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No Limit Hold Em Cash Game Strategy - 52 Tips

May 9, 2008
No limit poker is deceptively easy to learn, but difficult to master. It is also one of the most profitable forms of poker for good players. If you can get some basic strategy principles down, you too can make money by playing poker. Read on for fifty-two moneymaking strategy tips.

1. If you want to start second-barreling the turn occasionally but aren't sure when to do it, try this simple trick to get started: second barrel the turn if the flop has a flush draw but the turn doesn't complete it.

2. You should play very few hands from early position. Stick to the big pairs AA-TT and high card hands AK and AQ.

3. If you say even one curse word out loud, take a five minute break outside.

4. Take the time to learn about pot odds. It's not as bad as it sounds so get off your rear and get to it!

5. Don't get married to AA, KK and QQ after the flop. It's only a pair. If someone puts in a big raise, you better have a good reason to call.

6. Practice game selection. It's easy to get lazy and just join the first game you find and stay in until you're done playing. Take the time to find good games. If a game you're in goes bad, make sure to switch tables. You might not be able to physically see it make you money, but your bottom line will improve if you practice some table selection.

7. Don't forget to get poker bonuses. A good bonus is a major boost to the old bankroll.

8. If nobody's entered the pot yet, come in with a raise. Don't open-limp any of your hands. By raising you can win the blinds and if you don't win the blinds you have a good chance at winning the pot on the flop.

9. The 10% rule is a myth. Yes, pocket pairs hit sets about 1 out of 8 times but you won't win the opponent's entire stack every time for this rule to work. Anything less than 10% of the smallest stack between you and your opponent will work.

10. Get PokerTracker. If you don't have it already, you're behind in the game. This is the most valuable tool you will ever find. PokerTracker will pay for itself many times over.

11. If it's not strong enough to raise, just fold it.

12. Patience wins way more money than bluffs.

13. Always keep a minimum of 20 buyins in your bankroll. If your bankroll drops below 20 buyins, move down. Bad runs hit even the best players.

14. If someone is constantly floating you, tighten up preflop, lower your c-bet frequency and checkraise the turn more.

15. Position is everything! Don't get lazy, bored or irritated and play marginal hands out of position. It's hard enough to play strong hands from out of position so don't even think about playing marginal hands from out of position.

16. Join some poker forums. Find some of the bigger forums and participate in hand history and strategy discussions. Forums will improve your skills more than any other resource.

17. Don't be scared of scare cards. Don't assume every scare card just hit your opponent's hand. Use your hand reading skills and make a logical assessment of the hand.

18. Move up in stakes. Always work on moving up and improving your game. But only do it when the bankroll allows. Remember, you must always have 20 buyins in your bankroll.

19. Don't be scared to value bet. You'll be surprised at what people call you down with. If you have a strong hand and you are the one betting, assume your opponent has a weaker hand until he proves you otherwise.

20. Attack the blinds from late position. It makes you look loose and will get your strong hands paid off more often. Additionally, you can play these pots with the advantage of position.

21. Don't worry about defending your blinds. They aren't that important. Don't get involved with a weak hand from out of position. You'll probably lose more money doing that than just giving up a blind now and then.

22. Assume shortstacks are fish until proven otherwise. Don't bluff them or try to push them around. Just sit patiently and wait for a strong hand to take them out.

23. Take notes on your opponents. Not only will these notes help you in the future, but it is a good training exercise in analyzing your opponents.

24. Downswings hit everyone, so don't feel bad when it's your turn. If you need to, take a break from poker, move down in stakes and read up on your strategy.

25. Be the first person to change gears. If your opponents tighten up, be the first person to start stealing and bluffing. If your opponents loosen up, be the first person to tighten up and wait for stronger hands.

26. Pay attention! Even if you're not in a hand, practice guessing what the other players have. The more you practice, the better you'll get at it. Eventually your opponents are going to think you have x-ray vision.

27. It's OK to quit a game while down. Not every session is going to be a winning session so get used to it. Sticking around for longer than you intended is a quick way to lose even more money.

28. If an opponent calls preflop, calls on the flop, calls on the turn and then makes a big raise on the river, he's probably not bluffing.

