The Strategy of Texas Holdem Poker

The overwhelming consensus regarding Texas Holdem strategy is to play a tight, aggressive game. This basically means that it is not necessary to play each and every hand, but those that are played should be played to the max – with plenty of betting and raising.

Player’s Position

A factor that is most important, and should not be overlooked by the aspirant Texas Holdem player, is that of position, position, and position. The position of each player at the table is of paramount importance – the players who act, or play, later have a lot more information to those who have to open the betting, and this is obviously advantageous – the more information you have, the more often you will succeed, particularly in cards. Thus players who have to act early on in the betting round typically play fewer hands than those who have to act or play later on in the round. Fortunately the dealer position rotates allowing all the players a turn, and this will, in effect, change each player’s position too.

Starting Hands

Texas Holdem dictates that only two cards are dealt individually to each player, and it is therefore relatively simple to quantify and analyse all the possible starting hands. The possible combinations of two cards from a standard deck of 52 cards amounts to 1 326, but no suit is more powerful than another, which further limits the possible combinations of the starting hands to only 169.

Of the 169 possible hole card combinations, 13 will be pairs (from 2 through to Ace) of which 78 will be possible non-suited pairs and 78 will be possible suited pairs. A strategy will then discuss in detail each of these 169 possibilities.

Variations of Texas Holdem

There are three basic variations of the game – no limit, limit and pot limit:

  • Limit – this is traditionally the most popular form of the game, and bets and raises during the first two rounds must be equal to that of the big blind – the small bet. In the Turn and River rounds, the bets and raises must be twice that of the big blind – the big bet.
  • No Limit – this is the form of Texas Holdem which is generally played in tournaments, including the WSOP main event. In this form of the game players may bet or raise any amount over the minimum raise, right up to all-in, the player’s entire chip stack!
  • Pot Limit – the maximum raise is equal to the size of the current pot.

It makes perfect sense that each of these variations of Texas Holdem will demand a different strategy. In the Limit version of the game, deception, which includes bluffing, will be severely curtailed, and players will be likely to take more chances than if the bets and raises were unlimited! One of the founding fathers of Texas Holdem in Nevada, Doyle Brunson, believes that limit and no-limit Holdem are effectively completely different games, so much so that it is highly unlikely that any one player will be champion in both events.