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About This Guide

This eBook is meant to make you familiar with the basics of the game of poker in

general, and Texas Hold’em poker in particular: its rules and the basic strategy

concepts involved. Hold’em is extremely easy to learn, but it is almost infinitely

difficult to master. In order to be a good poker player, you need to master the

mathematical side of the game as well as the psychological and strategic one.

This eBook will cover Texas Hold’em rules in detail, and corroborate them with

strategy every step of the way. You’ll learn about position, about cash-game and

tournament strategy, about different player types (tight, passive, loose, aggressive)

about pot odds and the basic math behind them. Reading this eBook will

certainly make you a better player, but remember, in order to truly improve, you

need to put in many hours and days of play, because nothing substitutes

experience when it comes to Texas Hold’em.
Introduction - Texas Hold’em

About Texas Hold’em

Texas Hold’em is a community version of the game of poker which has taken the
world by storm since about 2003. The game has of course been around for much
longer, but the true popularity explosion began in 2003, when an online
qualifier – Chris Moneymaker – won the WSOP’s Main Event, taking down a
huge multi-million dollar prize. That event, coupled with the WPT’s televised
tournaments, turned poker into a pop-phenomenon. Moneymaker’s victory also
proved that online poker could indeed be the way to unbelievable riches for just
about any average person.

The most popular Texas Hold’em version is the No Limit (NL) one, featured by
most high profile live and televised events. As a poker variant, Hold’em is
characterized by a much more aggressive variance than other variants like
Omaha and Stud. This favors beginners over the short-run, which makes the
game even more appealing to the masses.

A community-card poker variant, Texas Hold’em features two hole cards handed
out to each player at the beginning of a hand. The cards are dealt after the blinds
have been posted by two of the players, one of whom pays the SB (Small Blind)
and the other one the BB (Big Blind). The blinds are compulsory bets. After each
player receives his/her hole cards, a betting round begins. Players have the
option to call the BB, to raise it or to fold.

After the first betting round, a card is burnt and three community cards are dealt
face-up onto the table. This is called the flop. Players are supposed to make a 5card
hand with their two hole cards and the three community cards on the
board. The flop is followed by another round of betting. A 4th community card is
then dealt to the table after the dealer burns another card. This one is called 4th
street or the “turn”. The turn is followed by another round of betting, which is
then followed by yet another community card: the “river” or 5th street. The river
is followed by the showdown which decides the winner of the pot.

Rules: How to Play Texas Hold’em

Learning how to play shouldn’t take a normal person more than 10-20 minutes. The
rules are simple and straightforward, and if you watch somebody playing, or just sit in on
an online table, you’ll probably learn it without any additional explanations. Mind you
though, that the rules do not even represent the first step towards becoming a
reasonable poker player.

Before we move on to Texas Holdem’s actual rules, let us take a look at why – as
a beginner - you should choose Hold’em over Omaha, Stud or other – more
exotic – poker variants.

Hold’em has a much higher short-term variance than any of the poker variants I
mentioned. This means that the luck factor will have a much bigger say in the
outcome of a hand than in Omaha or Stud. This fact gives rookies an undeserved
short-term edge, making them capable of holding their own against experienced
opposition. This is the reason why you should definitely play Hold’em instead of
Omaha or Stud when you take your first steps in online poker.

Texas Hold’em – like Omaha – is a community card game. This means there will
be cards dealt to a table for all players to see, cards which they’ll all have to use
as part of their 5-card poker hands.

A game of Texas Hold’em begins with the designation of the dealer button. This
little button that moves from one player to another in a clock-wise direction on
every hand is the catalyst of all the action that takes place at the table. The player
sitting “on the button” is the one who does the dealing. The position of the
dealer button also determines the position of the Small Blind (SB) which is on the
immediate left of the dealer, and the Big Blind (BB) which is on the immediate
left of the SB. The BB and the SB are forced bets (players don’t have a say in
whether or not they want to make them) and they are called “blinds” because
they are placed before any cards are dealt, in the blind. Specialists call the blinds
the catalysts of all Texas Hold’em action. Without the blinds, the game would
degenerate into a game of tag, where the player with the best possible hand
would be the only one to ever see any action.

The blinds provide a reason for players to act on starting hands other than A,A (a
pair of Aces), whether in defense, or in an attempt to steal the blinds.
If the blinds were ridiculously high, there couldn’t be a game either. Provided the
blinds were high enough, the whole game would degenerate into a lottery as
every player would play just about any starting hand right to the finish. This logic
is explained by the pot odds, which I’ll try to explain later on in this eBook.
What the difference between the two above-presented extremes suggests is that
the smaller the blinds are, the tighter you should play (you should act on fewer
and better starting hands), and the bigger they are, the looser you should
approach the issue.

Once the blinds are posted at the Texas Hold’em table, the dealer hands each
player two hole-cards (or pocket cards) which are dealt face down so that no one
but the player in whose possession they are can see them. After the deal, players
get a general idea about how their eventual 5-card hand will shape up. The A,A
is obviously the best pocket hand, because it is – in itself – an already made
hand. The worst pocket hand in Hold’em is the 7,2o (where the “o” means
“offsuit” Blink because its odds for making a flush, a straight or any other reasonable
poker hand are the worst. Following the deal, a betting round commences. Even
though the bulk of the action is not supposed to take place on this betting round,
it too is extremely important in the overall equation of a hand (you’ll see why

During this “preflop” betting round, players have the option to either just call the
BB (hoping to see a “cheap” flop), to raise it, or to fold their hand “mucking” it
and saving the chips they would’ve spent on calling the BB. Being aggressive
preflop will result in fewer players seeing the flop, which means an automatic
odds-increase for all those still in the hand. Those players who call a preflop
raise and fold on the flop will leave dead money in the pot, which is another
excellent way to increase the odds of those who remain in play.

