Poker Strategies

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Why use a strategy?

Undoubtedly, there is an element of luck in playing poker, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t things you can do to increase your odds. These strategies are what separates the seasoned player from the amateur. Through experience, players can refine their strategy and learn to read players to give them an edge.
Reading players is a psychological strategy where an opponent may unknowingly send subtle queues that provide valuable information on their hand. Combine that with an understanding of basic probabilities, and you may be able to get an edge.

When you first start playing poker, you may be short on strategy, which can feel a little constricting. Still, after some time playing, you’ll begin to develop and adapt your strategy. With practice, you may find that your strategy can result in winning streaks. Opponents are also continuously working on their strategy, making it even more critical for you to work on yours to stay one step ahead.

Poker

Strategies: Getting Started

It’s in your interest to cultivate a familiarity as soon as possible with the players you most interact with when playing live poker at a live casino like the one here at Mr Green. Try observing players that may already be at the table, as well as those who come after you. Watch their style of play as you will need to adapt your strategy. For example, one of the most identifiable character traits is their tendency to make either conservative or aggressive bets. An aggressive player will have a higher than average tendency to go ‘all in.’ If you think they fit this profile, then you can test your observations by calling them a few times. The goal is to observe their reaction under different scenarios, such as when they’ve been caught bluffing. After all, it’s impossible to hold four aces all the time.

When playing live casino poker, keep in mind that your seat at the table relative to the dealer will affect your strategy. Some players fail to consider that having the dealer button ahead of you means that you may have the final say when making bets.

As you shift more towards the right, the further away you get from the button and so the less you’ll be able to observe player reactions ahead of you. The impact of this will be to decrease your ability to affect the game’s direction. Players immediately to the left of the dealer, called the small blind, will be at the most significant disadvantage with the least ability to control the game’s direction.

Putting Live Poker Theory into Practice

poker strategies

Live Poker Hold’em is a leading variant for players looking to put theory into practice. Unless you’re determined to surrender the outcome entirely to chance, this variant is an exciting game to try. It will increase your odds of winning cash when you employ basic poker techniques.

Boosting your Returns

Throughout your gambling experience, common sense dictates that the less the house wins, the more money stays in your pocket. As there are poker strategies available that cut down on the house edge to as low as 1%, it only makes sense to use them. An example includes Live Texas Hold’em. Although you might find the mathematics behind the probabilities a little overwhelming at first, after some time, they’ll become intuitive.

Making the correct Strategic Decisions

In poker, it’s essential to know when and when not to fold your hand. There are some practical guidelines to help you determine the proper action to take. Some combinations of cards are automatic givens that you should play them. This is true in sequences of cards missing a single card to complete a hand, such as a flush or royal flush. High-value cards such as the King, Ace, a pair of Queens or Jacks are coveted cards. You should only fold if none of your cards can work together when combines with community cards.

Side Bet

The AA+ table below presents the side bet situations that you may encounter and the course of action to take:

Hand Pay Table 1 Pay Table 2 Pay Table 3
Royal Flush 25 100 100
Straight Flush 25 50 50
4 of a Kind 25 40 40
Full House 25 30 30
Flush 25 20 20
Straight 7 7 10
Three of a Kind 7 7 7
Two Pairs 7 7 7
Pair of Aces 7 7 7
House Edge 6.40% 6.26% 2.97%

Since there is no such thing as a sure win in Live Hold’em, the AA+ is a side bet offering you a chance to win in proportion to your card values after the flop has been dealt. Your cash winnings grow as your combination value grows with the highest winnings coming from a royal flush, followed by a straight flush.

Cash Management

bankroll management

Never underestimate the importance of managing your bankroll when playing online poker or live poker. Some players assign a low priority, failing to consider the impact on their concentration and level of enjoyment. Players who don’t take care of this side of the game run the risk of running into obstacles when trying to implement their strategy.

