Beginner Texas Hold ‘em Strategy: What to Avoid

As a new Texas Hold ‘em player on your first trip to Vegas, the boats or just playing online, you’ve probably done a little research. You’ve learned which hand beats what, how play progresses around the table, maybe you’ve even watched some professionals play on T.V.

While learning what you should do is always helpful, it is just as important to know what you shouldn’t do. With that in mind, let’s go through some common mistakes you would do well to avoid.

Playing Too Often

I know. You came to play, and it’s not exactly a thrill to fold nine hands in a row, but hear me out on this one. Playing every hand that comes to you is far and away the biggest mistake that beginners make when learning to play Hold ‘em.

It can happen for lots of reasons. Maybe you’re on a hot streak and playing on momentum, or a cold streak and trying to turn your luck around. Maybe you’re just bored of folding and want to get in the action by betting on a mediocre hand. But remember, you are paying to play, and, while you may catch a lucky card on the flop once in awhile, the law of averages says that you’ll lose more often than you’ll win if you play weak hands.

Realistically, you’ll probably play only once every four or five hands. Keep that in mind, be okay with it and don’t get impatient. You’ll fare better over the long-term.

Throwing Good Money After Bad

So you’ve made your bet, and you get to see the flop. You’ve got some money in the pot, the dealer turns up the next three cards, and…nothing. That low pocket pair you have hasn’t made a set, or you didn’t get the flush draw that you were looking for.


Folding can be the best idea if you don’t have a strong hand.

There’s that little voice in your head that’s probably telling you to see one more card. “You’ve already put money in the pot, right?” it says “What’s the harm in chipping in a little more to see if you can catch that three of a kind on the turn? I know it’s coming!”

If the other players are betting, it’s time to get out while the getting is good. I know, it can feel like giving up, but a good poker player knows when he is beat. There will be other hands to come, so don’t give away your money now.

Head versus Gut

We’re back to that little voice. “Sure you have a pretty weak pocket hand,” it may be telling you, “But I have a good feeling about this one.”

No one is expecting a beginner poker player to know the odds of any given hand winning a pot, but you’re going to be much better off only playing hands that you know have a good chance of winning. The odds don’t care if you’re on a hot streak, you think you’re due for a good hand, or if seven-two offsuit is your lucky hand. Sure, everyone gets gets a break from time to time, but if you play bad cards, you won’t do well over the long haul.


Try not to form bad habits when playing poker.

Not Thinking Long Term

If you are playing smart Texas Hold ‘em, you’ll be doing a lot of folding. One of the best things you can do for your own sanity is to forget what you folded. If you make a well-informed fold after the turn, and then catch the card you were looking for on the river, it’s easy to beat yourself up and second guess your own judgement.

No matter how invested you get in each individual hand, do your best to keep the big picture in mind. Even the best, professional poker players lose hands. However, what makes them successful is playing smart poker all of the time. Luck may win a few hands here or there, but skill wins tournaments.

Forming Bad Habits

Playing online poker can be really fun, and a great way to hone your poker skills. The only problem that you may run into is a disassociation with your money. If you start to think that your chips are just points in a game that you can refill whenever they get low, you might start forming some bad habits.

It’s easy to call every bet when playing free-to-play games online, because it really doesn’t cost you anything. However, if you let that habit carry over into tournament play, you may see your actual, real money get away from you.

Not Playing the Players

This one can be tricky for newer Texas Hold ‘em players, but don’t forget that your best hand might not be the best hand out there.


Say, for example, you are dealt a 2 and 10 of hearts. You catch the 3 and 8 of hearts on the flop, and then a jack of hearts on the turn. Hey, you got your flush! That’s great! You have just made the best hand you could with the cards you were dealt.

One problem, though. There are still two other players betting into you. You can’t forget, you don’t have the best hand possible. If either of the other players also has pocket hearts and one of those cards is a queen, king or ace, you’re sunk.

Another issue many run into is being afraid to fold a great pocket pair, even when you should. If you have a pair of kings, for example, that’s a great hand. But what if you don’t get anything on the board to back them up, and an ace hits on the flop? A pair of kings isn’t so great up against a pair of aces, or three of a kind. It’s not fun folding a great hand, but sometimes it’s necessary.

Get Out While You Can

Poker games have a notorious tendency to last for a long time – many can even be counted in days instead of hours. When it comes to cash games, they can theoretically go on for years, as long as you either keep winning or keep buying. However, a huge part of being successful in cash games is knowing when you’re done.

Playing poker can be extremely mentally taxing. If you find yourself getting tired, take a break and walk away before you start making poor decisions and giving your money away. Avoid the trap of trying to stage a comeback when you’re exhausted and not at the top of your game.