After the preflop betting round, the dealer burns a card and deals three cards
face-up onto the table. This is called the “flop”, and these community cards
represent the first batch of the total of 5 community cards that will hit the table
before showdown. Players will make their hands using their two pocket cards
and the three community cards on the board.

The flop is followed by a betting round too, in which players can bet, fold, call,
raise and re-raise, according to the strategy they’re following. The dealer then
burns another card, and deals another community card (face-up) onto the table.
This card is called the “turn” or 4th street, and it is followed by yet another
betting round. At this stage, players have to make their 5-card hands using any
combination of their 2 hole cards and the 4 community cards on the table. This
means they can elect to use only 1 of their hole cards, and all 4 cards off the

The last community card (the 5th) is called the “river” or 5th street. This card is
followed by a betting round too. Players make their hands using any
combination of the community cards and their hole-cards. The last betting round
is followed by the showdown, when players show their hands, so that the dealer
can determine who won, according to who made the highest valid poker hand.
The pot is raked before it is awarded to the winner of the hand.

Starting Hands - Playing Pre-Flop

Starting hand selection and different preflop strategies are all meant to increase the EV+
you get on a specific starting hand. Starting hand selection is less important in high
stakes games where experienced opponents match skills, but it is extremely important in
low stakes/limit games where all the rookies like yourself play.
Starting hand selection and preflop strategy are both influenced by a number of different

According to the fundamental theorem of winning poker, whenever you play a
hand the same way you would if you could see your opponent’s hole cards, you
gain value. Whenever you play a hand differently, you lose value. Since – in a
fair and fraud free environment – nobody will ever be able to take a peek at his/
her opponents’ hole cards, you should settle for the next best thing, and reformulate
the theorem like so: whenever you play positive EV (expected value)
situations, you gain value, whether you win a particular hand or not. Whenever
you play negative EV, you lose value, regardless of the fact that sometimes you
get lucky and win.

The mistake most rookie players make when it comes to the EV is that they sit
around trying to spot EV+ situations and then moving to exploit them. Starting
hand selection is about passive EV exploitation.

Regardless of what you may read in advanced poker strategy articles about how
starting hand selection is unimportant for high stakes professionals who play the
player rather than their cards, you should study starting hand charts and you
should stick with it. As a rookie, it is the best way to maximize the value in your
bets, and as such it should become an essential part of your game.

At high stakes tables, starting hand selection will indeed yield to opponent
reading skills and to “playing the player”, but as a beginner you’re not likely to
play at high stakes tables, and at lower limits, starting hand selection means a
huge edge.

One of the most common mistakes rookies make is that they play too many
hands. They are made to believe this is the right approach by the professional
players they see on TV (who play the player and not their cards in high stakes
games), and by all their opponents who see a flop on every rag and apparently
hit something time and time again.

Probability of Being Dealt a Quality Starting Hand

Pair preflop
Suited Connectors (2/3, KQ, ...)
AK preflop
AA or KK preflop
AKs preflop


Starting hand selection is also influenced by other – strategic and mathematical –
aspects of the game. Your position at the table influences starting hand selection,
in the sense that you’ll play more starting hands from late position and fewer
from early position. The implied odds that you get on your low pairs when you’re
well stacked is also a factor that will make you play starting hands you would’ve
mucked under different circumstances.

Whether you’re playing at a full table, in a short handed situation or in a heads-
up confrontation will also alter your starting hand selection radically.

At a full table, you should only play premium starting hands because the number
of likely opponents going on to see the flop with you is high. Under such
circumstances, you can even have your A,A, K,K, Q,Q, or J,J cracked easily, and
therefore you should adopt protective measures when you have such hands in
your pocket. At short handed tables, premium hands can be played differently
and even less than premium hands can be taken to a flop. In a heads-up
situation, the whole equation is turned upside down. Given the mathematical
odds that you get for your starting hands when confronted by a single player
only, you should pretty much play every reasonable starting hand.

Tournament hand selection is one thing, cash game hand selection is a different
matter altogether. In tournaments, the constantly escalating blinds put you under
pressure all the time. Given the fact that the pot odds tell you to play tight when
the blinds are small and loosen up when they get big (in relation to the average
pot size that is) you should be very flexible when it comes to starting hand
selection. The relation between your stack size and the size of the blinds should
be your primary clue here.

In a cash game, the blinds stay on the same level, there’s no pressure on you: all
you have to do here is make sure you’re adequately stacked, and play your best.

As a general guide-line, you should always raise with A,A or K,K regardless of
your position. Remember, while with such hands you’re pretty much guaranteed
to have the best hand at the table preflop, they too need protection, hence the
need for a raise.

Q,Q, J,J and A,K suited call for a raise or a flat call from all positions, depending
on the reads you get.

A,Q, K,Q, A,J and 10,10 are also hands you should raise on from just about any
position – again – depending on the reads available.

K,T, Q,J and other such hands are hands that you should generally call on. These
hands are stronger when they’re suited of course, but you’ll need to exercise
caution on them most of the time.

As I said above, starting hand selection is about passive EV+ exploitation. A good
poker player cannot wait for the EV+ to come about though. There are ways one
can get out there and actively influence the EV.

Preflop betting is the player’s main tool in this respect. Let’s say you’re at a 10handed
table, and you get a pair of Ks in your pocket in early position. What you
want to do here is to protect your hand. While before the flop your hand is
indeed most probably the best hand at the table, if you allow a whole bunch of
other hands to go to the flop with you, it may lose its edge quickly.

Therefore it is recommended that you raise on such hands, in order to limit the
number of players who see the flop, and make your other opponents pay for the

Those who are intimidated by your raise and fold automatically increase the
mathematical odds you get for you K,K. Those who decide to call will put money
into the pot, thus increasing your pot odds. After the flop, some of the folks who
called your preflop raise will decide they do not want to continue in the hand,
and they’ll fold leaving “dead money” in the pot. Such dead money is the Poker
Gods’ gift to players who remain in the hand.

