Hold'em Poker Tips #1-5: Golden Nuggets

Continued from: Exceptions to the Rules in Poker

Here are the first 5 of my top 20 list of "Gold Nuggets" for playing Hold'em Poker. I have divided the tips into 4 pages of 5 for easier digestion and contemplation.

Hold'em Poker Tips

1) You play too many hands. I know, I've never seen you play, but I'm sure of it. You play too many hands. Only play premium poker hands. Patiently wait for good hands and fold bad ones. There's no reason to play junk hands - you'll get two new cards next hand.

2) Raise or fold. You should only rarely call a bet. Callers in poker are losers. Generally speaking, if a poker hand is good enough to play then it's good enough to bet. A new player almost definitely calls too much and would surely enhance his or her game by simply removing the idea of calling from his or her arsenal and by limiting play options, especially before the flop to raise or fold.

3) Rarely bluff. Bluffs should be used very sparingly. Against weak players you should all but remove them from your play entirely. Most beginners bluff too much. I blame this fact partially on the recent advent of televised poker. Remember that those shows are edited to present the most exciting plays and highlights, and big bluffs are exciting. You are usually also only watching the final table action where the blinds are so big that the players are forced to play a lot of hands and make a lot of "moves" just to stay in the game.

4) Rarely deviate from the standard play. Too many players suffer from what I call "fancy play syndrome." They use the check-raise when a bet would be more practical; they try to set elaborate traps and make big bluffs when it's really not necessary. You need to mix up your play against strong players, but against normal or weak players you should usually just use the fundamentally correct play. Often using a deceptive but mathematically inferior play will result in a chip leak that will be very difficult to make up for. When these "fancy plays" work just right they make you look very good, but they're just too expensive in the long run. Slow playing against multiple opponents or trapping with pocket kings before the flop are some good ways to lose hands that you should have won, and when such a play backfires it is often quite disastrous.

5) Poker is a people game played with cards, not a card game played by people. You have to understand the motivations and playing styles of the people you are playing against. The same exact move that would be extremely effective against a seasoned vet may have no affect whatsoever against an amateur and vice versa.

♣ Continued at: Texas Hold'em Tips #6-10: Juicy Tidbits

♣ Back to the index of Dead Money's guide to hold'em strategy.