Though simple on the surface, poker is a highly complex and multi-layered game and most good players have spent years perfecting their art. While beginners mostly just endeavor to get through a game with some dignity, professionals use an endless number of strategies, tactics and tricks to get the better of their opponents. Above all, poker requires a calm, strategic and intelligent mind, analytical skills, foresight and a good deal of mathematical skills. Professionals can draw on a wealth of experience and win even with the poorest of hands. They say, the best players don’t rely on their cards to win the game.
A Word of Advice to Beginners
If you want to succeed as a poker player, you have to be willing to learn the basic rules of the game and study the various aspects thereof, don’t just sit down at the poker table, you will only end up losing your hard earned cash. Watching experienced players and carefully observing the strategies they apply is also helpful. Don’t be afraid to start small, it’s best to gradually improve your skills rather than throwing yourself in at the deep end with players much better than you. Anyone can learn how to play poker and play it well. Buy yourself a good poker book and study, it may all seem very intricate at first, but after a while you will be familiar with all the terminology and the entire process will be less daunting.
Basic Poker Tips for Beginners
- Be Picky About Your Hand: Most beginners want to play and refuse to fold even with an exceedingly poor hand. Don’t be afraid to throw in the towel if it is obvious that you’ve been dealt a very poor hand and you have little chance of improving it.
- Poker is Not Just About Bluffing: Beginners are often tempted to get themselves tangled up in a complex bluff and find themselves in a heap of trouble just because they think that bluffing is an integral part of poker. While this may be true, it is best to hold back on your bluffing until such a time as you can be confident of getting something from it.
- Trust Your Instinct and Know When to Fold: Even if you have thrown a lot of money into the pot, folding is often the best option. While you may think that you have carefully calculated the odds of improving your hand and have come out on top, sometimes those odds don’t stand up and it is best to fold and avoid losing more money.
- Observe, Observe, Observe – and Calculate: Remaining focused, watching suits come and go and keeping an eye on the deck as well as other players will help you succeed. Pay attention to absolutely everything, including who has folded, raised and may be bluffing, a game of poker is no place for drifting off into dreamland.
- Try to Identify Other Player’s Habits: During a game of poker, even if you have folded, watch how each player plays the game and behaves in certain situations. Most players are victims of their own habits and seasoned players often win by using such information at strategic points in the game.
- Choose Your Skill and Limits Carefully: If you find yourself winning at low levels, you may not be able to replicate that success against better players, so be slow to move up. It’s better to keep on winning rather than making yourself a welcome victim for better players.
When you have mastered the basic skills of poker and think it is time to move up a gear, there are certain considerations you must make:
- Choosing the Right Approach and Mixing it Up if Necessary: By now you probably know if your approach is aggressive, passive, tight or loose and the best players carefully alter their approach to suit the particular game setting. Try not to be predictable by altering your approach. Your opponents will not be able to take advantage of your regular playing habits and this will put you in a much stronger position.
- Bluffing Well: When you are confident of pulling off a bluff, you must do so from start to finish. Your every move must be tailored around your bluff so that it will stand up and remain undetected. This requires a lot of calm and calculated play, but remains one of the most winning strategies in poker.
- Calculating the Odds: Professional gamblers win, because they have the ability to reduce the risks they take by calculating the odds. Throughout the game, they watch cards come and go and work out the odds of their hand against the hands of other players. The cards on the board must also be taken into consideration, so utmost concentration and expert calculation are required. The best players can work out mathematical odds and make decisions on that basis.
It takes a long time to master poker and become a great player. Be patient, enjoy and above all stay calm at all times.