9 Best Texas Hold'em Strategies for Beginners

9 Best Texas Hold'em Strategies for Beginners

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

Learning the winning Texas hold’em strategy can be daunting, especially for beginner poker players. With so much information out there, it’s hard to know where to even begin working on your game.

If you want to improve your poker results, but don’t know where to start, you’ve come to the right place.

This article will show you the best Texas hold’em strategies to follow as a beginner. It won’t be full of convoluted poker lingo, and all the  important poker terms will be explained.

1. Texas Holdem Beginner Strategy: Play Less Hands to Win More Money

While winning more by playing less may seem counterintuitive at first, it’s the single best way to  quickly improve your poker results. 

That’s because in no-limit hold’em, most hands miss most flops, so the more hands you play, the more often you miss the flop, which means more money lost.

If you’re a beginner poker player, you should play only about 20% of the starting hands.

This included pocket pairs (pocket Aces through pocket Twos), broadway hands (like AKo or KJs), suited Aces and suited connectors.

The rest is trash and should be thrown away.

Now, folding four out of five times preflop may seem a bit too restrictive at first. 

But by being selective with your hand selection, you will

a) connect with the board more frequently


b) often make stronger combinations than your opponents,

which in turn will result in you making more money. 

Folding this much may not seem fun, and you’re right, it isn’t. If you just want to have fun, you can play just about any hand that’s dealt to you. 

You just can’t expect to win any money that way. 

For more info on how to consistently make money playing small stakes poker, check out Crushing the Microstakes.

Also, playing 20% of the hands is just a ballpark number. You should play even less hands in early positions, and way more hands in late positions, but more on that below.

Check out my other article if you want to know EXACTLY which poker hands to play and how to play them.

2. Play in Position to Get an Edge

Another simple way to instantly boost your poker results is to play more hands in position postflop.

Playing in position means being the last to act in a betting round, and has a couple of huge benefits:

a) you have an informational advantage over your opponents. 

You get to see what they did first and react accordingly, while they have no idea what you’re going to do.

b) you can control the size of the pot. 

If you have a strong hand, you can inflate the pot size while your hand is ahead. Conversely, if you have a mediocre and/or a drawing hand, you can simply call your opponent’s bet or check behind to exercise pot control and get a cheap/free card on the next street.

c) you can bluff more effectively. 

It’s easier to push your opponent out of the pot when you are playing in position, due to the aforementioned informational advantage. Players aren’t as likely to fight back for the pot when they are playing out of position.

So how do you play more hands in position? 

You simply open-raise less hands from earlier positions at the table, and more hands in late positions, namely the cutoff and the button.

(The cutoff is the seat on the direct right of the button).

When playing on the button in particular, you will ALWAYS play in position postflop. 

The button will be your most profitable seat in the long run by far, and the cutoff will be the second most profitable.

Also, be careful when playing out of the blinds, because you will always have a positional disadvantage postflop. The only exception being playing in the big blind against the small blind.

Check out Nathan’s recent video where he talks about the value of playing in position in more detail.

3. Enter the Pot With a Raise to Take Charge

In addition to being selective with the hands you play and playing most of them in position, the third component of a successful tight and aggressive (TAG) poker strategy is playing your hands aggressively, as opposed to passively.

This means betting and raising often instead of checking and calling. 

When you enter the pot, you should do so with an open-raise instead of limping in.

To limp in means to just pay the big blind instead of open-raising. 

As a general rule, you should avoid open-limping, because you’re inviting other players to raise behind you, which puts you in an awkward position. You also can’t win the pot outright preflop if you don’t open-raise.

Check out my other article on beginner poker mistakes to avoid to learn more.

When you open raise, on the other hand, you’re letting the other players know that you mean business. 

The preflop aggressor is the one that’s perceived to have the strongest hand, which allows them to continue the aggression postflop (more on that below). 

If another player open-raises before you, you can just flat call them, but a better option is to 3-bet them. 

A 3-bet preflop is a re-raise against another player’s open raise.

When you’re just starting out, you should keep your 3-bet range value heavy, meaning you 3-bet with strong hands expecting to get weaker hands to call. 

As you get more comfortable with 3-betting, you can add some bluffing hands in your 3-betting range so you don’t become overly predictable.

Check out Nathan’s comprehensive guide on 3-betting for more information.

Bottom line: you should play the majority of your hands as the preflop aggressor, meaning you open-raise and 3-bet them when you want to get involved in the pot.

For more info about which bet sizing to use preflop, check out my ultimate preflop bet sizing guide.

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4. Steal More Blinds for Easy Money

We’ve already discussed the importance of playing in position and entering the pot with a raise. If you’ve followed the previous tips, this one will come as a natural extension of the previous two tips.

