We Know: 6 Tips on Poker Strategy

Poker Strategy

One reason poker is so exciting is that it's the only game of chance in which the odds are not in the house's favor. Though the house takes a cut of the pot, you're playing against other players, not the house. That means you have some control over winning or losing, as opposed to not having any control over slot machines and other types of gambling.

Six Tips for Winning at Poker

These tips assume that you are not an advanced player, you're playing low stakes poker, and your game is Texas Hold 'Em:

  1. Understand the odds and bet accordingly. This is an obvious but often-forgotten rule. When your hand doesn't hold much promise, don't get caught up in the excitement of raising the pot. Bluffing only goes so far, and in low stakes games, it's cheap to call someone's bluff. If you're not sure of what likelihood a hand has of winning, study up on it before you begin to play.
  2. Set a win and lose budget. Determine beforehand how much you're willing to lose and stick to it. Also determine how much winnings it will take for you to stop playing. Both scenarios protect you from losing too much money but also walking away when you still have your big winnings in your pocket.
  3. Real is real and fake is fake. Playing poker against your computer at home, or playing online poker games in which "play money" is used in place of real money, are only good for those who don't know the rules of poker and want to learn. If you want to learn how to win at real poker, don't fool yourself into thinking the strategies are the same. Players who use real money generally play much smarter and more conservatively than those who have nothing to lose. They're not as apt to bluff and they're more likely to be playing with a strong hand or else they would have folded already. Don't gain a false sense of confidence before you play a game of poker for real money.
  4. Learn one game and learn it well. Each poker game is different and it literally pays to know your game well. This includes not just the math but the etiquette, lingo, and what comes next in the game.
  5. Keep cool. Even when not playing for money, a game can get very intense and emotional for the player. It's essential that you not allow your emotions to cloud your judgment. This includes emotional highs as well as lows.
  6. Don't scare away the customers. If you have an absolutely fantastic hand right from the beginning, don't scare away the other players by suddenly betting a huge amount of money, especially if you hadn't done it earlier in the game. Sucker in the other players to continue playing and do your part to steadily build up the pot. Otherwise, you're likely to win, but the pot will be very small because all the other players folded after your big bet.

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