The Ultimate Texas Hold'em Poker Cheat Sheet (2021)

Texas Holdem Poker Cheat Sheet

This article was written by blackrain79.com contributor Fran Ferlan.

Learning a solid winning poker strategy can be quite daunting. 

With an overwhelming amount of material available these days online, it can be challenging to know where to even start.

This article will give you a complete step-by-step breakdown of what it takes to start winning in Texas Holdem poker quickly, regardless of your previous knowledge. 

The only requirement is that you know the basic Texas Holdem poker game rules (i.e. what hands beat what). 

Here is a brief recap for those of you who are brand new to Texas Hold'em.


Texas Holdem Poker Hand Rankings: What Hands Beat What?


Before you start learning the best Texas Hold'em poker strategy, it is important that you know the basics of the game.

So here is a very brief recap for those of you who are just starting out in the game.

Here are the top 10 Texas Hold'em poker hands ranked from best to worst, or in other words, what beats what.

1) Royal Flush

2) Straight Flush

3) Four of a Kind

4) Full House

5) Flush

6) Straight

7) Three of a kind

8) Two pair

9) One pair

10 High card

It is very important that you memorize this list and know it by heart. 

You should never have to "guess" if a flush beats a straight for example. This stuff needs to be absolutely automatic for you.

Alright, so with those basic Texas Holdem poker rules out of the way, lets jump into the best Texas Holdem poker strategy. There is a lot to unpack here, so let’s get straight into it!

Here is your ultimate Texas Hold'em poker cheat sheet.


1. Learn the Best Texas Holdem Poker Strategy: Tight and Aggressive


The best way to start winning at Texas Holdem poker quickly is learning the fundamentals of the tight and aggressive poker strategy. 

This is also sometimes referred to simply as a "TAG" poker strategy.

It’s a tried and true method which is particularly effective at the lower stakes, as it exploits the overall weaknesses of the majority of the player pool you’re up against. 

As the name suggests, it consists of playing tight preflop, meaning being very selective with your starting hand selection, and playing them aggressively, i.e. betting and raising a lot.

Let’s unpack why this approach works so well, and why it’s a cornerstone of a winning poker strategy.


A) Play Only Strong Starting Hands in Texas Hold'em (See the Cheat Sheets Below)


First of all, by being very selective with the hands you play, you put yourself in a better position to win from the start. 

If you choose to play better hands than your opponents on average, you can expect to win more often on average. It’s basic math. 

In practice, this means you will make stronger pairs, stronger flushes and so on, and you’ll also have stronger kickers. 

A kicker is the card that doesn’t help you make a hand combination, but can determine a winner if both players have the same combination. 

For example, both players have a two pair hand, so a player with a stronger kicker wins.

By being selective with your starting hands, you decrease the risk of your hand being dominated. A dominated hand is the one that is very unlikely to beat the hand your opponent is holding.

Texas holdem 6max poker starting hands

If you play 6max Texas Holdem for example (6 players at the table), I recommend playing the top 20% of all hands dealt to you (those listed in red above).

Texas Holdem 9max Starting Hands Range

And if you play full ring Texas Holdem games (9 or 10 players at the table), I recommend playing the top 15% of all hands dealt to you (those listed in red above).

By the way, you can get my Texas Holdem recommended hand charts for all poker games in my free poker cheat sheet.


Why Is It Important to Have Tight Starting Hand Selection in Texas Hold'em Poker Games?


One word: domination.

The stronger your starting hand, the less that chances are of you being dominated (and losing the pot), when you hit a good hand.

For example, if you hold AQ, and your opponent holds AK, your hand is dominated, because it can only win if a Queen comes on the board, and no Kings show up. 

Percentage-wise, AQ has about a 29% chance of winning against AK. So you want your hands to dominate your opponents, instead of the other way around. 

The point is always trying to get your money in with a mathematical advantage. By choosing to play only strong cards, you already have an edge over your competition.

So as mentioned above, this means you should play only the top 20% of all hands dealt to you in 6max, and the top 15% of all hands dealt to you in 9max. 

