Beginners easily learn the basics of poker, but becoming a professional in the game requires an entirely different mindset. The knowledge of playing poker at the professional level can help players make money consistently which can also translate towards making better business and life decisions using a similar rational approach. Mastering the game first comes with learning the basic playing styles and strategies that are needed in order to win games. Some of the playing styles and strategies provided below will help guide beginners to become an expert in the game.
Do Not Lead With Every Hand
A common mistake made by beginners is assuming that every poker hand can win a game. This simply is not the case for the majority of the hands based only upon card ranks and not taking into consideration the degree of a player’s skill. Thus, players need to be careful in this type of mindset to avoid falling into this deadly beginners’ trap and instead focus on “grinding it out” until the player feels comfortable enough to outplay his/her opponent with skill provided by a large degree of certainty with the cards that are dealt.
Misguided Bluffing Skills
The use of bluffs can undoubtedly help a player win a game. In most cases when overused by a player, it can backfire and lead to major losses if the player themselves cannot implement or read their opponent in the correct manner. Misguided bluffing can be seen most prominently during the World Poker tournaments. In these situations the climax play involves a professional player making a more risky bluff then what beginners should be undertaking. During any normal game, players should not envision these situations that were once viewed on TV and implement similar moves in order to trick their opponents. Most of the time this will not work. It is smarter for a player to concentrate on winning the game based on his/her mastery of the cards dealt rather than misguiding the opponent and taking additional and unnecessary risks
Consider The Opponent's Cards
A careful consideration of every hand dealt by the opponents can help a player make better decisions as it regards to future game situations. If your opponent has a better hand than you beyond a doubt, the best move is to just fold to mitigate losses.
Be Wise When Choosing Your Opponent
Without a doubt if a player has better poker playing skills than his/her opponents, their chances of winning the game is a lot higher. Therefore it makes sense to choose your opponent wisely to guarantee your win.
Players Positioning Matters
When playing Texas Hold’em, players need to consider their position on the table. The largest advantage is this situation develops for the last person to act on his/her hand. This position is important because it allows the player to read the hands that have been previously dealt which intern allows the last person to adjust his/her playing style accordingly to his/her opponent’s bets.
Always Stay Focused
Paying attention to the opponent’s hands can help a player win the game. Players need to study their opponent’s hands, actions, betting patterns and behaviors and learn his/her playing styles to better predict their next move and ultimately their own probability of winning. This will help a player know when their opponent has the best hand and when they do not. Keen understanding of how their opponent plays in each part of the game can give the necessary edge to win.
Establish A Pre-Game Bankroll Limit
Players who manage their bankrolls can become winners over the long run. Practicing bankroll management is paramount and sometimes even more important than playing solely based on statistical probability. In other words, playing each hand doesn’t come without a risk. Poor management of a player's bankroll can make even very strategic players accumulate major losses. So players need to establish a maximum percent of loss from their bankroll before each game and or tournament. To avoid such major losses that will cause the player to discontinue playing further in the game or worse accumulate debt, players need to be careful with their limits and make sure to only bet at the maximum pregame established limit even when statically probability and superior skill seem to be at the highest certainly to win the game.
Only Draw When Necessary
In some situations where one card is required in order to achieve a flush or straight, most players might be tempted to call a draw. The draw could be desirable if the opponent gambled a minuscule amount of money, but if the sum of money wagered by the opponent is high, it will be better for the player to win the game at all costs.
Don't Overvalue Small Suited Cards
Most beginners believe that they can work wonders in poker games with suited cards, but this is simply an exaggeration. As a matter of fact if suited cards existed they can only improve the player’s hand by less than ten percent when compared to that of the opponents. Caution should be used to fold small suited cards because players might lose with just two small suited cards when making trying to make a higher flush. Therefore it is better to use what a player has been dealt to the best of their ability then to try to make a better combination.
Be Aware Of The Underlying Rules And Obey Them
Understanding the rules and exercising caution when players are not sure about a certain situation involving the rules to that particular table should not be understated. Even if players mastered all the strategies they might never be able to win if they do not know the rules that apply to that table or poker room. Rules can change from place to place or from website to website. Before playing and betting hard earned money, players should understand the poker rules that apply to that game or website.
