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Tips on Playing Poker
Posted at 10/15/2008 03 AM in Beginner Topics by Sack.
Poker is the kind of game where luck plays a very important role; however, there is definitely a large amount of skill that goes into the game as well, and this can help a player maximize his returns on good hands, and on the flip side, minimize his losses on the not-so-good hands. Here we will discuss a few tips and strategies which differentiate good players from the others.

Defining poker in the most simplistic terms, it is a game of educated guesses, as the information available to each player is incomplete, and different. It is also a game of probability, and over a long enough period of time, the luck does actually even out. This is a mathematical certainty, so the first tip is to be able to keep the probability factor always in mind. In game play, this translates to not playing every hand. It is important to learn when is the right time to fold, and also when to actually forge ahead with a strong hand. In addition to not playing relatively weaker hands, this will also prevent the player for establishing a pattern in his game play.

In keeping with the incomplete information theme, a player needs to be able to play as though he knows all the cards that his opponents are holding. Conversely, it is important for him to induce his opponents to play their games as though they are wrong about the cards he is holding. While this sounds complicated, it is basically the art of bluffing and having complete control over one’s reactions. A poker ‘tell’ is perhaps the worst habit to develop especially when playing with seasoned players. For allowing an opponent to correctly adjudge a player’s cards is giving them extra information, which, by extension, gives them an extra edge.

Poker is an extremely consuming game, in that concentration is absolutely paramount in every way. A lapse of concentration can cost a player very dearly, and therefore an important factor is to have a clear head when playing poker. Although this may be a surprisingly obvious tip, playing while inebriated, under stress or otherwise distracted is highly unwise, in fact downright foolish. The mind needs to be as sharp as possible, and under all these conditions, the brain is befuddled.

Understanding your opponents is vital in poker – observation is the key here. After all everyone is human, and there are bound to be some signs indicating what cards that player holds. While players work towards minimizing these tells in themselves, being vigilant towards the other players at the table will stand them in good stead.

Bluffing is an integral part of poker, but there are certain times at which it works. For example it is impossible to bluff to someone who always ends up with a showdown. The point of bluffing is entirely lost, and as a matter of fact, will prove to be costly. It is better not to bluff at all, rather than use this stratagem in the wrong place.

A very common mistake for beginners is that they have the tendency to stay in a hand, just because they have already bet on it. This is hardly a wise decision, and can b best explained by an analogy. In real life, there is no point and nothing to be achieved by throwing good money in after bad, because the chances are very high that that all the money will be lost. Better to cut one’s losses and retain whatever one has. This is exactly how it works in poker too, where when a hand is not proving to be as good as one initially thought, fold.

All in all, it is important to realize that playing poker is something that improves with time. Experience helps, and additionally, as one progresses, the nuances of the game become more apparent, and then become second nature.






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