7 Examples of How Playing Fewer Texas Hold’em Hands Can Help You Win

Dealt Poker Table With a Hand Holding Two Cards

Real money Texas Hold’em is near the top of my list when it comes to favorite gambling activities. The game combines a variety of skills with the element of chance to create dramatic and tense moments.

I’ll never forget the first time I sat down to enjoy a casino poker game. I was in my early 20s but made the rounds in many local underground and after-hours cash games at local country clubs.

I was still incredibly green but had a decent skill set and probably far more experienced than I appeared to the casino regulars.

Before I left for the casino, a highly accomplished player that I still look up to suggested that I try to keep my hand count low. As nervous as I was, I followed his advice, and it paid off tremendously.

Here are seven examples of how playing fewer Texas Hold’em hands can help you win.

The Pros Love Playing Tight

Novice poker players play way too many hands. They think all the action comes on the flop when they build their hand.

This logic causes them to chase cards when even the best positive expectation lacks significantly. You’ll be much better suited by playing no more than one out of five hands early on.

When you’re are a full ring table with as many as nine other players, playing any more loosely will cost you significantly.

Assuming a tight-aggressive approach will benefit you the most. Tight aggressive play will have you tossing the wrong hands and focusing on the good cards.

You’re free to be more aggressive when you have a good hand because you haven’t thrown away all the blinds chasing cards. This is the leading reason you’ll often see veteran and professional poker players engage in far fewer hands than the newbies.

The better you become as a player, the easier it will be to navigate the line on how many hands to play. One metric used by many aspiring poker sharks is to only play hands you’re willing to raise with.

This will help you cut much of the unnecessary fluff out as you adopt your more reserved approach.

Chasing Hands Will Get Expensive

I touched on it briefly above, and I’ll repeat it here: Chasing hands gets expensive quickly. You need to strike the notion that you’ll build a good hand on the flop and focus on the starting hand that is dealt to you.

People say that you’re playing your opponent, not the cards. There’s some truth in that. Still, you need to play your cards against the opponent.

If you’re constantly chasing hands, your opponents will catch wind of that and attack. You may never see a turn-card or the river again as they relentlessly bully you off of hand after hand.

Poker Pocket Aces

Settle into your routine of not trying to force the issue. The best players on the planet are masters of letting the game come to them.

Consider the hands you typically see when two poker stars are facing off in an all-in situation. Both players will almost exclusively have great hands.

You’re not going to see top players chasing many hands with Queen-10 suited. So, it’s probably for the best if you don’t either. Play the good hands and quit burning money by trying to chase cards that likely aren’t there.

Pocket Pairs Isn’t Always a Good Hand

Look, if you were able to pull pocket aces, kings, queens, or even jacks 100% of the time, you wouldn’t lose many poker hands. However, having a pocket pair isn’t always going to make for a strong enough hand.

I regularly play pocket eights or higher. Usually, I have a good chance of making a better hand or at least getting out of the way when needed. Something as low as a pair of sevens is probably winning most hands pre-flop. Unfortunately, all it takes on the flop-river is one player to pair their eight, and you’re beat.

It can happen with better hands, too. But the lower your pair, the higher the chances of someone beating your hand. Depending on what stage of the hand this happens, it could become costly.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking pocket fives is going to hold up or that you’re going to catch a set on the flop. Stop overvaluing your pocket pairs because it’s getting you involved in hands you have no business playing.

Bigger Tables Require More Care

On the max ring tables, you want to stick to a few hands as possible until you’ve gauged the competition. However, when playing on 6-max or slow tables, you want to open things up more.

In other words, playing with fewer hands will not help you win on smaller or empty tables. The main reason being you’re going to catch many more blinds at the smaller tables.

Those blinds get you involved in more hands, and you’ll need more wins to offset the blinds you’re losing. So, you need to play a bit looser on the smaller tables.

This flies in the face of everything I’ve covered so far, but there’s sound reasoning behind it. First of all, as I stated, the blinds become a much more significant obstacle when you’ve got a table with fewer players.

Texas Holdem Four of a Kind

Because of the light attendance, you’ll be forced into many more hands per hour. You’ll go bankrupt if you simply fold the blind every time you don’t have the guts.

Secondly, the average leading hand will not be as strong on the smaller tables. Imagine dealing cards to 10 players before you. There will likely be a wide range of hands, from the extremely weak to the solid.

Since there are so many hands, at least one player likely got a great hand. But if you’ve played much poker, you understand the rarity of being dealt a remarkable hand.

Now, cut that by nearly half. You’re far more likely to see hands on the lower end of the spectrum.

Play accordingly and open up the range of hands you’re playing when the table is light.

You May Need a Different Strategy for Cash Games vs. Tournaments

Many of you understand the critical differences between cash games and tournament poker. I’m strictly focusing on land-based games because online poker tournaments can be all over the map.

You can afford to play more loosely in cash games because it’s no problem to get back in the game when you lose. Assuming that you’ve got the bankroll to accommodate buying back in.

Tournaments are different because your chips will need to carry you all the way to the final showdown. At the bare minimum, you want to be around the cash spots.

So, you need to be more cautious in your approach. Some players will exhibit insanely aggressive gameplay during the early phase of an event in hopes of building a comfortable buffer zone between themselves and the field.

It’s incredibly tempting to call them and get their chips. Unfortunately, you’ll be facing an early exit from the tournament if the cards don’t fall your way.

Essentially, poker is a marathon, not a sprint. So, don’t blow chips chasing a draw unnecessarily.

Your Position May Keep You Out of Hands

Table position is one of the most overlooked aspects of poker games by the novice crowd. It’s a vital area of the game that needs to be understood by any player that wants to start winning at poker.

If you’re late in position with a good hand, you’re in an advantageous position. If none of the players ahead of you are raising, the pot could be yours for the taking.

Serious Poker Players at a Casino

Conversely, if there’s a raise and re-raise ahead of you, your hand may not be as strong as you believed. You should take careful consideration of your position for a hand before taking any actions.

How the players act in front of you should be your guide as to the validity of your cards. Folding a questionable hand is a great way to win more in the long term.

Your Hole Cards Drive Everything

I want to circle back to one immensely critical fundamental of winning more hands playing poker. Your hole cards drive everything.

Every hand you decide to be involved in revolves solely on the two cards you’re dealt. From there, you should use the other players’ tendencies and table factors to determine how to act.

The situations for when you should bet more hands or fold, walk a fine line. Most new players get lost in this grey area and don’t know how to act.

When in doubt, you need to fold. Playing fewer hands will help you begin recognizing poker hands that offer the highest returns on average.

Going broke early in a session won’t be much of a learning experience.

In Summary

These seven examples of how playing fewer Texas Hold’em hands can help you win are primarily aimed at novice or recreational poker players. Still, I know many more advanced players could benefit from a refresher course on the importance of playing tight.

Take the principles we’ve covered here and apply them to your regular poker regimen. Not only will you see more hands in the long run by staying in the gams, but you’ll also leave the tables with higher profits than ever before.