NL Hold’em Tips For Beginners II. – The Basic Game Techniques

Part II of my two-part beginner guide will be covering the basic game techniques. Read the first part, too.


Only play premium hands:

In the beginning phase, when we are not really clear with the dynamics of the game, our best decision is to focus on playing very tight. We should only consider playing upon receiving premium hands, this way we can avoid several tough situations. Although later on, once our experience has grown, it is a necessity to widen the range of hands we play in order to maximize profit.

Be aggressive, use the continuation bet but do not take unnecessary risks:

From the word ’go’ we should aim to be aggressive, but not try to carry out enormous bluffs and if our opponent shows strength we should always fold. If, for example, we have raised preflop with AK and only have one opponent on the flop, we should bet no matter what the flop is, but if our flop bet happens to get called, we should really give up on the turn or the river.

How to play drawing cards:

While at high stakes and against better opponents it is adviseable to play drawing cards more aggressively, on the lower stakes we should be definitely be more passive with these. If no raise comes, we should follow suit, and if we encounter a raise, we should only call if we have the right pot odds. On smaller stakes, however, we will find that our opponents will most probably pay for our time if we hit our draw. Until your level of experience has increased, playing these hands aggressively would almost definitely have a negative effect on your bankroll.

Naturally, if we raised preflop with HeartA HeartK and get a flop showing Heart3 HeartT Clubs8  against one opponent, we should bet without a doubt. If our one opponent happens to raise, we should re-raise. Our chances of winning are really good against one pair or worse, also taking into consideration that our opponent has the option to fold. Beyond this, we can still make our nut flush even if our opponent is holding better cards at that time. When it comes to non-nut draws, we should not get involved in this kind of raise-re-raise war.

So, let’s target our sight on playing Tight-Aggressive (TAG), and leave the Loose-Aggressive style for later. It is very important to note that the Tight-Aggressive gameplay is much easier to pick up and has a higher level of comfort to play. If we look at the short term, we can see that it also has less volatility. This smaller volatility is very important and needs to be emphasized, because when considering the vulnerability of our bankroll, it is important that we do not add to this vulnerability with the high fluctuation of Loose-Aggressive gameplay.

Only play the best hands if your opponent shows strength:

With experience behind us, we can easily make a distinction between the situations when our opponent is holding a Monster hand, or when he bluffs or semi-bluffs. Because on lower limits these bluffs are uncommon and hard to recognize, it is advised to fold our marginal hands.

If, for example, we play full ring and have raised preflop with HeartJ SpadeJ and our opponent check-raises our continuation bet on the Clubs2 DiamondT Heart5  flop, it probably means our opponent holds a good hand. In this case, it should be an automatic reaction to fold, unless the opponent has a small stack. This is even more accurate if our preflop raise has been called, because the chances of the flop hitting someone increase. We should never be enchanted by a high pair, once the money starts gathering up in the pot, we can rest assure that the opponents have better cards, a set, for example.

All the game techniques that have been covered in this article work on simplicity, so maximum profitability is not an outcome, but, as mentioned before, we must not play in a very harsh style until we are experienced enough to make the right call. If we do not follow this, it will lead to a destructive result on our bankroll.