29. Be aware of your table image. Your opponents will be more willing to call if you've been winning pots without showing anything down. It doesn't matter if it was nothing more than a streak of nice cards because they can't see your cards.

30. Don't let pride keep you in a bad game. You're going to have to quit games occasionally because there are too many good players. There's no shame in following the money. Good players are boring to play against, fish are rewarding.

31. Clean your room. Don't be lazy and play poker in a dirty, cluttered environment. It helps your game to play in a clean, well-lit setting. Open a window and get some fresh air.

32. Bad beats happen to good people. They aren't any fun but the faster you can brush them off, the better off you'll be. A good way to toughen yourself to bad beats is to go outside and get five minutes of fresh air every time you take a bad beat, even if you feel it hasn't affected you.

33. Don't get stuck between two raisers unless you have a monster. If player A raises, player B re-raises and you're next to act, don't call because the betting is still open for player A.

34. Play your sets fast more often than slow. You want to protect your set from draws and build a big pot.

35. Exploit your opponents to death. Example: If you find an opponent who always folds to blind steals, shamelessly steal his blind every single time until he stops letting you get away with it.

36. Raising a draw is a strong play. Semi-bluffs can win the pot in two ways: by getting a fold or by hitting the draw. They also do a nice job of disguising your hand.

37. Take all the small, unraised pots you can get. Be greedy! If nobody else is contending a pot, take a stab at it.

38. Don't overestimate your implied odds. Your opponents can see the board and they'll put less money in if an obvious draw card lands. Plus, they might not have much of a hand anyways.

39. Save the hand histories of your most difficult hands and review them later. Discuss them with other people at your favorite poker forums.

40. No matter how tempting it is, don't berate the idiots at your table. You know in your heart that you want them around because eventually they're going to give away all their money. If you have to, turn off the chat.

41. Be well rested, well fed and well exercised when you play poker. A healthy mind requires a healthy body.

42. Learn a new game. Learning variants other than Texas Hold Em will help you in many ways. You can find fishier games, you can play in mixed games and you can come back to Hold Em with a fresh look on things

43. Try different poker rooms out. Switching poker sites can give you a refreshing change from the norm and give you a chance to find easier games.

44. Don't continuation-bet shortstacks with air. They love to get it all in with any draw or any piece of the flop.

45. If you raised preflop and hit a strong hand on the flop, try this line once in a while: bet the flop, check the turn, bet the river. Your turn check will throw them off and get a lot of loose river calls in your favor.

46. Learn how to play heads up no limit. It's difficult but it will get you good at reading hands and making decisions in tough situations.

47. In heads-up no limit matches, many of your opponents will get too aggressive. Be patient. Don't suddenly get frustrated and make huge bluffs without a plan. Wait for some decent hands and value bet them to death. Overaggressive opponents love to make hero calls. If your overaggressive opponent doesn't make bad calls, you should find a new opponent.

48. Experience is the greatest tutor. As long as you're able to break even, stick with it, you'll get better over time. Keep studying your poker strategy and applying it at the tables.

49. If you get checkraised on the turn and you have a pair, you should probably fold it. At small stakes no limit tables, they don't bluff with turn checkraises very often.

50. Try to sit with the wild, reckless players on your right and the tight, predictable players to your left. This way you get position on the wild guy so you can see what he does before you make your decisions. At the same time, you don't have to worry about the guy to your left getting too tricky.

51. If you're in the blinds, don't call late position raises with pocket pairs with the hopes of hitting a set. The late position raiser has a wide range of hands and he won't pay you off often enough to make it worth while. The rest of the time he's going to have little trouble making you fold.

52. Open-ended straight flush draws will hit over half the time if you get it all in on the flop. If you push these hard, you'll win the majority of the pots. You'll get folds most of the time and the rest of the time you'll be the favorite to win the hand. An open-ended straight flush draw looks like this: you have TsJs on a 2h8s9s board.

The one caveat to all these strategy tips is that in no limit hold 'em, there are no absolutes. Certain situations will require you to deviate from the optimal strategy that was given above. That's to be expected but remember; the other 95% of the time these tips will keep you on the right track. Good luck out there.
About the Author
If you'd like to read more high quality strategy articles please check out SmackinYaUp's no limit poker strategy site. He also has a free poker strategy guide that can help players of all skill levels improve their games.
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