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Yes, Texas Holdem is very complex: Texas Holdem rules are simple but strategy is complex.  Therefore, we encourage all new players and many experienced players to start slow in low stakes games and in short sessions.  Here Juicy Stakes offers a few tips about Texas Holdem that might help.

Sometimes it Pays to be Aggressive When You are Out of Position

Texas Holdem is complex even for the most experienced and successful players!  One of the ways you can complicate matters for other players is by being aggressive even when you are out of position.

A classic example of this is when you have called the big blind before the flop, someone further down the line raised, and you called again.  That should signal that you have a moderately strong hand but not aces or kings since you would have raised with these pairs.

So, by calling the raiser, you telegraph suited connectors or at the least two suited royals even if they are not connected.

Now, if the flop has suited cards, you can bluff to the raiser by betting.  Even if this play loses in the end, as long as the cost is minimal, it will indicate that you are not just waiting for a powerhouse hand to enter the betting.  Anytime a player is willing to bet with lesser cards, the other players have to consider the possibility that this time he or she may have really good cards.

When You are in Position, it Sometimes Pays to 3-Bet

New players often forget what a 3-bet is.  This is simply the second raise on a betting street.  There are two kinds of 3-bets: a value 3-bet and a bluff or conditional 3-bet.  The value bet is like any other value bet.  It signifies that you think that you have the better hand and want to build up the pot or get plasters to fold.

A lot of players will fold in the face of a strong 3-bet since they will justifiably conclude that it is better to wait for a better hand before risking what they deem to be a hand with a small chance to win.  Were it not for the 3-bet, these players may have stayed in the hand.

A conditional 3-bet is a kind of bluff.  It is especially effective against opponents who fold too often.  If an opponent is afraid to play a hand, you might make a conditional 3-bet to get them to fold.  The reason we say that it is a conditional bet is because it is a bluff and if that opponent has a good hand, she or he will not fold.

Furthermore, sometimes a player, who you think is an inveterate folder, may surprise you and bluff to your bluff.  These will usually be very attentive players, who learn something from every hand, possibly especially from the hands they stay out of!

A Lot of Bets are Like Research in a Lab

There are several terms to describe this kind of bet.  We probe for information about an opponent’s hand.  Often, the bet is designed to get a physical reaction from the opponent which we may interpret as a tell.

Probing bets can be dangerous since you are risking money just to verify what your primary opponent might have.  On the other hand, if you know the opponent well, if you have a strong feeling about your hand versus her possible holding, and if you can afford to make a probing bet, then these bets can be very valuable.

The top professional poker players use these types of bets often, especially against players whom they deem to be inexperienced.   When a poker player who has relatively little experience goes up against a highly experienced player he or she is at a huge disadvantage and probing bets are one way that the pro takes the advantage.

If you are in the inexperienced class of poker players, you should be aware that a more experience player may be making a probing bet to see your immediate reaction.

Probing bets are one of the many reasons why poker players have to train themselves to control their immediate reactions.

Sometimes it is Good Strategy to Bet Even with a Relatively Poor Hand

Poker pros have different terms for this kind of bet but the main principle is the same.  If you have a poor hand, even a losing hand, but your opponent folds too frequently, simply staying in a hand might cause them to fold.

It often happens that an opponent will call a bet in an early street and then fold later on.  If you can identify such a player, you can often bluff them on a later street even though you have a poor hand.

Sometimes a good player facing a poor player will check in the hope that the poor player will then bet.  If you then raise, it is called a check-raise which is totally different than the kind of bet we are talking about here.  The act of checking here is to get the opponent to think that he or she has a winning hand and also thinks that you cannot put them on a strong hand.

As a result, they are likely to bet on subsequent streets and you can then raise on the river.

Checking is Often a way of Setting the Stage for a Bet

This is the check-raise scenario we mentioned above.  A check-raise is a powerful tool but you need to use it wisely.  If you are facing an opponent who folds in a panic at any sign of aggression, the check-raise is a perfect tool to win a few hands immediately.  If you have an opponent who falls in love with his cards at all costs, a check raise will add to the pot.

The check-raise ploy works bets against opponents who are less observant than you are.  Very observant opponents will ferret out your scheme and will sometimes fool you into thinking that you have the upper hand when in fact they do!

Always Value Your Hand Properly

The pros rarely disvalue their hand.  They may disvalue an opponent’s hand.  If that were not the case, then bluffing would have no usefulness in poker!  But valuing your own hand correctly is just about as important as everything else we have covered here.

Amateurs and inexperienced players are the most frequent players to improperly value their hand.  This occurs, ironically, when they have a strong hand but are afraid that as strong as their hand might be, it will lose.  Ace-king is a perfect example.  There is no pair and yet it is a very strong hand!

You do have to be careful when you extend yourself with ace-king but you will win many hands with this holding.  The trick, then, is to make sure to get the most out of the pots when you win with ace-king.

Yes, Poker is a Very Complex Game

When we think about complex games, we usually think about chess and GO.  Monopoly, Scrabble, Set, and Risk are not nearly as complex as chess and GO.  Texas Holdem really should be seen as one of the most complex games around!

One of the reasons we publish so many articles about the nuances of poker is because the game is so difficult to learn.

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