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Top 10 preflop tips for Texas Hold'em players

25 March 2019

Having a solid understanding of the preflop game is crucial.

Having a solid understanding of the preflop game is crucial. (photo by Wikimedia Commons)

Texas Hold'em is easily the most popular poker variation today, played in brick and mortar casinos and online poker rooms alike. Often dubbed a game that "takes five minutes to learn and a lifetime to master," Hold'em is a game of many layers. But, it all starts with the poker hand you're dealt.

Having a solid understanding of the preflop game (before any community cards are dealt) is crucial for further strategy considerations and planning. Many mistakes and problems you run into later in a hand will have been caused by poor decisions before the flop.

So, in this article, we're bringing you our top 10 things to consider before the flop that will help get you on the right path or fix some leaks you may have in your game that you're not even aware of.

10. Be aware of your position at all times
Position is vital in Texas Hold’em, and the very first thing you need to be aware of at the start of each hand is where you’re situated at the table. When you’re in one of the first few positions to act before the flop, like under the gun (UTG), UTG+1 and UTG+2 at a full table, you will want to stay very conservative with your hand selection.

Even if you’re a solid player overall, getting involved with weak hands from early position is asking for trouble as it is so much more likely for someone to pick up a much better hand. As your position improves, you can become more liberal with your raises as you’ll have fewer players to get through. Additionally, you’ll be less likely to be forced to play the rest of hand out of position when you get called.

9. Don’t get married to your blinds
We all have to post blinds when we play poker – that’s the nature of the beast. However, the fact that you have already put some money in the pot shouldn’t be an excuse to become reckless and start calling big raises simply to “protect” your blinds with weak holdings. If your hand is weak before the flop and the price to pay is too high, just fold your hand. You don’t want to play a bloated pot out of position with a weak hand.

8. Don’t become an easy target, either
Just like defending your blinds too wide is bad, giving up too easy is just as bad. You don’t want the other players at the table to think they can relentlessly attack your blinds as you never put up any fight. Mix things up with some calls and some three-bets before the flop, or some check-raises on the flop, to deter your opponents from going after your blinds all the time.

7. Get involved from the button
The button, or the dealer, is the most powerful position at the table. One thing you should try to incorporate into your preflop game is widening your range from the button. Depending on your table dynamics, you can afford to flat a fairly wide range of hands from the button and get away with it, if players sitting in the blinds aren’t particularly active. This will give you a chance to see more flops in position and could also be a deterrent for other players to try to steal with fairly weak hands from the hijack or cutoff, as they will know they have to deal with you as well.

6. Be careful when slow-playing before the flop
It isn’t easy to pick up a big hand before the flop. Seeing a hand such as pocket aces, pocket kings or even A-K suited can be a sight for sore eyes. Often, players will get confused with these hands and will try to play them slow to try and extract more value.

Slow-playing is a legitimate strategy in Hold’em, but you have to be careful not to overuse it. If you do it too often, other players might become aware of it and simply not give you action. Or, even worse, opponents will limp behind you and create a six-way pot where you’ll have no idea where you’re at.

5. Set-mining out of position isn’t as profitable as you may think
When we’re dealt a pocket pair, a thought that immediately comes to our mind is the one of flopping a set and stacking an opponent with a big bet. While there is nothing wrong with this reasoning, as this is where the power of small pocket pairs primarily comes from, you should be careful about doing it out of position.

If you raise and are faced with a sizeable three-bet before the flop, it is sometimes best to just give up your pair and move on if you’ll have to play the rest of the hand out of position. In this scenario, it may be quite hard to get your opponent’s entire stack even if you do flop a set, which doesn’t happen all that often.

When the action folds to the blinds, you should be more willing to fight for what’s in the middle.

When the action folds to the blinds, you should be more willing to fight for what’s in the middle. (photo by Best & Worst Ever Photo Blog)

4. Size your preflop raises accordingly
We all have certain default raise sizes before the flop, and these are quite useful to help you stay balanced and disguise the strength of your hand. However, in certain scenarios, especially in live games, you can get away with adjusting your raise sizes according to what you can get away with. If everyone’s happy to call a 5x raise before the flop, there is hardly any point in making it 2.5x when you have a big hand. Likewise, you can make smaller raises with the more speculative part of your hand range and still get away with it if other players at the table aren’t paying attention.

3. Avoid getting into trouble with cold calling
Cold calling refers to situations where you have a raise and re-raise in front of you and you decide to flat call when the action comes to you. In Texas Hold’em, this is really not advisable because you’re not closing the action and you can often end up in pots where you’ll have no idea what to do. If faced with a decision, either fold or occasionally throw in a four-bet. Both options are usually better than cold calling and hoping to see the flop.

2. Take initiative in blind vs. blind confrontations
When the action folds to the blinds, you should be more willing to fight for what’s in the middle. This means being more aggressive from the small blind and, conversely, defending more aggressively against the small blind raise. Since both of you are dealt a random hand, more often than not, the more aggressive player will win the hand. You should be that player as often as you can.

1. Stay attentive even after you fold
Finally, once you fold and are no longer involved in a hand, you should still pay attention to the preflop action. You might pick up on a read or a certain player’s tendency that might come handy at some later point. When you’re playing poker, you should stay focused at all times, and gathering valuable information about people’s preflop tendencies can be a real goldmine.
Top 10 preflop tips for Texas Hold'em players is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.
Tadas Peckaitis

Tadas Peckaitis has been a professional poker player, coach and author for almost a decade. He is a manager and head coach at mypokercoaching.com where he shares his experience, and poker strategy tips.
Tadas plays poker, mostly online, but also manages to play live events while travelling through Europe and the U.S.
He is a big fan of personal effectiveness and always trying to do more. Tadas regularly shares his knowledge about both of these topics with his students, and deeply enjoys it.
Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, or visit www.mypokercoaching.com
Tadas Peckaitis
Tadas Peckaitis has been a professional poker player, coach and author for almost a decade. He is a manager and head coach at mypokercoaching.com where he shares his experience, and poker strategy tips.
Tadas plays poker, mostly online, but also manages to play live events while travelling through Europe and the U.S.
He is a big fan of personal effectiveness and always trying to do more. Tadas regularly shares his knowledge about both of these topics with his students, and deeply enjoys it.
Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, or visit www.mypokercoaching.com