Poker is the world’s most popular card game. Starting in the early 19th century, it would grow to become the most popular game of chance by the 1970’s. But calling it a ‘game of chance’ is misleading. There is an element of luck in poker. There are also poker strategies that players can use to gain the edge against their opponents. Experienced players know how to use these strategies in many different situations. Lucky players will fall apart.
For most people, poker is very easy to learn. Yet, mastering it requires dedication and strategy. Poker strategies are a mix of deception and reasoning, with a little bit of intuition thrown in. To use these strategies, you must first familiarise yourself with them. Other players will know some of the techniques that you use. It is critical to keep a broad list of them in mind when you are facing other opponents. Let’s get into the basics before we explore the more advanced techniques.
The first thing to remember about poker strategies is that they are situational. Poker is a contextual game, whether online or in person. Players’ moves communicate a lot about mindset in the game. Experienced players know how to keep tabs on every other player at the table. Newer players will find this very difficult. To begin with, try to keep tabs on the people to your left and right. Do they make aggressive moves? Do they play their hands often? You can counter aggressive players by calling often and raising the bet . These are the fundamental tools for gauging your opponents. Observe, react, and analyse. Players reveal themselves when they react to your moves.
The actual position one has on the table is another basic aspect of the strategic poker mindset. The best position is in front of the button. This position goes last for the rest of the pot, allowing them to act based on other players’ decisions. If one cannot secure this position, the position immediately to the right is the next best option. The idea is to keep yourself in a place where you can adapt based on the other plays at the table.
Live poker Hold’em is one of the easiest and most popular ways to play poker. There aren’t as many complicated factors to learn, and the odds are good enough that you can make some fair returns. This means that you can spend more time strategising and reacting. This should also be more fun and more profitable. Learning these live poker strategies will give you an edge for playing live poker.
The house edge is the likelihood of the house (dealer) to win over time. In other words, it’s the mathematical advantage that you’re facing as you play. Optimal playing strategies for live dealer Texas Hold’em can reduce the house edge to 0.82%, which is good. It will take time to work out these strategies. You will also need to use some online calculators before you get the edge down that low. Don’t worry, though; once you figure out the logic, you’ll be making these decisions without any effort.
There are a few rules of thumb to keep in mind before you start memorising strategies. These include: avoid folding hands with a pair, a flush draw, an open-ended straight draw, or King/Ace high. While there are times to fold these, you’ll want to be very careful about doing it. Other strong hands include high Q/J and gutshot straight draws. The odds of winning with these are above average. As always, you want to fold whenever you have low cards that don’t relate to the board. Bluffing through these bad hands is a tactic for advanced players.
Table: AA+ Pay Tables
|Hand||Pay Table 1||Pay Table 2||Pay Table 3|
|4 of a Kind||25||40||40|
|Three of a Kind||7||7||7|
|Pair of Aces||7||7||7|
Live Hold’em is a game with a limited amount of options in standard play. The AA+ is a side bet that you can make in certain situations. It has a payout determined by the value of your hand after the flop. The provided chart tells you more about the payout and odds of each hand. It may be unclear of how to use these kinds of bets when you first begin. With time, proper use of them will be very helpful in maintaining the returns as you play.
In terms of offers, Live Hold’em bonuses are a key part of surviving the murky waters of early hands. These bonuses are incentives to encourage player participation, typically in the form of a cash bonus such as matching. This works very simply: deposit the specified amount of money (say, €100) and they will match this amount. There will then be a term – usually minimum winnings – and you can withdraw your money once more. If you play carefully and wisely, these bonuses can get you going towards profitability in a hurry.
Bankroll management is exactly what it sounds like: how you manage your funds to play. Whether playing online poker or live poker, it will be important to keep your bankroll in order. Good bankroll management will stop you from needing to fret about money. This allows you to keep your focus on the long-term and make bets which assist your bottom line. Composure is critical in a game like poker.
Short bankrolls are a lot of pressure. When you have a very small amount of funds to work with, each loss adds tension to the game. The tension creates stress and frustration. Stress will sink your ability to make reasonable plays. Of course, not all players find risk frightening. Playing a good game of poker will require accepting risk on some level. Regardless of your tolerance for risk, bankroll management will be vital to success.
