Are you starting out in the world of No-Limit Texas Hold’em? There are many rules and tips that we should know in advance before taking a seat.
No-Limit Texas Hold’em is king on the tournament circuit as the preferred poker format of choice. So, it makes sense to get a firm grasp of the ins and outs of the most popular poker variant in the world.
There's a lot to figure out, whether it’s the type of game we want to play to the stakes and table-max.
Here are our top 12 tips for being successful at the poker tables.
1 - Learn the Rules
It might surprise us to learn that some real money players will jump into a game without adequately understanding the rules. This recipe is not great for winning.
- It always makes sense to learn the rules thoroughly before investing our own chips.
Play money games can sometimes be a good way of learning the ropes. Alternatively, we could consider checking out 888poker’s interactive tool for learning poker.
Alongside this, we should make sure we are 100% familiar with the hand rankings in poker (including which hands factor in ‘kickers’).
This knowledge helps us avoid being caught out by some of the less frequent occurrences in Hold ’em (such as who wins when there is four-of-a-kind on the board).
Why not check out the 888poker’s hand rankings guide for help with this?
Those coming from a limit background might want to check out the differences between limit and no-limit Hold’em.
2 - Know the Game Types
Know the Game Types
No-Limit Texas Hold’em can be played in several different formats. Cash games, tournaments, and sit and go’s, are the main three. (Note: sit and go’s are a type of poker tournament).
The best strategy will change depending on whether we are playing cash games or tournaments. Many players like to specialize in one format or the other.
Why not try out both to begin with and see which one you prefer?
Once we have selected our favourite format, we might focus only on learning strategy for that specific format. (That way, we can get an edge faster). This method is optional.
Some successful poker players who like to play both cash games and tournaments.
3 - Invest Responsibly
Poker is not gambling in the same way that other casino games are considered gambling. We play poker against other players (rather than the house). So, it is possible to win at poker over the long term.
Winning poker players often think about poker in terms of investing rather than gambling.
Either way, the potential for losses is there. So, we should not invest more money than we are willing to lose. If, at any point, our losses start to make us feel unhappy or surpass what we can afford, it’s probably time to pull the plug.
Rather than wait until we start to encounter losses, we need to decide well in advance how much money we are willing to invest.
4 - Learn Poker Strategy
It’s easier than ever to get good at Hold’em due the extensive available training resources online. It’s worth spending some time exploring what is available in the way of training videos, articles, and books.
As a starting point, there are many strategy articles available through the 888poker website.
On top of looking through the strategy content on 888poker’s site, many players think about joining a poker training site. This ability allows them to watch training videos and chat with other poker players about strategy.
5 - Develop a Strong Mindset
Develop a Strong Mindset
Poker strategy can be challenging. But many players consider the mental aspect of playing poker to be an even bigger challenge.
Even winning players will go on extended runs where they simply can’t seem to catch any good cards and will start to lose. This process is a normal and expected part of the game.
The challenge is to continue to play our best poker game despite not getting good hands.
In these scenarios, we start to see the difference between players who have a good mindset and players who don’t.
- Players with a weak mindset might start to get frustrated and make increasingly bad decisions.
- Tilt in the poker world and can easily make the difference between a winning and losing poker player.
Many players invest specific time into working on their mental strength. In some cases, they may even hire a mental game coach.
6 - Select Starting Hands Carefully
One of the first areas of strategy players consider is whether to enter the pot in the preflop betting round.
There is not always a right or wrong answer. There are winning players who play lots of hands preflop and winning players who wait for very strong holdings.
But winning at poker while playing lots of hands preflop requires more skill and knowledge about the game.
So, even if our end goal is to play lots of starting hands, it usually makes sense to begin by waiting for strong holdings preflop.
Being selective with our starting hands preflop is the fastest way to start winning at No-Limit Hold’em.
7 - Understand Position
Position is a crucial concept in No-Limit Hold’em. Being ‘in position’ means we get to act last on each betting round. It’s an advantage.
- We get to see what our opponent does before we need to act.
Whether we will be ‘in position’ depends on our seat at the poker table.
For example, the best seat at the poker table is the button. The player in this seat will always get to be in position postflop.
Why not check out this 888poker guide to the positions at a poker table?
