Intermediate Texas Hold ‘em Strategy


After you master the beginner strategies of Texas Hold ‘em, it is time to move onto the intermediate level of play. While it’s important to keep the basic strategies for Texas Hold ‘em in mind, you can now afford to take a few more risks. Tactics such as bluffing, playing questionable hands and being more aggressive can improve your game and make you a more effective poker player. As you continue your journey to becoming a better Texas Hold ‘em player, give these intermediate strategies a try:

Bluffing

In order to become a great poker player, one of the essential skills you will have to master is bluffing. When you bluff, you attempt to trick other players into thinking you have a better hand than you do.

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If played correctly, the bluff can be a great weapon in your arsenal. While you’re learning, however, you should only bluff during certain situations:

  • When there are not many players in the pot
  • When you are up against players that fold easily
  • When you are on the river and have a weak hand
  • When you are in late position and everyone else has checked
  • If you have just won a hand through good play
  • When there is a pair on the board

Evaluating Opponents

When playing online poker, you need to find means of evaluating your opponents other than taking note of their body language.

  • Stack Size: Players with large stacks tend to be a bit looser with their calls and bets, so keep a sharp eye out for their aggression during the game.
  • Username: Players’ usernames may indicate something about their personality and, thus, the way they play poker. Serious online poker players often use some variation of their real name or will have a poker-related username. Generally, the more offensive or crude a username is, the less serious the player is. If players are less serious, they may not be as skilled.
  • Not Waiting for Big Blind: If players post the big blind before it is their turn, you can assume that they are anxious to play and may not be solid or experienced Texas Hold ‘em players.
  • Calling the Blind, then Calling a Raise: If you see an opponent call before the initial big blind and then call after the player before them raises, it can be assumed that the individual is not an experienced poker player.
  • Cautious Play: Just because an opponent is playing timidly does not mean that he or she has a weak hand. In fact, the opponent may be trying to trick you. Keep his or her previous actions in mind as your proceed. Is this the type of player who would try to cover up a hand?

Raising

As you become more comfortable playing Texas Hold ‘em, you may want to consider raising more often.

  • It’s often a good idea to raise if you have the best hand at the table – after all, the more money there is in the pot, the more you will win.
  • Raising can also drive other players out when you have the best hand.
  • Raising when you are bluffing can be risky, but profitable if done correctly. This should only be done in situations when the river has completed a draw other than the one for which you were drawing, but it looks as if it could have completed your hand based on your play thus far. This will make your bluff look more credible to the other players.
  • Raising in an early round can show strength and lead other players to check for fear of your impending raise
  • In Limit Hold ‘em, sometimes players raise in order to gain information about their opponents’ hands. This should only be done in earlier rounds when the betting is less expensive.

Questionable Hands

While basic Texas Hold ‘em strategy dictates that you should only play the best hands, once you become a more experienced player you can begin to take risks by playing more questionable hands. The key is to develop the ability to identify the best situations in which to play these hands:

  • Only play low pairs if there is enough money in the pot to justify the action.
  • It sometimes makes sense to play a questionable hand simply to confuse your opponents. If you only play the best hands, your opponents will be able to quickly identify your strategy. If you choose to play a questionable hand, make sure you continue to be aggressive throughout the betting round, otherwise your opponents will know that you are bluffing.
  • In general, it’s best to play questionable hands when you are in a late position. This is because you will be able to determine if there is enough money in the pot to justify the odds of making a better hand.

Short Stack

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If you have short stack, you will have less room to make plays, so you will need to take on a much more reserved strategy. While some short stacks can play multiple flops, it is more rare to make it past the flop in terms of betting because you will likely run out of chips. In general, when you have a short stack you will need to more selective about your starting hands – otherwise you’ll go broke.

  • Instead of playing small hands that have potential, play hands that will be strong on the flop.
  • Avoid playing suited connectors and small pocket pairs.
  • Hands that include aces should be given a lot of weight.
  • Always raise when entering the pot.
  • Stick to basic poker strategies. Avoid bluffing – just play when you have a strong hand.

You can read more about strategies for playing Texas Hold ‘em based on stack size here.

Varying Your Strategy

Varying your playing style is a tactic you can use to try and confuse other players, making it difficult for them to guess what type of hand you have or what your next move will be. Do what you can to avoid being predictable. In other words, don’t play every hand the same way.

Want to know more? Check out our how-to guides for Texas Hold ‘em strategies based on table position and size.