Texas Hold’em is very easy to learn and if only for this reason it attracts crowds of players. Another reason for this popularity is its relatively fast pace. While becoming a master of the game will take you months if not years, becoming better than most can be possible even with a very basic strategy. Naturally, you need to be consistent in applying it. Otherwise, the whole thing will not work.
This Texas Hold’em basic strategy boils down to playing only the best starting hands, which means folding the majority of them. Such a playing style is called tight. Tight beginning players do much better on average than most novices in this game.
The goal of any strategy is to win money. The best way to do that is to maximize your profits on the hands that you have a good chance to win while minimizing your losses on the hands where your chance to win is much limited. In particular, that implies folding the bad hands.
This strategy suggests the following hands as your best starting hands:
A-A, K-K, Q-Q, J-J, 10-10, 9-9, 8-8, A-Ks, A-Qs, K-Qs.
In the notation we used above, the “s” denotes that both cards are of the same suit, say both are spades.
On the flop, it is critical to assess whether you have improved your hand or not. If that’s not the case then fold it. Playing the turn or the river is similar. Did you improve your hand? If you did not then do not hesitate to fold it.
Our Texas Hold’em basic strategy can thus be summed up in the following way:
1. If you do NOT have one of the best starting hands – FOLD
2. If you have one of the best starting hands – bet or raise
3. If after the flop you have NOT improved your hand – FOLD
4. If after the flop you have improved your hand – raise
5. If after the turn or river you have NOT improved your hand – FOLD
6. If after the turn or river you have improved your hand – raise
Whether you should bet or raise your starting hand depends on your position in the game. If you are one of the first three players to act after the blinds, it is advisable to exercise caution and only to bet unless your hole cards form a strong pair such as A-A, K-K, or Q-Q. If you are one of the last three players to act, you may choose to raise, particularly with the strong pairs or if the other players only bet.