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Beginner Poker Strategy
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Flop, Turn, & River Play
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Texas Holdem Drawing
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Texas Holdem Flop, Turn, and River Play

If you don’t make a hand on the texas holdem flop you should fold

Each beginner Texas Holdem starting hand group we recommend is intended to make a specific hand or draw on the flop. If you don’t make the hand on the flop you will fold. Remember, the beginner strategy is based on paying as little as possible to make huge hands. That means you can’t spend money calling after the flop when you haven’t hit the proper hand for your Texas Holdem starting hand group. If you play this strategy correctly you’ll be winning huge pots and folding in small pots. Our Texas Holdem starting hands page has given you instructions on how to play before the flop. This page is intended to give you Instructions on how to play Texas Holdem after the flop.

Make sure your stake is big enough for the tables you play

When you make a huge hand you will be committing all of your money to the pot. Most of the time you will win these huge pots, however, once in a while someone will draw out on you or you’ll already be behind when you push all of your money in. For this reason, you must have a big enough stake to let the long term odds play out. That means you need at least ten times the amount of the maximum table buy in for your stake. For more information see our page on picking a table. For example if you are playing $10 NL on Full Tilt Poker you would need $100 in your account to be safe; If you were playing $400 NL on Party Poker you would need $4,000 in your account.

Remember why you are playing each Texas Holdem starting hand

The most important thing you need to do after the flop is remember why you are playing each starting hand. Then play your cards accordingly. The following Texas Holdem flop, turn, and river instructions will help you know why and how to play each starting hand group.

High Pairs


The reason you want to play high pairs is because of their strength against any other single poker hand. AA and KK race better than any other holdem hand too. However, AA and KK have the unique characteristic of being the very best two holdem hands pre flop, but become a shit hand after the flop if several players are in the pot with you and your high pocket pair hasn't hit a set (3 of a kind). So if you didn’t get all of your money in before the holdem flop you are now in the most difficult situation our beginner strategy will put you in.

Playing High Pairs After the Holdem Flop

Your Cards

The more people who have stayed to see the flop the worse your over pair becomes. If you followed our pre flop instructions you should have driven most other players out of the hand. If you were able to drive all but one opponent out of the pot your only serious fear with AA should be that your opponent turned a set. After the flop you will need to bet one half to two thirds the size of the pot. Your hope is that you take it down right on the flop. If your opponent raises you should fold. If you get any action at all you are most likely beat. Especially if a King, Queen, or Jack is on the board.

With KK you should be afraid of any Ace, Queen, or Jack on the board. If an Ace does not flop play this hand just like AA.

If your opponent calls your large post flop bet when you have AA or KK be wary that you’re being slow played and hope desperately for the next card to hit your Ace or King. On the turn you should slow down and bet a much smaller amount. Then check it out on the river if possible. One of the worst mistakes you can make is committing half of your stack to an over pair. This leak is what costs poor players the most money. Remember, your opponent is committing half of his stack. That means he probably has a big hand when you don’t. So don’t commit a lot of money when there is a good chance you’re beat.

If you hit a set (3 of a kind) at anytime with your pocket Aces or pocket Kings you’ve just hit one of the hands that should make your entire session. You now have the challenge of finding the best way to get all of your opponent’s money in the pot. You have two options. First, you could place a small bet of about one third the size of the pot and hope your opponent raises. Second, you can place a large bet and hope your opponent calls. Never check this hand. Your opponent called a big pre flop raise so you’ll either get action on the flop if he’s hit or nothing if he hasn’t. If you get a call on the flop then divide the rest of your stack between the turn and the river. Then place bets large enough on each street to get you all in. Regardless of the action on the flop you want to get all of your money in the pot as soon as possible. Any raise should be met with a re-raise. If you’ve made a set with AA or KK the odds are so high that you are ahead you should simply commit yourself if you have an opponent who will commit with you.

