How to Win at Texas Hold'em Every Time (Just Do This!)

How to Win at Texas Holdem Every Time (Just Do This!)

This article was written by contributor Fran Ferlan.

Texas hold’em is a game of skill, so if you are skilled enough, you should be able to win all the time, right?

Unfortunately, there’s no way to win at poker every time, no matter how good a player you are. Even the world class poker professionals lose quite often, and there’s no way around it.

However, with the right strategy, you can increase your chances of winning consistently, and keep your losses to a minimum.

In this article, we’ll go over 5 tips to increase your winrate and make steady profits at the felt.

Let’s get right into it.

1. How to Win at Texas Hold'em: Play Tighter Ranges

If you want to win at Texas Hold’em more consistently, the easiest way to do it is to play tighter ranges. This simply means playing less hands.

One of the most common amateur poker mistakes is playing too many hands. This is a big mistake for multiple reasons.

First of all, most hands miss most flops in no-limit hold’em. So the more hands you play, the more often you miss the flop, and the more money you lose as a consequence.

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

And if you play a lot of bad, trashy hands, you will miss the flop even more often than that, because bad hands have less ways to connect with the flop.

This means you should only play strong starting hands that have a reasonable chance of connecting with the flop in some meaningful way.

This includes pocket pairs (pocket Aces through pocket Twos), broadway hands (like Ace-Queen or Jack-Ten), suited connectors (like T9s or 87s) and suited Aces (Ace-Kings suited through Ace-Two suited).

These hands account for about 20% of all starting hands in no-limit hold’em. The rest is trash and should be thrown away.

Here's what the top 20% of hands looks like on a 6-max table.

How to Win at Texas Holdem Every Time

And if you play 9 player Texas Hold'em games, I recommend playing the top 15% of all hands (see the chart below)

How to Win at Texas Holdem Every Time

You can also check out my other article on exactly which starting poker hands to play and how to play them, for a deeper dive on the topic.

Now, folding 80% of the time may not sound like too much fun, and fair enough. Poker can be tedious at times, especially when you encounter a prolonged run of bad cards.

But this article is about winning consistently, not about having fun. Risking a bit of boredom for the prospect of making money sounds like a fair tradeoff to me.

If you just want to have fun, you can play just about any hand that’s dealt to you. But you can expect to win any money that way.

There is another, more technical reason why playing tighter ranges will allow you to win more consistently.

Playing tighter ranges will reduce variance, which will make your overall results less “swingy”. 

In other words, your results won’t be as volatile over time.

In poker, variance measures how much your results are spread from the “average”. The bigger the variance, the more ups and downs you experience in your results.

Let’s say we bet on an outcome of the flip of the coin 10 times. You would expect to win 5 out of 10 times, since the chance of winning a coin flip is 50%.

If you win more than 5 times, you experienced positive variance. If you win less than 5 times, you experienced negative variance.

In poker, it’s impossible to win every single time because of variance. 

This is true even if you play perfectly, because your opponents will always have a significant chunk of hand equity against you.

Variance makes poker fun and exciting, but it can also be incredibly frustrating. 

There is no way to avoid variance, because it’s a natural part of the game. However, there are ways to reduce the negative effects of variance.

One of the best ways to do so is to simply increase your winrate. The better your winrate, the less of a factor variance will play in your long term results.

But you can also decrease variance by simply playing tighter ranges. By playing a tight and aggressive (TAG) strategy, you will experience less variance.

However, it’s worth noting that this may slightly decrease your overall winrate, because you might be missing some potentially +EV plays if you tighten up too much.

As you get more comfortable, you can start mixing up your game with a loose and aggressive (LAG) poker style.

Mixing up your game with a LAG style is one of the best ways to maximize your winrate. However, this playstyle will inherently have more variance built into it.

Playing a LAG style also requires you to be familiar with advanced poker strategies beyond “just playing tight”.

For a complete guide on how to play a LAG poker style, check out my 2nd book Modern Small Stakes.

2. Only Play in Texas Holdem Games You Can Beat

Poker is a game of skill, so the only way to win (somewhat) consistently is to play in games where you have a significant skill edge over your competition.

It doesn’t matter how good of a poker player you are if you constantly play against players with similar or greater skill levels than you. If you do this, you are going to be a breakeven player at best.

So if you want to be a consistent long term winner, you need to either:

A) improve your poker skills or

B) only play in games where you have a significant skill edge.

Ideally you want to do both, of course. 

But improving your poker skills takes time and effort. A much faster way to improve your results is to simply play in games with plenty of recreational players around (aka the fish).

This also means leaving your ego at the door, and only playing in games you have a reasonable chance of beating over the long run.

Sometimes, this means dropping down in stakes if you’re not beating your current stakes over a significant sample size.

I discuss in my new video on how to beat Texas Hold'em games every time.

