Preflop Strategy

As has been stated before, your decision on your hand preflop is by far the most important decision you will make each hand. Besides having a good starting hand list to guide you, there are several other things to mull over preflop.

Position

Most poker players divide the table up into "Early, Middle and Late" positions. To simplify, if the button is immediately to your right at the table or within a couple of players, then you are in early position. If the button is across the table from you, then you in middle position. If you are on the button or the button is to your immediate left, you are in late position. There are very few hands that are playable in early position, typically only premium hands should be played here. As you move to middle and late position you can open up your starting hand requirements because you have the advantage of information preflop and every other round.

Hand Strength

After taking note of your position as you get your cards, look at the strength of your cards. Again, remember the rule of thumb that strong starting hands stay strong and tend to get stronger, while weak cards stay weak. I would encourage you to create a custom list of starting hand requirements for early, middle and late position. Play them as a cheat sheet until you get the hang of being able to judge the hand strength with just a glance.

Others Actions

If there is aggressive action before it is your turn to act, obviously you will want a strong hand to call, bet or raise with. Do not make the mistake of calling with weak hands and hoping. Calling and hoping is for losers. Aggressive play is rewarded in Texas Hold'em. You should look to be raising or folding, and only calling with draw hands that can improve to the best hand. On the flip side of this thought, if the action has been passive or folded up to you, you can take the lead and be more aggressive with strong but not premium hands. You can choose to limp in with more marginal hands that can turn into big hands given the right flop.

Table Tightness/Looseness

Tend to loosen up at a tight table. Your aggressive play will win alot of blinds as the rocks fold their hands. Be careful when someone plays back at you though, and if you were on a bluff, give it up. At a loose table you should also tend to loosen your requirements, because the pot odds are plentiful. You want to give yourself a chance to hit a huge hand that will get paid off in a big way. Do not play maniac style, but suited connectors, small pairs, etc., can be very playable if you can get in somewhat cheap and take a shot at hitting a set, straight or a flush.

While these may seem like alot of things to think about preflop, it will not take long before these thoughts will flow together quite nicely and your your collective decision preflop will be a good one.