In texas hold'em poker there is no such thing as a "works all the time" philosophy. You always have to adapt your play to the play of others at your table. In addition you have to vary your play so that you don't become predictable. In this article we will discuss how to identify what methods of play would be best employed given the type of play demonstrated by others at your table.
Texas hold'em poker, weather you play it at a live poker room or in an online poker room, is an extremely dynamic card game. By this I mean the situations you are confronted with are constantly changing and sometimes drastically different. This means you have to be able to adapt your own play to counter your opponents plays or sometimes to take advantage of the current situation.
First you will need to identify the classifications of players at your table e.g. tight, loose, aggressive, inexperienced..... etc. After you have identified the types of players at your table you have to realize that they won't necessarily play predictably according to your identification and so still examine each situation on its own.
Now you are ready to adapt your play. Let us now examine some of the different table types you may find yourself at.
If the table is lacking an aggressive player, with most just calling and checking hands around, you know if you pick and choose starting hands with a good starting hand strength to play aggressively you will probably not have much resistance. This way you can steal blinds effectively, and push many off draws with less effort than usually needed. Aggressively playing starting hands doesn't mean going all in. Playing a starting hand aggressively means raising anywhere from 2 to 4 times the size of the big blind dependent on the way the table has been playing. You know after a preflop raise like this is called you can assume your opponent has a good starting hand, or is trying to bluff to steal one himself. Probably after the flop you should put out a feeler bet to see where you are in the hand.
More often in texas hold'em poker you will find yourself at a table with 1 or more aggressive players. If there is 1 player who hand after hand keeps making aggressive plays then you need to pick and choose your starting hands wisely. Only get in on hands when your hole cards are high pocket pairs, or high connectors. Pay to see the flop and if you hit then you can slow play if your current hand strength warrants it, or bet him out of the pot. Don't make the mistake of trying to play off hands against an aggressive better; you will be better off saving your chips and making aggressive plays when your hole cards are of a high starting hand strength.
If you find your self at a texas hold'em poker table with 2 or more aggressive players it is much the same as with 1 aggressive player, but you have to bet aggressively when you do choose to play a good starting hand. This is because if you let more than one aggressive player in on a hand you run the risk of one of them making something on the flop, and often they will chase/bluff despite larger bets and there weak hand strength. If you have a high starting hand strength against multiple aggressive players you need to make a large enough bet to force some of them out; keeping in mind they may be more likely to call a bet larger than a less aggressive player so if normally 3 times the big blind would be enough perhaps make it 5 times the big blind.
In addition to the playing styles there is also the skill level of your opponents to consider. This will usually take longer to ascertain, but is much more valuable information. Knowing your opponents skill level and style of play will let you know what types of plays he is likely to make in given situations. Also you will have a better idea of traps he would be likely to fall for. For example a novice texas hold'em player will not be nearly as aware of the other players at the table. The novice player mainly is concerned with his own hole cards, and this alone is what will determine how he plays the hand. Because of this a novices hole cards or starting hand strength can pretty easily be guessed.
Adapting your play in texas hold'em poker is essential. In addition to adapting to the most advantageous style of play you also accomplish another very important tactic. Varying your playing style. This is extremely important to being an effective texas hold'em poker player. This will keep your opponents guessing which is what is needed. In no limit texas hold'em when your play becomes predictable you are soon separated from your chips and shown the door.