Money is the resource that you need to continue playing. You can consider bankroll management to be an off-table aspect of your strategy. If you were to bet all your funds on a single hand, this would be a terrible strategy which puts you out of the game very fast. Poker has a rate of variation which causes even excellent players to lose sometimes. So, managing the bankroll is the keystone aspect of your methods of play. Below are some bankroll management tips for a variety of live and online poker players.
Casual players have the best odds of breaking even, generally speaking. While it’s easy for a careless player to lose their funds, it is far from guaranteed or necessary. A casual player should be able to afford 10 or more buy-ins to break even or maintain a close rate. It is possible to profit at this level, but not too likely. The larger the bankroll, and the better managed, the better the odds a player has of profiting.
Amateur players should expect to start with a larger bankroll than casual players. as the breadth of funds will net more profit across a series of hands. But bankroll management will still need a lot of close attention. Many amateur players go broke without replacing their initial bankroll. These players should likely continue to hone their skills at low-limit tables. Training there will at increase profit at higher-limit tables.
Professional players are in a different league from the first two kinds of players. These are people whose income comes in part, or completely, from playing poker. Along with their increasing poker skills, these people will need excellent bankroll management. as they face the most severe consequences for falling behind on their bankroll. Players such as this should look into new methods of managing bankroll and buy-ins. Professionals must refine their bankroll management to a masterful edge.
Table: Bankroll management guide
|Limit||Buy-in||Casual player buy-in||Amateur player||Professional player|
Poker is a game that sits between the borders of “fun” and “profit.” Not all players are seeking to make money from poker. For those players, bankroll management might be a matter of spending money for fun. But for all other players – casual to professional – the bankroll is at the heart of the game. Professional poker players are managing their bankroll against their bills. Amateur players are trying to make enough money to advance their returns. No matter who you are, the general goal is to keep above your initial investment. So let’s get into the methods of managing the bankroll. The better your management, the longer you can play!
The worst enemy of every poker player is the infamous “scared money.” You’re several bets down and you’re feeling the hit to your bankroll. It’s been a while since you got a good hand, and you’re feeling lucky. Is this the time to make a big bet and hope for the best?
If you’re feeling nervous, it’s never the right time to make a big bet. Big bets that exceed your typical rate can actually be a great idea in other situations. Whether won or lost, they can help you grow your understanding of the game. It is vital that you only make such bets when you are feeling calm and prepared. Difficulties will arise. Betting with your emotions is a quick way to lose your initial deposit.
Every well-managed bankroll should include your own stop-loss limit. In other words, you need to determine when you can no longer lose money from your bankroll at the rate you’re losing at. Maybe you can afford 10 buy-ins, as mentioned above. If you place the stop-loss limit at 5 buy-ins, then you can move down to a lower limit table to preserve the rest of your bankroll. This part is simple cost-and-risk analysis.
Risk analysis should be at the forefront of your mind with every bet. It is true that many hands will be lost due to no fault of the player – this is one aspect of the risk. There is also the need to bet higher on occasion, for the purposes of profit and for the psychological impact on other players. Losses are a necessary part of the game. Make sure that when you engage a risk, you do so after some thought.
Not only is loss a part of the game, but losing streaks themselves can’t always be avoided. The skilled player works to mitigate these as they occur. Analyse the risks and always refer to your bankroll. Protecting the principal investment is the primary goal.
Poker is fun. And winning is even more fun. Whether playing online or live dealer poker, you’ll enjoy yourself the most whenever you win a sizeable bet from a good hand. But how do you make absolutely sure that good hands turn into great hands, with profits to match? We’ll look at a few of the key ideas below.
As discussed in the early part of this article, there is a strong psychological element to poker. A lot of this is about managing the expectations of your opponents. If you bet small all the time, and only bet high when you have a strong hand, other players will figure this out . To keep opponents on their toes, try to stick to your pre-flop raise amounts. Rookie players tend to go into extremes with their bets – betting very high or very low on good hands. Your opponents will be wary of sudden behaviours, so these are both bad ways to manage yourself. The key is to look inconspicuous with both good and bad hands, so that more players remain in the game and raise the pot. You can use those techniques in certain situations. If you face a player who always raises, it can be good to disguise your strong hand with a weak bet. In such cases you will need to play with your wits about you. Other players are dynamic and will need dynamic solutions.