One of the easiest ways to quickly boost your profitability is to simply steal more blinds. 

This means open-raising from the cutoff, button or the small blind with the intention of making your opponents fold preflop.

There are a few advantages to this strategy:

a) you can often win the pot outright, even without a strong hand.

A lot of players don’t defend their blinds often enough, especially at the lower stakes. They are uncomfortable playing out of position, so they often give up their blinds without any fight.

This means you can try to steal their blinds even without a particularly strong hand.

b) you don’t need to pay the rake.

Rake is the percentage of the pot the house takes at the end of every hand as the cost of doing business. Rake is the silent killer of your poker results, because it chips away a small chunk of every pot you win.

Some online poker sites don’t take rake unless the players have seen the flop, so stealing a few blinds here and there is a great way to boost your profitability without incurring additional losses.

c) you will often play in position postflop.

Even if your opponents call your open-raise, you’ll still be in great shape postflop. You will have the initiative, meaning you’ll be able to take down the pot with a simple c-bet, even if you missed the flop completely. 

Your opponent will have a hard time fighting back due to the positional disadvantage. The only exception to this is when you try to steal from the small blind and get called from the big blind.

Now, you might think that stealing blinds is not worth the hassle, but remember: it’s not about the size of the prize, but the sheer frequency you can do it that makes it worthwhile.

If you’re playing 6-max poker, for example, you can potentially steal the blinds 3 times per orbit.

Over the long run, these tiny edges can add up tremendously. Poker is a game of razor thin margins, so it pays to look for every single edge you can.

As for which hands you should steal the blinds with, it depends on the situation, mainly on the type of players you’re stealing the blinds from, as well as your table position.

If you’re playing on the button and the players in the blinds are fairly weak and passive (aka nitty), you can steal with a very wide range indeed.

If your hand has any sort of playability postflop, chances are you can open-raise profitably on the button.

Example hands you can steal the blinds with:





You get the point. 

While these hands could potentially spell trouble for you if you play them from early positions or from the blinds, the button is an entirely different story.

Such is the power of position in no-limit hold’em, so use it to your advantage.

If you want to learn how to steal the blinds like a pro, check out the Microstakes Playbook.

5. Texas Holdem Beginner Strategy: Make a C-bet on the Flop

Being the preflop aggressor puts you at the driver’s seat throughout the rest of the hand. 

This means you’re the one to dictate the tempo, i.e. you're the one that decides whether or not you want to play for a big pot or a small pot. 

If you are the preflop aggressor, you have the opportunity to make a continuation bet (or c-bet for short) on the flop. 

A continuation bet is simply a bet made by the previous street's aggressor, either on flop, turn, or river.

C-bets are usually profitable, meaning you should be inclined to make one whether or not you’ve connected with the flop, because chances are that your opponent missed the flop as well.

In no-limit Texas hold’em, hands miss the flop completely 2 out of 3 times.

If you connect with the flop, you can make a value c-bet, meaning you want to get action from weaker hands. If you miss the flop, you can make a light c-bet (or a bluff c-bet) in order to get stronger hands than yours to fold.

There are a couple of reasons you should make a c-bet even if you missed the flop.

As mentioned, your opponent could have easily missed the flop as well, so you can often take down the pot with a simple bet, even without a made hand.

The other reason is that you are the one that’s perceived to have a stronger hand, because you were the preflop aggressor. That’s why it’s expected for you to continue the aggression throughout the hand (hence the term: continuation bet).

Finally, you should make a c-bet even without a strong hand so you don’t become too predictable. If you only ever c-bet with strong hands, your opponents could exploit you by simply folding every time you make a c-bet, and only giving you action if they have a really strong hand themselves.

By adding some light c-bets, you’re constantly keeping them guessing about your hand strength. This in turn will help you extract more value out of them once you actually do get a monster hand.

Check out my other article on how to bet the flop like a pro for more info about the flop strategy.

6. Know the Basic Player Types

Poker is a game played against other people, so knowing how to recognize and adapt to different players is crucial for your long term success in this game. 

While every poker player is different and no two players play the same, it’s still possible to categorize them based on their playing tendencies. 

These playing tendencies have to do with 

a) how many hands they choose to play (i.e. are they tight or loose)


b) how aggressively they play these hands (i.e. are they passive or aggressive).

Based on these tendencies, there are 4 main player types you’ll encounter at the poker tables. Here’s a quick rundown of each of them.

Poker Player Type #1: Loose and Passive

This is the weakest player type you’re going to encounter at the felt. These are predominantly recreational players who often have a weak grasp of basic poker concepts, let alone the ins and outs of the winning poker strategy. 

