How to increase your chances of winning at No-Limit Texas Hold’em Poker - 10 easy steps.

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Ok,

I’ve written several articles on why you *shouldn’t* play texas hold’em poker and why you will actually lose (due to cheaters, scammers, etc, and the emotional toll on you and how it affects your life, etc, etc), if you really really really really still want to play poker, you are 100% responsible for your actions. Following the rules below can help you win, but you can still lose. If you can be disciplined, this will help ensure a better winning streak and the chances of you consistently winning. You will not win all the time, and you can even lose a lot of money before you make anything. It is and can be extremely nerve racking to play poker, and many people lose to the few that win, if you still want to play, here are rules to live by to help you. This is based on personal experience, and I don’t believe I’ve ever (directly) seen it in any book. Standard internet disclaimer: It is copyright me, etc, so if you’d like to republish it, etc, please ask me first and give me credit. :) However, you are welcome to play by these rules.

So, if you are going to play poker, despite the fact it is really really hard to win (I’m just emphasizing it, because if you can’t afford to lose money, don’t look at this as a get-rich-quick scheme, and I really do recommend staying away from the game unless you just really enjoy playing cards), then this is how you play.

1. Don’t get emotional - in otherwords, play the same style no matter what. If you are winning, great. If you are losing, that sucks. But DON’T play differently (i.e., cocky or too protectively) if you are winning or losing. Play the same way. Otherwise you are no longer playing logically, you are playing emotionally, and it is one of the fastest ways to drain your bank accounts.

2. Don’t play pre-flop chicken / bingo / the lottery / (aka preflop all-in) unless you can afford to, or just like to really, really, gamble. Yes, “statistically”, “according to the books” AA should most of the time beat someone heads-up. But many times I’ve seen some dork call on 7-2, and hit the flop with 7-2 (or worse still, flop a full house). Or, you have Joe idiot who, according to his `poker books` sees that the “pot odds” are good (i.e., lots of money on the table, low risk) and that he ‘might’ win, so calls on crap — and does win. AA does get beat. So does KK, JJ, etc. I was in another hand where the pot got ridiculously high, 3 players. I had KK. Another guy had JJ, someone else I think had 99. We all went all-in. The guy with JJ won by getting a set. Yet another type, I played against a russian guy who just didn’t care how he played, and magically was beating people out with 22 vs AA, etc. (And ironically the hands I folded would have been the ones I would have won against him :P) Anyways, playing all-in preflop really is a gamble, even on AA. Yes, it should win — but it can lose. Don’t get upset if you lose your whole stack on someone playing crap. It happens.

3. Watch out for raises and re-raises. If you don’t have something good, fold. Most of the time, people raise because they figure they have something better than you. And if you have nothing or just a pair, chances are they do. Most common mistake is say betting on top pair, and then smeone re-raising you. Chances are they have a set, or are at least chasing.

4. Don’t go all-in on the flop (or even the river) unless you have the absolute best best hand. Yes, sometimes people will fold due to the pressure. But then other times, someone will have a set, hit a full house, and you won’t, and you’ll be screwed. But if you are going to put the pressure on — do a big raise, not all-in. You All-in — you are committed, there is no going back. The only time you should ever go all-in is if you have the absolute best hand.

5. Get information. You can usually get information by how people play consistently. Don`t pay attention to the faces they make, the sighs, the comments, etc. Play according to how they bet.

(a) Watch how they play over time. If they always say raise $10 on certain hands, and then you see a showdown 3 times (all the cards) — and see that he/she raised on pocket pairs, the next time you see a $10 raise, chances are he/she has pocket pairs again.
(b) Pay attention to their re-raises and subsequent showdowns. If someone re-raises on a flop and you see a showdown, and they hit a flush, then you know they like to chase cards (and that they are a little bit of a more aggressive tight player because how they played the hand). If, on the other hand, they raise, you see a showdown and see that they only had top pair — then you know that person is a bit of a `looser` player and doesn`t play the absolute best cards. So you will know how to play him/her in the future.

