Poker Strategies

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Why you need them

poker table

Most people want to win at every game they play because that is the main goal of competition. But while luck will almost always be the most important factor in deciding who gets the big win, strategies can help maximise the chances of success. In poker, that is what tells apart the professionals from the amateurs. The more experience you get, the more opportunities you have to put your poker strategies into action, seeing how each player responds to what you do and the way you play.

It might be that at first your poker strategies might be quite limited but you soon learn how to mould your style to get that elusive winning streak. Poker strategies take different forms too. Psychological analysis of each player will reveal certain tendencies which you can then exploit with some basic probability techniques. These skills come in handy from the moment you take up poker straight through to professional level. In fact, the more you progress the greater the need to put these poker strategies into action to outdo the strategies of others.

Getting started on strategies

As you delve into the world of live casino online or live poker being aware of the players you have most interaction with at the beginning is crucial. The ones who are playing before and after you are those who are most affected by your moves so it is them you need to observe, judging their playing style and acting accordingly. The easiest trends to spot are how conservative or carefree they are with their betting. If they always seem to be going the whole way and betting aggressively each time then you can call them a few times to test them out. They can’t have aces each time, so finding out what they do when you raise them can bring their bluffing to light.

When you sit at a virtual table it is important to know that your position in relation to the dealer can alter the poker strategies to use. It might be easy to ignore this simple reality but having the dealer button before you means you will have the final word on the betting. The further right you go from the button the less you will know about how players are acting before you, meaning you will have less influence on the course of the game. In this light, the small blind will have the least control of the direction of the game.

Making it at Live Poker

poker strategies

One of the best variants to start putting these ideas into action is Live Poker Hold’em. Rather than leave the result to chance, increase your game satisfaction and the chances of acquiring hard cash by putting these basic poker strategies into action.

Increase your winnings

The less the company wins over each time you gamble, the more you will keep. Using suitable poker strategies can decrease the house edge to less than one percent in a live Texas Hold’em game. The maths in this respect might be a bit complicated at first, but soon enough making these basic calculations will become second nature.

Make practical choices

While it’s important to know when to give in, there are some basic guidelines to know when not to fold. There are some combinations that should be taken forward and betted on regardless. These include a sequence of numbered cards where you are missing one to complete a straight or where there are possibilities of getting a flush as they are all of the same suit. An Ace or King, a pair or high hands with Queens or Jacks are other ones to treasure. Only concede when your hand has nothing at all in connection with the community cards.

Win more

This is one of the side bet scenarios and how to play it, 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%

Live Hold’em offers little leeway in getting a sure win. The AA+, however, gives the opportunity to win a side bet once the flop is dealt, proportional to the value of your cards. The amount of cash you get increases if you have higher scoring combinations like a Straight Flush or Royal Flush.

Start-up rewards

Making the most of the online casino bonus is important and for the one offered in live Hold’em this is no different. A bonus is often offered at the moment you make a deposit where your bet is matched by a sum equal to €100 or less. As soon as you go through the formalities you can use the bonus.

Manage your cash

bankroll management

Bankroll management (the amount of credit reserved for poker) might sound trivial, especially if you’re just starting up. But it has been proven that the more you take care of this aspect of the game, the more fun you can have playing online or live poker. Bankroll management will help you concentrate on the games at hand so you can execute your poker strategies without hindrance.

In effect, your poker bankroll needs to be kept separate from your personal cash so you know how much you can play each month. You need to make sure you know what you’re doing so you don’t get carried away and blow it all away on one game. For example, if you put €500 into a single bet because you think you are onto a winner, it could be disastrous to then lose it all in one go. The key to handling poker ‘variances’ is to ensure those situations in a game or styles of play do not create bankroll swings up or down. We have listed a number of bankroll tips to help you on your way regardless of your level in online or live poker player:

  • The casual player

Playing occasionally usually makes losing your funds less of a problem. The average amount of buy-ins (fees paid for tournaments) is about ten. However, taking care how much you spend is still important if you want to keep yourself feeling financially comfortable in the long run.

  • The amateur

Once it gets more serious, a bigger amount of bankroll is required as there more twists and turns that could occur. Making sure that you stay within your budget is important if you don’t want to go back to square one with the strictest restrictions on your betting.

  • The professional

At this level, the only way of maintaining the bankroll at a decent level is playing poker. Keeping your head above water could be the difference between making or breaking it as a player. Disregarding the bankroll would inevitably lead to some dire consequences, which highlights its importance within the top poker strategies all the more more.