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So how do you practice proper game selection?

Whether you’re playing cash games, multi-table tournaments, sit-and-gos, or other poker formats, you should only play in games you are sufficiently bankrolled for. 

Having a proper bankroll will help you ride out the negative short-term results without the risk of going broke.

In poker, you need money to make money. And you can’t make money if you constantly end up broke and need to refund your account.

However, just because you have a bankroll for a certain limit, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should play that limit. You also need to know that you are beating that limit over a significant sample size.

If you’re playing poker online, you need at least 10,000 hands to draw any meaningful conclusions about your results, at the very bare minimum.

10,000 hands is usually enough to account for basic variance, although bear in mind that it’s still a small enough sample size for variance to play a major role in the outcome.

This may sound like a lot of hands, but due to the sheer speed of online poker, as well as the ability to multitable, it won’t take you too long to reach this milestone.

If you’re playing live poker, you don’t need to play as many hands to assess your results, since live poker plays a lot slower than online poker.

Still, it’s worth bearing in mind that it takes a while to truly assess your poker results.

For this reason, it’s worth erring on the side of caution. If you’re getting good results, you may simply be running exceptionally well, and haven’t experienced negative variance (yet).

On the other hand, if you think you’re running badly, it may be worth assessing your game before blaming your bad results on variance.

Everybody has leaks in their game, and the best way to improve your results is to identify and fix your leaks.

In PokerTracker 4, you can use the Leak Tracker feature to quickly figure out where your stats fall out of norm for most winning players.

Bottom line: if you want to win at poker consistently, only play in games where you have a significant skill edge, preferably with a lot of recreational players around.

Also, practice proper bankroll management to eliminate the risk of going broke. It's better to err on the conservative side, and be “overrolled” rather than “underrolled” for the games you’re playing.

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3. Texas Holdem Strategy: Play More Hands in Position to Win More

Another way to win at poker more consistently is to play more hands in position.

Playing in position means being the last player to act in a betting round. This gives you a huge advantage over your opponents for several reasons.

Here’s why playing more hands in position can dramatically improve your poker results:

A) You have more information.

Poker is a game of incomplete information, and the player with the informational advantage will come out on top more often than not. 

When you are the last player to act, you get to see what your opponents did, while they will have no idea what you are about to do. 

By having more information than your opponents, you will be able to make more informed decisions than them.

B) You can dictate the price of the pot.

The last player to act gets a final say at the size of the pot. If you have a strong value hand, you can bet or raise to inflate the pot size. 

If you have a mediocre or a drawing hand, you can call or check back to get a cheap/free card.

C) You can bluff more effectively.

Due to the informational disadvantage, your opponents won’t be as likely to fight back for the pot when they are playing out of position. 

This means you can often push them out of the pot, even if you don’t have a strong hand. 

Bear in mind that you shouldn’t bluff too often (or even at all) against recreational players who love to call a lot (aka the calling stations).

So how do you play more hands in position?

You simply play a wider range from the late positions at the table, namely the button and the cutoff.

How to Win at Texas Holdem Every Time

The cutoff is the seat to the direct right of the button, and is the second most profitable seat at the table overall.

The button is by far the most profitable eat on the table, because you will ALWAYS play in position post flop when you are playing on the button.

In fact, the best way to look at it is that you should all but ABUSE this position.

When playing on the button, you can often play an insanely wide range.

Remember the general rule of playing only the top 20% of hands dealt to you? This rule goes out the window when playing on the button.

The top 20% is just a general guideline. You should play an even tighter range when in early positions, and a lot wider range when in late positions.

The more opponents left to act before you, the stronger cards you need to play them profitably.

As you get closer to the button, you should progressively expand your open-raising range.

You can play quite a wide range on the button especially if you have weak players left to act in the blinds.

For example, if you have a pair of nits in the blinds, you can try to steal their blinds with an extremely wide range.

A nit is a player who plays only strong cards (i.e. an extremely tight range) and usually plays them very straightforwardly, both preflop and post flop.

These players won’t fight back for their blinds too often, which you can exploit by stealing with a wider range.

Similarly, you can play a wide range if you’re up against recreational players in the blinds.

You don’t have to wait around for a monster hand to take the recreational player’s money.

Since poker fish make all sorts of fundamental mistakes, you can often take advantage of them even without a particularly strong hand, especially if you are playing in position.

On the other hand, if you have more skilled and aggressive players left to act in the blinds, you should tighten up your range, because they will often fight back at you and give you a harder time post flop.

Finally, let’s mention the spots where you are the one playing in the blinds.

The blinds are not going to be profitable seats over the long run for you, no matter how well you’re playing. 

This is just the nature of the game. In poker, the money flows from players out of position to the players in position.

So when playing in the blinds, your goal is not to win money, but to lose as little as possible, and make it up when you are playing in position.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you should just fold 100% of the hands when you are in the blinds. Other players could quickly spot this and start exploiting you, which is not a good long term strategy for you.

