Texas Holdem Practice
Michael Craig 's book The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King details a series of high-stakes Texas hold 'em one-on-one games between Texas banker Andy Beal and a rotating group of poker professionals. At that time, the Golden Nugget's poker room was "truly a ' sawdust joint,' with…oiled sawdust covering the floors. Views Read Edit View history. Archived from the original on February 27, Your chances of getting any ace for your first card are four out of 52 cards, or one out of every 13 times.
It's no different in the online poker world. While free Texas holdem practice can be good, it's not always better than playing for real money. It may be cheaper, but just because it's cheaper doesn't mean it's better. When you play holdem for the first time or two playing for free is a great way to learn the rules, how the flow of the game works, and get used to the pace of the game.
But once you learn how to play and how the game works, playing free games can actually hurt your long term ability to win instead of help. You can sign up for one of the hundreds of online places that offer free Texas holdem games or you can gather a group of friends and family to play a game.
If you have a choice between the two options, opt for the live play with friends and family. The problem with playing free games, especially online, is the play of your opponents is usually so poor that it can hurt your ability to win in the long run. While it's true that a good player will be able to beat the free games, this doesn't mean that learning to beat the free games is the best way to learn how to beat real money games. When you get a group together to play consider offering a small prize of some sort for the winner or top finishers and use chips just like you would in a poker room.
The prizes don't have to be big, just something worth playing your best to win. The simple idea of playing to win something tends to improve the way everyone plays. You'll still see poor players make bad plays, but you probably won't see near as many crazy plays as you do on the online free money tables. If you've never played Texas holdem before, or haven't played in a poker room or casino, you should know that they don't offer the chance to play for free.
The only places to play free are online or if you create your own game. But when you transition to real money play online poker rooms offer much lower stakes than live poker rooms, so even though we don't suggest wasting much time playing for free, when you decide to try your hand at real money play the online rooms often are the perfect place to start. Whenever you possibly can, practice while playing for real money instead of for free. Even if you play for less than a dollar buy in it's better than the free money tables.
The play is still quite poor at the lower levels, but it's better than at the free tables and as you earn to beat the low limits you'll build skills that help you beat the higher limits as well. Online poker rooms have low limit games, often starting at.
Yes that's a nickel and a dime. So for a dollar or two you can practice for real money. This way you won't break the bank while improving your skills. Online play is a great way to get started, but don t be afraid to try some low limit live games as soon as you start winning on a consistent basis.
Many players find the live game even more profitable than online play because you can see your opponents and hear what they say and how they say it.
In order to be a winning Texas holdem player you need to understand outs and odds and how to use them to help you win more than you lose.
The basic premise of winning poker players is to get as much money into the pot as possible when they're the favorite to win a hand and put as little as possible into the pot when they aren't the favorite. Another habit of winning players is finding positive expectation situations and maximizing the amount of money they put in play in these situations. Of course you don't always know when you're the favorite and when you aren't, but the more you play and practice the better you'll get at determining where you are in each hand.
Before we continue discussing odds and outs you need to understand what a positive expectation situation is and how to recognize it. A positive expectation situation is one where if you played the same hand or situation an infinite number of times you'd win more than you'd lose. This can present itself in a large number of ways, with some ways being clear and some requiring some computation to see if they're profitable. If you have pocket aces and get all in against a single opponent who holds pocket jacks this is a positive expectation situation.
You'll lose the hand occasionally, but in the long run you're going to win considerably more than you lose. The easiest way we've found to figure out positive expectation is consider playing the exact same situation times. Calculate all of the money already in the pot and how much more is going in, both from you and your opponents, then determine how many times you win the hand, and compare how much you win on average per hand over the hands.
If the number is positive it's a positive expectation situation. This may sound complicated, but once you do it a few times you'll find that it's fairly easy. And most of the time, you don't need to know the exact numbers; you just need to know if the situation is positive or negative.
In the example above of pocket aces against pocket jacks, you don't need to know the exact numbers to know that you're going to win more in the long run than you'll lose in this situation. You also know that the player with the jacks is going to lose more than they win in the long run. So the player with pocket aces is in a positive expectation situation and the player with the jacks is in a negative expectation situation.