These are just rough rules of thumb, of course, you don't have to hit them bang on. You should also play less hands in early positions, and more in late positions (i.e. the button and the cutoff specifically). 

This might seem a bit restrictive at first, but it’s the best way to hedge your bets. The fact is, most hands miss most flops, and the more hands you play, the more often you miss, and the more money you lose. 

So you should only play hands that have a decent chance of flopping something strong, and dump the rest. 

This includes hands that are strong in and of themselves, or have the potential of making strong combinations postflop.

Hands like pocket pairs, broadway hands, suited Aces and suited connectors fit the bill. The rest is thrash and should be thrown away.

The best way to check the exact profitability of each hand in Texas Hold'em by the way is to use a program like PokerTracker.

You can just filter for specific poker hands and it will tell you if you are winning or losing with them. This is a very important tool to have for all serious poker players.


B) You Must Play Aggressively to Win in Texas Holdem Poker


The other part of the winning TAG strategy is aggression. This means taking initiative in the hand, bet and raise more, and check or call less. 

By playing aggressively, you are accomplishing a few things:

a) You build up the pot so you make the most money possible with your strong hands.

b) You win the pot by making all your opponents fold when you don’t have a strong hand.

c) You deny your opponents’ hand equity, meaning they can’t see the next card unless they’re willing to pay up.

d) You make yourself more difficult to play against.

e) You can potentially tilt your opponents, and induce them to make mistakes when playing against you.

Compare all this with playing passively, i.e. just checking or calling, and you soon realize why it’s a losing approach. 

By playing aggressively, you’re simply giving yourself more ways to win the pot, instead of relying on your hand strength alone.

This is one of the biggest keys to beating small stakes Texas Hold'em poker games in particular.

And this is also something Nathan talks about in more detail in one of his latest poker videos.

  
As mentioned previously, it’s actually quite rare to have a really strong hand in hold’em, so you can’t rely on the hand strength alone to be a long term consistent winner. They simply don’t come around often enough. 

So if you take only one thing from this whole article, let it be this: Winning poker is aggressive poker. 


C) You Must Play in Position to Win in Texas Holdem Poker Games


The last component of a winning Texas Hold'em poker strategy is using the power of position to your advantage. Being in position means acting last in every betting round. 


There are a couple of great advantages of playing in position:

a) You have an informational advantage over your opponents. You can see what they do, while they have no idea what you will do.

b) You can get more value out of your strong hands. By being the last to act, you can dictate the price of the pot because you’re the one closing the action.

c) You can practice pot control if you have a mediocre/drawing hand. If you want a cheap/free card, you can simply call or check behind your opponents and try to improve on future streets.

d) You can bluff more effectively. Due to the informational advantage, you can apply more pressure on your opponents and get them to fold better hands. 


Learn to Make $1000+ Per Month in Texas Holdem Poker Games 


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This is the #1 free Texas Holdem poker strategy guide available online that shows you step by step how to crush the small stakes games in particular. 

Learn the proven Texas Holdem poker strategies that I used as a 10+ year pro to create some of the highest winnings of all time in these games. 

Enter your details below and I will send my free Texas Hold'em guide to your inbox right now.



2. Texas Holdem Poker Cheat Sheet: Identify the Player Types You’re Up Against


Here’s a quick breakdown of typical types of Texas Holdem player types you’re going to encounter, how to recognize them, and the most effective ways to play against them.


Loose and Passive Players (aka recreational players, calling stations, fish)


Playing against these players will be your bread and butter, so identifying them quickly is going to be crucial for your poker success. These players play primarily for fun and generally don’t take the game too seriously. 

This means they’re bound to make all sorts of fundamental mistakes. 

They will usually:

a) Play too many hands preflop (40% or more, use a free poker HUD to make sure)

b) Call down way too often

c) Chase all sorts of crazy draws regardless of the math

d) Rarely fold regardless of their hand strength

e) Play with a short stack

d) Limp into the pot

e) Tend to tilt like crazy

And overall do the exact opposite of what you should be doing to be a consistent winning poker player.

