By Steve Beauregard
Poker is a complicated game of course, with an infinite number of decisions, bets, and plays to be made, but at its core, there is one main tip you need to know to be able to win at low-limit Texas hold’em poker: fold.
Keep in mind, I’m talking about small stakes limit hold’em: the $2/4 limit hold’em, or $3/6 or $4/8 you find at card rooms across the country.
(Go here to read: How to make money playing Texas hold’em poker in Las Vegas).
At these stakes, advanced strategies are not needed. You’ll be playing against tourist, amateurs, off-duty dealers, bored retirees, and everyone else with the exception of professional poker players.
At these limits, there is not enough money to be consistently made to attract the pros, especially when factoring in the rake and tokes. (Go here to read: How much do you tip the dealer in a poker game?).
If fact, many poker theorists say that games like $2/$4 limit hold’em cannot be beat over the long term given the rake and tipping. While that may be debatable, there is no question that the level of play at your low-limit hold’em poker table will be so poor, you’ll be able to walk away a winner for most sessions.
But only if know, and follow, the main strategy needed to win at small stakes poker: fold.
That’s right. The secret to winning at low limit hold’em poker is to fold, and to fold often.
Why is folding the key?
Because while it may sound obvious, but folding bad hands means you only play good hands. And in the long run, good hands win.
“Yeah but,” I can hear some of you saying, “every time I play pocket aces, some idiot cracks them with something ridiculous, like 8/5 off suit or something.
I understand and emphasize. But we, as poker players, tend to remember and hang onto bad beats.
The facts are, that the person who routinely plays garbage hands like the aforementioned 8/5 off suit will be a losing poker player in the long run. Your short-term pain of losing with pocket aces doesn’t change long term mathematical probabilities.
So in the vast majority of cases pre-flop, you’ll want to fold anything other than premium hands. (If you need a lesson, or just a refresher on basic strategy for small stakes limit hold’em games, be sure to read, “Winning Low Limit Hold’em,” which is the best book for learning how to play low limit Texas Hold’em poker).
Fold when you’re winning, and fold when you’re losing. Fold after you suck out on someone, and when you’re on tilt after a bad beat.
Fold, and fold often – even after you’ve folded thirty hands in a row. Fold until you’re absolutely tired of folding. And then fold some more.
The funny is, is that folding is so hard. The simply physical act of tossing two cards to the dealer can be excruciatingly difficult. Trust me, I know.
The nearest poker room to me is a 3 and 1/2 hour drive away. So on those rare occasions I get to play poker, I want to actually PLAY poker. I didn’t drive 3 and 1/2 hours to sit next to strangers with questionable hygiene, and spend hours not playing poker.
Yet, you’ve got to do it, if you want a shot at winning poker session. Let the other players be impatient, and anxious. Let them play the garbage hands that have proven – over millions of computer simulations – to be long-term losers.
Yes, after a seemingly never-ending string of 7/4, 6/2, and 10/3 for hours on end, a King/Jack or Ace/6 can seem like a monster. But in the words of Elsa from “Frozen,” you have to “let it go.” (Can you tell I have a 5 year-old girl?).
The cards even out over the long run. When you’re dealt unplayable hands for an hour straight, it simply means it’s not your turn to play. You absolutely have to suck it up, be mentally strong, and disciplined, and wait until you catch those pocket pairs, or flop those sets and straights. Because then, only then, will it be your turn to play.
(Go here to read: How much do you need to play limit Texas Hold’em poker?)
I’m not an expert on how to win at low limit Texas Hold’em poker, I just speak as a guy who used to lose all the time. In my view, the quality of play at low limit poker tables is so poor, anyone can become a winner in the game.
All you have to do is possess a solid foundation of starting hand knowledge, some card sense, and a constant, healthy supply of self-discipline. In other words, you simply must fold.
Poker players, whether infrequently-playing amateurs, or grizzled veterans, are always looking for that secret, or special strategy that will enable them to conquer and win the game.
Yet while a solid foundation of card sense is a vital component to winning, perhaps the best strategy us low limit players should remember, is to fold. (Photo courtesy of Viktor Rosenfeld via Flickr).