My first experience with poker came on Christmas morning in 1985. I was just a child at the time, and frankly I was more interested in playing with my new toys than learning about the card game that my uncle wanted to teach me. I relented, however, and we sat down at the kitchen table for an explanation of the finer points of 5 card stud.
I've been crazy for the game ever since.
Over the years, I've played thousands of hands of poker in both virtual and land-based casinos. While my win/loss rate isn't as impressive as I'd hope, I've managed to keep from going broke and always had a large enough bankroll to indulge in the hobby whenever the desire struck me. If you'd also like to achieve a respectable level of success while playing one of the most interesting card games ever invented, I invite you to check out my 12 poker tips for winning more often.
I write a lot of blog posts on gambling strategy, and it's always discouraging to inform readers that their game of choice is nothing more than a crapshoot. Luckily, that's not the case with poker, as it demands a great deal of strategy and preparation by the player. If you're willing to put in the work, then there's no reason why you can't begin a lifelong love affair with this classic card game.
Poker is often viewed as a manly hobby, so a lot of players like to combine it with a little smoking and drinking. While the former is likely to kill you over several decades, the detrimental effect of the latter is more immediate. Alcohol impairs your judgement, which is absolutely the last thing you need at the poker table. Stick with water, soda, or coffee, and approach each hand with a clear head.
When you begin playing online poker, your overall level of enthusiasm is likely to be at an all-time high. This often results in the rookie mistake of playing almost every hand, as noobs want to wring as much excitement as possible from the experience. Instead of this flawed logic, try adopting a more particular strategy when deciding which hands to play.
It's always satisfying to win a hand with a bluff, as you're breaking the will of an opponent with a superior hand and forcing him to turn tail and run. Of course, some players try to indulge in this tactic far too often, and it always winds up biting them in the rear. Keep bluffs to a minimum, and always make sure to structure it in a logical fashion.
If you actually had the superior hand, how would you play it? Well, that's the same way that you need to approach the bluff.
At any given point in a game, an experienced player can look at the table and his own cards to determine the odds of making a certain hand. By weighing the risk versus the reward, the gambler can then determine if staying in the pot is worth it. This skill takes a tremendous amount of practice to master, but it's something that all the pros do on a regular basis.
Tight players avoid taking risks, while loose players are more willing to gamble. Aggressive players often put pressure on opponents with frequent wagers and opening pots, while passive gamblers prefer to sit back and allow others to dictate the flow. Ideally, you should strive to have a fluid style that combines all of the above, as it'll make it more difficult for the opposition to figure you out.
No matter how much success you enjoy at the tables, always be careful when moving up to higher limits. This is acceptable if your skill level has improved to the point that you're ready for an increase in competition, but don't do it simply to show off. The minute the table limits begin to put pressure on your real-world budget, it's time to drop back down to something more affordable.
Whether you've been blindsided by a bad beat or just lost to a player you can't stand, always resist the temptation to lose your cool. Not only does it make you look foolish, but it's also a sure-fire way to start making costly mistakes. If you feel your head is about to explode, try stepping away from the game for 30 minutes or so.
All poker players lose on occasion, but it's how you handle those losses that defines your character. Do you want to be remembered as a tough opponent who handled both wins and losses with dignity, or would you prefer to be branded an obnoxious crybaby? This might not impact your winning percentage, but it'll definitely determine what people say about you behind your back.
If you're an online poker player, it's important to make sure that your PC is running at maximum efficiency. Always keep anti-virus software installed and updated, and you might even consider buying a separate computer just for online gambling. This prevents the on-screen action from lagging or freezing up, both of which can spell disaster in the middle of a hand.
Most online poker rooms offer tools that allow players to keep notes on their opposition. Don't pass up this option, as it allows you to look for tendencies and possible weaknesses in their game. Think of it like doing research in high school, except a substantial cash prize might be waiting just around the corner.
While Texas Hold'em is a lot of fun, you're selling yourself short if you play nothing else. There are lots of versions of poker out there, from Omaha to Pineapple. By increasing your knowledge of these variants and improving your overall skillset, you can compete in more tournaments and possibly win more money.
There's nothing wrong with seeking out fish to boost your bankroll, but it's much harder to improve your overall game when you consistently take on weak opposition. At the very least, try to strike a balance between easy-to-beat novices and more seasoned competitors.
Unlike most casino options, poker isn't a game of pure chance. There's a significant amount of skill involved, and this allows the well-prepared players to distinguish themselves from the pack over time. By paying careful attention to their opponents, learning the finer points of the rules, and carefully managing their bankroll, almost anyone can succeed at this fun and engaging hobby.