The basic strategy when playing against them is pretty straightforward, but it will require some patience and discipline on your part. 

All you need to do is wait for a strong hand and value bet them relentlessly. A value bet is the one made when you expect your hand to be stronger than your opponent’s hand. 

This means no bluffing, and no slowplaying. Basically playing your hand as straightforwardly as possible, and no fancy moves whatsoever. 

If they limp into the pot, you should isolate them with a raise, and value bet them on all postflop streets if you have a strong hand (like top pair top kicker or better. 

The bigger the fish (i.e. the more hands they play, the more often they call down etc.) the more you can expand your value betting range. 

This means you don’t have to wait for the absolute nuts to value bet them. In fact, doing this can be absolutely detrimental to your overall profitability. 

You don’t need to wait around for the perfect hand to take their money. 

If they will call anything, you can value bet them even with your weaker hands like top pair, weak kicker, second pair and so on. This is called thin value betting, and the bigger the fish, the thinner your value bets can be.

It’s worth mentioning that just because these players make awful mistakes, it doesn’t mean you’ll always win when playing against them. 

Sometimes, they will get lucky and hit their miracle draw, or even “trap you” with a monster hand. Even fish can get good hands sometimes. Don’t let this get to you. 

Remember that poker is a long term game, and if you keep putting your money in with a mathematical edge, you’ll do just fine over the long run, regardless of how often fish get lucky against you. 

If they do, it means you’re doing it right. Good players suffer bad beats, and bad players inflict them. This is something that is discussed in much more detail in Crushing the Microstakes.


Loose and Aggressive Players (aka maniacs, aggrofish)


This one is a bit tricky, as there are two kinds of loose and aggressive players, either good or bad. Let’s focus on the bad ones for now. 

While the typical fish is of a passive variety (i.e. calling a lot and rarely betting and raising), maniacs will play fairly aggressively. Like a typical fish, they will play a lot of hands, but they will also bet and raise a lot, often without rhyme or reason. They like bluffing and pushing their opponents out of the pot. 

While more difficult to play against, their aggression is usually misplaced and ill-conceived. Nathan discusses how to beat aggressive players more in this video.

  
Basically though, the best strategy when playing against loose and aggressive Texas Holdem poker players isn’t to fight fire with fire, so to speak. 

This means that you shouldn’t try to beat them in their own game, just to show them you won’t be pushed around, regardless of how infuriating their game is. 

Instead, you should use their aggression against them. Just call them down wider than you usually would, and let them hang themselves. 

This will also require some patience and discipline, but again, you don’t need to wait for the nuts to trap them. 

Just wait for a hand that has a decent showdown value, and is likely ahead of all the nonsense they could be bluffing with.

It’s important to trust your judgment in these situations and call them down, even if it might be uncomfortable. Hands like top pair or second pair are good candidates for that.

There are many example hands in The Micro Stakes Playbook explaining the correct way to make large multi-street call downs versus loose and aggressive players.


Tight and Passive Players (aka nits, rocks)


These players aren’t necessarily total beginners, but they aren’t overly difficult to play against either. They will usually be very selective with their starting hand selection, and play aggressively only when they have a really strong hand. 

They are arguably the most predictable out of all the player types. While you probably won’t make a lot of money against them (you can’t draw blood from a rock) they can still be profitable to play against. 

The best strategy when playing against them is the opposite of the one you would use against the fish, and that is bluffing them a lot. 

Because they won’t fight back nearly as often, you could “get out of line” against them, and it will take them a while to catch up to what you’re doing.

This is why you don't really need to study a lot of advanced poker strategy in order to beat these players consistently.  

If they play back against you, i.e. they raise or reraise you, especially on big money streets like the turn and river, you can be pretty sure they have you beat, so you should fold unless you have a really strong hand yourself. 

