Your Texas Hold´em pre-flop strategy should be something which you have organised well before the cards are dealt. There are plenty of factors to consider such as how aggressive or passive the players are at the table, your bankroll, your tolerance to risk and, most importantly, your position.
If you have sorted out your minimum opening hand criteria before you know what it is, it might save you wading in against a school of sharks (yep – they are called “schools” too!) holding just a pair of threes.
Number of Players: If you are playing a full ring game, or on a tournament table with 9 or 10 players, it is much more likely that there is going to be a premium hand somewhere amongst them rather than on a short-handed table. The more competition there is, the stronger the competition will be and although there are more premium hands dealt, yours may just be one of three or four.
Aggressive/Passive? As long as you have not just entered onto a table (in which case you should not be betting at all yet), you should be aware of the betting tendencies of those you are playing with. If you have noticed some bulldog behind you in the betting raising every hand, then you need to be aware that any bet you make is likely to be re-raised, and be prepared to spend the extra chips getting to the flop.
Your Bankroll: If you are down to your last $10, you will be playing more carefully than if you were sitting at a table with 200x the blinds in front of you. If you are going to bet when short-stacked, it is better to go all-in pre-flop and get as many players into the game as possible (you have to be the first to shove though!). If you are in the fortunate situation of having an Everest of chips in front of you, it is more feasible to play some of the high-risk, high-yield hands.
Your Tolerance to Risk: If you are a passive player, you more than likely want to see the flop as economically as you can, irrespective of what you get in your hand. By breaking the habit and raising pre-flop on a premium hand, you may find that you cause a stir amongst your adversaries and they either fold, or somebody will go with you out of fascination. If you find that your bet is matched, now is not to time to panic. You have the opportunity to maximize the pot with a further bet after the flop, so make the most of it!
Position: It cannot be stressed enough how much importance is placed on position. If you are seated early on in the betting, now is not the time to try anything risky (especially with that pair of threes!). You should only be playing premium hands from early and mid position until you do have a top pair, and even then moderate your bets as you will be in early position for the next three rounds of betting as well.
Only after you have considered all these factors should you think about looking at your cards. Your personal style of play will have a big influence of how you react to what you have been dealt, but you might like to break the mould and think outside the box at times, and see the results that it brings.