Table: Guide to managing the bankroll

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

As you can see from the table, all the different levels of poker playing derive their own costs and threats to the bankroll. Depending on that, players will devise poker strategies to ensure they keep within their bankroll. One of those is knowing when to quit, as this is often difficult when you’re on a roll. Losing it all can happen to anyone too. You just have to look at Stu Ungar, arguably the best poker player of all time, who lost 30 million dollars after winning three World Series!

Keep a steady head

While the best advice is to keep within your own bankroll, it is always good to take risks occasionally by going over your bankroll limits. Doing this will help see how you perform under a different type of pressure. Just make sure it is a well thought out decision though, so you can still play at the same levels as before but with the possibilities of winning bigger.

A good way to keep within your budget is having a stop-loss limit. Just see how you are going as time progresses to work out where yours is. Say you make 10 buy-ins at €50 each. If you lose all of them with no pot wins, halve that number. Only when you feel secure enough can you push on forward.

You must realise that it is a two-sided sword though, as the opportunity to win big will have to be counteracted by the distinct of possibility of losing more too. The dent in your bankroll will hurt more if it does all go pear-shaped.

Poker variance is as unpredictable as in any sport, and this can drag you down at times. Putting the bankroll first is the foundation to becoming a better player as you will be able to get up from any fall quickly and start pushing towards the big time. Being self-aware and knowing to crawl before you can walk is one of the poker strategies that will ensure you have fun without going into the red.

Make the most of a big hand

 poker strong hand

We all want that winning sensation as much as possible. Making the most of a hand of good cards is one of the best poker strategies to help you win more often than not. Keep these tips handy next time you’re in the thick of it:

1. Raise often

The tendency is always there to try to bluff the other players into thinking you have a lower hand than you have when you have kings or aces. One of the ways that this can be done is by calling the small blind at the beginning to trick opponents, known as ‘limping in’. However, this could backfire so it is best to continue laying down similar raises before the flop as if nothing had changed. As you can never be sure what the opposition has up their sleeve, the best poker strategies focus on ensuring the pot keeps going up when you have a good hand. The only occasion when you could stop betting on a good hand is when you observe a player is raising all the time regardless. However, that is quite rare on the whole.

2. How do others see you?

When you get a strong hand your eyes might light up and you will be tempted to play differently to what you normally do. But this could raise the alarm bells in the heads of your players, who will become aware of this shift. This is where the psychology of poker comes in and you need to bluff the others into thinking this is just any other hand. Going from being aggressive to passive, or vice-versa, is never a good idea. Realising this could trigger your downfall is key to making the most of the good fortune you might get.

3. Learn to react to what others are doing

Just as other players will respond when you change the way you play, so you must make the most of their weaknesses. Observation of the styles they employ is an ever present in poker, like in any other game. When you cannot see their faces, it is even more important to act in a way which will give you maximum gain from a strong hand. If everyone likes to call the cards after each round make sure you are aggressive in response. But if you see that they are always raising, let them the increase the pot themselves before revealing your hand.

The best poker strategies take into account that while you are likely to win the game with your hand, it might not turn out that way. Top flushes, three of a kind and double pairs tend to be the most deceiving in this respect. Once again, leaving the excitement behind of your own expectation and coldly examining the way the other players are going about their business is essential. If you get the inkling someone has a better hand than you, folding is always as much of an option with a good hand as with a bad one.

To bluff or not to bluff

poker bluffing

No poker strategies are complete without a cheeky bluff now and again. Even the most passive players need to learn when to bluff, or they will fall behind to those who can do it successfully. Although it can backfire, winning a pot by fooling your opponents can be satisfying and in the long run profitable. Don’t overdo it though, as it can become noticeable over a number of games. If the others cotton on to it, you can come straight back to earth with a nasty bruise to your bankroll.

Bluff with a backup plan

There might be a situation where you have a hand that could come good when certain cards come up in the following rounds. This could be an opportunity to make a semi-bluff, raising big to make other think you have a great hand with a back-up plan in case that plan fails. Incomplete flushes and straights are the best cards to play with a semi-bluff.

When playing online or live poker, the top players have found that being aggressive now and again really helps win matches. Semi-bluffing is one of the poker strategies that does just that, hoping other players will fall for the trick and fold. Even if this doesn’t convince others to give up there is still a chance that the dealer will save your day with that card you need. Semi-bluffing is a skill which improves with experience and analysis of the meta-game, but you need to know not to get over-confident either. If you start semi-bluffing when there is little to no chance of getting a good hand at the showdown too often you will get caught out.

