April 17th, 2019 | Updated on December 17th, 2020
Whether you’re playing online, at a friend’s house, or in a casino, there are few activities that are more enjoyable than poker. It’s one of the world’s fastest growing sports, and poker stars such as Phil Ivey, Phil Hellmuth and Vanessa Rousso have become celebrities in their own right.
They’re also fabulously wealthy, and that’s because they have an amazing poker brain and poker strategy. We can’t promise that you’ll ever win a World Series of Poker ring, but here are seven tips that can take your poker game from blah to amazing, giving you much more chance of winning.
1. Take the Pressure Off Yourself
If you want to win in poker, then you have to stay as cool and calm as possible, whether you’re a player who goes straight down the line or one who likes to throw in a bluff or two. Nevertheless, poker brings pressures, particularly if you’re in the final two and eyeing a prize. That’s a nice pressure to have, but an altogether less pleasurable pressure comes from having to win to reduce your losses or claw back earlier stakes. Only ever stake what you’re prepared to lose, so don’t bet more than an amount that you have predetermined before you start playing. Be prepared to walk away and never chase losses, because the added pressure this brings can lead to mistakes and an even bigger loss.
2. Practice Makes Perfect
One of the great qualities of poker is that it’s both simple and complex, and like anything worth doing in life, practice makes perfect. That’s why smart poker players practice their strategy as much as possible on specialist websites such as 888 Poker. They not only have an expert Poker Glossary full of tips and rules, they also allow you to play low stake poker games or play in freeroll games where you won’t have to put any money up front at all. This is the perfect way to get to know the intricacies of the various forms of poker, from Omaha to Texas Hold ‘Em, and you can practice different strategies with little or no risk until you find the one that’s perfect for you.
3. Get to Know Your Opponents
One major mistake that some rookie poker players make is that they get carried away with the excitement of the table, whether real or online, and bet too big, too soon. It’s never smart to be cautious all the time, but it can make a lot of sense to open a game cautiously. The blinds are low at this point, so it won’t cost much to throw in a hand that doesn’t seem promising. Sitting out hands in this way also provides you the perfect opportunity to get to know your opponents, especially if you haven’t played against them before. Take note of how aggressive they are with their calls and raises, how frequently they fold, and whether they like to bluff. This information can prove invaluable when the blinds rise and the action really hots up.
4. Don’t Be Distracted
Never allow yourself to be distracted when playing poker for stakes of any size, as concentrating fully on the game and players before you can give you a competitive edge. This can be especially relevant if you’re playing at home on a leading site such as 888 Poker, as there can always be the temptation to have the television on in the background, or to have your favourite tunes playing. Even tiny distractions can make a big difference at the table, so sit in silence and don’t let anything on the periphery of your vision distract you. That’s just one reason that many professional poker players wear shades when playing.
5. Understand the Pot Odds
There are varying factors which can determine your poker strategy. These are your own style – how aggressive you are in other words (and you’ll find the most successful players are often more aggressive in play than cautious once the initial rounds have passed) – what cards you have, and what the pot odds are. Put simply, this means that the amount of money in the pot, as well as the cards in your hand and on the table, can help you gauge your chance of winning a hand. The more you play, the more you’ll understand pot odds, so once again online playing and the statistical information available online at poker sites are your greatest friends.
6. Take Thinking Time
You can’t play poker at too sedate a pace, as you have to show some respect to the table and your fellow players, but equally you should never rush your play. Always take time to think about every single move you make. Leave instinct at home as it won’t help you win at poker; you should have a reason in your mind for every move that you make, whether that be call, fold or raise. The cards may still go against you, of course, but you greatly improve your odds of making the right decision.
7. Don’t Believe in Luck
You’ve been dealt a four and a nine – great news, as they’re your lucky numbers! Thinking like that can be a fast track to a rapid defeat. Lucky numbers will neither help you win the lottery or win at poker, so don’t keep a combination of cards simply because they seem lucky to you or you’ve won with them before. Always approach each hand dispassionately, and consider the range that your dealt cards and those face up on the table could potentially produce when other community cards are dealt. Learn what percentage different hands give you as well; for example, a pair of Jacks from the deal may seem nice, but it’s unlikely to beat a handful of other players if that’s all you end up with.
Increasing your odds of winning at poker comes down to practicing as much as you can, and making decisions based on player observation and percentage chances. Playing regularly at sites such as 888 Poker can help you with all these vital elements, so you could be an amazing poker player quicker than you might think.