They make all sorts of fundamental mistakes, namely playing too many hands, chasing weak draws and so on. They also often have trouble with folding their hands, and cling on to them way longer than they should.

How to beat them: The key to beating them is very simple: wait for a decent hand, then value bet it relentlessly. Don’t bluff them under any circumstances, because they’ll just call you down with their nonsense hands, regardless of how little sense it makes.

Poker Player Type #2: Tight and Passive

These players aren’t as abysmal as the first category, but they aren’t experts by any means either. They tend to play pretty straightforwardly, i.e. they won’t get out of line unless they have a strong hand. 

How to beat them: The best way to beat these players is the opposite of the way you beat the first category: you bet and raise a lot, even without a strong hand (i.e. you bluff them more), because they won’t fight back as often, and when they do, it’s usually because they have you beat. 

While you won’t win as much money against them as you would against loose and passive players, you can still beat them with a well-timed aggression.

Poker Player Type #3: Loose and Aggressive

There are two types of loose and aggressive (LAG) players : either fish or regulars. LAG fish are more aggressive than their passive counterparts, but their aggression is often ill-timed and nonsensical. While often frustrating to play against, these players tend to lose the most money over the long run.

Loose and aggressive regulars are a different story. These players will time their aggression way better than the fish, and will arguably be the most difficult players to play against.

How to beat them: The way to beat LAG fish and LAG regulars is somewhat different, but the general idea is the same: use their aggression against them. This means you should call them down more widely, and try to bluff catch against their incessant betting and raising. 

This requires more than a bit of patience on your part, so remember to just stay the course, and resist the temptation of fighting their aggression with an ill-timed aggression of your own.

Check out my other article on how to beat LAG players for more info.

Poker Player Type #4: Tight and Aggressive

These are typically the strongest players you’ll encounter at the felt. They’ve more than likely studied the winning poker strategy and are there to win. 

They don’t make large fundamental mistakes, and you can’t expect to win a lot of money from them over the long run. That’s not to say they don’t have any weaknesses, of course.

How to beat them: While TAG players won’t have too much glaring weaknesses in their game, they will more than likely have some leaks you can exploit if you know where to look. 

For example, they may not defend their blinds often enough, play too fit-or-fold on the flop, give up too often on the turn, etc. 

If you play poker online, you can quickly find leaks in your opponent's game if you're using a hand tracking software like PokerTracker 4.

In order to beat these players, you’ll need to go beyond the “just play tight” approach. 

You’ll need to learn advanced poker strategies like double/triple barrel bluffing, thin value betting, and bluff catching, just to name a few.

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7. Play Strong Draws Aggressively 

Hitting a strong hand on the flop is more of an exception than the rule. More often than not, you will miss the flop completely, and sometimes you will flop a drawing hand, i.e. a hand that didn’t make a strong combination yet, but has a chance of improving on later streets. 

We’re talking about straight and flush draws here, which are relatively strong hand combinations to have in no-limit hold’em. 

When you have a drawing hand like a straight or a flush draw, your best bet is to play it aggressively (i.e. bet and raise) as opposed to passively. 

There’s two ways for you to win the pot: either by having the strongest hand combination at showdown, or by making all your opponents fold. 

If you play your drawing hands passively, the only way for you to win the pot is by hitting your outs, which actually won’t happen most of the time.

An out is the card that improves your hand on future streets. The more outs you have, the stronger your draw.

For example, let’s say you are dealt A2 

And the flop is: K85

If you don’t bet or raise, you are unlikely to win the pot unless you complete your flush draw. In this example, you have 9 outs to a flush, so your flush will complete 35% of the time.

By the way, a simple trick to quickly calculate the chance of your hand improving is to use the so-called rule of fours: you simply multiply the number of outs you have by 4 to get a rough percentage estimate, so 9x4=36. 

As you can see, the difference between your actual chance of improving and using the rule of fours is only 1%, so rule of fours works like a charm in most in-game situations.

If you want to know the chance of improving over only one street instead (flop to turn or turn to river), you simply multiply the number of outs by 2 instead.

Now, if you were to bet or raise the flop instead, you can win the pot outright even without your draw completing. 

Remember, you don’t need to rely on hitting your outs if your opponents fold. 

Even if you get called, not all is lost, as you still have a ton of equity to fall back on. You could still hit your draw and take down an even bigger pot on later streets.

Another benefit of playing drawing hands aggressively is that you’re more likely to get paid off if you do manage to hit your draw. If you wait for your draw to complete before betting, it may become blatantly obvious to your opponents that you have a monster hand. 

If you start betting or raising before your draw completes, on the other hand, your opponents will have a harder time putting you on your exact hand.