2. Be aware of your perception to other players
Clarifying from the previous point, you should be aware of how your actions look to other players. Veteran players have seen every technique in the book. Even casual players can be very observant. You want to seem casual at the table. Don’t play emotionally with sudden bets, and when you adjust your bets sizes, do so cautiously. Your opponents are aware that there is a psychological element to the game. You need to manage their perception of you in response to that. Masterful poker players are capable of adjusting their strategy with subtlety. When they do, other players will have no idea that they’ve shifted around.
3. Assimilate your behaviour to other players
Your behaviour should draw from the behaviour of the other players at the table. Say you’ve received a strong hand whose value you want to maximise. Some players are bluffers who will pay into the pot, regardless of the strength of their hand. Let these players continue to build up the pot without alarming them. Other players have conservative strategies, like ‘calling station’ players. These people play a straight-and-narrow game without many raises at all. In such a case, you may want to make a sudden aggressive move to intimidate them.
You will never know for sure if yours is the strongest hand on the table (with one or two exceptions). This is where your ability to track your opponents will become critical. Can your two pair beat the other hands on the table? How about a nut flush? For these hands, you must play according to the behaviour of the other players. When they had strong hands, how did they behave? Many players fail to conceal their habits for strong and weak hands. Once you have figured out these tendencies, you’re well on your way to maximising the value of any hand.
A typical idea of a poker game might bring to mind images of players with sunglasses to conceal their gaze. Or gum-chewers whose mouths are too busy to smile or frown. Because of this, many would assume that online poker has less bluffing. This is a dire misunderstanding to have! When playing online poker, you deceive other players with your bets and hands themselves. Imagine that the importance of these elements is magnified in the online space. Other players will be watching you as close as they would in person. Make sure that you keep them guessing by stealing pots and betting in spite of your hand. Deception is a massive part of playing online poker, like live casino dealer poker.
Semi-bluffing is another technique that is what it sounds like. You have a decent hand – say, a low two-pair – and you bet as though you have a stronger hand than that. The idea is that you are projecting an image of confidence. In reality, you are hoping for a better hand once all the cards are out. The original hand stands a chance of winning, but not a very high one.
You semi-bluff this hand by utilising selective aggression. Sudden aggression can be a sign of inexperienced players. It is also a tactic of well-seasoned players. Your chances to win improve with a well placed semi-bluff. Conservative players will find your sudden increased bets intimidating. Aggressive players, instead, may overestimate the strength of your bluff. Both kinds of players are placed into an uncertain position by a bet like this. It is one of the strongest techniques to have in your arsenal, but you must be careful not to use it too often.
You gain more by bluffing against veteran players than casual ones. Advanced players have many assumptions which they use to profile their opponents. Bluffing is an excellent way to subvert these assumptions. By extension, people often say not to bluff against casual players. This is because they have far fewer assumptions about your habits. It is true that casual players have less understanding of the tactics of other players, of course. But that does not mean that they should never be bluffed. Across live poker and online poker, casual players tend to call a lot of bets. This makes it easier to determine when they have strong hands and when they don’t. Watch for when their calling habits change suddenly. You can bluff through situations like this. Casual players’ mindsets may be too rigid to expect your deception.
An example of how casual players may reveal themselves is with a ‘donk’ or donkey bet. Casual players may choose to make a donk bet when their chances of winning are low, but they intend to bet against the aggressor. If you identify a donk bet from a weaker player, you can raise once more. They may or may not check you at that point. If they don’t, that’s good news. If they do, you can hold in. But if they continue to donk bet against you, you may want to consider your position. A donk bet with a weaker hand like a two-pair may still be enough to out-play you. Call the bets when you are confident, but don’t get yourself deep into a pot on your own bluff, either.
