One of the strangest games in the world is Texas Hold’em Poker (the most common and popular variant as played throughout the world). While the principals are easy to explain (deal, bet, check, flop, turn, river – the technical terms if you like) and doing things like ranking the quality of the poker hands, the one things which disturbs me most about poker is that a really bad hand can win and I will be doing a blog on bad beats later.

For now though I thought I would share a basic strategy which I would encourage new/beginner players to adopt; it is adapted from Phil Hellmuth’s very successful “How to play poker like the pros” book which you can buy here. It is an excellent book – and was my first poker book.

Now, on to the strategy: this can be split into early and late (in terms of position). In early position only play the top hands: AA, KK, QQ, JJ, 1010, AK and AQ. In later position, extend the range of hands to 99, 88, 77, 66, AJ, KQ. Finally, always play your blinds if there have been no raises, and only defend your big blind if there has been one raiser and you can get heads up (you want to defend your blind so people don’t get an idea that you can be bullied).

And that is it: this strategy is great for learning the game. It will get you to some final tables and it will ensure that your play is respected over time – people will think of you as a rock (I have this reputation where I play and I find it very useful sometimes).

There are many other facets to the game that we will look at over the coming weeks, but there is no doubt that beginners need to play tight to learn. So next time I will look at some hands that I have played – one final tip; only use this strategy in tournaments – cash games are a whole other ball game and this strategy won’t pay in the long term when playing cash.

Until next time, peace.