Let's work through an extended example using every step so you can see how this works. We'll start with a fairly simple one. A player moves all in with a pair of queens and has a larger stack than you. You call and everyone else folds. This means that I you play this situation times you win 81 times and lose 19 times. This is clearly a positive expectation or positive expected value situation. Consider the player with the pocket queens.
It can get complicated when you try to determine your expected value in different situations. You have the queen of clubs and jack of clubs and the board has the ace of clubs, king of clubs, nine of diamonds, and the six of hearts. Your opponent has been betting aggressively the entire hand and you put her on at least a high pair, and possibly three o a kind.
The most difficult thing most players deal with in this situation is you have to consider the current pot amount, but you have to ignore the fact that part of the money in the pot was put there by you.
It doesn't matter who put the money in the pot. After you put the money in the pot it isn't yours unless you win the pot. So if you win the hand 31 times or more you show a positive expectation. The way you determine how many times you'll win is by figuring out how many outs you have. In this example you'll win with any of the nine remaining clubs or the four 10's.
But remember one of the 10's is a club so you can't count it twice. Any of the clubs give you a flush and the 10's give you a straight. Before we continue, if your opponent has three of a kind and you land a club that pairs the board, in this case a nine or a six, it will complete a full house for your opponent, beating your flush.
But you'll also find that occasionally when you pair one of your hole cards on the river that you'll beat your opponent holding a lower pair. So in the end these two thins cancel out. You can make some guesses about w often each of these things can happen and include them in your positive expectation calculations, but we don't recommend it until you have the basics covered where you always figure them out perfectly.
Back to the example, you have 12 cards that win the hand for you and the deck has another 34 cards that don't win the hand for you. The odds are determined by doing a ratio of goo against bad. In this case the odds are 34 to 12 against you. This is reduced to 17 to 6, or roughly 3 to 1.
It doesn't matter what cards your opponent holds or which cards have been discarded. Any unseen card is included because in the long run every remaining possible card will be in each of the remaining spots in the deck an equal number of times. If this example isn't complicated enough for you, you also need to consider if the poker room where you're playing has a high hand of the day jackpot or prize.
This is because once out of every 46 hands you're going to hit a royal flush, when you land the 10 of clubs on the river, which adds some expected value to the hand. If this prize is big enough it may move the negative expectation situation to a positive one.
To further complicate the situation the players that make this call aren't necessarily wrong. Remember when we said that you can't consider the money that you've already placed in the pot when making a positive expectation decision? You need to be able to estimate the positive expectation at each step of the hand, and depending on what happened on the flop and turn, you may have determined the profitable play was to make a call on both the turn and river, even if you missed on the turn.
So even though it's a negative expectation play on the river, it may have been a positive expectation play on the turn. Before you start panicking and decide the math just isn't worth the trouble, don't worry. Eventually you do need to know most of the stuff we just covered to win at the highest levels of Texas holdem play, but today you need to focus on the more simple building blocks of outs and odds.
You have to understand outs and odds in order to make profitable decisions and advance to determining positive expectation situations. Here's a group of exercises to help you learn how to determine outs and odds.
After you work through each of the exercises you can see the correct way to solve them in the next section. Try to solve them yourself before reading the solutions.
You have a king and queen in your hand and the board has a jack, ten, six, and seven. How many outs do you have to hit a straight and what are the odds of hitting the straight? You have a seven and an eight and the board has a 10, jack, and three. How many outs do you have to hit the straight and what are the odds? You hold two hearts and the board has two hearts and two clubs. How many outs do you have to hit your flush and what are the odds?
You have four to a flush with an ace and a king in your hand and four cards on the board. You're sure you'll win the hand by completing your flush or if you pair either your ace or your king. How many outs do you have and what are the odds you win the hand? You have two pair but think your opponent hit a flush on the turn.
How many outs do you have to hit a full house and what are the odds? You have the king, queen, jack, and ten of spades with only the river to come. Considering nothing else in the hand except the information you just received about the royal flush jackpot, should you call or fold? You have an ace and a king and your opponent has a pair of sevens and you're both all in before the flop. None of the cards share the same suit.
Who has the best chance to win? You can quickly find the answer using a free odds calculator about times faster than doing it long hand. The key is understanding hands like this without having to run the numbers every time.
