Great Texas Hold’em players use a mix of skill, statistics and psychology to claim the pot. Once you’ve mastered the basics, it’s all about honing those skills.
Here are our 5 top tips for taking your game to the next level.
Tip 1: Re-raise to your advantage
In poker, re-raising is one of the most intimidating moves a player can make.
It happens when a player makes a second raise during a betting round and sends a clear message about a player’s confidence to his opponents - especially when the stakes are high.
Many novice and intermediate players don’t re-raise. But if you want to take your game to the next level, look for opportunities to re-raise wisely.
For example, consider a scenario where there’s a big pot waiting. The initial bet was small and was followed by another relatively small raise. If you sense some weakness or hesitation in your opponents, this could be the perfect time to re-raise.
You can also re-raise if you sense another player trying to push you off your hand.
By re-raising, you show your confidence. At the same time, you get a clearer picture of what your opponent is holding.
Tip 2: Switch up your playing style
Do you always play ace-king or pocket tens the same way? Habitual play can put you at a disadvantage.
When playing on the best online poker sites, always playing a given hand the same way can make you readable.
In fact, expert players learn to go against their ‘default’ play style and switch their strategy from time to time. It’s an easy and effective way to keep opponents guessing.
Tip 3: Building vs. limiting the pot
In online pot limit games, it’s important to think about whether you want to build a big pot or limit the pot size.
As you decide whether to build or limit the pot, consider how you’ll set up the end of the hand and notice how other players are playing the pot to their advantage.
For example, if you want to build a big pot in Texas Hold’em, you’ll need to make at least a small bet on each round – every bet and call makes the maximum bet on the turn and river bigger.
On the other hand, if your cards are weaker, you will want to avoid putting money in the pot during early rounds so you can manage your risk-reward.
Tip 4: Master Expected Value (EV)
Every decision you make at an online poker table can be put into one of two categories: positive expected value (+EV) or negative expected value (-EV). Positive EV refers to a positive long-term result and negative EV is the opposite.
Put simply, when playing Texas Hold’em online, +EV decisions are good decisions: they will make you money over the long term.
Negative EV decisions are bad decisions. Over the long term, they will lose you money.
The best poker players look at poker as a lifelong game. The goal is making money in the long term rather than worrying about short-term losses.
By learning as much as you can about the odds of payoffs for certain hands and set-ups, you’re positioning yourself to make more +EV decisions. So make sure you’ve gotten to grips with the statistics behind the game.
Tip 5: Find an edge
Improving your online poker playing ability is a marathon, not a sprint. Even small increases become valuable over time.
For example, if a player makes $20,000 a year playing Texas Hold’em online, an increase of 1% may only be $200, but 5% is $1000. Over time, these gains add up. (For a million dollar a year player, a 1% increase is $10,000.)
Over the course of an entire playing career, small playing improvements can translate into big gains.
Start studying and get playing. The more you practice, the better your game will become.