This brief poker strategy guide is aimed towards beginning players who know the rules of Texas Hold’em, but have little or no knowledge of actual poker strategy. This guide is targeted towards those playing low limit poker. No limit is an entirely different game and in my opinion, should only be approached after having mastered limit. It’s much easier on the emotions to have a bad losing session of limit than it is to have one at no limit where you could potentially lose several buy-ins within an hour or less.
The starting hand chart is designed for the specific purpose of helping new players to tighten up and not lose their poker bankrolls right off the bat. If you follow the chart, you will play far less hands than you are probably used to. This is intentional, as one of the purposes of the starting hand chart is to teach players to tighten up their play. Many beginning or uninformed players play more than 75% of the hands dealt to them, and then become discouraged when they realize they’ve just blown $200 in one sitting. Especially at the beginning, you should never play more than 30% of the hands dealt to you. The chart is in some cases overly conservative and is meant to be used as a learning tool. After you have studied and understand the basics of pre-flop strategy, you will want to loosen up in some cases based upon the type of game and the players you’re facing. The starting hand chart was put together based on data gathered from thousands of hands played by an advanced player. This guide is in no way complete. I would strongly suggest further reading and study once you understand the basics of limit Hold’em.
Playing solid poker is about making good decisions more frequently than poor ones, even when it seems like all you’re doing is losing money. You might fold A9 offsuit from early position and then see a flop of AA9, and then kick yourself because by your thinking, you messed up big time. Well, you didn’t screw up. Although it’s painful to watch a big pot slip away that you think you should have won, you need to realize that playing good, solid poker isn’t about receiving gratification right now. It also isn’t about feeling good. It’s about winning more than you lose, over the long run. It’s about making correct choices more often than incorrect ones, even if in the short run it appears that you’re losing money.
This is one of the things I love about poker. It’s strange at times. You can play technically perfect poker, and lose. Or you can play lousy poker and win big. That’s what keeps poor players coming back. If poor players never got lucky, then the only people left playing would be good players. And that’s a horrible thing to contemplate! Poor players remember fondly the time they got lucky with 5-2 offsuit and hit their runner runner straight on the river. People have selective memories. They’ll remember the few times they hit their straight and choose to ignore the 100 other times their hand lost them money.