The internet is awash with all sorts of tips and strategies for the seminal card game in our society. It may sound like steep praise, but poker combines the fun, excitement, and enigmatic casino theme with a card game where strategy and skill can be used to your advantage.
There are many casino games where this isn’t the case. Yes, casino games can be fun, but ultimately, they rely completely on luck. Poker, on the other hand, is different. Skill and strategy can take you a long way in this game, and today we will look at ten simple strategies to improve your game and get you on your way.
Poker hand rankings highlight the quality of certain hands and how you can almost guarantee you will be taking the prize if you have anything in the top two or three. However, it also allows you to work out the math and establish what other players might be holding.
#1 – Fold When in Doubt
This may sound like a defeatist attitude, but this is what can divide the good players from the bad ones. If your back is on the ropes, you can look to bluff yourself out of a bad situation. However, living to fight another day and strategically placing yourself in a position to fight another day.
#2 – Don’t Chase Losses
If you find yourself chasing losses and gambling with money that you can’t afford to lose, then you need to stop immediately and speak to someone. This is not a tip but advice to look after your health and well-being if you are chasing losses and losing more money than you can afford.
#3 – Attack When Your Opponent Shows Weakness
If you have been studying your opponent’s body language and strategy and they are showing they have a weak hand, take advantage. A big part of the game is the ability to read other players’ body language and understand their psychology. Make sure you strike to gain the upper hand.
#4 – Play Fewer Hands with More Conviction
Keep your opponents on their toes by playing with your strong hands as aggressively as possible. Following our first tip and folding, when you have a weak hand, you can play your big hands aggressively and keep your opponents guessing.
#5 – Semi Bluff With Your Draws
All great poker players learn how to bluff properly, and it’d be difficult not to find any top professionals who haven’t mastered this art. However, it can work the other way too. It is the quickest way to lose money at the poker table if you aren’t very good at bluffing or overplaying your body language.
The best way is to play it like James Bond in Casino Royale. Bluffing with straight draws or flush draws is good practice. The best way to bluff is to mirror your hand. If you have a great hand, bluff often and play it aggressively. Likewise, the other way. This means you give yourself breathing space to bluff in the opposite direction every once in a while.
#6 – Build the Pot And Fast Play Strong Hands
It’s difficult to find an argument where this isn’t the best strategy. Bet your strong hands to add to the pot and protect your fund is pivotal. We aren’t saying you should always bet your strong hands post-flop. You can check your strong hands if:
- There are few scare cards to prevent you from receiving money when it comes to later streets.
- The chances of you being outdrawn are slim.
#7 – Prioritize Solid Poker Early on Over Survival
The maths show that to finish in the top 5, your start stack will need to increase by at least double. A defensive strategy early on is pointless and could put you at the back of the pecking order. You might then have to amend your strategy and be forced into errors.
Ending up in a position where you are short-stacked and near the money bubble is the signal to focus more on preservation over aggression. Only then should you start using a more survival-oriented playing style.
This strategy is focused more on tournaments, but you should be playing solid and aggressive poker from the off to consolidate a deep run further down the stretch.
#8 – Choose Your Games Wisely
Statistics show that need to be better than half the players at the table to win a game of poker. To paraphrase a quote from Matt Damon, who starred in the casino-themed blockbuster Oceans Eleven. While we aren’t suggesting wandering around and finding out how good all the players are in your local area, there are methods you can apply to give yourself a good chance before the first hand has even been dealt.
If you have a large number or very few re-raises, this signifies a high standard at the table. At least one player limping regularly and several multiway pots.
#9 – Don’t Limp First
Limping (just calling the big blind preflop) is a bad move as the first player to enter a pot. You should avoid this because if raised, you can’t win the pot as you could otherwise. If you employ this kamikaze strategy, you give the players behind very good pot odds. This increases the likelihood of facing multiple players and not winning the pot.
The only decent scenario when to limp is when at least one or more players have also limped; this strategy is called over-limping.
#10 – Have Fun
This final point might sound like a trite point, but it is very important. There’s no point in being miserable at the poker table for hours. Find yourself a game where you can unwind and relax. If you are tense and not having a good time, find another hobby that excites you.
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