6. Play your best cards, in other words, ONLY suited connectors, any two face cards and pocket pairs. That`s an easy rule, and makes a lot of your decisions easy. If the flop comes up with three clubs and you have hearts in your hand, it`s an easy fold with several people in the pot (someone else might hit a one card flush). If you instead played something like A2, UNSUITED, but say had an ace of clubs — you would be tempted to chase a flush (you would need a fourth club on the table), that you might never hit. And, if someone else already had a flush, they`d have no problem making it expensive for you to see the next card. But you would be tempted to chase. If you play crap (i.e., 10 2), and the flop comes up A 10 2, it is tempting to play that, but someone else could have you outkicked on two pair (i.e., slow playing A10), have a set, or hit a higher pair, or chase a straight (runner-runner).

7. Always play your pocket pairs, even with a raise (but call). It is really sweet when you call on 22, and hit a 3rd `2`on the flop. You can usually get paid of quite well and the other person doesn`t see it coming. And, if the board pairs up, you hit a full house. Pockets are usually quite valuable.

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8. STEAL THE BLINDS/OTHER EASY STEALS. There are a few different (easy) way of stealing the blinds, that almost always seem to work.
(a) If you are the small blind, and the only person left in the pot is the big blind, bet 5x the amount. So for a $5/$10 game, you would bet $25. Unless he has something good, he is most likely to fold. If he does call, you can generally bet the pot on the flop with nothing, and he will fold.
(b) When you only have 2-3 people in the game, and everyone before you has checked, usually a bet from 2/3 to the pot size will get everyone else to fold. If someone actually does call, recall what kind of player they are. If they are a tight/aggressive, chances are they are trying to slow play you, and unless you have something good on the turn, should fold to any raise from them. (Almost always such a play will bet into you on the turn if you check). Otherwise, if it`s a loose player, you can usually bet on the turn and get him/her to fold.
(c) For whatever reason, raising 4 BB plus everyone elses BB seems to get them to fold, or make the games heads-up. In otherwords, if 4 people called on $1, and you are the last to act (to play), and you bet $8, chances are everyone else will fold. If you get more than one caller, then chances are you the players either have high cards, or a pocket pair.

(d) Bluff flushes/straights/etc according to how the other guy plays. Many times, there will be some guy that tries to `bluff`a flush or a straight. Lets say the flop is A hearts, 10 hearts, and a 2 diamonds. If the next card is a heart, and he just checks, chances are he doesn’t have it and you can outbluff him. Just make a bet, and he’ll many times fold.

9. Save yourself money.

Every now and then, you`ll have a killer hand on the flop, bet big, and some dork will call you. Initially this is what you want, because you figure you`ll get a big payoff for your big hand. But if the dork calls you all the way to the river, then re-raises you (or all-in) at the end, take a step back and take a look at the cards. If there is a good chance someone beat you on a straight/flush/trips/fullhouse/etc, chances are they did. You don’t need to call his all in when you have AAA, but there is a possible straight or flush on the board, just to see that yes, he had something better than you. I know it is hard to fold such a great hand, but dorks like that exist, and dorks like that do hit big. Now, on the other hand, if you have the best hand and maybe he was chasing a second best hand (let’s say you both hit a flush, but you have the ace), then by all means, go all-in and enjoy your winnings :) Point is — on a river all-in — take a moment and re-evaluate the cards before you potentially lose more than you need to.

10. Pay attention to their nationality (in these politically correct times :)).

Regardless of what ‘politically’ correct people say — in poker, nationality actually is important. Different nationalities play differently. For example, a number of europeans (and it seems Germans in particular), for whatever reason, will almost always absolutely refuse to fold to anything if they hit a pair on the flop. And if he calls, it is usually a crappy 2nd or 3rd pair. So, as long as the board doesn’t pair up by the river, chances are you have him beat. On the other hand, many orientals will play anything and get very lucky. So if you are playing against them, and they are betting wildly, make sure you have something very good. Chances are they`ll hit a full house on J 3 (and they will have called that, offsuit, on your big raise when you had AA). Only play your best hands. North Americans tend to fall into one of two camps — either extremely tight (good), or extremely loose (bluff crazily). Pay attention to which one they fall into, and then play accordingly.

Anyways, here’s 10 sets of good rules on how to make money playing poker. Enjoy!

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