Whether you're a beginner poker player or advanced it is crucial to understand good poker strategy in order to win or to even just hold your own at the table.
There are different types of strategies that players can follow and different strategies apply to each poker category. Knowledge of these strategies can help players off all levels improve their game and win.
In this article we run through the basic strategies for two of the most popular poker games; Texas Hold 'em and Pot Limit Omaha (PLO).
Basic Poker Tips
Before you begin to practice a specific strategy for Texas Hold'em and Omaha it is important to remember some of the basic rules.
The cards you hold in your hand are the only cards that make you different from the rest of the table and are for your eyes only.
All other cards on the table are known as community cards and are shared by you and the other at the table. Players must use the community cards to build a better hand and try to win.
There is also a great deal of bluffing involved which can really improve a players game. However, for the purpose of this article we will just concentrate on strategic points to remember.
However, if you are interested in learning to bluff or how to improve your bluffing skills read our article on tips to get your first big win!
Poker strategy for Texas Hold'em
Taking the time to learn Texas Holdem poker strategy will instantly improve your chances of winning as most players use an incorrect approach to the game.
Part of basic strategy is avoiding making costly mistakes. One important way to do that is to familiarize yourself with the basic poker rules that can cost a player much money if not followed.
It is important to keep in mind the following strategic points:
- When you look at your cards, be careful not to reveal anything with your reaction – you need to channel your best poker face
- Texas Hold ‘Em strategy is based on the cards in your hand but you must remain patient. The majority of the time you will suffer poor hands.
- The amount of players in a game can have an effect on if your cards are deemed good or not. However, normally you should seriously consider folding before the flop if you have two non-pair cards, both less than 10.
- If the big blind (a forced bet designed to ensure that every hand has a pot) is low enough, it may be worthwhile to pay in so that you can see the flop even if you don't have particularly strong cards in your hand
- After seeing the flop, don't be afraid to cut your losses and exit the game
Poker Strategy for Omaha
Pot Limit Omaha (PLO) is the second most popular variant of poker today. On the surface it looks and plays a lot like Texas Hold’em, but the differences are significant.
Each player is dealt four hole cards instead of two, and they must use exactly two of them combined with at least three community cards.
Because there are more cards, the strength of your hand goes up too. A hand that is extremely strong in Texas Hold’em could be considered weak in Pot Limit Omaha, and most of the time hands like straights, flushes and full houses win.
For PLO it is important to remember and practise the following strategic points:
- In limit Omaha, it usually takes the “nut” hand, or something close to that, to win. The nut hand is the hand that can only be beaten by by hidden quads and straight flushes. These are referred to as “Pure nuts.” You need to shoot for the nut straight, nut flush, or nut full house most of the time
- Stay aware of the nut hand possibilities and make sure you always know what the three best hand possibilities are
- Remember the winning cards from Texas Hold'em mean nothing in PLO, you need a to flop two pair, a set or better
- Do not raise before the flop unless you are holding Aces or Kings
- Do not over value low pairs
Omaha hand strategy chart
The chart below shows the poker hand rankings for PLO. By learning the poker hand ranking especially for Omaha it is easier to apply the strategy above.
What are outs and odds?
One of the most basic concepts of poker is knowing your poker outs and calculating your odds. This is a vital part of good poker strategy.
A poker out are all the possible cards you could be dealt that would improve your hand.
Before you begin playing poker it is a good idea to learn your poker hand ranking as after you have an idea of the hand rankings it's easier to know which cards form the best hands.
Poker odds on the other hand are any players probability to win a game with the cards they were given.
Remember, every poker move has an effect on your odds and probability
Out and odds calculator
During a game of poker it is important that players can count their outs. Calculating poker outs is just basic arithmetic and becomes easier with time.
The more outs a player has the more chance they have of a winning hand.
Counting your odds is simple, it's just counting the cards left in the deck that would give you the best possible hand.
For example: if you have two diamonds and you get one on the flop there is still 10 hears left. This means you have 10 outs.
Poker outs and odds are linked together, as after you have counted your outs you can then calculate the chance of the card you need coming next out of the deck.
To do this you need to subtract the amount of unseen cards left in the deck from the number of outs you have. For example 44 unseen cards – 4 winning cards (outs) = 40
Therefore your odds are 40 to 2 which simplifies down to 20-1 chance of the card you need coming out of the deck
Want to learn more about poker odds and outs? view our complete guide to odds and outs here!