Let's Play Some No-Limit Texas Hold'em
The most common mistakes made by inexperienced no-limit players are when they play too many starting hands, call raises with weak starting hands, and don't raise their hands pre-flop when holding premium cards. Many inexperienced players will also either overbet or underbet the pot, which can put them at risk of either winning only small pots or not protecting their hands when they warrant protection.
Check out the scenarios in this section to get a feel for what you would do when faced with them. Study how the following premium pocket cards are played pre-flop, so that you will have a good idea of how to play them when you find them in your hand.
The best two pairs you hope to find in your hand in any Texas Hold'em game are the A-A and K-K. You might want to limp in with them in an early position, but you should raise if there has been any action.
When you are playing any other pairs, it takes a lot of guts to call a huge raise or all-in bet with low pocket pairs against a tight player, so always be alert. However, if you call and hit your hand on the flop, it will be a powerful, well-concealed hand.
If you are the first to act and you hold a concealed pair in your hand and one card on the flop, then a bet the size of the pot is a good start. However, should an all-in bet follow and there are no made hands on the board, then you will be calling the all-in bet.
Playing Flushes and Straights
Ideally you want to be holding two high connectors and then see three cards that make either your flush or your straight on the board. What you don't want to see on the flop is a pair of anything. Nor would you want to see the board pair on the turn or the river.
But if you should pair either of your cards, and the other card is a good kicker, then you may still have a playable hand.
Playing a Full House
Your object here is to get as many drawing hands and smaller full houses as possible to stay in “your” pot, so don't scare them off by doing something as foolish as going all in on the flop. But if the devil makes you do it, and someone goes all in on top of you, all you will have to fear is a possible four of a kind, so definitely go ahead and make the call.
How will I know how much to bet in an unstructured poker game?
Some schools of thought suggest that if you raise three times the size of the big blind pre-flop, and then one-third or half the size of the pot on the turn and twice the size of the pot on the river, you'll be in the right ballpark.
In other words, if you are holding an A-K and the flop is A-A-K, you know that there is absolutely nothing that can hit that board to hurt your hand. You cannot be beat — and, oh, what a wonderful feeling!
Playing Four of a Kind
This is another one of those situations that all poker players dream of, especially when there's a lot of action and you know you can't be beat. Ideally, you would want this to be a concealed hand, and not just flop it outright.
It is also better if your four of a kind is not in Aces. For some reason, most players can just smell those other two Aces in your hand. However, this usually is not as much of a problem when the lower pairs, such as 8-8, 7-7, 6-6, or 5-5, flop.
Playing Straight Flushes and Royal Flushes
Straight flushes and royal flushes are the ultimate fantasy poker hands, and they play themselves. If you want action, always try to keep your nut hand as concealed as possible until the showdown. If you have ever been told you're a good actor, now's the time for your Oscar-winning performance.