Poker Strategies

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Introduction

Some people argue that poker is about luck and that there is no such thing as poker strategies. However, experienced players will tell you that that isn’t the case at all. While luck certainly has a role to play, strategies is very much a part of the poker game. Yes, luck has a stronger role to play in the short-term, but it’s those who learn poker strategies who are successful in the long run. So if you want to be successful in online and live poker, you can’t rely on beginners luck.

Poker may be easy to learn, but you’ll need to put in the work if you’re to master it. There’s a vast amount of poker strategies involved that will see you exercise your deception psychology and maths skills. Of course, you only need to be better at tactics than those you’re playing against, but the further you go in your poker career, the better quality of player you will come up against, and the more poker strategies you will need.

Strategies for Beginners

Strategies are always situational in online and live poker, and so you always need to pay attention to the other players on the table. That might be difficult as a beginner who is trying to concentrate on their own hand, so try starting small, such as keeping tabs on the player to your right, and then to the two players to your left, as these players are the ones you will most likely share action with. Figure out if they’re passive or aggressive. Is one playing almost every hand? If so, he can’t have a pair of Aces every time, so call him more, and even raise him on occasion to see how he reacts.

Position is a very important aspect of online and live poker, and one that new players often tend to overlook. When the dealer button is in front of you, you are in a better position than anyone else at the table because you will act last for the remainder of the pot, and so will know what every other player has decided to do. The second best position is the one to the right of the button, and so on, until we reach the small blind.

Live Poker Tips

Live poker Hold’em is easy to get to grips with and can result in a decent return for the player. By learning decent live poker strategies, players can both have fun and win money at the same time.  Here are a few poker strategies and tips to bear in mind when playing live poker.

House edge

You can reduce the house edge to 0.82% if you use an optimal playing strategy for live dealer Texas Hold’em. At first, you will likely find yourself needing to use an online calculator to work out which strategy to use, but in time, you’ll be able to make decisions without it.

The right decisions

You should generally avoid folding hands with an open-ended straight draw, a flush draw, a King or Ace high, or a pair. You should also never fold a hand with a gutshot straight draw or a Q high hand. The same goes for a J high hand. You should, however, fold a hand with very low cards with no connection to what’s on the board.

Side bets

Table: AA+ Pay Tables

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%

There aren’t a great deal of options when it comes to live Hold’em. One that can sometimes be made, however, is the AA+. The amount that it pays out is dependent upon the value of your hand once the flop has been dealt. Your payout would be higher if you had a decent hand value combined with the flop, such as a Straight Flush or a Royal Flush.

Bonuses

When a casino offers a bonus with live Hold’em, it will give you a boost while you’re getting going. Generally, a deposit equates to a cash bonus. For example, you might see a matched bonus of up to £100. To make the most of this, you would deposit £100 and receive that same amount in the form of a bonus. Once you’ve met the requirements, you can withdraw your winnings.

Bankroll management

There are numerous advantages to applying strong bankroll management to online and live poker. You don’t need to constantly concern yourself with decisions over money, which will help you keep your composure and enable you to focus more on your overall poker strategies.

If you only have a short bankroll, you will feel continually pressured to build it up. This can result in tilt and frustration. Bankroll management also depends on how you play the game, the game variant, and your risk tolerance.

Managing your bankroll is all about remaining in control of the money you have in your account designated for your poker playing. If you have £400 in your account, for instance, you wouldn’t risk it all in one game if you were managing your bankroll well. If you adopted such an approach, you would be losing money at an alarming rate. Poker has numerous variances, and you have to work with those variances by applying solid bankroll management. Here are some sold bankroll management tips depending on how seriously you play online and live poker.

  • The casual player

There are very little by way of consequences should this type of player go broke. If this is you, you would only need around 10 buy-ins. Should you wish to profit as a casual player, however, you would still need to know how to manage your bankroll to give yourself a higher chance of long-term success.

  • The amateur player

The amateur player buys a larger bankroll so is open to higher consequences than the casual player. If this is you and you went broke without the ability to replace your bankroll, you might need to start over with the lowest limits.

  • The professional player

The professional player generates the majority, if not all, of his bankroll from playing online poker. If you went broke as a professional player, you would be looking at significant consequences, as it could put your line of work in danger. This is where strong bankroll management is vital as part of your poker strategies.

