Texas Hold ‘Em: Preflop Betting

Before you put everything on the line because you’re holding pocket tens, you need to take a look at all the table factors that come into play before the flop. These include: the number of players at the table; their playing style; the size of your bankroll; your position at the table and how much you’re willing to risk at any given time. Let’s go through these elements of your poker strategy piece by piece so you can understand preflop betting better.

Number Of Players
If you’re playing at a table with a full ten players in the game, you’re going to be facing a greater chance of another player having a stronger hand than you will right off the bat. There’s also a greater chance of someone’s preflop hand fitting the flop. More players means more competition means a greater chance that you’ll not make the hand you want, so stay a bit tight.

Aggressiveness Of Others
Once you’ve been playing for a while, you can learn to gauge which players can be pumped for chips right off the bat and who’s going to require some finagling. For instance, if one guy insists on raising every hand preflop, just let him take the blinds and walk away. You’ll have a chance to break him when you’re holding pocket rockets. You can also use calling stations as ATMs if you’re careful and don’t scare them out of a pot.

The Size Of Your Bankroll
Don’t go crazy betting preflop when you’ve only got $10 left in your bankroll at a $1/.50 table. Wait to pick and choose your hands. Of course, as others can see your chipstack size, they’re likely to see what you’re doing. This gives you a chance to cold bluff your way into the blinds if you’re so inclined and feel you have nothing to lose (particularly in a tournament) but I recommend waiting for at least a semi-bluff situation where you’re holding a mid-range hand.

If you’re in a late position, you have much more influence over the size of the pot than the other players and this is doubly true before the flop hits the felt. If you’re holding strong cards and want to maximize them, late position is the best place to pump the pot up a bit. However, earlier positions can still be rewarding with softer raises that hopefully spurn a round of betting on the part of your opponents.

Risk Tolerance
You have to be able to objectively judge the amount of risk you feel comfortable taking when it comes to your preflop betting. Players who shoot for larger pots, but don’t mind a greater chance for losing a few hands will want to raise preflop, especially if they are in late position. Some players prefer to be as selective as possible preflop, grinding out a winning hand here or there. It really depends on your own style of play, and how you perceive the players around you.