, at least — pay dividends.

As an extension of this strategy, try reading up on the more complicated and specialized concepts, like pot odds. Unless, of course, you’ve yet to understand the fundamentals, in which case, learn those first. Consider the likes of Dan Harrington, Mike Caro, and Gus Hanse. Their books predominantly deal with poker plays in general, but the wisdom is priceless nonetheless.