Choosing The Starting Hands In Texas Hold’em Starting hands are the two cards dealt at the commencement of the game. A great starting hand can most times be enough to win the game. There are three groups of starting hands mostly known amongst poker players, although sometimes poker players disagree among themselves on which starting hand is the best. Most preferred starting hands are presented below:
AA, KK Starting Hands
This implies Ace, then King. Thus, it means playing an Ace followed by a King as a starting hand. This starting hand is typical for Texas Hold’em, but care should be taken with this starting hand to avoid using it against a player that has an Ace while a player plays the King. The player playing the Ace here might win automatically, but this can be prevented.
AA, JJ, QQs Starting Hands
This is a firm starting hand, but these cards rarely fall into the hands of a player at the same time. Moreover, it can help a player to counter the effect of the Big Slick or Super Slick and even the likes of the AT, AJ, and AQ.
KQ, AJ, AQ, AK, TTs Starting Hands
These cards can be used in raising pre-flop and mostly comes in a strong collection. Hands like AK, AJ, and AQ are known to be very powerful but the player can re-raise instead of holding hands like KQ.
Playing Suited Cards
It is recommended to start playing with suited cards because the rankings and statistical probability to win are more profitable than unsuited cards. However caution should be used when playing these cards with a definite aim in mind because there is always a risk when playing.
Be Careful With The Kicker Factor
The kicker is the side card that does not determine the ranking of the hand but is more or less is used as a tiebreaker. For example, the hand K-K-J-6-3 is ranked as a pair of kings. The J, 6, and 3 are the kickers. Do not over value your kickers and take proper risk management when necessary.
Table conditions are very crucial during game play. Simple playing options like fold, raise or call are subjective and are not defined to any logic behind the move but only dependent upon a player's playing style. Unlike playing options used by players, table conditions are more favorable because players can use them in a more strategic way to gain an advantage over their opponents. It is necessary to understand such table conditions in order for beginners to transform their skills to a higher playing level. Below is an overview of some important game conditions.
The Number of Opponents Matter
When choosing a starting hand, players need to take into consideration the number of opponents at the table. For example, a KQ could be considered a strong starting hand when playing with only a few players, it becomes a weak hand if there are many players playing.
When Considering Raising The Pot
A player’s decision to play with his/her current hand should be based either on raising and re-raising the pot. A strong hand is always recommended if the pot is raised or re-raised and a player should adjust his risk management as necessary if this occurs. This is not an easy decision to make most times. And of course the skills of other players need to be taken into consideration before determining the amount to raise or re-raise the pot.
Players should not follow a shortcut playing strategy method because Pokers dynamics often change frequently and do not develop consistent trends that some players rely on. Winning a game with experience is better than winning a game based on a systematic approach. This will also allow players to develop a more creative playing style allowing more opportunity for different winning hands to develop.
The Importance Of A Player's Position
A player’s position in a poker game can make the difference between winning and losing; position is power. A favorable position, being the last hand to deal, would allow the player to study the moves, behaviors and bets from other players. This information if used correctly may allow the last person to make better-informed decisions. Overall this will allow a player to have an advantage over others at the table. What makes a difference between a professional and an average player is their respective abilities to convert their player positions to benefit their own playing styles and ultimately win the pot.
How To Get A Position
Gaining a position is the best way to boost a player’s advantage, specifically in non-limit poker games. Developing an aggressive playing style during a poker game provides more money making opportunities then to play with a defensive playing style. By raising the pot, the player can force his/her opponents to flop and he/she can gain a better position next round while collecting some of the pre-bets made from the opponents.
In a situation where in order to take the pot down in position, a player intern bets or calls a flop. This technique can be further highlighted under certain conditions like trapping, bluffing and pot control which will be discussed below:
If an opponent moves aggressively on a player and the player flops, the opponent might be misled to assume that the player is weak. This might cost the opponent the game if strongly convinced.
Bluffing can be very prominent in winning against an aggressive opponent. This strategy relies on making a careful study and analysis on the opponent’s behavior and playing style in the game. The player can use several hands to call the flop when he has understood properly how the opponent reacts in the game. He can trick the opponent with his hands if there is a tie on the board.
