Texas Holdem Strategy: What We Can Learn From Kevin Bacon Game?

„Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon“ or simply known as Kevin Bacon game is a game where people try to find the shortest connection between Kevin Bacon and any other actor.

It is really fun to see how it all works out so you can try the game itself and see for example how Will Smith or Margot Robbie are linked with, and you rarely find more than a couple of people in between.

You can even find apps for this game and plenty of pictures online drawing various connections, just like this one.

the kevin bacon game

The six degrees of separation states that six or fewer people link all of us.

It surely seems to be true in regards to Kevin Bacon since he has worked with “everyone in Hollywood,” as he said in one of the interviews, but can this idea of all of us being connected help us in other areas of our life?

It certainly can, and we will concentrate on breaking down poker a strategy example to see it in practice.

Imagine how quickly you can learn if you have players like Daniel Negreanu, Doug Polk, or Jonathan Little standing by your shoulder and teaching you everything they know.

small ball poker with daniel negreanu

While you probably will not be able to learn the small ball poker strategy personally from Daniel Negreanu, you can gain a vast knowledge of professional player’s approach to Texas Holdem strategy by enrolling in one of their training courses and joining communities that can help you grow as a player.

I did that for you, and have probably seen all poker courses available on the market, which helped me learn poker strategy and make it my primary source of income. That being said, most things are overlapping in all of these courses, so I want to give you the top 10 best Texas Holdem tips which will help you get the upper hand against your opponents.

Texas Holdem Strategy Tip #1. Find the best games

Game selection is often an overlooked factor even by experienced players, and they tend to stick in the games without any particular reason. 

Can you imagine the difference between playing in a 6max game against five recreational players and another one with five world-class Texas Holdem opponents?

While you can crush the first game even without understanding advanced strategies, knowing how to count hand combinations or to put players on ranges, when you find yourself against 5 of the best players, even all this knowledge will not help you to win.

The truth is that these games are an utterly different world, and while it might be a bit exaggerated example, you make similar choices every time you decide to sit at the table.

What always strikes me the most is that some players find excuses to play in mediocre Texas Holdem games because of their ego, and this alone prevents them from making it work.

The difference between great games can be in hundreds of thousands $$$ and sometimes even more, so it is worth taking some time to learn to choose profitable tables.

There is no shame in table selection, so even if you know advanced Texas Holdem strategy quite well, you should always look to find weak games where you can make a healthy profit.

Texas Holdem Strategy Tip #2. Manage your poker bankroll

Money management is essential for all areas of your life, but it can make you or break you in poker.

Even the best players in the world can quickly lose their entire bankroll if they choose to play in way too expensive games since swings can be devastating in such an environment.

Variance is something you should understand even before starting playing poker. It can have a massive effect on your short term results, so better be ready than sorry.

texas holdem strategy tips variance

You can be losing for a month or two even if you are a better player than most of your opponents, and that is especially true if you choose to play No-Limit Texas Holdem tournaments with many participants in every event.

The more players you have, the more significant the variance will be, so this is why you need to have that big bankroll to outlast your swings.

100 buy-ins for tournaments and 50 buy-ins for cash games is the absolute minimum you should always have in your bankroll.

Always follow proper money management and be ready to move down if needed to protect your bankroll.

Texas Holdem Strategy Tip #3. Embrace your position

Understanding how to use a position at your table might not be as easy as you might think from the name, but it is worth the struggle.

Also, it is worth mentioning that the strategy might change in some formats of poker vs. Texas Holdem games.

By embracing your position, I do not mean learning the names or opening ranges from each of them, which is also very important, but learning how to put your opponents into many unfavorable spots.

Obviously, you should be playing much more hands from late positions by both opening them and 3-betting so that you would have an edge postflop, and that what matters the most.

When you are IP after the flop, you can easily control the flow of the hand.

You always see what your opponent does before making a play yourself, and that gives a tremendous advantage.

On top of that, you can check-back and see a free card, which is not an option when you are out of position. This way, you will have fewer streets to bluff catch and can easily protect your checking ranges.

So the most important thing to remember when you are out of position is to be betting less often and opt to check some of your strong holdings. Otherwise, you will be in a lot of trouble against every competent opponent.

All things considered, you should try to play most of your hands in position and put as much pressure on your opponents as you possibly can when you are in an advantageous situation.

Texas Holdem Strategy Tip #4. Play tight but aggressive

Another tip for Texas Holdem games is carefully choosing what hands you want to play preflop, but when you decide to play almost always take an aggressive line.