In conclusion: the primary goal of preflop play is to improve the mathematical
odds for your starting hand by aggressively betting into you opponents. Some
starting hands justify a slow approach (those carrying implied odds like small
pairs), in which case your preflop strategy will be edged towards seeing a cheap

Remember that under different circumstances, you may want to play differently
preflop on the same starting hand. If you’re looking to trap someone in a short
handed game, slow-playing a monster hand may be the right way to go.


The number of outs (or that of the unseen cards in a deck that will help you make your
hand) is the basis for all odds calculus in poker. The outs will tell you your mathematical
chances for making a certain hand, but they’ll also give you a mathematical
recommendation on whether you should fold, call or raise.

The outs are those cards from the deck that will complete your hand or improve
it, potentially turning it into the best hand at the table, or at least into what you
believe is the best hand at the table. Knowing your number of outs is extremely
important, as this piece of information is the basis of almost all mathematics
involved in the game.

On one hand, your number of outs can give you the odds of your making the
hand you’re looking for, on the other hand, when you compare these odds to
your pot odds, you will get a clear mathematical indication as to whether you
should fold, call or raise.

Remember that all these “mathematical” guidelines do not take the
psychological factor into account, so in a situation in which mathematics
suggests you should make a given choice, you may want to go down a different
road based on decisions you make taking other factors into account.

Any two cards suited 23.53%
Any hand with a pair or an Ace 20.36%
Ace with less than a Jack offsuit 8.14%
Any two cards offsuit connectors w/ max straight chance 6.33%
Any Pair 5.88%
Ace with less than a Jack suited 2.71%
Two Tens thru Two Sixes 2.26%
Any two cards suited connectors w/ max straight chance 2.11%
Ace–Queen or Ace-Jack offsuit 1.81%
Two Fives thru Two Twos 1.81%
Two Kings thru Two Jacks 1.36%
Ace–King offsuit 0.90%
King–Queen offsuit 0.90%
Ace–Queen or Ace-Jack suited 0.60%
Two Aces 0.45%
Ace–King suited 0.30%
King–Queen suited 0.30%

More Combinations:

Hitting at least a straight if you have an open ended straight flush draw after the flop 54.12%
Reaching a flush with 4 suited cards after the flop 34.97%
Flopping a set on the flop and going for full house or better 33.40%
Having no pocket pair and trying to pair either card on the flop 32.43%
Being dealt any suited cards 23.53%
Getting two pairs on the Flop and going for a full house or better 16.74%
Being dealt at least one Ace pre-flop 14.93%
Holding two suited cards and two or more of that suit will flop 11.79%
Holding a pair and flopping a set 11.76%
Being dealt a pair 5.88%
Being dealt AK 1.21%

Let’s take things one step at a time though and take a close look at how your
number of outs determine the odds of your hand being “filled up”.

Let’s consider an easy example: you have 4-card flush on the flop. At his point,
you decide to determine the odds of a flush coming about on the turn, based on
the total number of unseen cards and those amongst them that will make your
flush happen.

Because there are 5 cards you can see on the table (the 2 in your hand and the 3
community cards on the table), the total number of unseen cards will be 52 (the
number of cards in a deck) – 5 (the cards you can see) = 47. The number of cards
that will help your flush is 9. That’s because there are 4 sets of 13 same suited
cards in every deck, and out of those 13 cards you can already see 4. 13-4=9,
that is your number of outs.

Because out of the 47 cards 38 will not help you, and 9 will, you may a well say
that your odds of making your flush are 38 to 9 against. Divide that equation by
9 and you’ll get the base result of 4.22-1.

One can make such calculations for every hand taking the number of outs as a
starting point. In this respect, one can compile a chart detailing the odds in
percentages (to make it easier to assess for most people).

For our above example, 4.22-1 against could be translated as: out of a total of

5.22 cards, 1 will help you make your flush, and 4.22 will not. If all 5.22 cards
would help you, you’d have 100% chances. Therefore:


X = 1X100/5.22 = 19.157

You will make a flush in the above mentioned situation 19.157% of the time. You
need to keep in sight that the above detailed calculus is valid only for your turn
card, but – provided it misses you, you’ll get one more shot with similar odds on
the river. That means your overall % chance to make your flush on the turn OR
on the river is 19.15X2=38.3% (this is not the correct mathematical way of
calculating the chances of making a flush on the turn OR on the river, but it is
easy-to-calculate and a good approximation).

You can choose to learn such odds charts by heart for all numbers of outs, but
there’s a simpler way that will give you a good approximation of the above
detailed odds. Just take your number of outs and multiply it by 2 if there’s only
one more card to come or by 4 if there are 2 cards to come. Note that this will
not give you an accurate result but it will give you a close enough one to make a
decision on.

For our above example (9 outs) the odds with one card to come are 9X2= 18
(pretty close to 19.157%). With two cards to come it’s 9X4=36 (again, pretty
close to the real number of 38.3%).

One mistake that players often make when determining the odds for their hands
using the number of outs is that they fail to take extra outs into consideration.
While you may be looking for a flush, remember that under certain
circumstances you may also be hit by outs for a straight a set or two pairs, hands
that could also become pot winners.

Determining your course of action based on the odds of making a winning

The odds calculus presented above carries a special significance: it holds the key
to the ever present question: should I call, fold or raise?

By comparing your pot odds with the odds of making your hand you’ll gain a
definite mathematical answer to that question.
Let’s say you’re on the flop holding a 4-card flush (like in the above example),
there’s a $50 pot and you’re faced with a $10 raise. What do you do?

First, you take a look at your pot odds. It takes you $10 to take a whack at a $50
pot, right? That means you get 5-1 payout for your money, in conclusion, your
pot odds are 5-1. Making the above presented calculus, you arrive to the result
that the odds of making your flush on the turn are 4.22-1 against. Since those
odds are better than the pot odds you get, you should definitely make the call –
speaking from a mathematical perspective.

