Limit Holdem Beginners Strategy

I remember well my introduction to Texas Hold'em at the Memorial Union on the campus of t he University of Wisconsin (UW). I was a poor ( OK, b roke!) undergraduate s tudent a t UW then, with nothing to lose (literally). Amazingly enough, t he game was played right in the middle of the Student Union, infamous for its relaxed mores. For some reason, the powers that be didn't think students should be playing poker there, but because we used some old Austrian coins as chips, instead of the usual red, white, and blue plastic chips that were the standard for the time, none of the authorities seemed to notice what we were playing. The game of choice offered additional camouflage: we were playing Texas Hold'em instead of the much more easily recognized Seven-Card Stud.

I fancied myself a great poker player at the time, and when I heard about t he game, I hurried down to play. Of course, I

wasn't e ven a good player then, because I'd had very little experience. I t seems that everyone overrates himself when it comes t o playing poker!

The players were quite an eclectic mix: taxi drivers, students, professors, l awyers, and even a prominent psychiatrist. When I s at down and bought in for $20, I was warmly welcomed by the group, because every game needs some new blood (and fresh cash) once i n a while. I quickly learned that I had a lot t o learn about Texas Hold'em. I had a great time, but my $20 didn't last long, and it was all I could afford to risk. Although I didn't know much about poker yet, I at least had the good sense not to risk more than I could afford to lose, or borrow money I'd have trouble paying back.

Stiil, I thought I was gaining a feel for the game and its nuances, and, with so much money flying around down there, I thought I might one day begin paying my tuition with my poker profits. So I struck up an acquaintance with the best player i n the game and set out t o learn how to play Texas Hold'em the right way.

My new acquaintance, Tuli Haromy, ended up becoming my best friend for the next eight years. He was also the best player and banker for t he game. ( The banker i s responsible for passing out chips, cashing checks, judging how much he can lend various players, a nd making sure t hat everyone i s paid at the end of the night.) That made sense, because the best player has a vested interest i n making sure the other players have access to cash to play with (and lose to him). I t t urned out t hat Tuli was originally from Las Vegas, which explains why we were playing Hold'em in Madison, Wisconsin, in the first place. Without someone with Tuli's Las Vegas background, the chances of finding a Hold'em game in Madison in the early 1980s would have been slim to none!

Tuli had a basic theory about Hold'em: ' 'Tight i s right." "Tight" means that you drop out of most hands before the flop. It was good advice. After studying the game with Tuli's t utoring and playing with the group for about three months, I found that I'd surpassed Tuli and become the best player i n the game. After all, I had no job and no money, which meant t hat I had a l ot of time on my hands and a strong motivation to learn the game. The amount o f money I was winning each week was pretty good, too. I n fact, from my modest perspective, t he money was phenomenal. After about 18 months, I'd put more than $20,000 in the bank, and I paid off all my student l oans! The bigger poker game on campus included mostly successful faculty and staff members, doctors, and lawyers. The money, c ombined with the fact that my ego felt great c ompeting with and beating successful PhDs, JDs, and doctors twenty years older t han I was, c aused me to devote a lot more time and energy to learning Texas Hold'em.

While I was crushing the games i n Madison, I began developing my own basic theory of Texas Hold'em. I had taken Tuli's theory and moved on: supertight was better than tight. In other words, p laying even fewer hands t han Tuli h ad suggested was the way to go. Another skiil I had developed was an ability to read my opponents ( to analyze how strong or weak their hands were, from subtle clues of behavior). Reading players, though, i s a more advanced concept, so for now let's just take a look at my theory: " ' Supertight i s r ight."

To make "supertight" something that you can sink your teeth into, I'll begin by identifying my top ten hands for

Hold'em—the 10 strongest Hold'em hands out there. I 'll then teach you how to play those top ten hands before t he flop, o n the flop, on fourth street, and, finally, on the river—in other words, on all four r ounds of b etting. I ' ' t each you how to use well-timed raises on the flop to gain i nformation t hat wiil help you j udge, in the inal rounds, whether or not your opponents have you beat. I'fl show you how to make good use of that information when you're on fourth street. Finally, I 'l s how you that folding your hand on the river is usually not a good idea, because of the amount of money that's already in the pot by then.

Before we get into analyzing tactics in actual h ands, I' ' also introduce certain "animal t ypes" that describe many of t he people you wiil b e playing against. Through examples, I' ' s how you when to raise, reraise, call, or fold your hand, depending on what types of " 'animals" your opponents seem to be, and thus what their tendencies are likely to be.

If you can truly absorb all the information Ffl b e offering in this chapter, and act on it under game conditions, you wiil already be capable of beating most small-limit Texas Hold'em players all o ver the world! I wiil now teach you how to play l imit Texas Hold'em—a variation of Texas Hold'em in which the s ize of t he bet i n each round is preset. This i s t he most popular game in the world today.

Remember t o read Chapter 2 before you read this c hapter. In this chapter you wiil l earn:

z Preflop l imit Hold'em for beginners: the top ten hands only. z My "animal t ypes": j ackal, mouse, e lephant, lion, a nd eagle. z How to play the flop for beginners: the power of the raise. z How to play A-K on the flop.

z How to play the top ten hands on fourth street. z How to play the river: c all because of pot odds.

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