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

All poker players should look to manage their bankroll. If you play professionally and poker is your main, or only, source of income, your first priority should be to avoid going broke. After all, you need to pay the rent. If you’re playing recreationally, however, it might not be a big issue should you lose all the money in your account. Of course, you’ll still want to play as long as possible without having to make a deposit.

Bankroll management tips

Every now and then, you should take a chance above your current bankroll in order to improve as a poker player. When taking a chance, however, it’s important that you avoid playing “scared money” so that your mind is calm and you’re ready for the challenge ahead of you.

You should have a stop-loss limit in place. If you have a limit of five buy-ins, move down again if you lose five. If you have succeeded in your gamble, you can begin to progressively take more chances at that limit.

Of course, there’a always risk involved when you take a chance, as you go into a higher level earlier than would be allowed with standard bankroll management. And if fails to work out, it would have a greater impact on your bankroll.

Even the very best players in the game suffer from losing streaks and experience the occasional negative variance. If you are led by your bankroll, you’ll survive the setbacks and continue to move up in stakes, as well as improve as a player. Apply some patience and work up gradually by making strong bankroll management a key part of your poker strategies.

Getting Maximum Value from a Strong Hand

 

It’s always a great feeling to win at poker. Being consistently successful at online and live dealer poker, however, is largely determined by getting as much value as possible from your best hands. With that in mind, here are a few things for you to know.

1. Do raise

Firstly, you’ll want to throw off your opponents and avoid being predictable when looking to gain the best value from a strong hand. The very best way to achieve this is by sticking to the same pre-flop raise sizes. Some players limp in with good hands to avoid giving away the fact that they’re holding strong cards. However, this is rarely the best move, and you should avoid adding this to your collection of poker strategies. Your fellow players might not put you on for kings for aces, or example, but you won’t know what they have. You’d be creating a higher chance of more people remaining in the hand, which can make for a harder game to play post-flop. Also, you’re keeping the pot lower compared to a raise, while you’d want a higher pot at this point in the hand. While limping in with a strong hand can be advantageous if there’s at least one player behind you who consistently raises, you’d otherwise be better to raise yourself.

2. How you are perceived?

Another important factor for you to consider when seeking to maximise value from a strong hand is how you’re perceived by the table. If you’ve played loose-aggressive but then you suddenly start slow-playing, the odds are that the other players will smell something fishy. The same applies if you’re playing tight-passive and then start raising all the time. You should have an idea of how you’re perceived by your opponents and bet accordingly.

3. Adjust your behaviour according to the other players

When you’re dealt a strong hand, you should firstly look at the main thing you’re trying to achieve, which is to optimise the value you can get out of the hand. Next, it comes down to how you achieve this. The answer depends, however, on the situation. Of course, one of the more important things you need to do in poker is to keep tabs on your fellow players so you can predict how they will play. This is important in maximising the value of strong hands. If you’re playing with calling stations, then you should play aggressively. If you’re playing against bluffers, however, then you’d be wiser to let them build up the pot.

Sometimes, you might think that you’re getting the best value from a strong hand, but it could turn out that yours isn’t the best hand after all. This is often the case with a nut flush, sets, and two pairs. In this situation, you should study your fellow players first, as it will improve your decision making. Of course, knowing when you should fold is every bit as important as maximising the value of a great hand.

 

Bluffing in Online Poker

If you think there isn’t a point in bluffing in online and dealer poker, you’re giving a huge advantage to your opponents. It absolutely needs to become a part of your poker strategies. You can’t win consistently without stealing the odd pot. Of course, if you bluff too frequently, your fellow players will know and call you out.

Semi-bluffing

A semi-bluff is a bet with a hand that is unlikely the best one in the game but that instead has a chance of improving when more cards are dealt. Drawing hands, particularly flush and straight draws, are especially relevant here.

In order to win, you’ll need to be selectively aggressive, a tactic that typically pays off in the long-term. One method of being both aggressive and selective is semi-bluffing. By betting drawing hands with a good chance of improving, selective aggressive players give themselves two good chances of winning. When another player folds, the semi-bluffer takes the whole pot. Even if you’re called, there’s always a chance that your hand will improve in a subsequent betting round. You do need to be careful, however, as you don’t want to get into too much of habit with semi-bluffing that you find yourself doing it with a hand without any potential to improve. Semi-bluffing does, however, create further betting opportunities.