So when playing against them, you should:

a) Steal their blinds a lot

b) 3-bet them (re-raise them) preflop often

c) C-bet them on the flop, turn, and river (a C-bet or a continuation bet is a bet made by the previous street aggressor. So if you raise preflop, you have the opportunity to C-bet the flop).

d) Raise when they bet the flop or turn, especially if you have a strong drawing hand.

The tighter and more passive they are, the wider you can attack them. If they catch up and start calling you down wider, simply switch gears and go back to your standard value betting mode.

This is the basic strategy to use against these players that you will learn in many of today's most popular poker training programs.


Tight and Aggressive Players


These players will be the hardest to play against. 

Not only will they make far less mistakes, they will also pay attention to what their opponents are doing and will make adjustments in their game accordingly.

This is the exact style of play that Nathan actually teaches in all his poker books.  

So you should be extra careful when getting involved with them. 

You don’t need to shy away from playing against them, especially if they are on the more passive/timid side of the spectrum, but you shouldn’t get out of line too often, either.

Here is an advanced bluffing strategy that works particularly well against tight and aggressive players.

  
But overall, the best you can do is try to avoid getting involved with them in marginal situations, like playing with a mediocre hand out of position, as they’re likely to make things difficult for you. 

You should just keep it simple, especially if you don’t have any significant reads against them yet. After you’ve gained a sense of their overall tendencies, you can start making adjustments against them, as everyone has some leaks in their game, even TAGs. 

They just aren’t as glaringly obvious as with other player types. It will take some experience and observation to figure it out, though, so your best bet is steering clear and avoiding potentially costly mistakes.


3. You Need to Have a Proper Bankroll for Texas Holdem Poker Games


The best Texas Hold'em poker strategy in the world isn’t going to do you any good if you end up going broke. That’s why it’s crucial to have a proper bankroll for the stakes you’re playing. 

A sufficient bankroll allows you to endure the never-ending swing of ups and downs that is part and parcel of the game of poker. 

Because of the short-term luck element involved, your results at a given period will be all over the place. This is something that even the best poker pros in the world go through by the way, as Daniel Negreanu discusses in his masterclass poker training.

The technical term for these fluctuations is called variance, and it’s something that you need to come to terms with if you want to be a consistent long-term winner in this game. 

By having enough buyins in your bankroll, you eliminate the risk of going broke. If you follow a proper strategy, you can expect to win over the long run, but over the short term, you can lose money, even if you do everything right. 

A healthy bankroll will allow you to endure this process, and will also give you a peace of mind so you don’t have to constantly worry about your inevitable losses.

Due to the nature of variance, it’s advised you have at least 30 buyins in your bankroll for your preferred limit. 

If you’re playing NL5, for example, you should have a $150 in your bankroll. This is a general rule for the cash games. 

If you’re playing tournaments, on the other hand, you should have an even bigger bankroll, as the variance in tournaments is a lot bigger than in cash games. Even professional poker players can go months, or even years without a significant payout. 

So if you opt for this format, you should have at least a hundred buyins at the bare minimum. So if you’re playing $1 tournaments, you should have no less than a hundred dollars in your bankroll.

These bankroll rules only apply if you’re a winning poker player, using the correct strategy of course. If not, then no bankroll in the world will help you. 


4. Practice Proper Texas Holdem Poker Game Selection


This is another crucial component to your overall profitability. 

It goes without saying you should only play games where you have a reasonable chance of winning. This means picking games within your bankroll and within your skill level. 

It doesn’t matter how good of a player you are if you are constantly playing against players who are just as skilled as you, or better than you. 

In that case, you’ll be breaking even at best. If your purpose is to win, you can’t skip this part of the equation. 

Choosing the game format and the stakes is left to your discretion, but here I’ll get more specific about the table and seat selection if you opt for the cash games format.

Texas holdem strategy

This applies only if you’re playing online, and provided your preferred site allows it, of course.

One of the advantages of online poker is the ability to pick and choose the games to play, and avoid the ones that could potentially be unprofitable. The way to do that is trying to find the tables with a lot of recreational players. 

Because once again, you don't need to know a whole lot of advanced poker strategy in order to beat these players. A very basic poker strategy will often be the most profitable versus them in fact.