Pocket Pairs


QQ, JJ, TT, 99, 88, 77, 66, 55, 44, 33, 22

The strength of pocket pairs is their 7.5 to 1 odds of turning a set (three of a kind) on the flop. Hitting a set on the flop is the only reason a beginner should play these hands. If you did not hit a set you will almost certainly fold to any bet. You will find yourself in 3 situations after the holdem flop when playing pocket pairs.

Over Pair Example

Your Cards

First, you did not hit a set, but have an over pair to the board. If you did not call a raise pre flop you can play this hand as if you have a pair. If there is not a straight or flush possibility on the board, bet the size of the pot on the flop, then continue betting about the same amount to the river. If you get raised at anytime you should fold. A pair is the worst hand you’ll ever play after the flop. We consider it a shit hand. Don’t commit a lot of money to the pot when you have such a terrible hand.

Example of Hitting a Set

Your Cards

Second, you’ve hit a set and called a raise before the flop. This is exactly the situation you want to be in. This is another one of those hands that will get you ahead for the session. Your only fear should be a board that shows a flush or high card straight. So if the board isn’t threatening you now have the challenge of finding the best way to get all of your opponent’s money in the pot. Since your opponent raised pre flop you should expect a big bet on the flop. Always answer with a re-raise. You have an extremely high chance of having the best hand even if you only have a set of twos so get as much money in the pot as soon as possible. If your opponent calls your post flop raise bet huge on the turn, and by huge we mean at least the size of the pot. If you are raised at anytime re-raise until all your money has been pushed in. Once the river comes simply raise all in. Don’t be afraid of being beat. You will be beat so many times that it hurts, but in the long run you’ll be ahead so often that committing all of your money when you turn a set in a raised pot is the very best play you can make.

Third, you’ve hit a set in a limped pot (you haven’t called a pre flop raise). This hand offers some danger, but most of the time you’re ahead. As long as there isn’t a flush or straight on the board you most likely have the best hand. So once again you want to get as much money in the pot as possible. However, since no one raised, this is much harder to do. The best you can do is bet large and hope someone else has a large shit hand like two pair. Don’t be afraid to commit your entire stack as long as the board doesn’t have a flush or a straight. When a flush or straight comes you will now be in a position of drawing. Drawing to a Full House with a set is a legitimate drawing hand. But you should only draw if you have implied odds. For more information see our page on drawing.

Ace and Any Other Suited Card (Ax Suited)

AKs, AQs, AJs, ATs, A9s, A8s, A8s, A7s, A6s, A5s, A4s, A3s, A2s

The main purpose of playing the Axs starting hand group is to make a flush or flush draw on the flop. The higher Axs hands can be played for a straight or straight draw as well. When you play this starting hand group you should not get committed to any post flop hand except for a flush or the rare Aces full house. Don't call any bets if you hit an Ace on the flop with a kicker lower than a Queen. You usually have a shit kicker with Axs so you'll lose money when you call a bet with top pair. If you are in late position you can bet your top pair hoping to take the pot down right there. If you get called, check and fold to any bet.

Flush Draw Example

Your Cards

Because flushed boards are so easy to see it’s hard to get paid when you make a flush. One advantage you have when you make a flush is that you will have the nut flush (Ace high flush). This advantage allows you to get paid from players who have a lower flush or players who don’t believe you have the flush. For this reason, we suggest you play this hand group from early position and bet your flush draw as if it’s top pair. That means betting the size of the pot on the flop. Your goal here is to lead your opponents to believe that you have a pair. This will help you set a trap if you hit the flush. Most of the time in small pots you’ll take the pot down on the flop. However, often times you’ll get called by multiple players or raised by someone in late position.

If you are raised on the flop you can call if it is the minimum raise (twice your bet). Don't call huge raises when you don't have odds to draw. If you don't hit your flush on the turn you must check and fold to any bet; except in the rare situation where they bet the minimum.

If you are called on the flop continue to bet as if you’ve got top pair until the river. Place the same size bet as you did on the flop. If you haven’t made the flush by the river you should check and fold to any bet. However, if you are against only one opponent you can put up one more bet if you’re almost certain that your opponent was drawing. If the board has no high cards then your opponent is most likely drawing with you.