Making a $10 raise is not mathematically justified, because it ruins your pot
odds making them 5-2, or 2.5-1. 4.22-1 against is worse than the 2.5-1 pot odds,
and therefore such a move is not justified.

When you make your decisions based on such mathematical tricks, always
remember that the result you get is only valid for the turn. On the river, the odds
on your hand remain the same, but the pot odds can change a lot. The odds for
the turn and the river are called Effective Odds and cannot be accurately
calculated since the human factor has a decisive role in them.


Unlike other, non community-card poker variants, Texas Hold’em is a positional game.
Players’ position in relation to the dealer button and the blinds has a theoretical and
practical impact on the odds they get for their starting hands. Having to act after an
opponent carries obvious advantages on later streets as well. In a cash game involving
good players, one can quite literally track it as the money follows the dealer button

Position is beyond doubt one of the most often overlooked aspects of poker
strategy, at least when it comes to beginners. In online poker, the problem is
usually so bad that if you notice anyone at your table playing more aggressively
out of the button or the cut-off, you can almost consider that player one class
above the rest.

Yes, poker is a positional game as well as a betting one. The dealer button is the
point of reference here, which moves around the table in a clock-wise direction.
The position of the dealer button determines the position Big Blind (BB) and
Small Blind (SB). You may have heard the blinds being called the “catalysts” of
poker. They are indeed the source of all action at the table, and because of this
fact, players’ position in relation to the BB and SB gives birth to a set of strategic
advantages and drawbacks.

“Stabbing at pots when out of position can be very
lucrative. In tournaments, I’ll open-raise out of position
fairly frequently because I think there’s a lot of power in
being the first one to fire at the pot on the flop. I pick up a
lot of small pots that way.”

Gus Hansen

Being “in position” means to be among the last players
(or preferably the very last one) to act. This position offers obvious advantages as
a player enjoying this privilege will see all his opponents act before him. Poker is
a game of partial information, and being in position will offer you a wealth of
such information.
Being “out of position” means to be among the first to act. The choice for these
players is only bit easier than for the blinds. Basically, the player under the gun
(UTG) is acting about as blindly as the BB and the SB. For that reason, he loses
out on the odds he gets for just about any starting hand.

Let’s take a 10-handed table and run a little analysis of the positions of the
players. The SB and the BB are on the immediate left of the dealer button, in that
order. The player on the immediate left of the BB is sitting under the gun. This is
the earliest position, and it’s rather easy to tell by its name that it’s not exactly an
enviable situation.

The four players who come up on the left of the UTG are in middle position.
From the point of view of the advantages or disadvantages conferred by position,
these guys are in a rather neutral situation. The three players coming up on the
left of the middle position guys are in late position. The last to act is the dealer
who will enjoy an obvious advantage this way over just about anyone else. The
player on the immediate right of the dealer is called the cut-off.

The dealer is in the best position to launch an attack on the SB and BB, and the
player in the cut-off can cut him off by launching his own blinds-stealing

The influence position has on the odds adjacent to any given hand is not just a
theoretical one. Let’s consider an actual example to make things clear. If the
player Under the Gun has a K,J he has to act on it considering the possibility that
everyone at the table will call. Of course people may fold, but at this point in
time, our player has no way of knowing that, and he must assume that there are
10 opponents his hand will have to go up against. In this situation, his K,J has
around 40% chance to be beaten by one of the hands it goes up against.

If he is sitting on the button though, and everyone folds to him but the BB, the
chances that his hand should lose out to an opponent’s are reduced to around

Players sitting in the BB and the SB get the advantage of good pot odds in the
first betting round, but regardless of that, because of the forced bets that they
come with, these positions are statistically the biggest money losers.
Having position on one particular player means that you act after him most of
the time, that is, you’re sitting on his left. This can be an advantage or a
disadvantage, depending on the type of player you’re up against.

Let’s say you have position on a hyper (or super) aggressive player who becomes
a thorn in your side extremely fast. If you have position on him, you can wait for
a strong hand and trap him on it with minimal losses. If he has position on you,
this becomes more difficult.

Playing Styles - Tight, Aggressive, Super

Being able to read the style of a person you’re playing against can offer valuable clues to
what sort of strategy approach you need to adopt in the given situation. Tight passive,
tight aggressive, loose passive and loose aggressive players can all be countered
successfully provided you know what you’re up against. Make sure you mix up your
playing style though or you risk becoming predictable.

According to how many starting hands a player likes to act on and how he likes
to push his stack around, he/she can be categorized into tight or loose and
passive or aggressive. Being tight means that one doesn’t like to play many
starting hands (thus avoiding the mistake most rookies make of playing way too
many starting hands for their own good), being loose means one likes to act on a
much wider range of starting hands than a tight player.

Being passive or aggressive is about the betting habits. A passive player is a
calling station: he doesn’t like to take the initiative in a hand and mostly just
calls. Betting and raising are tools he seldom ever resorts to. Being passive is
generally regarded as a negative trait, one that is common among weak players.

Aggressive players are not afraid to bet, raise or even re-raise. They do whatever
it takes to make sure they get the best odds for their hands, regardless if that
involves putting pressure on their opponents. Still other players are addicted to
push their opponents around and to ruin their odds time after time. These guys
are called super-aggressive players.

Players who are too loose can be categorized into loose passive and loose
aggressive. The loose passive player is someone who can’t stand to be sidelined.
He craves action on every hand, although lacks the courage to commit on
anything, or to assert dominance in any way. These guys are the “calling stations”
good players like so much. There’s tons of money to be made on these guys.
Since a “calling station” will call on just about any marginal hand, your chances
of beating him on solid hand are pretty good, and because of his style of play
you can “milk” your good hands against him to the maximum. Don’t count on a
“calling station” being around for too long though. They usually bust out of
tournaments early, and get felted in cash games pretty fast too.

If you identify a player as being loose-passive, you need to hammer your
advantage home against him through bets and raises he’ll likely call despite the
odds involved.

