No Limit Texas Hold'em Strategy
The purpose of this strategy guide is to provide you with exactly this kind of poker strategy foundation for no limit Texas hold’em. If you are able to master the basic principles outlined here and combine this with the necessary discipline and patience to correctly implement them at the tables, then you are well on your way to beating at least the micro stakes for a healthy win rate. It is important that you know the rules of no limit hold’em and the poker hand rankings very well for a good understanding of this no limit hold’em strategy guide.
Reading the board
It is one thing to be able to determine your hand value by combining the community cards with your hole cards to form the highest five card combination. To determine the strength of your hand relative to the hands that could be out there in the hands of your opponents however is at least as important a skill to have in order to make the most correct decisions. Reading the board is an essential part of determining your relative hand strength. This becomes obvious when you hold a set (three-of-a-kind) on a river that brings the fourth card of the same suit:
A set is generally a very strong hand in Texas hold’em. In this case however, your opponent only needs to have a diamond to beat your hand and you certainly wouldn’t want to put all your chips in the middle to see a showdown. Your otherwise strong hand has become pretty marginal to say the least; it won’t be more than just a ‘bluff catcher’.
Although you hold the same top pair top kicker (TPTK) in both hands, hand two is relatively stronger. There are much more hands that your opponent is likely to hold on the river that beat your one pair hand in the upper example (AQ, AJ, TK, QJ, A9, J9, etc.) than in the second example (the odd 2, sometimes 66 or A6).
Relative hand strength also includes the vulnerability of your hand on earlier streets to possible draws. A board is said to be ‘wet’ when there are many draws and strong hands possible. Conversely a ‘dry’ board doesn’t connect well with a lot of the holdings people tend to play:
|Dry board||Wet board|
If you have a strong hand like two pair or a set on the dry board then you don’t have to bet as strong as on the wet board. On the wet board there are a lot of cards in the deck that could fall on the turn and make your hand second best (completing flush or straight draws). Further more, if your opponent does not have a draw but a weaker made hand, these cards might scare your opponent as much as they scare you and you could lose value by not betting strong on the flop.
When you are in a hand and have determined your absolute hand strength, always ask yourself where your hand stands relative to the hands that are in your opponents range. Which range of hands could your opponent hold given the community cards and his actions? Are there any possible draws out there which he could have and stick around with? Did the turn or river complete any of these draws? Is it likely for your opponent to play the cards that would give him a better hand than yours? This last question already goes beyond reading the board and also takes your opponents tendencies into account. This will be addressed later in this poker strategy article. First, let’s take a look at another key concept involving relative hand strength: the importance of your position at the table.
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