You can find potentially profitable tables by paying attention to two metrics, the percentage of players involved in a hand, and the number of hands played per hour, again, provided your site shows you this information. 

You want to look for tables that have a high percentage of players per hand. This indicates a soft table with a lot of loose, recreational players. 

You also want to look for slow tables, i.e. the ones with as few hands played per hour. This indicates a weak and passive table, with a lot of checking and calling. 

As for the seat selection, you should find the seat that’s on the direct left of recreational player(s). 

This way, you’ll play most of the hands in position against them, and you’ll get the best chance to take their money before everyone else.

Bonus points if you also find a seat with a really tight player on your left. 

 This way, you won’t have to worry about getting reraised yourself and playing out of position too often. You can also steal their blinds fairly liberally, which adds up nicely over the long run.

Bottom line:

Find the bad Texas Holdem poker players and play against them consistently if you want to win big. If you play online poker, just use a HUD to find them.


5. Fix Your Leaks Off The Felt


When you start playing poker, you can expect to actually lose some money. Learning the fundamental winning strategy isn’t overly complicated, but there is still a learning curve to overcome. 

That’s why it’s important to keep expanding your technical game knowledge and work to improve your game off the felt, especially at the beginning. 

You’re bound to make some mistakes along the way, and nobody gets it right the first time.

You should start with the biggest leaks, i.e. try to reduce the mistakes that are the most costly. This usually means playing fewer hands, calling less, playing less hands out of position, learning to value bet properly and so on.

The best way to fix your leaks quickly is identifying them first. You can’t fix something if you don’t know where the problem lies, so you need a reliable tool to help you navigate through your mistakes. 

That’s why it’s advised to invest in a poker tracking software. The best tool for this purpose is PokerTracker 4. 

Most professionals use this software, but its user friendliness makes it appropriate for all skill levels. 

PokerTracker 4 imports your hand history and shows you exactly how much money you won or lost during a certain period, tracks all your stats, as well as your opponent’s stats.

It also includes extensive cash games filter and tournaments filters so that you can find out exactly which poker hands are losing you money, and how to fix it.

texas holdem poker cheat sheet

PokerTracker also has a built-in heads-up display (HUD) that allows you to see your opponents stats in real time. This is the #1 HUD in online, trusted by a majority of online pros.

Having the right HUD stats on your online poker table is absolutely crucial for getting good reads especially if you multi-table.

Because it gives you the raw data on exactly what type of player you are up against, which allows you to make much better poker decisions versus them.

I actually made a short video showing you how to get the PokerTracker HUD stats up and running on your poker table in less than 5 minutes.


You can get the PokerTracker HUD right here.

It’s a little pop-up display next to your opponents usernames that lets you know exactly what type of opponent you are up against, so you can adapt your game accordingly.

But the most valuable part of the software is definitely the ability to track your own stats, and see exactly where you're bleeding money. 

It’s called a leak tracker and it shows you where your stats fall out of the norm from winning poker players. 

This means the guesswork is completely out of the equation. You don’t have to invest a lot of time to figure out what you are doing wrong. 

PokerTracker shows you exactly where the problem lies, and how to best go around fixing it.

The value of the software more than makes up for the price, and then some. Not only will you get accurate reads from your opponents, you’ll also fix your leaks that are costing you a fortune over the long run. 

It also offers a fourteen-day free trial, so there’s no reason not to give it a go. You wouldn’t want to play another session without it.

You can get the free trial version of PokerTracker right here.


6. Don’t Tilt Away Your Winnings in Texas Hold'em


Mental game is a huge, but often overlooked aspect of poker, and it’s just as important as your technical game knowledge. The best strategy in the world isn’t going to help you much if you tilt away your profits.

You can also use all of the best poker software in the world to help you win, but if you can't learn to control your emotions in Texas Holdem games, it will be all for naught.

Poker tilt is a state of playing suboptimally due to the negative effect of emotions, like anger, frustration, fear, desperation and so on.

