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How Can You Improve Your Holdem Poker Skills?

You love to play Texas Hold'em, but perhaps you are not having as much success as you would like. Even though there is a great deal of short term luck involved, in the end, Texas Hold'em is a game of skill, and like any other skill activity, you can get better. How can you improve your Texas Hold'em poker skills?

The best way to make a dramatic improvement in your game is to play fewer hands. The number one and most costly mistake that amateur players make is to play too many hands. Many players' first experience with Texas Hold'em poker comes with watching it on television. The problem with a televised poker tournament is that it shows final table play, when blinds are high and players are forced to enter pots with much weaker holdings than they might have in the beginning of the tournament. Televised poker shows also edit out the many, many hands that are folded with no action, as they are not exciting to watch. As a result, viewers get the impression that tournament champions play many more weak hands than they actually do. Even the loosest and most aggressive top players throw away many weak holdings.

For the most part, you should be playing premium hands, pairs and high cards. Low pairs and suited connecting cards should be played with caution, and low unconnected cards should only be played on rare occasions to mix up your game, if at all. It does not matter if these cards are suited. The large majority of the time you will not make your flush, and when you do, you will often be facing a bigger flush and lose a big pot.

Try to keep track of how often you are seeing the flop. If you are playing more than 30% of the hands you are dealt, you are probably playing too many. You can loosen your starting hand standards if you are in a late position, and in no limit you can play a few more marginal hands than in limit play, but only if you can get away from these hands when you are beaten.

A related element to being selective about starting hands is being able to make good lay downs. This is not to suggest that you should shrink any time you face a large bet, if you do this, your opponents will eat you alive. But you should not get married to a good looking hand. If you have been waiting 45 minutes to play and finally pick up pocket kings, and then an ace flops, you will probably have to lay it down. If you bet and face a raise and a re-raise, you will have to accept that you are beaten. Even if you make a flush, if it is a weak flush and you are facing heavy betting, you may have to lay it down, especially if the board is paired. Being able to lay down big hands at the right time is a critical skill in Texas Hold'em.

There are many elements of skill in Texas Hold'em, and these are only two. If you start with these, however, you will have a great foundation for becoming a terrific Texas Hold'em player.

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