The loose-aggressive guy is a gambler. This player sees action on almost every
single hand he’s dealt, and he’s not afraid to put pressure on others despite acting
on a bunch of rags. You

should not make this style your own unless thrills are the only reason you’re in
the game. Playing a loose-aggressive style will make your stack go through wild
ups and downs and it will have you felted sooner or later if you stick with it.

How to play against such a player? Due to the importance the luck factor gets in
Texas Hold’em, eliminating or felting such a loose-aggressive maniac can be a
handful. Practice solid hand selection, and trap him when you have a good hand
going: the hands that these guys play are most of the time weaker than what
you’ll play with solid starting hand selection. If you happen to be hit by a bad
beat when trying to keep them honest, don’t tilt. They do not stand a chance
against solid hand selection over the long-run.

Tight players can be classified into tight passive, and tight aggressive. Being tight
and passive is usually a sign of weakness and of lack of understanding of the
game of poker. Some rookies go down this road and become what the poker
community knows as “rocks”. These “rocks” love their stack and they cling on to
it to the best of their abilities. They only ever commit on very solid hands, and
they’re only likely to call on such hands too. They’re always ready to yield to
strong betting. Some players become such rocks at the end of a series of bad
beats when they grow to believe that they cannot possibly win a hand anymore.
By acting passive on their solid hands though they give other drawing hands free
cards and often end up being miraculously outdrawn, a fact which further fuels
tight passive ways. These guys last longer in tournaments than the hyperaggressive
bunch, although due to their conservative ways they don’t ever stand
a real chance of making it deep into the money. Being tight-passive is just about
the worst attitude you can have when playing in a STT or MTT. Due to the fact
that they fail to make the most of their strong hands, tight-passive rocks will have
a hard time making money in the long-run in cash games too. Given the fact that
the object of poker is to make money, breaking out of the tight-passive rut should
be a priority for all players.
Play aggressively against a rock like this. He’s basically begging to be bullied
around, and he will not fight back. He’ll give up equity on every hand he plays.
Beware of this guy when he begins shooting out bets, exercise careful hand
selection and do not be afraid to slow-play against him every now and then.

Tight aggressive is the kind of style recommended by most specialists as the
“good old solid way to play the game”. Being tight on the hand selection and
extremely tight on the flop, a tight-aggressive player will act decisively whenever
he thinks he has a realistic shot at the best hand after the flop. Some tight
aggressive players aim to take down several smaller sized pots avoiding to
commit their entire stack if possible, others have no problems shoving all-in
when they believe they’ll take the pot down.

The problem with being tight aggressive is that it requires a lot of patience,
something most online players are not well endowed with. Also, a few hours of
such solid tight-aggressive play can be ruined by a maniac who gets lucky and
hits a runner-runner in a single hand. Tight aggressive play can be extremely
frustrating, but it is the best way to make money in cash-games in the long run.

In tournaments however, the tight aggressive coin may buy you nice chip-ups
early on, but as the deep money approaches, you’ll need to break out of the
pattern. Tight aggressive players can be countered well once you have a read on
them. A bet or a follow-up bet from this guy means he’s probably got the goods,
otherwise you can bully him around and steal his blinds relatively well.

In conclusion: adopting one of these playing styles as your own should never be
done in a rigid manner. Be prepared to break out of the molds of your style when
the situation requires it, otherwise you’ll just become predictable, which equals
a death sentence for your stack.

Basic Odds for The Flop, Pot Odds, Implied Odds,
Playing on the Flop

The pot odds, the odds that you get for your drawing hand and the implied odds are in a
direct relation with the expected value and ultimately, your hourly rate. Knowing how to
calculate your odds will allow you to spot EV+ and as you probably know, you should
only strive to play such EV+ situations.

In order to make you understand the significance of odds in poker, we need to
go way back and tackle the concept of expected value first.

Let’s say you and a friend of yours decide to flip a coin for $1 stakes. The odds
adjacent to the flip itself are 50-50 which means neither of you enjoys an
advantage. Your chances of hitting your heads or tails are just as good as that of
your buddy of hitting his. You may win several bets in a row or lose several ones,
but at the end of the day, you’ll both be stuck with the same $1 you started the
day with. The expected value in this case is 0 for both of you, because of the
even odds.

Let’s say you do the same coin-flip, but you only wager $1 against your friend’s
$2. In this case, because on average you’ll always win one bet and lose one,
you’ll lose $1 on your first bet and win $2 on your second. That leaves you with
a $1 profit, which means that your expected value for a bet is $0.5. This way, it is
no longer senseless for you to play, as all you need to do is speed the game up as
much as you can to maximize your hourly rate.

“Limit your bets to about half the size of the pot to make
sure you’re not giving them the right odds to call.”
Andy Bloch

Let’s consider that you and your friend wager your $1 on
a soccer game. Your friend wins if team B wins, you win
if team A wins or there’s a tie. Because out of the 3 possible outcomes you have
2 covered, one might as well say out of 3 consecutive bets you win 2 and lose 1.
That gives you a $1 profit after each 3-bet sequence (on average of course)
because you win $1 twice and you lose $1 once. Your expected value on every
bet is again a positive one and it is $0.33/bet.

This is the system that European bookmakers used to have in place, where they
held this sort of edge over their bettors. Casinos work in a similar manner, and
possess a small edge (called the house edge) on every wager made on their

There are two essential conclusions in all the above theory:

Your expected value depends on two things: the amounts of money
wagered, which can be translated to poker as the pot odds, and the type of
bet that you’re wagering on, that is, the odds that come with it, which are
the same as the odds that come with your hand in poker.
Every time you play with a positive expected value (like in the above
presented examples) you win a little bit of money, regardless if you happen
to lose on a particular hand despite the odds. Every time you play with
negative EV, you lose a little money, even if you get lucky and win on a few
such EV- hands.
Let’s elaborate a bit on the first conclusion, because it is of utmost importance to
determining your mathematical course of action in a hand.