This way, you will have a range advantage and will have less room to make mistakes after the flop since most of the time, you will be a big favorite to win.

phil ivey texas holdem strategy

So never limp first in and aggressively attack limpers in your games. When you opt to play the hand, always try to be raising or 3-betting so cold calling preflop should be more an exception than a rule, except for big blind play where you are closing the action and getting great odds.

While tight is not always right in today’s games, you need to understand that aggressive moves will always prevail against passive plays.

Texas Holdem Strategy Tip #5. Learn the basic math

While many see poker as a game of “luck” or “feeling,” it is actually based on math, understanding probabilities, and all other factors only come as an addition to this.

Luckily, you do not need to master the scientific level of math to be good at this game. Still, you surely need to understand basic principles and poker probabilities to make mathematically correct decisions.

This is where Texas Holdem odds come into play.

You should take your time to learn how to calculate the probability of hitting your hand, how to know how many outs you have and compare all of this to the bet sizing that you are facing.

When you know all of this information, you can easily make proper decisions that are based on math rather than blindly guesses if your opponent has it or not, and this alone will make you a much better player.

Texas Holdem Strategy Tip #6. Put your opponents on a range

When you are ready to take poker even more seriously, you need to learn to think in regards to ranges rather than individual hands.

Instead of trying to guess what your opponent has, put him on a range of likely holdings and play against it.

Figuring out how to put your opponent on a range of cards is probably one of the most vital skills for Texas Holdem poker, and you will get better and better with practice.

Firstly, when you are trying to make these assumptions, always take into consideration your opponent’s position and assign him a range of cards he could be playing from there. You can adjust it based on standard opening ranges and any observations you have about that specific player.

Secondly, you can reduce some of his holdings based on his action on the flop, turn, and river, and by the time you get to the final card, you will have a perfect estimate of what he could be holding. Always consider both bet sizing, all of the action in front of you, and think with which hands he would be playing this way.

Texas Holdem Strategy Tip #7. Do not bluff too much

Over bluffing could a colossal mistake in most games. Especially in lower limits where players are not going to fold no matter how much you bet, you should not be bluffing too often.

In low stakes games, your only goal is to be betting when you have a good hand and folding when you don’t.

Your opponents will be making plenty of mistakes by selecting weak hands to play, betting too often and calling too wide, so you do not need to get fancy to win.

Of course, when you move up the ladder and start playing serious games, you have to start bluffing more often, but until then, keep your bullets in the gun and let your opponents hang themselves.

Texas Holdem Strategy Tip #8. Take advantage of available software

You like it or not, our lives are filled with technology and all kind of software. Poker is not an exception.

Since players often have significant sums of money on the line while playing Texas Holdem, they are ready to do whatever is needed to increase their chance of winning.

This often transitions into using some kind of software while playing, and you have plenty of options for that. You can take advantage of using one of many tracking apps that help you see your opponent stats in real-time and analyze your play after the session.

Then you have hundreds of options for learning strategy and improving your skills with artificial intelligence tools and plenty of other software.

The truth is that everyone is using these tools, and if you find yourself on the other side of the table, you are already at a severe disadvantage.

There are even apps for live poker players, which help track progress, take some notes about specific opponents, or identify the most profitable games. So if you want to take this game seriously, make sure to use tools that are most appropriate to your exact situation.

Texas Holdem Strategy Tip #9. Adjust versus different players

The general truth of the game is that you need to have a mathematically based strategy that is often referred to as GTO (game theory optimal) and use this as your starting point.

However, to reach better results, you should deviate from GTO and adjust against specific players to exploit their mistakes.

Luckily, this does not mean that you must make specific adjustments in every single hand and play differently against every opponent you ever meet. Most of the time, this can be simplified by categorizing players into different groups based on population tendencies and your observations.

While you likely will have even better results if you adjust against a specific player based on how he is playing, a lot of the time, you will lack information about his strategy, so assigning him to one of the groups and playing against population tendencies is your best bet.

This means betting more for value against passive players and bluffing much less against them. Contrary to this, you should let aggressive opponents dictate the action and check most of your strong hands so that they would have a chance to bluff and donate you some money.

Texas Holdem Strategy Tip #10. Take your time

Always, and I mean always, take enough time to consider your options and make the best possible decision.

In the beginning, this might mean playing just one table instead of jumping to multi-tabling, so better use that time to improve your actual strategy.

By taking your time and considering all of the possible outcomes, you are doing yourself a huge favor not only in regards to winning more money but also you will be progressing much faster.

Most importantly, this will help you avoid a habit of making automatic decisions, which is something that many players are doing without realizing it is killing their winnings on the way.

These simple Texas Holdem tips will help you start winning much faster, increase your equity in the games, and will help you progress your poker career. This could be as powerful as having the best players next to your shoulder with a close connection, just as Kevin Bacon’s game suggests