Controlling the Pot
Calling is a trap to get the opponent to make the wrong decision. It is a means of controlling the pot size and it is better than the use of stack size. Flopping is better used when a player realizes that his/her opponent is willing to bet the flop but despite the fact that he/she may or may even not have a high ranking hand. Players can only call to deceive the opponent into believing that they have a higher hand.
Leveraging the Odds Over Opponents
Another advantage in having a position is getting into situations with hands against a pre-flop with heavy odds. A player can mitigate their losses in the pot by calling a raise at the right time. Or in other words, they will have more control if they hit their hand at the right time and control the overall tempo of the game.
Bankroll management refers to the money kept safe by a poker player and allocated out for future games. When these funds are properly managed, the concept of bankroll management comes into play. This control theory stresses on the importance of playing poker on a specified pre-game limit; often a percentage of the total amount of money available to the player to play with. Poor management of one's bankroll means there isn't an established limit on the money used in poker, which can lead to quick unforeseen losses. It is important to play poker with only the amount of money a player can afford to lose. Money dedicated for important purposes and necessities should never be used to play poker. This is not only because of the negative consequences involved in losing money that is needed for necessities and obligations but also the opponents can exploit the player’s stress and emotions a lot better due to the significance at risk.
How To Manage Your Bankroll
Bankroll management is the main determining factor that decides if a player will successfully overcome several bad plays or weak hands. This is because the player’s physiological and financial connection to the game is determined largely by the amount and type of bankroll he/she invests. The more money involved the stronger the player, as a general statement. As a matter of rule, poker players are advised to leave the game if the situation calls for them to spend over ten percent of their bankroll. As a matter of fact, it is recommended that poker players stay within the limit of either two to four percent of their bankroll when placing common bets. Implementing the right bankroll strategy will give a player a peace of mind and the ability to concentrate on playing correctly. When losing a couple games in a row players can skip out of the next game and it will be easier for them to regain their position when they join back with a better mindset. A player with healthy bankroll will be able to play confidently without worrying about his money. He can concentrate with ease and therefore have a greater chance of winning the game. Of course, a player who has a 40% probability of winning a game would need a higher bankroll than a player who has a 60% chance of winning a game or tournament.
The way a player manages their bankroll will have an impact on how well they survive a bad play or bad draw of cards. It will also let them stay focused on the game which will result in them playing the game in a more responsible way. It has been generally considered a personal rule that a player should leave a game if they see themselves losing more than ten percent of their bankroll. A player should not buy in for more than two to four percent of their bankroll.
In general, the effectiveness of a player in a poker game is determined by his bankroll size. A conservative playing style along with staying within his/her betting limits are both necessary to successfully manage one's bankroll. A player who lacks funds should follow a clear guideline and even draw up a chart to use as a guide before he/she plays. Discipline is also vital in poker, especially with the limited capital. Of course, financially buoyant players may not need a bankroll in poker, but if they want to make a larger amount of money, it is recommended that players follow a well-defined bankroll management guide. Irrespective of players expertise, players need bankroll management to mitigate the unpredictability of the game.
Gain Your Advantage
The “poker tells” concept can apply to any type of poker game. Players need to prepare before the game by studying their opponents and the table environment to identify any advantages that they can use. The concept stresses the importance of reading the opponent's’ behavior and predicting their betting patterns.
Know The Player’s Betting Pattern
In determining the betting pattern of the opponent, players need to study their opponent’s behavior over a long span of time. Different game situations allow a player to identify how conservative or aggressive their opponents play given the hands they are dealt. The more time players study their opponent, the easier it is to predict their betting patterns.
Study The Physical Tells
Physical tell is considering opponents’ play based on their physical demeanors. It is more relevant in live poker than in online poker but nevertheless advantages can still be identified in other ways. This is because players will need to see the opponent physically to be able to tell his/her responses to game play such as rude behaviors, emotions, restiveness and any other unusual behaviors. In online poker games, player may have to rely solely on the betting patterns and the timing, not on physical tells. Actions such as quick call could indicate a drawing hand while delayed call could symbolize a weak hand. However, these are not entirely reliable because the player can be doing several things at the same time. Sometimes it may be possible to confuse the opponent’s strength for his weakness and weakness for strength, but any player can gain mastery in the art by practicing. These skills can be learned by practicing and taking notes on the trends in behavioral patterns of the opponents. Skilled players can leverage such trends to win the game.
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