When we talk about bankroll management, what we really mean is the amount of funds you can afford to set aside monthly to play. Make sure that you don’t get impulsive and start taking reckless actions where you can lose everything in a single game. Consider, for example, a situation where you bet $500 on a single game because of a conviction that you are onto a sure thing. Since only taxes and death are sure things, what would happen if you’re wrong and lose it all? You’d probably not feel like you got your money’s worth. The ideal scenario is to avoid violent bankroll swings in either the up or down direction. Here at Mr Green, you’ll find tips on how to manage your bankroll regardless of your level:

  • Casual player

If you’re an occasional player, then the danger of frequently losing money is not so much an issue for you. Buy-in costs (i.e., tournament fees) amounts to about $10. You’ll still want to manage the total size of the money spent to ensure your financial stability beyond the short term.

  • Amateur players

Amateur players play more frequently than casual players requiring a bigger bankroll as you’ll likely go through more ups and downs. Stick to budget to maximize your enjoyment and avoid having to place tighter limits on your bets.

  • Professional players

When you reach this level, playing poker becomes the best way at bankroll management. Staying afloat can be what separates players that sink from those that swim. Players that fail to manage their bankroll correctly will crash, which reinforces the importance of managing your bankroll in combination with a poker strategy.

Table: Bankroll management guide

Limit Buy-in Casual player buy-in Amateur player Professional player
€0.02/0.05 €5 €50 €100 €250
€0.05/0.010 €10 €100 €200 €500
€0.10/0.25 €25 €250 €500 €1,250
€0.25/0.50 €50 €500 €1,000 €2,500
€0.50/1.00 €100 €1,000 €2,000 €5,000

The table above displays the limits by the player’s poker level. Players need to incorporate these limits into their betting strategy to manage their bankroll. Recognizing when to quit is important as it can be difficult, especially when on a winning streak. Everyone loses at some point, and if you don’t want to take our word for it, then look up Stu Ungar. He is arguably regarded as being the best poker player of all time. However, he still managed to lose $30 million despite winning three World Series.

Keeping a steady hand
If we could give you some advice, it would be not to go outside of your bankroll. Still, we don’t completely rule out taking the odd chance by exceeding your bankroll limits when an opportunity presents itself. Playing for higher stakes can mean bigger wins but also more significant losses, so make sure that you’re confident with your decision. You’ll also be able to judge how well you can perform under pressure.

A stop-loss limit is an effective way of sticking to a budget. You may not necessarily know where that level is at first, so you’ll need to find that out by playing. For example, if you make 5 buy-ins at $100 each and lose all of them, take half of that number. You need to be comfortable before proceeding.

While increasing your bet side will also increase the payout potential, it also means that the potential loss is greater when things don’t go right.

The variance of poker can be as unpredictable as any other sport, which can, at times, drag you down. If you want to become a better player, it starts by prioritizing your bankroll. When you stumble, you’ll be able to pick yourself up quickly and forge ahead. Be honest with yourself and take baby steps when it comes to poker strategies so that you have a fun experience without losing your shirt.

Maximizing your Big Hand

 poker strong hand

There isn’t a poker player alive that doesn’t want to experience the thrill of a big win. You can help yourself to reach that objective by optimizing your hand as part of your strategy. We’ve got some recommendations for the next time that you find yourself in this situation.

  • Raise frequently
    Most players try to bluff their opponents into believing that their hand is weaker than it is, when the truth is you’re holding a great hand. With this in mind, one strategy called ‘limping in’ at the start of the game involves calling the small blind. This strategy does not work all the time and can work against, so your best bet is to continue raising similarly before the flop as if the situation is unchanged. You can’t predict what the competition is holding, so when you have a great hand, then your best strategy would be to help keep the pot rising. If a player is continuously raising, which doesn’t happen often, you may want to rethink continuing to bet as they may know something you don’t.
  • How others read you
    It’s common to react to a strong hand involuntarily. Perhaps it’s a facial expression. Regardless, the temptation may be to change something that you’ve been doing that other players may pick up on, causing them to change their strategy. As you may have surmised, there is a psychology to the game where you need to bluff your opponents while trying to determine who is bluffing. Changing tactics from passive to aggressive, or the other way around is unwise.
  • Reacting to others’ actions
    Reacting to a player’s actions are also part of the game, and you’ll want to try to exploit any weaknesses in their game. Make mental notes of their poker style. When you cannot see the faces of your opponent, it is more critical than ever to capitalize on strong hands. When other players are calling the cards on each round, make sure that your reply is aggressive also. If they are continually raising, then allow them to grow the pot before showing your hand.