Because you only want to play EV+ situations, and because the EV is dependent
on your pot odds and the odds you get for your hand, by comparing the two,
you’ll find out if a given situation is indeed an EV+ one for you (and thus worth
playing) or not.

The pot odds are extremely easy to determine: you just take the amount of
money already in the pot and you divide it by the sum it costs you to stay in the
hand. This way, you’ll get a X-1 result. The odds on your hand are determined
through your number of outs, pitted against the total number of cards in the
unseen deck which will not help you. The odds you get this way, will be of a
“Y-1 against” format. As long as Y<X in the above two equations, you have EV+.
As soon as X<Y you have negative EV.

You need to avoid playing EV- situations at all cost because the phenomenon
that’s behind your losing money on such situations is much more complex than
you’d think.
Let’s consider the above coin-flip example again. Your friend is confronted with a
50 cent negative EV/bet (when he bets $2 against your $1 on the coin-flip). If he
keeps on playing though, strangely enough, the practical edge he’ll be up against
will be bigger on every bet he plays. The theoretical house edge that he plays
against is 25% ($0.50 on every $2 bet), and that will remain deceitfully constant.
He’ll lose that much on average regardless what happens. Now watch what
happens when he comes into the game on a $10 bankroll.

He places 5 bets on which he loses 5X0.5=2.5 dollars. That’s your 25% edge
right there. 2.5 is 25% of the $10. So far so good. He then decides that he still
has $7.5 left, he may as well play on. He places 3 more bets, on which he loses
$1.5. His total losses at this stage equal $2.5 (lost on the first 5 bets) +$1.5 (lost
on the last 3 bets) = $4 which is 40% of his initial $10 bankroll. If he keeps on
coming back for more, he’ll eventually lose all his money. Of course we could
re-write the whole thing with your buddy coming into the game on a mere $1
bankroll, in which case we may as well state that he’ll start struggling with an
ever bigger disadvantage following his very first bet. This is exactly what happens
to you when you play with EV- in poker.

This is why it is important that you know your EV on every hand you act on. Be
careful however: using the above detailed EV calculation method on the flop
will only give you your odds for the turn. You can approximate your odds for the
river card as well, but that will not be an exact number anymore, because you
never know how your pot odds will shape up after the turn (your opponent may
bet or may just check). These odds are called effective odds.

The implied odds that you hear so much about take the potential winnings into
account. In a short handed game for instance, playing low pocket pairs is a good
choice despite the fact that you’ll lose more times on such hands than you’ll win.
This would make it a negative EV play, however, when you lose on such hands,
you’ll usually lose tiny sums, and when you win, you’ll take down monster pots
which will more than make up for your losses and knock the EV+ back into the

As a general rule, the flop should be played tight. If you have a hand (or at least a
nice draw) on the flop, bet it, if not muck it right away. Your final showdown
hand is around 70% made on the flop, so putting money into the pot in hopes of
a runner-runner hitting doesn’t make sense.

Sometimes you’ll have to bet the flop despite holding only a bunch of rags.
When you feel that the preflop raise that you made could be hammered home
with a second bullet on the flop (you sense weakness on the part of the other
players), it makes sense to fire again.

Playing on the Turn

Since your single aim in poker is to make money, do not commit the mistake of checking
the turn, bluffing on it or raising to intimidate those holding better hands. It’s too far in
the hand for such shenanigans. Bet into your opponents when holding the best hand to
pot commit them, fold if all you have is junk and call on hands which are strong but you
suspect they may end up being the second best at the table.

The 4th community card is rather suggestively named “the turn”, because it is
the actual turning point in a hand. That is the point when a player finds out how
much he/she is going to make on his/her monsters.

I’m not going to talk a lot about how to handle a weak hand on the turn,
because – unless you missed a nice draw or just had your good hand
counterfeited by 4th street – you really shouldn’t be present on the flop with
rags. If – for whatever reason - you happen to get there on a poor hand, do not
hesitate to fold it unless your opponents decide to give you another free card.

While the general advice for playing the turn is about betting good hands
aggressively, calling on reasonably strong hands and mucking any sort of junk
right away, things are a tad more complicated.

Being aggressive on the turn is recommended while checking is not because it is
assumed that you’re a non-professional player who plays for peanuts. In such
games – or I might as well say: in the overwhelming majority of online poker
games - you should avoid checking indeed. Checking on the turn is done with
the intention of trapping an opponent, misleading them into thinking you have
zilch when you’re in fact holding a monster. In most low stakes amateur games
though, this move will seldom yield any value, as the player doing the checking
will only lose a potential bet through it.

The object of poker is to make money, and since you’re generally going to lose
on more hands than you’re going to win, you’d better make sure you milk your
winning hands to the maximum.

Whenever you have a hand which you assume is the best one at the table, your
goal should be to get your entire stack into the pot and to have it called. To that
end, the turn is a crucial point in play because you can pot-commit your
opponent there. If you’re successful in pot committing your opponent on the
turn, the river will be a simple formality to get him all in.
This is the reason why you should be aggressive on the turn, however, if you
have a good read

on your opponent and you know that checking is what it takes to get him pot
committed, you need to do that. The goal is to get him neck deep into trouble on
the turn, regardless of the tools you use to achieve it. It is an extremely common
mistake among rookies to play weak hands through the turn out of “inertia”.
They get caught up in the gambling aspect of the game and often keep calling on
rags in the hopes that a 2 outer will land on the last two streets. You need to
exploit these mistakes to the maximum, and the turn is the best opportunity for

Many of these same rookies will find no shame in calling you on the river too,
once they’ve made it “that far in the hand”.

Never try to bluff a calling station on the turn. Some people attempt this move
because they find it extremely exciting to make such movie-inspired moves, but
it is generally inefficient and it will cost the bluffer a lot of money.

