Poker is a game of skill and luck. In poker, the person with the best hand wins. There are many possible hands that can win in poker, but there is no way to be sure what your opponent has until all cards are revealed at showdown. To become better at poker it will help you to understand how each type of hand ranks against the other.
This is the basic strategy that you really can’t do without. Let’s have a look at some more advanced concepts so you can beat your friends at poker!
1. Basic poker strategy
Start with the basics. You need to know how to play the hands you are dealt and what the best move is for each situation. In general, you want to play the highest ranked hand possible, but there are other factors to consider as well.
For example, if you are playing against a weaker player who is likely to fold on most hands, you may want to play a weaker hand in order to see more cards. On the other hand, if you are playing against a stronger player who is likely to call or raise with a wide range of hands, you will need to be more aggressive and play stronger hands.
You can essentially categorize the difficulty of players according to their “stickiness”. Their ability or willingness to let go of poker hands. Great players and really bad players can often share this stubbornness, although bad players will be much worse at the execution of this concept.
Being flexible and changing your strategy according to the circumstances is one of the most important lessons to learn in poker.
2. Position is key
Position is one of the most important factors to consider in poker. The position of your opponent relative to you is very important.
In general, you want to be in a situation where you can make the most profitable decision. If you are last to act, you get to see everyone else’s decision before you make your move. The ‘button’ always gets to act last in a poker hand. So this position is valued at making the most amount of money on average in any poker hand.
There is also something called “relative position”.
Your position in relation to the preflop raises is mostly important in multiway pots. In this case being first to act before the original raiser is a good position to have. As the preflop raiser is usually expected to be quite likely to make a follow up continuation bet on the flop. If no one else raises this bet, you would have the last option to call or raise – giving you relative position.
3. Know your odds
In poker, you are trying to make the best decision possible based on the information you have. This includes understanding the odds of winning a particular hand.
For example, if you are playing Texas Hold’em and are dealt two hearts, the odds of making a flush are 1 in 9. This means that if you were to put all your money in the pot, you would only win once for every nine times you played this hand.
Knowing the odds is important so that you can make informed decisions about when to fold, call or raise.
4. Use your position and leverage stack size to bluff
Bluffing is one of the most important tools in a poker player’s arsenal. Bluffing is when you bet or raise with a hand that is not likely to win, in an effort to get your opponent to fold.
Especially in tournaments leveraging your stack size is an important concept to master. If you are in the situation where you can put in the final bet… the other person needs to make a decision for all the marbles. Which gives you a strategic advantage as there are now two ways out of three to win the pot.
- You get the player to fold and you win the pot (bluff or no bluff)
- You get the player to call and you win the pot with the better hand
- You get called by a better hand and lose the pot
As you can see, because you win 2 out of 3 situations you have more strategic options than the other player – giving you a higher expected value (EV) over the long term.
5. Putting it all together with some final tips
If you wish to bluff someone, it is better to have position as it allows you to choose more wisely when to keep firing bullets. You have more control over the hand this way.
In case you don’t have position, you could gain an edge by leveraging your stack – being the one who puts in all the chips at the end causes you to have more strategic options than the other player, which raises your overall EV.
Try to categorize players in terms of their “stubbornness” to let go of hands. This is the biggest factor in determining how many hands you should play and when you should play them.
Adjust accordingly: If the big blind never folds to a flop bet and always calls preflop bets. Play tighter! If he never folds to a preflop bet but almost always plays fit or fold post flop… loosen up.
If you get more comfortable you can experiment with bluffing players on later streets, as some players tend to call flop bets just to fold on the turn.
If you can follow these basic guidelines and your friends don’t… you will start beating them really soon. Having the right way of thinking about the game is the main thing holding people back. Before you know it, you’ll be crushing it in the casino table games.