8 - Think About Opponent Types
There is an old saying that poker is about “playing the player, not the cards”. There is a lot of truth to this.
- The best decision will often be based more on who we are facing rather than the cards we are dealt.
By observing our opponents carefully, we can learn more about their strategies and tendencies.
- For example, do they enter the pot with weak starting hands?
- Or do they wait for premium holdings?
- Do they fold a lot postflop?
- Or do they call a lot hoping to reach a showdown?
Once we understand how our opponents play, we can use the information to make more profitable decisions.
Here is a quick breakdown of some common player types in poker:
|TAG||Stands for ‘tight aggressive’. These players enter the pot with strong hands and play aggressively postflop.|
|LAG||Stands for ‘loose aggressive’. These players enter the pot with a wider range of hands than a TAG and play aggressively postflop.|
|Maniac||Maniacs play too many hands and are constantly gambling with their chips through hyper-aggressive play. Most maniacs are losing players.|
|Recreational||The weaker players at the table. These players are often on the loose side preflop and play passively postflop.|
|Nit||These players hardly play any hands preflop and are constantly waiting for ultra-premium holdings.|
|Clueless||These players are struggling with the basic rules of the game (sometimes called “donks”). They often play considerable number of hands preflop and play passively postflop.|
These are just a few. See if you can identify some other opponent types in your game.
9 - Learn Basic Poker Maths
There are particular poker formulas that it makes sense to learn before hitting the poker tables. One example of this is the formula for pot odds calculations.
Pot odds tell us the price we are getting when facing a bet. We can use this info to figure out how often we need to win for calling to be profitable.
Let’s see a quick example:
- There is $10 in the pot on the river.
- Our opponent bets $5.
- What are our pot odds?
If we were to make the call here, we’d be investing $5 into a total pot of $20, which works out at 25% of the total pot.
So, we need to win more than 25% of the time for calling to be profitable.
One way of saying this is that we ‘get 25% pot odds on the call’.
(NOTE: Many poker players prefer to use ratios instead of percentages. They would say something like, “we are getting three to 1 (3:1) on a call”. This format is just another way of saying the same thing).
Here are some other standard calculations that are good to learn:
|Pot Odds||The price we get on a call.|
|Implied Odds||The price we get on a call considering chips we might win on later streets.|
|Odds / Equity||The chance that we make our hand|
|Outs||The cards left in the deck that make our hand|
888poker has an odds calculator that can help us to get started with odds/equity.
888poker also offers a complete guide to pot odds. This guide can help clear up any confusion if we don’t know how to calculate any of the above.
10 - Keep Track of Results
Professional players generally keep a detailed record of their results. This data allows them to figure out which games are making them the most money. They can also keep a careful watch on the size of their bankroll.
It’s possible to do this manually using a spreadsheet (useful for live players). But online players have other options available such as poker tracking software.
- Tracking software will automatically record hands played at the poker tables.
- It can also then display the overall results for each limit.
Tracking software often comes with a range of other functions, such as reviewing past hands and seeing overall statistics on our play.
It’s helpful for finding mistakes and improving overall strategy.
11 - Plan Volume
Plan to Play Volume
There is nothing wrong with just playing poker whenever we feel like it. But the most successful poker players often take a more structured approach.
They will set specific times aside for playing poker and then stick to the schedule.
This strategy can improve our chances of success in two critical ways:
- We play more volume and improve faster.
- We have a set time for quitting our poker session if things aren’t going well.
Without a decent schedule in place some players might find it difficult to quit the session when they are losing and play for long hours in the hopes of chasing their losses. While we may occasionally get back to even this way, the end result is often losing even more chips which can create a negative cycle.
12 - Enjoy the Game
Poker is a game. It’s meant to be enjoyed.
It’s true that it’s possible for poker to be a profession. But professional players generally enjoy playing poker (most of the time, at least).
Every so often, players come along who don’t like poker that much but see it as a ‘get rich quick’ scheme. Although such players may sometimes have some initial success, they usually quit the game as soon as things get tough.
The best reason to play poker is because we love poker. That way, even when the results aren’t going our way, we’ll still continue to enjoy the game.
We’ll often have the best results this way also.