Your transformation from novice to expert Texas Hold ‘em Poker player begins by making sound judgments using all the information that you have at your disposal. The acquiring of information begins even before your first two hole cards are even dealt to you.
Before the first cards are even dealt you should begin by considering your position at the table. The table should be divided up as follows:
Early Position 2-3 Players to left of the blinds
Middle Position Players 4 through 7
Late Position 8-10
Small and Big Blind
Early Position – When you are seated in early position you are making you’re betting decisions before getting a chance to see what the other players are going to do. You are making you’re decisions without information on what hands your opponents may have. You will not be acting from a position of strength. For this reason, if you do not have one of the better starting hands, you should consider folding.
Middle Position – This position will allow you to play more hands than if you were seated in the early position since you will get to see what the other players in front of you are going to do. There are also not as many players who will act behind you so you are not as susceptible to a raise as you would be in an early position. For this reason, you can play the best starting hands aggressively. Raising and re-raising opponents would be a sound strategy. In middle position you can use a raise to help you determine the strength of your opponents’ hands – Do they fold, call or re-raise? How they react to your raise can tell you a lot about what they may be holding.
Late Position – This is the most advantageous position at the table. You get to see what most of the other players in front of you are going to do. You get to act with the most information available to you. Being seated in late position allows you to play a wider selection of hands. Being “on the button” – the dealer – is the best position. This is because you will act last. You will have the advantage of seeing what all the others in front of you have done. Here again, raising and re-raising opponents would be a sound strategy. Being seated in late positions allows you to play a little looser.
Small and Big Blinds – While these do act last before the flop, you are acting last in every round after the flop. This makes it one of the more difficult positions on the table.
As a general rule of thumb, you should expect to play a tight game when you are seated in one of the early positions and looser when in late position.
You will put yourself on the winning path in limit hold ‘em by playing good hands and showing sound judgment on when to be aggressive.
• There are some very good reasons to be aggressive and raise the pot, especially before the flop, such as:
• You have one of the best starting hands and by raising, you get more money into the pot.
• You want to force opponents with weaker hands out of the game. There is no sense in letting someone hang around and give them the chance to hit the flop.
Others in front of you have folded. The likelihood that your hand is the best increases as others fold.
Of course there are also some good reasons to not raise:
• Someone else has raised.
• You don’t want to narrow the field. An example of this is when you are drawing for a flush or straight. You are risking less up front for a hand that you may or may not make. By keeping more players in the pot, you have the potential to win a larger pot if you do hit your hand.
• You’re raises don’t work. This happens in very low limit games and/or games with poor players. They all react to raises by raising and re-raising. The large pots tempt players to hang around with lower ranked hands and increase the possibility that one of them may hit a card on the turn or river that will beat your hand.
By studying and knowing your opponents you’ll know how they play hands and you’ll know when your raises will or will not work.