Flush Draw That Hit

Your Cards

One in three times you will make your flush by the river. When this happens you need to set a trap big enough to pay for all the bets you’ve made when you didn’t hit your flush. That means finding a way to get all your money in the pot. You now want to represent that you are afraid of the flush card that just fell. You do this by betting a bit smaller than your previous bets. For example, if you bet $2 on the flop, bet only $1 on the turn. What you’re hoping to see is a big raise from someone who has made a flush with you. When this happens either call or re-raise. Either play will confuse your opponent. Most often your opponents will think you are bluffing if you re-raise. A call will make your opponent believe you have been slow playing and are now beat by the flush. If you mix up your play this will keep your opponents off guard. On the river put the rest of your money in the pot unless the board pairs. If the board pairs there is a good chance that your opponent has a full house so you now have to be careful. If the board pairs try to check it out if you can, but be willing to call 10% of your stack to see if you’re good.

Face Cards

AK, AQ, AJ, AT, KQs, KQ, KJs, KJ, KTs, KT, QJs, QJ, QTs, QT, JTs, JT

Many of the face card starting hands play well in heads up pots, but play much better in multi-way pots. Their main value comes from flopping top pair with a good kicker or turning a straight or straight draw. You are playing these starting hands simply to take down small pots in late position or to win big pots on the occasional made straight or full house. When you’re playing face cards don’t get committed to any hand except a nut straight. By playing these hands you’ll give any opponent who is paying attention the impression that you are a semi-loose player.

Top Pair Example

Your Cards

When you hit top pair in late position your action should be determined by the strength of your kicker. If you don’t have at least a Queen high kicker you should fold to any bet. This will mean that you often fold the best hand, but you don’t care because the pot is so small and you have very low odds of winning a big pot. Remember the goal of this poker strategy is to win huge pots and lose small ones. If you constantly call when you hit an Ace with a Jack kicker you’ll come out behind in the long run.

If you have top pair and no one has bet ahead of you on the flop then place a bet the size of the pot. If you get raised you should fold. If you get called and a flush, straight, or paired board does not come, then continue placing the same size bet to the river...and hope you're not being slow played. A big raise on the river should tell you that you've been had.

Open Ended Straight Draw Example

Your Cards

To call a bet with an open ended straight draw two conditions must exist. First, you must be drawing to the nuts. You don’t want to draw to the sucker end of the straight. The reason for this is when you make that sucker straight you risk losing your entire stack to someone with a better straight. In addition, you should never draw to a straight if the board has 3 suited cards or is paired. In this case someone might already have a flush or a full house. Only pay to draw when you know that you’ll have the best hand if you make the draw. That will give you the power to put all your money in the pot when you make the straight.

The second condition that must be met to draw is that you must have odds to draw. Holding a straight draw in late position gives you the advantage of knowing how much it will cost you to draw. A good general rule for drawing to a straight that takes both pot and implied odds into account is to only call an amount that is one third of the money in the pot. For example, if your opponent bets $2 on the flop there must be at least $6 in the pot for you to call. If he then bets $4 on the turn there must be $12 in the pot to draw. By using this general rule you will make enough money on your straights that the play will be profitable in the long run.

If you make your straight and the board does not have a flush and is not paired then you should...you guessed it...find a way to get all your money in the pot as soon as possible. You don’t want to slow play a straight on the turn only to watch the board pair or flush on the river.

Often times you’ll have a straight draw in late position and everyone checks to you. In this case we recommend a semi-bluff. Your semi-bluff should be at least one third the size of the pot, but can be as high as the size of the pot if you are only against two or three opponents. If more people have stayed to see the flop there is a greater chance your bluff will be called so you want to give yourself odds when you bet. If you don’t make the straight on the turn you should check and take a free card to see the river. If you make the straight you know what you should do...find a way to get all your money in the pot as soon as possible.

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