Texas Holdem is all about people and position. All rounded holdem players agree that position in no limit texas holdem is fundamentally important. Playing your hole cards in late position can be much more profitable than in early poker position. The reason because much more information is gathered before acting. For example, I was playing a $1-$2 no limit cash game at a local spot. I limped in with 2 , 9 unsuited (a terrible hand) on the dealer button, just to see some action. Flop came down A -A -4 . A player in early position made a $15 bet. Two players fold and it was my turn to act. I should have folded, but his play seemed a bit off. I identified this player as a weak-tight player earlier, and typically if he had the best hand he would just check. I thought, ‘if he held trips, why would he raise so early instead of checking and try to trap other players.’ I didn’t put him on an Ace this time, so I called. The turn came down with a 7 , making it A -A -4 -7 . My opponent made another bet of $20. I hesitated a bit, but made a split decision to re-raise another $30 on top of his $20. He folds and I take the pot down.
Playing late position gives you an idea where you stand by observing how players react and bet. On the other hand, players at early position may us their poker position to check-raise the late positioned aggressors and trap them later at the end. In Texas Holdem, both ends, late and early should be played cautiously regardless.
How to Bet
A bet is a declaration that you have a good hand. When a player raises, they are proclaiming they have the best hand and they’ll wager money on it. Typically, players are supposed to raise when they have a good hand and those who have a bad hand are suppose to fold. If everyone stuck to this policy, there would be no need for any strategy. However, most players play contrary to this idea and attempt to be cunning and deceptive. The following descriptions are strategic plays:
Blind-Stealing: When you are on the dealer button and only you have the blinds are left, a raise is often called blind-stealing. This may cause the blinds to fold, stead of simply checking. This strategy will never make you rich, but ends the game fast so you may be dealt a new hand (and adds a few chips to your stack).
Blind stealing is a tremendous tactic within a tournament game, especially when the blinds become very high.
Steal-Raise: If you are the last to act and all players have checked to you, a simple raise can limit the number of active players or take the pot. This move is only recommended if you’ve hit a piece of the flop and want to see where you stand.
Check-Raising: The act of checking to your opponent with the intention of luring them to raise, so that you can re-raise them back. Your intention is to lure them to feel secure about their hand and betting so you can reraise back at them. For example, I was in early position and was holding AQ and the flop came down as Q-A-A. I didn’t want to scare anyone out of the pot so I checked and waited for someone to bet. My opponent bets, and I raise him back with a substantial amount that kept him thinking for a minute.
The Opener: Raising when you’re first to act. This strategy is used to limit the number of players and is an information bet (usually players with strong hands will call). Many will fold, but the ones remaining will either be equally aggressive or truly have a good hand.
Squeezing: Raising when suspecting another player or players may be on a draw (players looking for a straight, flush, etc). Raising discourages players taking a chance on their draws. For example, I was holding a suited hand J10, and the flop came down as 2-A-8 with two clubs on the community. One more club would have gave me a strong flush possibility, but my opponent bet a strong amount that wasn’t worth gambling if I didn’t hit my flush.