Basics of Betting

Texas Holdem Lesson – Tips for Winning Big!

5 common sense holdem tips to help you win more and lose less!

In Texas Holdem Poker, there is really no such thing as “common sense”, because most of Basics of Bettingthe logic is counter-intuitive, with weak means strong and strong means weak etc… but as I’ve been playing holdem
I keep repeating tips and mantras to myself that remind me of hard learned lessons over the years of holdem play and study, and if I listen to them will improve my win rate, I think you will too.


Typically I hear these poker tips in my head just after I make a bad call or a mis-timed bluff that gets picked off and I’m dissapointed in myself for making such poor decisions.

Texas Holdem Lesson – Five Tips!

Unless you have strong evidence to the contrary, assume that the following tips are mostly true when playing texas holdem. Strong evidence would include a reliable read or obvious signs of tilt, or other situational influences that strongly suggest otherwise.

*You can watch my strategy videos of me playing online poker (and see my hole cards) by signing up to the Kick Ass Poker Newsletter!

1. Big Bets mean big hands, don’t call them!

Do not call large bets without a very strong hand yourself. Unless you are against truly wild players (or extremely tough players), big bets will most of the time mean big hands! You have to have a bigger hand to beat a big hand.

So, unless you have a very strong hand (or a monster draw with good odds) you need to strongly lean towards folding a hand like top pair plus good kicker on scary boards like straight or flush draws, or even most semi-coordinated boards once all 5 cards are out. Especially on the river, don’t call down big bets with medium strength hands!

A big bet is considered “big” by comparing it’s size in relation to the current pot size. 2/3rds to 3/4th the size of the pot are generally considered large bets.

2. Bluff “less” Especially when playing poker online!

I say less but that depends on how often you bluff now. The real tip is to make yourself have a compelling reason to make a bluff. Yes, pulling off a successful bluff is an awesome feeling… winning a big pot on a bluff is fun, but overdoing it is one of the fastest way to donk off your bankroll. Slow it down unless you’re playing with a bunch of rocks (tight guys who will fold unless they have a monster hand).

Good bluffs need to be set up, well timed and ‘fit’ into the holdem game. Just making some random bet during some point in the hand because you want to win the pot is a loosing play. Make sure you have a reason to bluff (you sense serious weakness, or have dead on reads). Don’t bluff away your money, especially online! It is easy to ‘call and see’ online since you are not sitting there face to face and have to ‘face the music’ of making a donkey call.

Plus, many good players will check top pair good kicker on the river if you have called them down with a drawing hand that has obviously missed. (ie, 4 to the flush on the turn, and a blank on the river). They check to give you the chance to bluff your busted draw and pick you off with a hand like top pair or even 2nd pair, when you would have simply folded to their river value bet.

Good bluffs depend on opponents who are paying attention and have the capability of laying down a strong but vulnerable hand. Make sure you have seen something in a player that shows you that they are paying attention and can lay a hand down. Most online players call.

So – don’t bluff so much, your bankroll will thank you! (mostly considering $$ games here, tourneys are more situational even than $$ games imo)

(get more tips and suggestion from our bankroll management page.)

3. In general bet larger amounts.

Bet more when you are betting for value, they’ll call you. Bet more when you have a strong but vulnerable hand so you end the hand there and take down the pot now. Bet more so you make they draws pay way to much to properly draw for their outs. When you bluff, bet the amount to ‘get the job done’, which is normally a larger amount (unless your opponent things large amounts mean bluff and smaller value bets mean monsters….
When in doubt, bet a little bit more. If there are flush draws or straight draws on the board, trying to value bet a hand like Ac Ad on a board of Js 10ds 8h with 1/4 or 1/3 pot sized bets on the flop or turn is way to small. This is a highly coordinated board, with straigt draws, flush draws, straight flush draws etc… you name it. Your hand is probably good, but you need to find out right now. You need to stick in a bet around the 3/4th’s to pot sized bet to find out where you are at. You could already be behind. Strong re-raises should be respected, as well as smooth calls depending on the turn and the action.

Bet bigger and take it down or give the drawing hand very bad pot odds for calling! 3/4ths pot size to full pot size bets get it done!

4. Frequent continuation bets are fine if you are the initial aggressor pre-flop.

If you’ve raised pre-flop and gotten 1 or 2 callers it is fine to often make continuation bets on the flop. Continuation bets can be made when the action is checked to you on a non-threatening board.

A continuation bet is a bet that should be between 1/2 the pot up to the size of the pot, made on the flop after raising pre-flop (not calling a raise). If you make a lot of continuation bets, you also need to bet exactly the same when you make a hand.

To be a successful continuation bettor you must also bet the same when you hit your hand. Please notice I said ‘frequent’ and not ‘constant.’ Finding exactly where and when to make these takes practice, but if conditions are not bad, start firing away.

5. Don’t go broke in an unraised pot – play cautiously when you and others limp on in!

In unraised pots players can literally have any two cards and if you do not have a seriously strong hand (nut or near nut), don’t play a large pot. Two pair no good – fold it to serious aggression or resistance. Don’t go broke by flopping two pair in an unraised pot!

More Hold’em lessons

These holdem tips will help keep you out of tough spots and tough decisions. You can find a whole lot more information in our list of holdem poker strategy articles and the strategy forum is a great resource to ask questions and get insight into others poker play.

Many of these tips were gleaned from both playing and studying poker. One of the most interesting (and for me effective) ways to improve my game is by watching videos of online players playing and seeing their hole cards and listening to them talk about why they are doing what they are doing.
We wish you the most success possible at the tables.

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