In fact, one of the most common leaks at the lower stakes, even by decent poker players is not defending your blinds enough.

If you want to learn more about blind defense and other advanced poker strategies, enroll in Blackrain79 Elite Poker University.

To be a winning poker player these days, it takes a lot more than knowing which hands to play in which position. 

As you start climbing up the stakes, you will encounter more difficult opponents who will try to make your life difficult.

To defeat these players, you need to be comfortable playing a lot of marginal spots, like playing out of position without the initiative.

In this course, you will learn to approach virtually any spot you find yourself in with confidence. 

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4. Just Have Fun!

Winning at poker every single time is impossible due to the nature of variance. 

If you want to win a game every time, you can try a zero variance game, like chess. In chess, a superior player will win close to 100% of the time. 

But the fact that you aren’t guaranteed to win every time is exactly what makes poker profitable over the long run in the first place. 

The fact that anybody can theoretically win keeps the players coming back to play, despite the odds being against them.

The short-term luck element keeps the game exciting, and it gives inferior players a fighting chance. 

While it sucks to be on the receiving end of bad luck, it’s worth remembering that this is precisely what makes the game profitable. 

So instead of trying to win every single time (which is impossible), focus on playing to the best of your abilities.

The only way to win in poker consistently is to keep making sound, logical decisions day in and day out, without worrying about how you’re running session to session.

It also may be worth defining what it means to win at poker in the first place.

Technically speaking, a winning poker player is anyone with a positive winrate over a significant sample size of hands.

This means that it takes time to figure out whether you are a winning poker player or not. The results of a single session, or even a few sessions are irrelevant.

So if you’re beating your current limit over the long run, you shouldn’t worry about your day to day results. What matters is the long term trajectory of your graph.

Being a winning poker player is not about winning in every single session. Being a winning poker player is about not caring about losing a session.

Take this with a grain of salt, of course. You obviously should care whether or not you win or lose, but you shouldn’t be concerned about individual outcomes you can’t really control.

Here’s one of the best ways to stop fretting about your short-term results: just have fun!

If you enjoy playing poker, you should enjoy playing it whether you win or you lose. If you only like playing when you’re winning, you’re not really enjoying poker for what it is.

Also, what’s the point of engaging in an activity if you’re going to be miserable roughly half the time you do it?

The poker players that win the most are the same ones that seem to enjoy themselves on the felt the most.

If you’re only in it for the money, you’re doing yourself a disservice. If making money is your primary concern, there’s nothing wrong with that, but there are way easier and less stressful ways to go about it than playing cards.

To me, winning at poker means being able to do something I enjoy, and potentially make some money from time to time in the process.

If I catch myself fuming because of a few bad beats or because I’m running badly, I’ll simply end my session and do something else to take my mind of it for a while.

There’s no point in staying in games where you can’t play to the best of your abilities. And you certainly can’t play your best if you’re having a miserable time.

Bottom line: if you want to win at poker every time, have fun every time you play!

This will create a positive feedback loop; the more fun you’ll have, the better you’ll play and the more you’ll win as a consequence.

You will also react better to the inevitable bad beats and suckouts, and keep playing your best despite how you’re running.

If you can’t have fun, quit. There’s no point in playing when you’re emotionally compromised, and it will likely just compound your losses.

If you can’t laugh at what happens to you on the felt, live to fight another day.

How to Win at Texas Holdem Every Time - Summary

So is there a secret trick to win at texas hold’em every single time? 

The short answer is no. 

Even if you study all the advanced poker strategy and you are the best texas holdem player at your table, you’re still going to lose quite often.

However, there are steps you can take to curb the losing to a minimum, and win fairly consistently.

1. Play tighter ranges.

If you play stronger ranges than your opponents, you can expect to win more on average over the long run. 

Also, tightening up your ranges can reduce variance, meaning you’ll be able to win a lot more consistently.

2. Play in the right games.

If you are the sixth best Texas hold’em player in the world, but go up against the top five players in the world, you are going to be a losing player.

Only play in games where you have a significant skill edge, preferably the ones with a lot of recreational players around.

3. Play more hands in position.

Playing in position gives you an informational advantage over your opponent, makes it easier to build the pot with strong hands, and bluff your opponents more effectively.

By simply playing more hands in late table positions (the cutoff and the button), you’ll be able to win much more with consistency.

4. Just Have Fun!

Even by following all these tips, you still won’t win every single time. So try to have a good time regardless of how you’re running.

There’s no point in playing if you’re going to have a miserable time. If you can’t laugh off all the bad beats and suckouts, take a break and live to fight another day.

Lastly, if you want to know the complete strategy I use to make $2000+ per month in small/mid stakes games, grab a copy of my free poker cheat sheet.

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