    Although you might think that your hand is likely a winner, an effective strategy is one that considers that this may not be the outcome. Three of a kind, double pairs and top flushes tend to be the most misleading. Detaching from your hand to consider the hands of your opponents is advisable and observe what other players are doing. Never rule out folding if you catch a sense that one of the other players is holding a stronger hand than you.

Bluffing and not Bluffing

poker bluffing

The game of poker would be nothing without the bluff every so often. Players that are generally passive risk being left behind in the cold to players who have perfected or at least taken their first few steps in the art. Successfully bluffing can be emotionally satisfying and financially rewarding in the long run. If you do it a little too often, then you risk other players catching on, resulting perhaps in a bruised ego and dented bankroll.

Bluff but have a Backup

You may have the potential for a great hand if a missing card or two comes up later in the rounds, raising the possibility of making a semi-bluff. Here, you could raise by a big amount to try to convince other players that you’re holding a great hand. In the meanwhile, you can try to complete your hand as a backup. For semi-bluffs, incomplete straights and flushes are the best hands to have.

The better players have found that when playing live and online poker, being aggressive can sometimes help win matches. We come back to the semi-bluffing strategy as an example that tries to trick players into folding. If this plan doesn’t pan out, then there is always the chance that you’ll be dealt that elusive card to complete your hand as your Plan B. The more you play, the better you get at the art of semi-bluffing, but it would be wise not to get cocky, as this strategy can backfire. The odds of ending up with a good hand are not good, and you’ll eventually get caught out if you try it a little too much.

Casual player handling

Interestingly, the bluff has proven to be the most effective against higher-level players, and in particular, with hands of 3-8. As casual players have a propensity to call, the strategy is least effective against this level of player. This doesn’t mean that it won’t ever work, so it’s important to do your analysis to identify opportunities to use it. Opportunities like these do not present themselves very frequently, so when a chance to win the pot arises against the odd casual player, then seize it with a good bluff. With some practice, you’ll build up an intuition to identify when an opponent is not holding a good hand.

Identifying casual players is not an impossible task, and, indeed, there are a few tell-tale signs of one. For example, casual players tend to make small bets at the start. Additionally, they may make what are called ‘donk bets,’ which would seem to suggest that they are not quite so self-confident about the hand that they’re holding. It sticks out from the norm, suggesting that the probability of a strong hand is low, and a larger raise will help clinch the pot. Incidentally, unless you haven’t figured it out, ‘donk’ is short for donkey.

If a casual player does happen to call you, the chances of them landing their missing card by the coming round is low. The trick is to be consistent with your bluff to reinforce the idea in your opponent’s head that their hand can’t beat yours. When it gets to be too much, they will likely fold. Should the player follow the same strategy as the game progresses, then they may be holding at least one pair. Under this scenario, your best course of action is to avoid the bluff and only call if you believe you have a hand that can win.

The Importance of Table Perception

live poker tips

We’ve already mentioned that poker is, in part, a game of psychology, which is why it’s important to work on improving your abilities. Improvement comes with time and practice. Remember, that just as you’re using psychology against other players, so too are they using psychology against you. Your reaction under pressure will determine how other players at the table classify you, which is really no different than how you would go about classifying a casual player.

Using a Heads-Up Display

For any experienced poker player at a land-based casino, your image is not just a function of your style of play. Online, however, players will classify you according to your poker moves because it’s next to impossible to do this any other way. Typically, it will take about an hour and, give or take, 75 hands for strangers to define you.

A players’ personality will be reflected in their style of play. If you tend to take actions that don’t seem to make much sense, then you may be considered a maniac. Interestingly, these players will influence the game’s direction. Balancing the ‘maniac’ is another type of player called ‘the rock.’ This player is seemingly cool and collected, taking these illogical moves in stride. To help you sort out different player personalities, use a new tool such as a heads-up display (HUD).