Check out my other article on how to play flush draws like a pro.

When you play your draws aggressively, you’re essentially semibluffing. To semibluff means bettting and raising without a stronger hand, but with the chance of your hand improving on future streets. 

This is usually preferable to stone-cold bluffing, where your hand has no chance of improvement, and the only way to win the pot is by making your opponent fold.

For more info on how to win more money even without a strong hand, check out Modern Small Stakes.

8. Don’t  Waste Money on Bad Draws

As a general rule, the stronger your draw, the more aggressively you should play it. Conversely, the weaker your draw, the more caution you should exercise when playing it. 

And if your draw is very weak, sometimes it’s best not to chase it at all and simply give up the hand altogether.

There are two factors that determine the strength of your drawing hands:

a) how likely the draw is to complete, i.e. how many outs you have, and

b) are you drawing to the strongest possible combination (i.e. the nuts).

The less outs you have, the less inclined you should be to chase your draws.

For example, let’s say you are dealt 87 

And the flop is A95

You need a Six to complete your draw, so you only have 4 outs. This is called an inside straight draw (or a gutshot straight draw), and it only has a 17% chance of improving. 

What’s worse, one of your outs is “tainted”, because a Six of hearts could potentially complete your opponent’s flush draw.

Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t chase this draw under any circumstances. If other factors work in your favour, you can still continue playing this hand profitably. You just need to be aware of the drawbacks, and the simple fact that you’re going to miss far more often than not.

Another factor to consider is whether or not you’re drawing to the strongest possible combination. If not, you run the risk of your opponent having an even stronger hand than you.

For example, let’s say you are dealt AT 

And the flop is K93

You are drawing to the strongest possible flush, so you don’t need to worry about your opponent having a stronger hand than you.

On the other hand, let’s say you are dealt 76

And the flop is JTT

You also have a flush draw, but your opponent could have any number of stronger flush draws. The board is also paired, so your opponent can even have a full house or quads. 

Again, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t play the hand altogether, but you have to exercise way more caution in the second example.

9. Texas Holdem Beginner Strategy: Don’t Pay Attention to Short Term Results

Even if you follow these tips to a tee, it doesn’t mean you’re going to win every time you sit down to play. 

Sometimes you’ll experience prolonged losing periods, even though you’re seemingly doing everything right. 

Poker has a short-term luck element involved, meaning you can sometimes lose despite playing perfectly. 

In other words, your poker results will be a never ending swing of ups and downs. The technical term for these swings is called variance. 

Simply put, variance measures the difference between how much you expect to earn and how much you ACTUALLY earn in a given sample size. 

For example, let’s say you are dealt pocket Aces, the strongest starting hand in no-limit hold’em. Another player open-raises, you 3-bet, and the other player 4-bet shoves all-in. 

You snap call, and the villain turns over pocket Jacks.

You have roughly 81% equity, meaning you can expect to win the hand 4 out of 5 times. Unfortunately, the villain flops a set, and you lose 100 big blinds, even though you’ve obviously played perfectly.

Now, let’s say your pocket Aces get cracked 3 times in a row in a similar fashion. You’re experiencing negative variance. 

And unfortunately, spots like these will keep happening as long as you continue to play poker, and there’s little you can do about it except making peace with it.

This is something that Daniel Negreanu discusses in his recent advanced poker training program.

Now, you can also experience positive variance, i.e. win more than you expect. Over the long run, it all evens out. Sometimes you’re lucky, sometimes you’re not. 

All it matters is making plays with positive expected value, despite the short term results.

Check out Nathan's video on how to deal with "bad luck" in poker.

9 Best Texas Hold'em Strategies for Beginners - Summary

The best way to quickly improve as a beginner poker player is to adopt a tight and aggressive (TAG) strategy.

This includes:

a) only playing strong starting hands

b) playing them aggressively both preflop and postflop

c) playing more hands in position.

When it comes to postflop play, you should make a c-bet on most flops unless there's a very good reason not to. You should also play your drawing hands aggressively to give yourself more ways to win the pot.

You should also be aware of the different player types and adjust your game accordingly. 

Following these tips will surely improve your poker results, but it doesn't mean you're guaranteed to win every time. Sometimes you'll lose even if you play perfectly.

In times like these, it's important to stick with the proven winning strategy, and not worry about short term results, because you can't control those anyway.

The best you can do is to focus on playing your absolute best and working on improving your game day in and day out. 

The results will surely follow.

Lastly, if you want to know the complete strategy I use to make $1000+ per month in small stakes games, get a copy of my free poker cheat sheet.

9 Best Texas Hold'em Strategies for Beginners