Ever had a session where you know you played like crap?  Nevermind…it’s a rhetorical question.  If you read that first sentence and started shaking your head you’re either delusional, very lucky, or very very very good.  I’m none of those things, so I’ll happily admit there are days where despite everything I’ve learned about poker over the last few years I still play like a randy virgin taking his first shot at popping his cherry…in other words, I am completely devoid of insight or style, and generally fumble around or **** things up. After a hell session it can sometimes pay dividents to reflect on where things went wrong, and get back to basics.  In this post, I’m going to revisit some of the core texas hold em poker tips to avoid donkey plays, particularly in tournament poker.  

The growing popularity of the Texas Hold Em poker game has attracted quite a number of players to the table trying to learn how to play the game.  We all know it can be a mentally stimulating game.  Texas Hold Em poker is a game of strategy, and fortunately or unfortunately depending on which side of a bad beat you’ve come down on, also a game of chance.  Successfully playing the hands we are dealt using the right strategy in the right situation is a challenge faced by any poker player. 

Texas Hold Em poker tips can remind us that while being dealt with a good hand can logically win us a big pot, it does not necessarily guarantee we will win the game like a solid overall strategy can.

So why is good strategy founded on basic theory important?  Texas Hold Em poker is widely popular because it is often highlighted as the main event in a number of tournaments.  In tournaments of this type, we all know that winnings are often distributed among those that land in the top positions, with the top 10% usually getting paid and the top three or four taking the lions share of the pot.  In a game of 100 players, for example, the pot is often distributed pro-rata among the top nine players.  This brings in the factor of poker bubble play, and most of us have experienced being the poor bastard that is the last player out before the prize money.  The winning poker tournament formula for this or any other tournament depends on implementing a strategy that sees us into the money, preferably with a shot at taking out the big one.  In pressure situations, it can be easy to lose focus, and forget the fundamentals, and that can mean the difference between making money and losing money. 

Here are among the popular Texas Hold Em poker tips to keep in mind at the final table, or generally for novice poker players:

1. Know your game.  Educating yourself on the technicalities of the game of poker can help you develop your own winning poker tournament formula.  In Texas Hold Em poker, this includes paying attention to our opponents and knowing what strategy to implement on any given hand given the cards you are dealt. 

2. Know your position.  It is important in the game of Texas Hold Em poker to take into consideration your position in the game at all times.  In early tournament stages, an early position would need a strong hand to have a chance in the game as there are more players who can raise the pot after you.  Patience is a virtue during the early and middle stages.  At a final table, we can generally afford to ramp up our aggression levels, but it still pays to pick our pots. 

3. Be patient.  You have to be willing to wait things out to make the right decision that would come from reading the way your opponents are reacting to the hand that they are dealt.  Having a strong starting hand does not guarantee winning the hand.  You have to have a clear read of what your opponents might have in their hands to avoid tilt due to a bad decision. 

4. Pay close attention.  You not only have to look at your cards, you also have to pay attention to your opponents’ likely hands based on their previous play as opposed to their current play.   Also, pay close attention to the cards on the board during the flop and the subsequent cards in the turn and the river to appreciate how the texture of the board is effecting our opponents play. 

5. Be flexible in your strategy.  Whether or not to play a tight hand is something that you should think about.  You should be able to shift from one playing style to another.  This would also help in making your play unpredictable to your opponents.

6.  Think before you act.  One compulsive decision late in a tournament can literally mean the end of your tournament life.  I was having a discussion with a friend the other day about a particularly tight tournament we played with higher stakes last month.  The last four or five players weren’t there because they played well, they were there because they hadn’t made mistakes and had capitalized when other players had (except for one lucky bugger that got smacked with the deck).  There’s a series of factors that Phil Gordon wrote about in his article on Full Tilt Poker.  He lays out the questions you should have running through your mind BEFORE making a decision about your hand.  He does this each and every time he plays a hand.  I don’t.  Strangely, I haven’t won a bracelet…or anything remotely resembling a bracelet…unless you count the watch I won a couple of weeks back at a pub game.  It’s a pretty nice watch. 

Anyway, reminding ourselves of these essential Texas Hold Em Poker tips can help us stay on our game and potentially ensure us a cash.  Again, poker is a game of chance.  There is no single winning poker tournament formula that we can employ.  We just have to have the preparedness to pay attention to our opponents, the right amount of patience, and the right strategy to win the game. The high’s and lows of poker never cease to amaze me, and the difference between bubbling a tournament and taking out a win is, quite frankly, a lot like the difference between getting some and not…and since everyone likes getting some, I trust there’s no one left still reading this who is shaking their heads.

Good luck on the felt.

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