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Heres an Easy Exercise to Improve Your Texas Holdem Play

Many beginning Texas Holdem players develop a playing style that is tight but weak. Maybe they have learned the value of playing only a select few starting hands. Tightening up their starting hand requirements has the effect of improving the beginning player's results. They typically improve from a losing player to a break even or slightly winning player at the lower limits.

The trouble is that the tightness the new player has developed with more selective starting hands bleeds over into their flop and post flop play. Such tight-weak play causes them to fold too often during the latter betting rounds. They tend to see "monsters under the bed" whenever an opposing player bets or raises. Such a timid approach can spell disater especially when the pot has grown large.

We all know how hard it is to get a good strong hand in Texas Holdem. However we may tend to forget that it's just as hard for our opponents to draw a good hand. We may be rolling along with a good but not great hand and get stopped in our tracks when a scare card comes along. Sure, our opponent may have just drawn out on us. Or, he or she may just be using the scare card to represent a big hand.

There are many factors that will enter into your response to your opponent's action. Those actions are beyond the scope of this article. But, if you realize you are backing down to heat all too often; try this simple exercise. It can be really eye opening. Here's the exercise: get a pack of cards and deal a round of Texas Holdem face up. Notice how few hands are actually good starters. Notice how many are junk.

Now think back to all those games you've played where four or five players were always in the pot. There was a lot of junk being played, wasn't there? There was a whole lot of chasing going on, wasn't there? Now turn over three cards for the flop. How many hands missed the flop completely? Play through the hand. Sometimes a good but not great hand holds up, sometimes it doesn't.

Also, notice how often or how rarely that scare card matches up with any of the starting hands. You'll get a good idea of how hard it is to fill a straight or flush. After you play around with this exercise for a bit, you'll likely realize that there have been many times in your past play that you should have stayed with a hand. You may also see that there have been occasions where you could have successfully represented a big hand to your opponents.

Playing a few face up rounds of Texas Holdem can really be an eye opening exercise. It may help drive home some lessons that you already knew but never really applied. Of course, there are still situations where you'll need to lay down that hand. But if timid play is your downfall, this easy exercise can help improve your play and aggressiveness.

Chip Westley regularly posts a series of online poker tips at his Online Poker Tip Guide,, at Home Run Poker.


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