Texas Hold’Em Poker for beginners: The greatest newbie FAIL

Players, Eadon here, welcome to lesson 2 (lesson 1 here). Scenario: You’ve got twenty bets and you can bet on, say, one hundred horse races, one after the other. You are told which horse you can bet on in each race, chosen at random, just before that race. But for each race you can choose whether to bet.

Would you bet on the first twenty races where you will have to bet on some clapped out nags, or would you be patient and wait until you are allocated a horse that you know is favourite or second favourte and has great oods? The smart punter would be to wait for those races where you are allowed to bet on the most profitable horses, right?

Likewise, in poker it makes sense to wait until you get a really good hand. Yet weak amateurs do not apply this principle, and if you’re learning poker then you must!
In order, the top hands that make money are:

  1. AA, KK, QQ, JJ, AKs
  2. AQs, TT, AK, AJs, KQs, 99
  3. ATs, AQ, KJs, 88, KTs, QJs

Where T is 10 and s means suited.

Note that there is a mammoth difference in power between an AA and even a suited QJ! Observe how pretty hands such as QT are not even on the list. This is because they are not so strong, they are marginal hands, do not be fooled into playing such dodgy hands, at least not until you know what you’re doing. When you improve, you will understand intuitively why QT sucks a bit, but for now, trust the statistics 😉

It can be really frustrating to have to throw non-optimal cards away, hand after hand. But you must, or you will fail. It is even more frustrating when we chuck away that QT and then QT appears on the flop (the first three cards shown in the middle). That sort of thing happens to us all and it happens often to us all. That’s because even weak hands can hit the flop. You made no mistake in throwing away your QT, because most of the time it will never hit the flop and even if it did, it probably wouldn’t do you much good.

For example, if you have, say J, 9 and the flop hits 4, 7, J. You have top pair, which is great, but you’re still beat by the guy that has A, J. Second example. If the flop is 5, J, Q, you have only made a middle pair. Whist this is still great, you’re beat by the guy holding KQ.

With some exceptions mentioned below, play only the best hands, you are investing in the hands you choose to play. Invest wisely.

It is so tempting to play more hands, and you may well win some of them, especially until people realise you’re playing like a sucker. You might even be tempted to play like a maniac – a maniac is someone who plays too many hands and bets and raises on hands that are often not so strong. “We have a live one here!”. “I’m at a table full of drunk maniacs“. Playing this way is OK if you’re just being a maniac for fun and you don’t mind getting busted out sooner rather than later. Some pro’s play loose and aggressive, but to get away with it against decent players takes a shit ton of know how, do not try this at home, folks.

By only playing the best hands, you are playing tight. But sometimes you will need to play tighter, sometimes a loose style is better, where you play weaker hands than usual. When? Believe it or not, “position” matters A LOT. Position is where you are sat at the table in relation to the dealer. I will cover that next week. Also, the fewer the players at the table, the looser you should play because there is less competition. Finally, here’s a tip. When the blind bets are small, be tight even though the blinds seem cheap. When blinds are large, loosen up. Finally, if there are lots of players in each pot, loosen up. If there are few players in the pot (but many players at the table) then tighten. Finally, throw in the occasional bluff, but not too often.

The advice given here is aimed at beginners, to give a very general idea. It never harms to research deeper. Use the above info at your own risk.

You gotta know when to hold’em. You gotta know when to fold’em. See y’all next week, players.

6 comments on “Texas Hold’Em Poker for beginners: The greatest newbie FAIL

  1. Maneno
    October 3, 2013 at 3:16 pm #

    useful advice – sort of applies to investment and life generally right ? Or why are you posting this ?
    Still couldn’t figure out how to play from lesson 1 .. oh well

  2. James Eadon
    October 3, 2013 at 3:59 pm #

    @Maneno – My articles are for beginners who know the rules. Knowing the rules is one thing, knowing what to do is something else entirely!

    Since playing myself (I’m a late starter) I have had a strangely altered outlook on life. I’d wager that it can help people in their approach to evaluate real-life risks, because if you are compulsive in poker you get punished, it teaches you to think rationally and objectively. As well as creatively. And, ultimately, it’s just fun. (Unless you get carried away and lose money, of course.)

    • Maneno
      October 4, 2013 at 10:59 am #

      yes I thought that was your angle. “a risk-based approach to life management” (I’m surprised Consultants don’t market it yet).
      Try this: hang around a slot-machine hall in ‘Vegas and wait for someone to give up and walk away. Then play their machine until it pays out, then stop and wait for another.
      Shouldn’t work but it very slowly it earned us enough for supper.

  3. James Eadon
    October 4, 2013 at 11:42 am #

    “Shouldn’t work” – that depends on the rules encoded in the software of the machine. Even though the machines pay out, say 78% on average, this might be a long term average with short term variations.
    I can imagine the machines rewarding newly arrived players on an above-average basis. By letting them win, you get them hooked. Of course if people twig on to such a rule then the machine will, presumably, have to tighten up to meet its long term averages.

  4. adam
    November 3, 2013 at 6:12 pm #

    i’ve enjoyed reading this blog for the last hour or so. But this post about poker must be a joke right? You’ve made the fundamental mistake that (winning) poker is 1, a card game (its not), 2, can be analysed just by a few hands. Its dynamic, not static. Akin toi people analysing the economy as a snapshot – heres the pie lets split it – with no thought to the dynamics of growing the pie. Good luck!


  1. Texas Hold'Em Poker for beginners: The greatest newbie FAIL … | 888 Online Poker - October 5, 2013

    […] More here: Texas Hold'Em Poker for beginners: The greatest newbie FAIL … […]

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