You'll quickly learn how hands like these compare as you look up different combinations. What are the odds or probabilities that you receive any single card in the deck for the first card in your hand? What about the second card in your hand? How does this work out to receiving any particular two card starting hand?
What about a pair of aces as your starting hand? What do you think you should do? Now try to determine the outs and odds and how they work across both the turn and the river. You have a pocket pair of queens and everyone else folds. You know this player is a solid tight player and probably has at worst a pair of jacks or ace king, but likely has a pair of aces or kings.
From a positive expectation standpoint what should you do? You know this player is a loose unpredictable player who likes to trap with big hands and bully with less than great hands.
You have a pair of sevens in your hand, or pocket sevens, before the flop. How many outs do you have to hit a set and what are the odds you'll hit a set on the hand by the end of the hand. Any ace or nine will complete your straight.
This is called an open ended straight draw because a card at either end completes your straight. This means you have eight outs and only one card left to be dealt to the community cards. A total of 46 unseen cards mean that eight cards help you and 38 don't. This makes the odds 38 to 8, or 19 to 4, or 4. In this hand you need a nine to complete your straight. This is called a gut shot straight draw. The deck has four nines, so you only have four outs. Four outs leave 42 cards that don't complete your straight.
In this case, Ted's full house is the best hand, with Carol in second, Alice in third and Bob last. Here is a sample game involving four players. The players' individual hands will not be revealed until the showdown, to give a better sense of what happens during play:. Alice is the dealer. Alice deals two hole cards face down to each player, beginning with Bob and ending with herself. Ted must act first, being the first player after the big blind.
Carol's blind is "live" see blind , so there is the option to raise here, but Carol checks instead, ending the first betting round.
On this round, as on all subsequent rounds, the player on the dealer's left begins the betting. Alice now burns another card and deals the turn card face up. Bob checks, Carol checks, and Alice checks; the turn has been checked around. Because of the presence of community cards in Texas hold 'em, different players' hands can often run very close in value. As a result, it is common for kickers to be used to determine the winning hand and also for two hands or maybe more to tie.
A kicker is a card which is part of the five-card poker hand, but is not used in determining a hand's rank. The following situation illustrates the importance of breaking ties with kickers and card ranks, as well as the use of the five-card rule.
After the turn, the board and players' hole cards are as follows. Bob and Carol still each have two pair queens and eights , but both of them are now entitled to play the final ace as their fifth card, making their hands both two pair, queens and eights, with an ace kicker.
Bob's king no longer plays, because the ace on the board plays as the fifth card in both hands, and a hand is only composed of the best five cards.
They therefore tie and split the pot. However, had the last card been a jack or lower except an eight or a queen which would make a full house, or a ten which would give Carol a higher second pair , Bob's king would have stayed in the game and would have won.
Most poker authors recommend a tight- aggressive approach to playing Texas hold 'em. This strategy involves playing relatively few hands tight , but betting and raising often with those that one does play aggressive. Almost all authors agree that where a player sits in the order of play known as position is an important element of Texas hold 'em strategy, particularly in no-limit hold'em.
As a result, players typically play fewer hands from early positions than later positions. Because of the game's level of complexity, it has received some attention from academics. One attempt to develop a quantitative model of a Texas hold'em tournament as an isolated complex system has had some success,  although the full consequences for optimal strategies remain to be explored.
In addition, groups at the University of Alberta and Carnegie Mellon University worked to develop poker playing programs utilizing techniques in game theory and artificial intelligence. Although it does not win every hand, it is unbeatable on average over a large number of hands. The program exhibits more variation in its tactics than professional players do, for instance bluffing with weak hands that professional players tend to fold.
Because only two cards are dealt to each player, it is easy to characterize all of the starting hands. Because no suit is more powerful than another , many of these can be equated for the analysis of starting-hand strategy. Because of this equivalence, there are only effectively different hole-card combinations. Thirteen of these are pairs, from deuces twos to aces. There are 78 ways to have two cards of different rank 12 possible hands containing one ace, 11 possible hands containing one king but no ace, 10 possible hands containing one queen but no ace or king, etc.
