Just like in life, if a person does not have a game plan or a strategy on how to play they will be less likely to succeed in both life and while playing poker. Whether it is playing for fun, playing at regular cash tables or if a player has joined a big tournament, they should always have a poker strategy for winning. There are various different types of poker games, such as Texas Hold’em, Omaha, and Seven Card Stud within several others, and they are some of the more popular ones; however there is also H.O.R.S.E., Razz, Draw, and Stud, as well as Hi/Low variants which are some of the lesser known and played poker games. As each has their unique style of playing, and have different rules of how to play and win, poker strategies should have these differences in mind when being applied. There are a few concepts that will allow a player to better formulate a strategy to playing poker, whether it is Texas Hold’em or Omaha. These concepts include the Odds, Deception, Position, Calling and Raising, and personal and other players’ playing personalities.
Pot and Player’s Odds
Playing poker is all about knowing the odds, both the pot odds and the player’s odds. Pot odds refers to how much initial money is needed to be bet by a player in order to receive a larger amount; if a player needs to bet $10 in order to win a pot of $50, the odds are 5-to-1. The poker player’s odds are the chances a player has of winning; it is preferable that the player’s poker odds be better than the pot odds. If the player’s odds and the pot odds are the same, it is essential saying that a player will break even; both odds are 4-yo-1, which means it will take a player four turns to win, and will win four times his bet, making it break even. By knowing what odds a player has can be a great way to see whether or not there is a chance to gain a profit from playing.
Deception, Bluffing and Tells
Everyone knows that there is a high level of deception when playing poker, such as bluffs and tells. Bluffs are when players lie about what they truly have in their hand and a tell are actions, most of the time unconscious, that give away a player’s emotions; if a player has a good hand they tend to smirk, while a bad hand gets a slight frown. This is why it is important to be able to deceive an opponent, and why so many professional poker players have become accustomed to not showing any emotions during a hand. When a player shows a lot of emotion, usually when losing a hand, it is called Tilting. Learning to control one’s own emotions, as well as reading others’ is a great poker strategy. Observing opponents and being quick to react are needed in order to accomplish this.
Position is basically where the player is seated at the table. If a player is seated in an earlier position, they tend to need stronger hands to bet/raise; this is not necessarily a bad thing, it just means slower gameplay. The players in the later position have an advantage, they can see how the other players react and play like before they have to make a decision, which vastly increases their odds of winning, even with less than favorable cards. As a player’s position improves so does their chances at getting better hands. Using this information about positioning is of great importance for any player that wishes to win and continue winning.
Calling and Raising
Calling and raising is a tricky part of poker strategy and must be done carefully; it goes hand in hand with deceiving. There are various reasons to call, some of which are to see more cards, to limit loss, to hide card strength, and to set up a bluff in a later round of betting. In order to see the Flop, Turn, or River after a round of positive betting, where no one checks, a player needs to call. Hiding the card strength and setting up a bluff are great ways to deceive opponents, either by drawing them in to bet more money or by them doubting what kinds of cards are being held.
Usually a player raises because they have a great poker hand and want to increase the amount in the pot, to get rid of players with bad hands, to bluff, and to gain information. Going back to calling to set-up a bluff, the last round of betting is usually when a player with that poker strategy will raise, trying to bluff their opponents into thinking that they have a great hand and have been waiting. Raising can also tell a player a lot about their opponents; the player can determine if they have strong or weak hands. Calling and raising at the right times can help a player win regardless of what hand they hold, however the risk is still high.
There are four general ways to playing poker, and they are split up into two groups. There are those that play in either a tight or a loose manner, as well as those that play aggressively or passively. Tight players tend to fold more often, hoping for a strong hand further on, while a loose player tends to keep going, even with weaker hands. These traits can be taken advantage of, such with tight players, where bluffs are more effective because they tend to fold more often. Whereas with loose players hands can be kept going even with lower ranking cards. The aggressive players tend to raise and bet more often, and passive players simply call or check more often. Depending on what traits a player exhibits, exploiting the weaknesses of each is a great poker strategy.