Raising on a weak hand is also something rookies will often attempt to make
their opponents believe they’re holding a better hand. Needless to say, “this far
in the hand” such moves usually backfire and cost the wise-guy a lot of money.

In conclusion: remember that the turn is the turning point of a hand. If the flop is
where the strength of a hand is decided, the turn is where its financial strength is
determined. Play the turn wisely and you’ll be cruising on the river.

Betting on The River

Because you have a wealth of information available on the river, both regarding your
showdown hand and the board texture, making a decision should be easy at this stage.
Make sure you bet all your monsters to make your opponents pay for the showdown.
Save fancy moves like check-raising because they’ll only cost you money.

The river is the very last community card in Texas Hold’em. By the time the river
card (5th street) is dealt, you know exactly what hand you’re going to show
down, and you’ll also be able to correctly assess the board texture in its entirety.
These facts make for an easy decision making on the river. The problem is a
simple one: if you’re seeing the river, you have to have a good hand, or a draw
that you missed. If you did indeed miss a draw, folding is your only option,
unless your opponents let you see the showdown without a bet. Do not commit
the mistake to call a bet on rags out of anger or inertia. Sure, you’ll lose all the
money you put into the pot previously – which is still a mistake: one that you
committed earlier - but there’s still some damage control you can do.

“In No-Limit Hold 'em, it can be difficult to know what the
right play is on the river when you're out of position with a
marginal hand. In my experience, if you think your hand is
good enough to call with, you should consider betting the
river if you don't think your opponent will try to bluff.”
Andy Bloch

If you’re playing in a low limit game where the pot has
escalated in a spectacular fashion, sometimes you might want to make that call
rather than the fold. The size of the pot in relation to that of a single bet is often
so big, that the pot odds that you get justify a call on just about any two pocket

If you arrive to the river holding a strong hand, you should bet. If you managed
to get someone pot committed on the turn, you need to finish the job, if not you
need to attempt to squeeze more money out of your opponents.

Do not go for some fancy footwork attempting a check-raise at this stage. If an
opponent folds to your bet on the river, he would’ve probably just checked had
you checked to him.

By betting, you’ll also trap some players who will call you on hands like an Ace
high or a bottom pair just to keep you honest if you were bluffing. By checking
instead of betting, you’d miss out on all this free money.

Keep a very keen eye on the board texture. The last card may hit someone for a
flush (which is easy to read) or a straight (which is not). An Ace is also bad news
on the river, because many people will commit (especially in low limit games)
on any Ace–rag pocket hand that they get.

If you win, do not show your hand unless you really have to. I know sometimes
the temptation is huge to show your opponents that they’ve fallen for your bluff,
but the truth is you’re giving away information whenever you show your pocket
cards to your opponents. Normally, you want to make your opponents pay for
this sort of information.

Tournament Poker, No Limit vs. Limit Poker

Ask any good online player and he’ll tell you: the money is in the tournaments. Take a
look at just about any online poker room and you’ll find that the tournament tables are
always many times more popular than the cash ones. There’s a good reason for that:
tournaments give you a bigger bang for your buck, and they’re often more profitable

Once you nail the basics of Texas Hold’em strategy down, you’ll realize that the
best way to build up a bankroll is through tournaments. Every online poker room
features a wide variety of tournaments these days, and tournament tables are
usually much more popular than cash tables. Tournaments – both live and online

– usually feature NL Texas Hold’em, but Omaha, Stud Razz, and other poker
variants are played too with different structures (Limit, PL, NL etc).
In order to become familiar with tournament strategy, you first need to learn
about a few basic concepts. The buy-in is the money you need to pay in order to
register for the tournament. Your buy-in will be included in a prize-pool, out of
which money shall be given out to those who finish “in the money” (ITM).
Together with the buy-in you’ll also pay a tournament fee (usually around 10%
of the buy-in) which goes to the poker room as cumulated rake, since none of
the hands you’ll play in the tourney itself shall be for real money chips and thus
they won’t be raked either.

The blinds in poker tournaments go up in set intervals. The blinds structure tells
you how fast these blinds will go up. According to how fast the online poker
room increases the blinds, tournaments can be categorized into regular, speed
and turbo tourneys.

The initial stack that you get at the beginning of the tournament represents your
tournament life. Once you run out of chips, you bust out.

Some tournaments feature optional re-buys, through which a player who’s been
busted out can get back into the action, by paying out a set sum again and
receiving a fresh starting stack.

Tournaments can be single table ones (STTs or SNGs) in which only a maximum
of 10 players take part, or multi-table ones, in which thousands of players play,
distributed at several tables.

STTs (Single Table Tournaments) feature a much smaller buy-in/likely winnings
ratio, but the individual odds for reaching the money are much better. MTTs
have excellent buy-in/payout ratios, but an individual is much less likely to make
it to the money.

The bigger the buy-in you have to pay out at registration, the bigger the prize-
pool will be for tournaments. Industry leading online poker rooms organize
guaranteed prize-pool tournaments. These GTDs – as they’re also known – run
on a weekly or daily basis and the poker room provides the prize pool,
regardless of how many players sign up and how much money their buy-ins add
up to. If player buy-ins surpass the guarantee, the prize-pool will be increased.

Tournament strategy is radically different from general (cash game) poker
strategy. While the tight aggressive approach may work wonders at low limit
cash tables, tournament players need to be extremely flexible about their playing
style. In a tourney, the object is not to squeeze money out of a fish that you’re
lucky enough to have at your table. In a tourney, you have to survive. Survive for
long enough and you may just take down the big prize, but winning money here
is not just about finishing first. You will win money as long as you finish ITM, and
in large tournaments that could mean tens of positions off the winner.

The best possible way to sum up efficient tournament strategy is through a
system that poker-master Dan Harrington (here on
the right) has devised.