Both hole cards can be used in a flush if they are suited, but pairs are never suited, so there would be 13 possible pairs, 78 possible suited non-pairs, and 78 possible unsuited "off-suit" non-pairs, for a total of possible hands.
Because of the limited number of starting hands, most strategy guides include a detailed discussion of each of them. This distinguishes hold 'em from other poker games where the number of starting card combinations forces strategy guides to group hands into broad categories. Another result of this small number is the proliferation of colloquial names for individual hands.
Texas Hold'em is commonly played both as a "cash" or "ring" game and as a tournament game. Strategy for these different forms can vary. Before the advent of poker tournaments , all poker games were played with real money where players bet actual currency or chips that represented currency. Games that feature wagering actual money on individual hands are still very common and are referred to as "cash games" or "ring games".
The no-limit and fixed-limit cash-game versions of hold 'em are strategically very different. Doyle Brunson claims that "the games are so different that there are not many players who rank with the best in both types of hold 'em.
Many no-limit players have difficulty gearing down for limit, while limit players often lack the courage and 'feel' necessary to excel at no-limit. Because one is not usually risking all of one's chips in limit poker, players are sometimes advised to take more chances. Lower-stakes games also exhibit different properties than higher-stakes games.
Small-stakes games often involve more players in each hand and can vary from extremely passive little raising and betting to extremely aggressive many raises. This difference of small-stakes games has prompted several books dedicated to only those games.
Texas hold 'em is often associated with poker tournaments largely because it is played as the main event in many of the famous tournaments, including the World Series of Poker 's Main Event, and is the most common tournament overall. Standard play allows all entrants to "buy-in" for a fixed amount and all players begin with an equal value of chips. Play proceeds until one player has accumulated all the chips in play or a deal is made among the remaining players to " chop " the remaining prize pool.
The money pool is redistributed to the players in relation to the place they finished in the tournament. Only a small percentage of the players receive any money, with the majority receiving nothing. As a result, the strategy in poker tournaments can be very different from a cash game. Proper strategy in tournaments can vary widely depending on the amount of chips one has, the stage of the tournament, the amount of chips others have, and the playing styles of one's opponents.
In tournaments the blinds and antes increase regularly, and can become much larger near the end of the tournament. This can force players to play hands that they would not normally play when the blinds were small, which can warrant both more loose and more aggressive play. One of the most important things in Texas hold'em is knowing how to evaluate a hand. The strategy of playing each hand can be very different according to the strength of the hand.
For example, on a strong hand, a player might want to try to appear weak in order to not scare off other players with weaker hands, while on a weak hand, a player might try to bluff other players into folding.
There are several ways to evaluate hand strength; two of the most common are counting outs and using calculators.
Such cards are called "outs", and hand strength can be measured by how many outs are still in the deck if there are many outs then the probability to get one of them is high and therefore the hand is strong.
The following chart determines the probability of hitting outs bettering the player's hand based on how many cards are left in the deck and the draw type. There are several other poker variants which resemble Texas hold 'em. Hold 'em is a member of a class of poker games known as community card games , where some cards are available for use by all the players. There are several other games that use five community cards in addition to some private cards and are thus similar to Texas hold 'em.
Royal hold 'em has the same structure as Texas hold 'em, but the deck contains only Aces, Kings, Queens, Jacks, and Tens. The winner is either selected for each individual board with each receiving half of the pot, or the best overall hand takes the entire pot, depending on the rules agreed upon by the players.
Another variant is known as Greek hold 'em which requires each player to use both cards and only 3 from the board instead of the best five of seven cards. Manila is a hold'em variant which was once popular in Australia. In Manila, players receive two private cards from a reduced deck containing no cards lower than 7. A five card board is dealt, unlike Texas hold 'em, one card at a time; there is a betting round after each card.
Manila has several variations of its own, similar to the variants listed above. Six-plus hold 'em also known as Short-deck hold 'em is a community card poker game variant of Texas hold 'em, where cards 2 through 5 are removed. Each player is dealt two cards face down and seeks make his or her best five card poker hand using from any combination of the seven cards five community cards and their own two hole cards.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Redirected from Texas Hold 'em. This article is about the poker game. For other uses, see Texas hold 'em disambiguation. For other uses, see Hold 'em disambiguation.
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