Casual player handling

Funnily enough, a bluff works best against higher level opponents, especially with lower hands from three to eight. Against casual players it doesn’t work that well, as they tend to call you out more often than not. Of course, don’t hold back if through your analysis of the meta-game you see moments where a bluff will work. These opportunities don’t come all the time so you need to be able to win the pot with a bluff even against sporadic players. As you put your poker strategies into action, you will soon be able to identify when a casual player does not have the cards to call your bluff.

There are a number of clues to look out for when you’re trying to spot casual players. One hint is that they bet small at the beginning. Another is a ‘donk bet’, that indicates they aren’t so confident of their cards. This out of turn, irregular bet will normally reveal that there is not much chance of getting a high scoring combination and a bigger raise will often get you the pot. You probably guessed that ‘donk’ is short for donkey for a reason!

Even if the casual player does call you, it is unlikely they will have the possibility of getting the card they need in the next round. The important thing is to continue following the momentum of the bluff so that they get the niggling feeling they will lose and eventually fold. However, if that same player goes for a similar move in later hands it is likely they have at least a pair. In this case don’t bluff, only calling it if you do indeed have a potentially winning hand.

Table image is everything

 live poker tips

The psychological aspect of online poker is one of the most important to cultivate. Although you start to get the gist of this with time spent on the table, the image you give is really vital to the poker strategies others use against you. In the same way as you can define a casual player by certain characteristics, so players on your table will treat you according to how you act under pressure.

Tool up – use a HUD

If anyone has ever played poker in the original casino you would have realised table image is decided far more than just playing style. On the table it is harder to understand your opposition so until that technology arrives, the way to define you will be by the moves you make. That will be decided by the 75 hands that might have been dealt to you in an hour with a group of strangers.

The roles that each of the personalities play will be reflected in their play. Those who act without thinking very logically can be labelled ‘maniacs’, although they will dictate the narrative of the game. The counterpoint to this will be ‘the rock’, who sits in the background, calculating and responding to each of these variances with unmoved ease. Fortunately, new tools like a heads-up display (HUD) will automatically sort out these poker personas for you.

While it is easy to disregard the HUD as an unnecessary complication, you need to be aware that long-term players depend on them implicitly. This tool will help analyse a number of values for each player so you know you how to react. The Voluntary Put Money in Pot (VPIP), Pre-Flop Raise Percentage (PFR) and Aggression Factor (AF) will measure in percentages and figures how everyone is playing.

In the same way as your opponents will learn to read your table image by this analysis, you can turn this against them. In the 75-hand game, for example, you could start to revise the poker style you used during that time. This might have been defined by factors beyond your own control too, like getting generally bad hands that made you give in far too much. Looking back you can modify your reaction to these figures going forward.

If you folded a number of times opponents might decide that you are a careful better who only raises when dealt a winning hand. So, how can you amend that perception? Perhaps take more risks, bluffing your way onwards even with cards you feel are uncomfortable to play. Try to raise before the flop, forcing the majority of players to fold on the assumption you have a big hand. This will change your table image considerably and win you respect.

Mix it up

Getting a reputation for being tight on the table might conjure up the table image from the very beginning of being experienced and worthy of respect. But you don’t want to be easily read by those on the table so try to loosen up and raise your VPIP and PFR percentages. This will make you less predictable, and the opposition will no longer be able to guess what you will do next.

Changing from tight to loose is risky but can be advantageous if you want to rid yourself of labels. Mixing your game in this way is achieved by bluffing when others expect you to check or call. It is true that you could be discovered, which will impoverish your table image. But the great thing about online poker is that you can polish that metamorphosis until you perfect it. They will eventually leave the table and others will get on who will now see you as the loose player you have become, helping you to experiment further.

Now all you need are those cards which can win you the pot. The way others perceive you will be that you’re bluffing the whole way and raise you further. Your aggressiveness will be perceived as being manic when in fact you are just acting it out. Then your opponents add to a big pot which you can then take all the way to the bank and the joke is on them!

What we are saying is that figures can be manipulated to trick the other players. If half your time on that table was spent betting tight and the other loose, you will be seen to have a tight-to-loose aggressive poker style. It will be difficult for the HUD to pick up on this, giving you the surprise factor that makes you unplayable.

The power of poker strategies are their ability to confound those on your table. But be aware that how effective they are will always depend on the other players’ faculties too. Some will start to read your reactions more than others, forcing you to alter your table image constantly so you can stay in the driving seat. This is of course not a problem if you play live casino poker online.