Whether you are a beginner playing for fun, or an aspiring professional, keeping in mind a few simple tips and learning some basic arithmetical skills are all you need to play the game in a clever and successful way.
Improving Your Game
The line in the Kenny Rogers’ song is very true – know when to fold ‘em! Knowing when to fold is a vital part of being a good poker player and learning which starting hands are worth holding is better than playing just for the sake of playing. Whether you hold or fold depends on where you are sitting in relation to the dealer, as much as on what cards you are holding. Early position, or the three seats to the left of the dealer, should fold unless they have high pairs or high suited and unsuited cards. High cards include aces, face cards and, occasionally, tens. Players in middle position seats can play these cards plus middle pairs. Late position players can add suited connectors, small pairs and ace-littles as playable hands.
Cultivating a good poker face is the key to playing the game successfully. Whether your hand is good or bad, it is vital to keep your face free from emotion while that hand is in play. Some players find sunglasses a useful accessory if they have a difficult time hiding the emotion in their eyes. Take the time to practice controlling your emotions and create a perfect mask of cool, calm indifference, especially if the pot is large and you have a very good hand. To bluff successfully is a skill that has to be learned – if you can’t hide your emotions do not try bluffing, as your opponents will see through you immediately.
Improving Your Odds
Calculating poker odds is a fundamental skill that any serious player needs to cultivate. It is particularly important when playing Texas hold’em, the most popular form of poker.
Pot odds are a ratio of the amount of money that is in the pot to how much money it would cost to call. For example, if the pot is $100 and the call is $10, then the pot odds are 10-1. Pot odds tell you how often you would have to win to break-even and the higher the ratio, the better your pot odds are.
Hand odds are calculated by first determining how many outs your hand has. An out is any card in the deck that helps you make your hand. For example, if you have an ace and a king of hearts, and the flop contained two hearts, then there are nine more hearts in the deck. This means you have nine outs to complete your flush. When you know the number of outs available, you can estimate your percentage of hitting your desired hand from the flop by multiplying your outs by four. To estimate the turn percentage, multiply by two instead.
Remember, if the pot odds are larger than your hand odds, you will make a profit in the long run.
Finding a Game
Joining a poker game is easy and you do not have to go to the nearest brick-and-mortar casino to join in a serious game. Online poker has become extremely popular and casino apps for smartphones and other mobile devices have made it possible for you to play anyone, from anywhere, at any time.