Although some players dismiss the HUD as a needlessly complex tool, long-term players have discreetly come to depend on them. The tool will tell you how to react by analyzing values for every player. The Aggression Factor (AF), Pre-Flop Raise Percentage (PFR) and The Voluntary Put Money in Pot (VPIP) quantify the performance of players percentage-wise and figure-wise.
This analysis is a two-way street, so not only can you read your opponents, but they can read you too. This analysis is subject to revisions that affect your strategy in the future. For example, it may have been skewed somewhat by an abnormally large number of poor hands, causing you to fold too often.

By folding once too often, your opponents may have concluded that you are a conservative bettor, only raising when you’re confident that you have a winning hand. So what can you do to shake that view of you? The obvious answer is to up your risk level and bluff more even if you’re not confident in your hand. Perhaps look to raise ahead of the flop, tricking most players into folding because they think you’re holding a great hand. Not only will players change their perception of you, but they’ll shower you with respect.

Changing thing up

The last thing you want is for opponents to get a read on you. We suggest that you lift your PFR percentages and VPIP. Predictability is your enemy, at least as it concerns poker. Hence, you want to shake things up to make it harder for your opponents to predict your moves, making you a tougher poker opponent.

When you flip from a tight to a loose strategy, it can increase the risk. Still, it can also come with benefits if you’re looking to shed the perception that other players have of you. Shaking things up might come in the form of bluffing when your opponents are expecting you to call or check. There is the risk that players can see through your bluff, which will have repercussions on your image. Still, one of the benefits of poker is that you have all the time in the world to perfect your game. As players at a table are frequently changing, fresh players who have never watched you in action will see you as a loose player. This scenario is the perfect opportunity to continue experimenting with your game.

The only thing left now is the elusive cards that will make you into a winner. Your opponents will peg you as a persistent bluffer and continue to raise you. The perception will be that you’re a maniac because of your aggressive play when the truth is that you’ve got them all fooled. As a result, the pot will continue to grow, and if things go right, you’ll be laughing all the way to the bank.
Effectively, what this all means is that it’s possible to distort the figures to trick players. A combined strategy of playing loose for part of the game and tight the other part will result in a perception that you’ve got an aggressive poker style that’s tight-to-loose. HUD will not pick up on this, making you all the more challenging to play against.
Poker strategies can leave opponents perplexed and unable to predict your move. Ultimately, the degree of effectiveness will come down to how good you are at fooling others and how good your opponents are at reading you. Since not all players are built equal, some players may make subtle observations, which allows them to pick up on things other players have missed. When this happens, you will need to alter your image at the table to keep ahead of the competition.

The seasoned players can continuously adapt their game to throw competitors off their trail. The last thing you want is for opponents to get a read on you. We suggest that you lift your PFR percentages and VPIP. Predictability is your enemy, at least as it concerns poker. Hence, you want to shake things up to make it harder for your opponents to predict your moves, making you a tougher poker opponent.
When you flip from a tight to a loose strategy, it can increase the risk. Still, it can also come with benefits if you’re looking to shed the perception that other players have of you. Shaking things up might come in the form of bluffing when your opponents are expecting you to call or check. There is the risk that players can see through your bluff, which will have repercussions on your image. Still, one of the benefits of poker is that you have all the time in the world to perfect your game. As players at a table are frequently changing, fresh players who have never watched you in action will see you as a loose player. This scenario is the perfect opportunity to continue experimenting with your game.
The only thing left now is the elusive cards that will make you into a winner. Your opponents will peg you as a persistent bluffer and continue to raise you. The perception will be that you’re a maniac because of your aggressive play when the truth is that you’ve got them all fooled. As a result, the pot will continue to grow, and if things go right, you’ll be laughing all the way to the bank.
Effectively, what this all means is that it’s possible to distort the figures to trick players. A combined strategy of playing loose for part of the game and tight the other part will result in a perception that you’ve got an aggressive poker style that’s tight-to-loose. HUD will not pick up on this, making you all the more challenging to play against.

Poker strategies can leave opponents perplexed and unable to predict your move. Ultimately, the degree of effectiveness will come down to how good you are at fooling others and how good your opponents are at reading you. Since not all players are built equal, some players may make subtle observations, which allows them to pick up on things other players have missed. When this happens, you will need to alter your image at the table to keep ahead of the competition.