The worldwide poker boom of the mid-2000s saw an explosion in the popularity of poker that has never been duplicated before or since. Unfortunately, most of the worldwide increase in the popularity of the game came from the United States, which passed laws in 2006 that eventually led to the near total demise of the online poker business, which was a major driver of interest in poker.
However, one variant of poker, Texas Hold’em, which rocketed to worldwide popularity during the poker boom of the 2000s, is still popular throughout land casinos and poker rooms in the United States. Additionally, online poker is slowly being legalized, with Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware currently offering legal Texas Hold’em poker games. This makes learning to play Texas Hold’em well a fun and potentially profitable opportunity.
Learning To Play Texas Hold’em
Poker is one of the hardest skills to not only learn but to also do well. This is because the random nature of the game makes it extremely difficult to know how skilled one actually is. It also makes it difficult to discern long-term patterns out of the randomness of the shuffle.
You may hear phrases like tight is right, which means that only going all-in with the nuts and never committing large sums with weak hands is a sound strategy. This is largely true. But in today’s brutally tough online games and relatively tough live games, such simple aphorisms won’t make you a winner. They won’t even prevent you from losing big.
To understand how to play Texas Hold’em to win, you need to take a professional approach to the game. This involves modeling opponent populations through studying vast numbers of hands and then using that data to create a game-usable mental framework that informs you of what’s actually going on.
Using population-level data will also inform you in which situations bluffing is profitable and what your expected equity and showdown equity are. There are two concepts that all poker decisions should be based on. The first is equity. Generally speaking, you will only be value betting hands that have at least roughly 55 percent equity versus your opponent’s range. The second concept is strategy deviation. This means that you should have statistically valid indicators that tell you when you should deviate from your default strategy, and this will be based on the play of your opponent. Another way of stating this is that you want to be playing in a maximally exploitative way both versus the population of players as a whole and against your specific opponent.
While it may take some time to master, Texas Hold’em is a favorite among many and worth the practice.