Texas Hold ‘em Tips


Since its inception in 1970, the World Series of Poker has paid more than $1.6 billion in prize money to some of the finest poker players in the world.

At the 2012 tournament alone, more than $200 million was handed out to winners.

While it’s no easy feat to make it all the way to a final table at the World Series of Poker, here are some tips from past winners to keep in mind as you hone your own poker skills.

39-1-Pius-Heinz

“Put the fun in the foreground.” – Pius Heinz

Pius Heinz was only 22 when he won the Main Event of the World Series of Poker in 2011, making him one of the youngest champions of all time.

When asked what his best advice was for up-and-coming poker players, the German-born champion’s thoughts were fairly straightforward.

First of all, it is very important to play,” Heinz said. “For the fun of it. Fun has to be in the focus. Talk a lot with friends about strategies, etc. And exchange ideas with other players on chat forums.

He also encouraged beginners to “put the fun in the foreground…It is a wonderful game.” Heinz truly enjoys the game of poker, which means the time put into practicing and learning new strategies isn’t a grind for him.

39-2-Joe-Cada

“Take your time, think over every decision, try to make the least mistakes as possible.” – Joe Cada

Another young Main Event victor, Joe Cada was just 21 when he won the World Series of Poker in 2009.

Cada’s advice was all about patience and thinking each move through.

You play so [many] hours, you play so many days that you’re bound to make mistakes,” he explained. “…When you make costly errors that shouldn’t happen…I mean…those are things you should avoid.

When playing in a tournament, it can be really easy to get rushed, but do your best to avoid the feeling. You’ll likely have prepared a strategy when playing poker with the pros, but if you don’t give yourself enough time to think each move through, you’ll make mistakes that can end up costing you big.

Experience goes with almost anything professional, like basketball, football…there are people who have been doing it their whole lives, I’ve been playing poker for three, four years now, and you see thousands of hands every day – I’ve probably seen over a million hands – so I just remain calm and think of the tournament as a whole, and play poker like you do every other day.

As for his best advice? “Keep good game selection and know when to quit.” Cada knows that it’s important to keep your head on your shoulders, whether playing online poker for practice or for a million-dollar pot.”

39-3-Peter-Eastgate-Blue“My personal strategy … was that I had no pre-tournament strategy!” – Peter Eastgate

When Peter Eastgate won the Main Event of the World Series of Poker in 2008, he was 22. At the time, he was the youngest player ever to win the tournament, though he was surpassed just a year later by Joe Cada. Since his victory, he has been asked what his technique was, and his answer was simple.

My personal strategy when winning the event last year was that I had no pre-tournament strategy!” he said. “At a big event like the WSOP Main Event, there are so many unknown variables, such as table draw, quality of the cards dealt and, most importantly, the immediate emotional state of the other players at the table. You have to pay close attention to what is going on at the table – and how the other players are reacting to playing in such a big event.

Eastgate has found that there is just too much that you can’t predict when going into a tournament, and therefore going in with a strictly laid out plan will hurt your play in the end.

It is also important to understand that no two people are the same.” he added. “… Some people like running 10K before they play; some people eat fruit or smoke a pack of cigarettes. You have to do whatever makes you the most alert and physically fit to withstand the pressure of the tournament.

 

39-4-Chris-Moneymaker

“They’re always giving away information.” – Chris Moneymaker

One of the most famous winners of the World Series of Poker is Chris Moneymaker, an unknown player who won his seat at the tournament – which usually costs $10,000 – through a $39 online satellite tournament in 2003.

Just like Eastgate, Moneymaker knows the importance of paying attention to his fellow players. The biggest mistakes made by players, he said, are either bluffing too much with a weak hand or not winning enough with a strong one.

It’s essentially really easy to pick those players off,” Moneymaker said. “You just know that if they’re betting a ton, a lot of times they can be bluffing (because) they don’t go for value.

For pros like Moneymaker, the first 30 minutes or so of any tournament are spent watching the other players for clues on their behavior. While these observations, he’s playing only premium hands and doesn’t bluff.

If you just pay attention while you’re at the table, you can figure out what they have pretty easily,” he explained. “They’re always giving away information. It’s not so much what they’re doing with their face but what they’re doing with their bets. What do their bets mean? … I watch for what people do when they look at cards, how they react. I remember how each player played their hands all the way through.

Observing the habits of your opponents can help you identify who is bluffing and who really has the cards later on in the tournament.

However, there are additional variables depending on what kind of game or tournament you’re playing in. A raise in a small-stakes game can mean something very different than when the blinds are higher.

From enjoying the game to observing your fellow players, these champions have offered up their advice to help you improve your own gameplay.