Because of the continuously escalating blinds, the
relationship between your stack-size and the sum
of the BB and the SB should dictate your strategic

approach in different moments throughout the

In the beginning, when the blinds are small and you have more than 20 Ms (BB
+SB = M) you should play tight aggressive. You should only play premium hands
when out of position and good ones when in position. At this stage, you can
afford to play optimally. As the blinds go up and your stack stays the same-size or
it shrinks, you’ll have to adapt your strategy to the new rigors of the
environment. When you have between 10 and 20 Ms in your stack, you begin to
see your options narrow. At this stage, you need to steal blinds, you need to get
something going, which means you have to loosen up your starting hand

When your stack falls below 10Ms, you’re beginning to feel the pressure that
larger stacks around the table subject you to. You’ll still have most of your
strategic tools available however if you do not add to your stack fast you’ll soon
relinquish your grip on them.

When your stack falls below 5 Ms, you’re in trouble. You can’t bluff anymore,
you can’t steal blinds anymore, and thus you‘re robbed of some of your most
important tools for survival. An interesting phenomenon also occurs: your
opponents begin to gang up on you, adding extra pressure on you to force you
out of the game.

Once your stack is below 1 M, all you can do is wait for a reasonable hand and
shove all-in. Something like Q,9 will be a reasonable hand at this stage. What
you want is to have only one other player in the hand you commit your last
tournament breath on. Thus your odds get a boost and you give yourself a real
opportunity to pull through.

In every tournament, play tightens up on the bubble. A savvy player can turn this
into an advantage. Beware though that the general tightness disappears as soon
as the bubble bursts. In the closing stages of a tournament (when you’re already
deep in the money) you’ll have to loosen up more and more to keep up with the
blinds. During this stage, the luck factor becomes a major player in the equation.

If you play in online tournaments, Texas Holdem’s NL variant is what you’ll
mostly play. If you decide to test your luck at the cash tables, or to take your
online tourney experience to the live tables, you’ll come face to face with the
Fixed Limit version.

In NL poker, the amount of money (or tournament chips) a player can bet is
unlimited. In Fixed Limit poker, there is a set limit to how much one can bet on
every street.

Some of the strategic differences between Limit Hold’em and NL Hold’em are
obvious: in NL Hold’em you can protect a hand very efficiently, in Limit
Hold’em you’re pretty much deprived of this option. Bluffing is much more
difficult if not downright impossible in Limit Hold’em. On low limits, everyone
will pretty much call just about any starting hand to showdown, so that means,
your starting hand standards should be tightened up seriously. In Limit Hold’em,
the mistakes that you make will never have a deadly serious consequence on
your bankroll. In NL Hold’em, one small mistake can cost you your entire
bankroll that you’ve been building up through painstaking work for months. The
important thing when you switch between NL and FL Hold’em is to get into the
right mindset that the peculiarities and inherent differences between the two
variants require.

Sample Hands

Here are a few examples of various poker strategy moves in action. The check-raise is
used to trap opponents, but as you’ll see from the example below, it is also a way to
protect your hand.

Let’s take a look at a couple of actual situations in which poker strategy is

First example:

Let’s consider you are in the Big Blind holding a Ks,3c. Three other players
decide to see the flop with you. The flop falls Kh,Jh,3d and you’re in an excellent
shape: you’ve just hit two pairs, and you know that you’ll get good money off
some guy who’s just made top pair. When your turn comes, you know the person
with the top pair will try to protect his/her feeble hand by betting, so you just
check. One of the other players bets, another one calls and the third player folds.
You raise, to which the bettor answers by coming over the top. The other player
folds, and you call his all-in. The turn and the river do not change anything, and
you win.

In this situation, your use of the check-raise didn’t just get you one of the players
to go all-in, it also averted a potential source of danger by forcing the third player
in the hand to fold a drawing hand.

Your hand was good, but it was not unbeatable. You just swatted two flies with
one swipe: you defended it on one hand and you hammered your advantage
home on the other.

Second example:

You’re holding Q,J in the Big Blind, you get 3 callers and the flop comes Q,6,4.
You know it is well possible that you have the best hand at the table, but you
also know it doesn’t take much to beat your flimsy top pair. By placing a small
(BB size) bet in this situation, you’ll probably get the other players to call you
and give them a chance for completing their draws. If you place a sturdy bet

though, you’ll probably make them all give up their draws and fold, which will
add an otherwise uncertain pot to your stack.

Third example:

Once again, you’re holding A,K in the BB. You make your raise and chase
everyone out but this one guy who calls you. The flop comes 9,9,J: it completely
misses you. You decide to fire a second bullet (make a continuation bet) and
your opponent folds.

Sometimes a second bullet is not enough to shake off a pesky caller. In online
poker tournaments it often happened that I had to place bets following the flop,
the turn and the river to make an opponent fold right before the showdown. It is
quite unbelievable that some people would call a raise all the way to showdown
just to fold there, but there is a logical explanation to this sort of behavior.

The guy may be chasing a flush and when he realizes the last card didn’t help

him, he folds it.

Whatever strategy move you decide to pull on your opponents, make sure
they’re good enough players to understand the small hints you’re sending them
in order to set them off balance. A player who does not understand that you have
a strong hand (when in fact you don’t) will not react accordingly. In very small
stakes Fixed Limit games, strategy will take a back-seat to coin-toss calls on
account of the favorable pot odds all players get.

So what are you waiting for?


lol Thumbs Up

Posted by DaneMitic:


I'm proud to say I reckon I read at LEAST 20 of those words he posted.

Is there no copyright rules for posting this?

Only managed to read 2 paragraphs before realising this post was very long lol Cool

Posted by Doomsday_vic:
Is there no copyright rules for posting this?

Of course. So if this is not something palfco wrote or has the right to republish, he will need to remove it, otherwise it's his ass on the line for copyright infringement Sad

Boring lol hope they take his ass down for copyright i dont need to see this who dosent know it i read first sentace and fell alseep

Posted by DaneMitic:

Admit. But if a Pro-Name would stand over this text, you could probably take 20$ for the Ebook xD

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