Poker is a long-term game, but over the short term, your results will be all over the place due to variance. Sometimes the cards simply won’t fall your way, even if you’re doing everything right. 

This is difficult to come to terms with for a lot of players, and most of them simply can’t endure the never-ending swings of fortune.

There’s simply no way around it, no matter how good of a player you are. 

You will have losing periods, and they can last a surprisingly long time. Losing some money is inevitable, but losing more than necessary should be avoided.

Unfortunately, how-to guides can’t really help you with this. There are some tips you can follow, of course, but at the end of the day, how you deal with bad results will depend entirely on you. 

Coming to terms with the nature of variance is anything but easy, and it will take some time.

Saying things like "just don’t tilt" doesn’t really help. It’s like saying you should exercise and eat healthy if you want to be in great shape. 

Easier said than done. 

Dealing with tilt is a topic in and of itself, and every person has their own particular problem with it, so I don’t want to go too deep here. There are a few general guidelines to adhere to, however.

First of all, as mentioned before, you should have a healthy bankroll for the stakes you’re playing. 

This will help you ride out the short-term fluctuations in your results, and help you focus on playing to the best of your abilities. You should also never play with the money you’re not comfortable with losing.

Secondly, recognize that putting your money in with a mathematical advantage and hoping it holds up is all you can do. The end result is simply beyond your control. 

It doesn’t make sense to get upset at something you have no control over in any way. All you can do is control how you react to it.

Finally, if all the rationalizations aren’t helping and you’ve blown a fuse, take a break and live to fight another day.

This is one of the best times to study and improve your Texas Holdem poker game by the way. (use this time away from the tables to your advantage!)  

There’s no point in playing when you’re emotionally compromised. It won’t be enjoyable, and it certainly won’t be profitable. 

However, just quitting every time something bad happens is hardly the best long-term solution. It’s the last resort to use when you can’t get your game back on track. 

You will have to work out your problems, and the sooner the better. 


Summary 


So there you have it, your complete Texas Hold'em poker cheat sheet.

By following these tips you can transition from a total beginner to a consistent long term winner. The key phrase being long term, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t get great results right away. 

Learning a solid winning strategy isn’t too complicated, but it does take some time and effort. You really don't even need to learn any advanced poker theory to succeed in small stakes games either.

First of all, you’ll need to learn the fundamentals of a tight and aggressive (TAG) strategy, which includes:

a) only playing strong starting hands like pocket pairs, broadway hands, suited Aces and suited connectors. This equates to only about 20% of all starting hands

b) playing them aggressively, meaning betting and raising a lot and

c) playing them in position.

Next, you need to recognize the types of player you are up against and adapt accordingly. You should always be on the lookout for recreational players, as the most of your winnings will come from their mistakes.

That doesn’t mean you will always win when playing against them, though. Due to the short term luck element, sometimes you will lose money, even if you did everything right. 

That’s why it’s important to have a healthy bankroll to weather the short term negative results. You should have 30 buyins for your preferred stakes if you play cash games, and 100 buyins if you’re playing tournaments.

You should also choose the right games to play. You can only win long term if you have an overall skill edge over your competition. 

If you’re constantly playing against players who are just as skilled or more skilled than you, you can’t expect to win, no matter how good you are. 

That’s why you should practice proper game selection, as well as table and seat selection. You want to find tables with a lot of recreational players on them, and get a seat to their direct left for maximum profitability. 

Speaking of a great way to increase your profitability, working on improving your skills off the felt is just about the best thing to do for your long term success. 

Get into the habit of identifying and fixing your leaks, as this will have the biggest future payoff.

Another aspect that is absolutely crucial to your success, but often gets overlooked, is your mental game, or how you manage your emotions when cards don’t fall your way. 

Remember that poker is a game played between people, so having your insane monkey brain in check can give you a huge leg up over your competition that loses their cool at the slightest obstacle. 

Lastly, if you want to know my complete strategy to crush Texas Hold'em games for consistent big profits, grab a copy of my free poker cheat sheet.

Texas Hold'em Poker Cheat Sheet