What is Poker?
Poker covers a lot of different games, and these tend to be complicated and difficult to the new user. Using some of our winning poker strategies will help you get ahead in a world of sharks.
Know your Maths
Most of us will avoid maths if we can, but poker is a game where this can really help. We don't want to suggest counting cards, which is form a cheating, but knowing when your odds are good or bad can make the player. In the most simple forms this can help you know whether of not your hand can actually win a game. For example if you have a hand of nothing in 5 draw poker and need all new cards then the odds are not in your favour.
When it comes to later rounds you can use simple maths to understand what cards your opponents might have. If you have an ace, for example, and the only combination that an opponent might have to win requires 4 aces then you know the odds are not in their favour. This is simplistic example but as you grow more comfortable and familiar with the game you will be able to pick up more patterns which let you know their chances, if you keep paying attention. Mathematicians are often great at formulating winning poker strategies, and there is a good reason for this.
Easier said than done, I know. When you get upset or angry other players can take advantage of this. Players who see this can pressure you into bad decisions. If you're the type of player who gets hot around the collar after some exceptionally bad luck then walk away. The game will still be waiting for you later and you'll do better with a calm mind. Remember: calmer minds make for better poker strategies.
Getting angry and over-betting is not the only threat here, as losing out and then losing confidence can also cause a player to avoid bets which they should have made. Try to learn from each mistake, use this experience to avoid similar mistakes in the future. Again, this is easier said than done. Experience is great way to build yourself up here
There is also an issue that can come about with other players. It is not uncommon for the mind-games of other players to get frustrating and over-the-top. In this case it is sometimes possible to turn the tables on them by figuring out what they are trying to do. Loud players are likely to give more away than the players who remain calm and collected, so be sure to keep an eye on them.
Winners don't play drunk
Drinking can help make the game more fun, if you're into that sort of thing, but it can also cause you to make mistakes. There is a reason why high-stakes casinos often give out free drinks, and it's not to make you feel good, its that winning poker strategies don't come from the drunk. A person who is drunk loses their ability to judge and calculate properly. It also makes them more prone to tilting. Good poker players understand this, and can take advantage of the lapses in attention and judgement that is caused by intoxication in order to further their own game.
Fun or Profit?
Are you in the game to win money or are you in the game to have fun. Having fun and playing some casual games with friends doesn't require as much attention as playing professionally. This means they can require different poker strategies. If you're playing for money then you have to be wary about how much you relax. You don't want to be tense and angry but you also don't want to let things slip you by. The best way to keep your attention is practice. Professional players can also adopt the type of heavy clothing and glasses. These can help cover up their attention and tells.
Know when to Fold'em
One of the major mistakes that are made by new players is playing more hands than they should. Poker strategies do not just include playing the hands, often the best best can be to hop out and watch. Knowing when to do this comes from building your idea of starting hand requirements. This is the level of cards with which you are comfortable playing with. While there is a component of mathematics in this it is also important build up a knowledge base on where to bluff, and with which hands to appear to bluff on.
This also applies to rounds in which you make it past the first round of betting. Too often new players will feel that they are roped in if they make it past the first round of betting. This can cause them to lose out much larger quantities as the game goes on. If you were counting on a flop and ended up with nothing it can be better to count your losses than lose out further on the turn or the river.
Not being in a round can also give you an opportunity to better observe your opponents. Often in a round a new player can be too focused on hiding their tells or figuring out their chances to focus on the other players. When you spend a round out you can capitalise on this chance. It also lets you keep an eye on those who you consider to be the biggest threats.
Play the Players
Spotting when another player is on tilt or is otherwise off their game will help you immensely. This is a skill that that is often built up over time and experience but there are giveaways. Obvious anger makes a player easy to manipulate, as does their inebriation. Tells are also a big part of the game when player start out. A tell might not always appear as they do on T.V and films, but is more likely to appear on a player recovering from a long streak of bad luck. Keep an eye out, and don't let them know that you know. Their weakness is your strength. Not the nicest sentiment, but poker can be not a nice game.
New players, or fish as they are often called, tend to be the target of sharks. Ideally you want to avoid being seen as a fish when you are new, while being able to act like a shark when it comes to the weakness of others.
This relates to being calm. Don't feel rushed to make your move. You have time to think, so use it. For those of us not so mathematically gifted we might need a few extra moments to consider our moves, so take the time you are given. You also need to be aware that people will be watching you closely during this time. You can use this to build on a bluff, or otherwise act in a manner which to them seems unpredictable while secretly keeping calm.
Learn to concentrate
This is a big part of being both patient and calm. Poker is not is fast paced game. A big game can easily take hours to play and during this time the inexperienced tend to lose their concentration.
Distractions are something which can have a seriously negative effect on your game. Whether through the environment or other players, something which keeps pulling at your attention can frustrate you, or otherwise lead you into making bad decisions. You need to be able to focus your attention on the important elements while ignoring the others. There aren't really any magical shortcuts here, the best method is practice.
Boredom can also be a big problem over long games. Even if you love the game of poker there can be long stretches where your mind starts to wander. Combating this can be as simple as keeping your hands busy by playing with your chips. An even better method is to take this time to better focus on your opponents, try to build a framework in your mind of how they have responded to you, and to each-other.
Player to your own Skill Level or Below
There are a lot of games where it can be beneficial to play with those much more skilled than yourself, and to a point this can also be true with poker. The key difference in poker is that when you lose you lose money. This can cause you to tilt or otherwise not enjoy the game as much as you would.
By playing with others at or below your own skill level you can lower the rates at which you lose. At the same time this helps in slowly improving your own game. If you want to get a better look at how the pro players do it while you are new then try watching poker. You can find plenty of shows on television or online. This way you can get some of the key strategies down without the risks of being bait for the sharks yourself.
Take your time
Winning poker strategies aren't developed overnight. Eventually it is likely that you'll be playing against those who have been practising for years, or even decades. You need to understand and respect their experience. A little bit of play a day or a week can build up unconscious experience and skill in ways that you don't even notice, so take your time, try to keep in mind what we have said and, most of all, have fun.
Be patient enough and you might end up with four aces, it could take some time though!