Bluffing casual players

If you’re betting against very experienced players, you have an increased chance of being effective by bluffing, but that’s only the case if you have such hands as 3-8. One piece of advice that has been given time and again in online and live poker is to avoid bluffing casual players. If you never bluff these players at all, however, you would be leaving potentially profitable opportunities on the table. These players call more than any other. Once you’ve figured how to read them, you’ll find it easier to pick pots when it’s clear they don’t have a hand to call you with.

One trait that makes casual players stand out is how they limp into the pot with various different hands. Typically, when they make a donk bet, it’s a good indicator that they don’t have much of a hand. Often, they will have a hand with a weak pot or a slim chance of achieving a draw. In this situation, with one simple raise, you can take the whole pot. Once you’ve connected with the flop, you should raise any donk bet with a wide range. You’ll get called sometimes, too. When you find yourself in that situation, remember that that player probably had a weak draw or a weak pair. You can still win the pot. If the draw fails to work out on the turn, and a scare card is revealed, don’t back down when they check to you. Should that player donk again, however, they have a pair, and you would be advised against bluffing. And if you have any equity, just call the bet.

Know your table image

 

Table image is an aspect of online and live poker that you’ll understand more and more with experience. However, it’s also one that’s useful to be aware of from the outset. It’s a great example of poker psychology and the important role that the mind plays in poker strategies. Essentially, your table image represents how your fellow players perceive your game.

HUD

It might be tempting to think that table image doesn’t apply to online and live poker, but that isn’t the case. To offer an example of how poker table image works in online poker, let’s say that you’ve been playing online for one hour with opponents that you’ve never played before, let’s say 50 hands in total. The difference between how you played these 50 hands and your actual playing style depends.

Typically, 50 hands would provide a good gauge of someone’s playing style. You can pick out maniacs very quickly, for example, as they will be the ones who dictate much of the action. Then there’s the rock who will attract very little attention, although that doesn’t mean that his opponents won’t have noticed his style of play. The key lies in using a poker head-up display (HUD) that quickly profiles all players.

If you’re just starting out in online poker, you should know that more experienced players will be aware of it because the HUD always tell the truth. From the outset, you should look to have the correct Voluntary Put Money In Pot/Pre-Flop Raise Percentage/Aggression Factor (VPIP/PFR/AF), so that you don’t appear as a fish to those hungry poker sharks.

The most intriguing aspect of your table image in online poker is the degree to which you can use it to your advantage.  Going back to the example of 50 hands, if you typically play a standard poker style between Tight-Aggressive (TAG) and Loose-Aggressive (LAG), and you were mainly dealt poor cards, you may have folded a lot in that particular session.

Players who are unfamiliar with your style of play may assume that you are a cautious player who only plays strong hands. One way to use this table image to your advantage would be to start playing more aggressively with hands that you would typically fold. You should also increase the number of blinds you steal and try a few pre-fop raises if you don’t think that the players in front of you will cause you too much danger.

Mixing your game 

Should you have happened to have stumbled upon a tight table image, you would likely be given a lot of respect by your opponents, who will regard you as a solid player, even though they’ve yet to become familiar with your game as a whole. This is when you can change your style and start increasing your VPIP/PFR. If you play loose enough, your old table image will fade away, and your fellow players will start to doubt your bets.

This is known as mixing your game. Here, you’ll want to adopt the image of a loose player. You can achieve this by trying a few cheap bluffs. Unfortunately, if you’re found out, this isn’t good news. You will be known as a loose fish and will have lost any respect or credibility gained. Your table image will have completely changed and the majority of players will have forgotten that they had perceived you as a tight player. Although, after an hour of play, many of these players will have left the table and been replaced by new ones who will have only been witness to your most recent image.

At this point, you’re waiting for a great hand. This is when your new-found table image will work in your favour. Play aggressively and the non-believers will call or raise you. This is one way to win large pots i.e. by making your opponents call your strong hands.

Let’s say the playing session went on for 100 hands and you played tight in the first 50 but loose for the remainder. The average style of these hands will seem like a typical TAG-lAG style. What the HUD won’t yet state is that you mixed your game and projected a false image with the aim of misleading your opponents.

To what degree you can use your table image depends on your opponents and how observant they are. All players are observant to some degree, however, so your table image is something you should constantly be aware of within your pocket of poker strategies.