Using Strategy to Improve Your Poker Game
Poker is one of the most popular gambling games across the world. The allure of the game is that winning is driven equally by luck and also strategy.
Since the game is popular across different parts of the world it is only natural for numerous variants to be there, and you get to play a number of these variants at the top online casinos and online poker rooms. Regardless of the game, the objective is the same: put together the best possible hand and score wins.
As we just mentioned, strategy has a significant role to play in determining the outcome of a game.
The level of strategy you can use depends on the level you are playing at: there is basic strategy for beginners and there is also advanced strategy for those who have come a significant way ahead playing this amazing game. On this page we discuss the different strategies involved in playing poker. We will start with basic strategy for beginners and then shift gears to move slightly ahead into some interesting advanced poker strategy.
Poker Strategy forBeginners
The strategy for beginners has more with how you perceive and play the game than with the actions to take for the different hands you are dealt. One of the fundamental criteria that will help you become a better poker player is in developing the ability to take on-the-spot decisions that are well thought out. Well thought out – that is the key – the ability to think the game through right at the start is what will help you decide the way you play.
For instance, decision making could involve something as basic as deciding whether you want to play for fun or for money. Factors that will help you determine whether you should be playing for money or for fun include the amount of time you would be able to invest in the game, be it in studying strategy or in playing itself. And if you decide to play for money, you still have to be able to decide whether you want to play casually or as a professional, where winning matters most.
Another important poker strategy for beginners is to have clarity about how the game works. You must understand one basic fact – it will be impossible to win every hand. In fact you will most likely go through sessions of play where you lose more than you win, for instance a 45-minute session where you do not win a single hand. That knowledge prepares you mentally to deal with the losing sessions and work out a strategy to ensure your losses are minimal – it could be something as simple as folding right at the beginning of play. Remember, how good a poker player you are does not depend only on how much you have won; an even more critical criteria is to be able to play the best hand every time.
Intermediate Poker Strategy
Beyond the basic poker strategy that we just outlined above is what we would like to call intermediate poker strategy. There are different elements that contribute to this strategy as well. Knowing these different elements and using them effectively whenever the need arises will help you play your best each time and also minimise your losses. Here are a few elements of intermediate poker strategy to know about.
Get the right start
Poker has a lot to do with math and the ability to start out strong. Your starting hand becomes very important when you play poker because choosing the right starting hand can be the difference between winning and staying ahead and playing catch up. You will still lose hands but a winning start is a big confidence booster. In such a situation, it becomes important for you to choose the right starting hand to play.
One thing you should know; there are different factors that determine how good your starting hand is. One very important factor is where you are seated, at an actual poker table. The probability of what cards you are dealt will depend on the shuffle and also the position; this is because the dealer deals cards sequentially to all the players. There are a number of guidelines available for learning about choosing the right starting hand; you can go through any of these and get started on bettering your game.
Playing the remaining hand
Making the right decision with regard to the starting hand is just the beginning; you have the rest of the hand to play out. That is what will finally determine whether you win or lose. There are a number of things that will determine how you play the rest of the hand. Primary among these are the ability to:
- Use your position at the table to work your game.
- Work out a betting pattern based on the hands dealt.
- Work out any specific betting patterns being used by other players at a table.
- Calculating accurately the pot odds.
- The ability to bluff effectively enough to win even with low-value hands.
One thing you must understand and accept when it comes to developing your play for the rest of the hand: it will take time to understand and try and perfect these tactics and strategies. But the effort will definitely yield results, in the short term as well as in the long term. And the best way to perfecting these strategies is to practice the game – visit an online poker site and play the games in free play mode repeatedly to understand the game and the different possibilities better and work out the strategy for each of them.
Stay away from tilting and steaming
One important lesson in poker strategy: you cannot let emotions come into the picture. A cold and calculated approach is the perfect way to go as it allows you to make decisions based on rational thought. Losing is a part of the game and you cannot let that get to you; similarly, you cannot let winning get to you as well.
Advanced Poker Strategy
Beyond the intermediate strategy is what we would like to call advanced poker strategy. This level of strategy includes recognizing the different styles of play, switching between styles effortlessly as and when required, knowing the value of the dealer position at the table, bluffing well enough to take the other players down, knowing the odds and being able to recalculate them based on shifts you experience as the game progresses and hands are dealt, and much more.
Knowing the different play styles is important
If you didn’t know already, there are four major styles of play associated with poker that are usually applied by players in multiple permutations and combinations. These are listed for you below:
- Loose: This style of play involves playing more hands and gambling more – gambling large and/or gambling frequently.
- Tight: This is the exact opposite style of loose – you play cautiously and are likely to fold more than you play. The ideology is simple: play only when you are guaranteed a win, which means playing with big hands only.
- Passive: The term says it all; you call more than you bet and just follow the action at the table. You don’t lead or initiate the action and have the others follow.
- Aggressive: Again, this is the opposite of the passive style of play. There are a number of professional poker players who use this style of play – they bet big and are open to bluffing more than someone who plays a passive style.
The more you play, the more you will see that what works is a mixture of these different styles. You have to be able to figure out what the right mix is.
Knowing the value of the dealer position.
The dealer position has a huge advantage over the rest – the player in this position is the one to bet last; that means by the time he bets he knows what the others have bet and can therefore take a guess on the kind of cards they may be holding.
You cannot always have the dealer position because this is given to each player in a sequence to ensure everyone gets a fair shot in the game. The way forward then is to ensure you are able to play more hands when you are in the dealer position or the late position. That gives you to adjust your style of play based on the play that the others are making.
Being able to work out the odds for different hands
One of the most important parts of advanced poker strategy is the ability to work out the odds for the different hands landing in your hand. Poker is about numbers – the number of cards in the deck in all, the number of cards in your hand, the number of cards that have been dealt, and so on.
Based on the cards in your hand, and the cards that have been dealt already during the hand and are on the table, you have to be able to calculate the odds of a specific hand landing in your lap. Knowing the odds of the different hands based on these factors helps you work out your game