Table image is the crowning incarnation of all our talk about tactics and strategies. Simply put, it’s the interpretation that the other players have of you and your playing profile. Table image is as important in online poker as it is in live poker. You want to enter into any poker game aware of this concept, and play with it in mind. Other players are building a profile on you, like you are on them. Your plays should impact their ideas of you while the game progresses.
So how does table image manifest in online poker? We’ve already discussed the way that it looks in live poker, but online poker lacks details like facial expressions and body language. The basic way to look at it is as a matter of pattern recognition. In this example, let’s assume that you have played 50 hands across one hour with opponents who do not know you. How has the game shaped your table image so far?
At 50 hands, you’ve started to form some general ideas about others’ playing styles. There’s usually the rock,a player who keeps quiet and plays straight, without much flash. There are maniacswho control the pace of the game with big bets and dramatic plays. Between that there are many players whose styles may lean in one direction or another. There conservative betters and liberal ones, bluffers and not. You can observe these players better by utilising a heads-up display (HUD). These are a way to track the habits of other players. Their names and their bets, the hands they end up with. This will help you establish your own table image of them.
The most experienced online poker players rely on their HUD to track their opponents. HUDs can be chosen by the player themselves, and they come in many varieties. The one thing that you must have in a HUD is to have a correct Voluntary Put Money In Pot/Pre-Flop Raise Percentage/Aggression Factor (VPIP/PFR/AF). These are the core statistics about your habits and play. It will inform other players of how to deal with you.
The lack of visual information in online poker is actually a point to your advantage. Because players are not building a table image of you based on superficial information, they are forced to act based on the information of their HUD. Yet, even the 50 hands which we are basing this situation on are not enough to analyse a player’s habits. If you are a player who plays between Loose-Aggressive (LAG) and Tight-Aggressive (TAG), but received poor cards, you may have folded far more often than you like to during those 50 hands.
It would look to other players that you are cautious, unwilling to commit to weak hands. Or that you are unwilling to bluff to win with decent or outright weak hands. This has created a false table image for you, with no extra effort required on your part. You can then shift into aggressive play. Bluff into your hands and play what you would have folded. Players will be unsure of how to interpret this sudden aggression. That allows you to sweep through pots as the opponents attempt to form a new table image of you. During this period of surprise, you can advance your bankroll. This is the time to clear through a deficit and profit.
The tactic discussed at the end of the last section is part of a greater strategy that we will call “mixing your game.” Players will tend to settle into an idea of you as either a strong player, whose tactics yield them a lot of wins. Or a weak player who folds against bad odds. Regardless of which one you end up with, this is a good time to start mixing up your game. Increase your VPIP/PFR and tighten or loosen your plays. This will leave other players reeling. They will struggle to solidify their idea of your real play style.
If you have been playing a very tight game, shift into a loose image by playing some cheap bluffs. If you pull them off, then you’ve already begun to shift your table image away from the tight player you were seen as before. If the bluffs fall through, you may be seen as a weaker player – a loose fish. The loss of respect that follows may cause players to take aggressive actions against you. It can be tricky and harmful to attempt this switch-up, but it is useful as players filter in and out of the game. The important thing to remember is that the table image is a shifting thing, prone to changing after a few hands. You use this to your advantage.
Once your image shifts from tight to loose, you can wait for an excellent hand. The people who think that you are a loose fish will call and raise against your aggressive play, allowing you to sweep in with your great hand and clean out. The shifting playing field of poker will require constant adjustments. The longer a game goes on, the more adjustments you’ll have to make and keep track of.
Let’s tie this back together by returning to our 50-hand analogy. You have played the first 50 very tight, gaining the table image of a solid and capable player. Then you switch and play loose for another 50. Watchful players who observed for the duration will conclude that you are a TAG-LAG generalist whose mindset shifts with the cards. Their HUDs, however, will not be able to analyse that you are mixing your game. The false image that you have presented is beyond the scope of their information. That false image is critical to your success in the next 50 hands.
In this way, the game of poker is happening on two levels. As you are dealt cards, you are dealt a variety of situations which you must respond to. There are short-term and long-term implications to consider. From your table image, to the strategy of each given hand. The best poker players can consider all this while they watch their opponents. Your poker strategies will be the tools that guide you through these situations. Once you can get through the bad hands, you can move onward to victory.