Poker Strategy


If you’ve ever played poker before, you know that it takes a certain strategy in order to be successful, much like other card games as well as sports. With a game plan in mind, you’ll be one step ahead of your opponent and one step closer to winning.

Why is Having a Poker Strategy Important?

If you’re new to the game, you may think that you can just jump in and play it by ear. But you’ll find that playing the game with a certain strategy significantly increases your chances of being more successful in the game. Although poker is largely a game of chance, having a specific strategy can help give you a real edge against other players. It allows you to gain insight into plays and better understand various tactics of your opponent.

Poker Strategies:

Tight/Aggressive Play

One of the most popular strategies among poker players is taking the aggressive/tight route. A tight or aggressive poker player is one that does not play many hands – he or she will often only play very good starting hands. This is assumed because there is a limited set of opening hole cards that he or she will play. These types of players are very selective about both the hands that they play and the positions from which they play them. They will raise or even re-raise if the situation or their hand warrants it. After a flop, this type of player generally continues to pursue the pot without holding back.

Loose Play

On the opposite side of the spectrum, you have loose play. This is another popular strategy, but varies greatly from aggressive play. A loose player is one that plays just about any hand that he or she is dealt. These types of players jump into most pots, ready and willing to gamble. It’s sometimes hard to tell what they are holding, because it could be anything – a really good hand, or a not-so-good hand. However, passive players rarely raise and often limp into pots.

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Knowing your opponents can help predict gameplay. Different people will have different playing styles.

Tight or aggressive play is often the better option over loose or passive playing for a number of reasons. Your poker playing generally results in fewer costly mistakes because you’re sure of your hand, earning you more profit in the long run. Other players learn to avoid dealing with you because more often than not, you have great cards in your hand. This allows you to pick up pots as the other players decide to fold – helping you make profitable bluffs. However, it’s important to know when to play aggressively, and when to hold back a bit. For example, if you’re in a group with several highly tight or aggressive players, too much aggression could start arguments. But if you’re playing with passive individuals, they are likely to fold to a raise, giving you a better shot at winning.

Knowing Your Opponents

One of the best strategies is to know your opponents. If they’re known to play aggressively, it’s likely that they always have a fairly good hand. However, if they’re a more passive or loose player, they may be bluffing. Try to think about what your opponent is thinking about, and attempt to understand the decisions that they make and why they make them. Good poker players recognize that psychology is a big part of the game and that it’s important in limit games. Knowing your opponent well can also help you to tell when they’re bluffing and when they’re being truthful. Bluffing is often not a technique that is easy for beginner poker players to simply turn on and off.

Avoiding Tilt

Another strategy is being in control of your emotions, and one thing that can get in the way of that is tilt. Tilt can occur when you have a stroke of bad luck or are dealing with negative emotions during the game, which can sometimes affect the outcome by altering your decision-making skills. In other words, it’s when emotional stress takes control and causes someone to play a hand differently than how they would play a hand at the peak of their ability. In order to avoid tilt, there are several things you can do:

Be Aware of Your Emotions:

The best poker players are the ones that are in tune with their emotions and understand how they are affecting their ability to play. Give yourself a chance to get in control of these emotions, and if you’re unable to adjust your mental state back to positive, it’s best to take a quick break and get your thoughts cleared.

Play Fewer Hours:

Especially for the beginner poker player, it can be easy to want to get your practice in and play several hours in the day. However, long hours can cause your brain to become fatigued, and cause you to make decisions or mistakes that you may not have made with a clearer mind.

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Playing cards for too long can cause fatigue and lead you to make mistakes.

Not Chasing Cards

One strategy that many poker players adopt is not chasing cards. Whether you’re in an online poker game or playing in a live casino, this is best avoided. Chasing cards, or hands, refers to the inclination to play hands long after they have outlived their usefulness. If you play this way, you’ll most often get caught in the situation. Generally, these players are not aware if the hand they’re chasing after is actually the high one – they could easily end up with the second highest hand, and lose all of the money that they bet. Instead, know the hands that should be played – this is best determined by really being familiar with the odds of the game. That way, it will be easier to tell which cards are playable and which are better left untouched.

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Getting Familiar with the Math of Poker

Some poker players opt for a more mathematical strategy, because knowing the general probabilities of the game can help put you a step ahead of your opponents. Before starting a game of poker, it’s a good idea to do the proper research, and understand the most basic knowledge. Players who take this approach also take the time to become familiar with pot odds and the importance of outs, or the number of cards that will improve their hand. By counting your outs and multiplying them by two, and adding one, you can figure out your odds of hitting.