Some people will tell you that No Limit Holdem is a postflop game. That preflop doesn’t matter. Like many misconceptions, there is an element of truth here and a blatant fallacy.
The truth is that playing well preflop will not
automatically make you a winning player, and making some mistakes before the flop won’t prohibit you from making money. Preflop is not everything.
But these same players who claim “preflop doesn’t matter” have spent dozens of hours designing their preflop 3-betting, 4-betting, and shoving games. They’ve sat down and calculated the equities and equations.
So which is it? Is preflop barely worth a thought, or does it demand dozens of hours of study?
There is only one round of betting before the flop, while there are three streets after, so it’s easy to say that postflop play is more important than preflop play. Fine. You’ll spend hundreds (or even thousands) of hours working on your postflop play.
But while preflop is only one of four rounds of betting, it happens to be the first one. Your preflop strategy determines what range of hands you take to the flop. It also affects the size of the pot, which hands you should commit with postflop, and how much room you have left to maneuver. Preflop sets things up for your postflop play. So yeah, it’s important. It matters.
The good news is that there is a lot of information out there to help you decide how to play preflop. The bad news is that some of it is of questionable value or integrity.
No Limit Holdem is a dynamic game and, as such, requires a dynamic approach. As a result, a lot of advice is vague or wishy-washy. While judgment is an important component in every decision, it is possible to provide solid guidelines. And that’s just what the next thirteen chapters will do.