Poker has become more popular than ever. The rise of online poker sites and mobile app usage has been accompanied with the growth in the number of people playing poker — and of course, wanting to get better at it.
If you’re one of the millions of people playing poker, whether that’s online or at the table, you’ll know there’s always an opportunity to learn more.
Here are our top 7 tips to approach the game like a professional poker player.
Play in a good mental state
Whether you’re a professional playing the World Series of Poker, or a beginner trying out at the table, you need to go into a game in a positive, and calm, mental state. Frustration, anger, fatigue and stress can affect how you play and limit your ability to make good decisions. Going into a game feeling happy will put you in the right mindset to perform your best and help you from making rash choices that could drastically affect your bankroll.
And at the end of the day, poker is a game — which means it’s is there to be enjoyed! If you need a break, take one. Poker will be there for you the next day.
One of the biggest reasons people begin to lose their cool when playing poker is when they start to lose. This can result in what’s called a tilt — when a player adopts a less than optimal strategy and becomes over-aggressive to compensate for their losses. The reality is, sometimes things won’t go your way when it comes to playing poker. Tilting can destroy entire bankrolls and poker careers — remember, the rules of poker are the same for everyone, so play your cards right and know that everyone loses sometimes.
It’s the nature of the game and there’s no way to play yourself out of it!
See weakness? Go hard
Being able to read the table and perceive some of what the other players are thinking around you, is one of the best ways to get more competitive at poker. If your opponent is showing signs of weakness, it’s your chance to take advantage of the situation using a more aggressive bluffing strategy. Try bluffing with some nothing hands and see how you get by. Bringing confidence when you see insecurity is one of the surest ways to get a big win and is a clever way to play.
If you aren’t feeling certain, fold
A great player knows when their time is up. It can be hard to fold when you think you might have a good thing going; a top pair, for example, might be able to take you far. It’s this element of risk that makes poker so fun — and folding means losing out on the chance of winning big. It makes sense to be naturally curious what your opponent is playing with. But calling too often, and in the wrong situation, is one of the biggest ways to lose at poker. If you’re unsure, maybe it’s time to fold.
Make note of what happens after the fold, too. This can improve your game playing overall and make you an infinitely more knowledgeable player.
Forget your favourites
Everyone has a go-to, or favourite, hand. It’s natural to have a combination of cards you like and want to go with them, over and over again. But be careful; you might be tempted to give it preferential treatment and make bad choices when it comes to gameplay.
Winning poker isn’t about being superstitious — it’s all about math. There’s no magic when it comes to the game, so stick with the logical decisions when playing.
Be the best at the table
It’s a big mistake to try and play with the pros before you’re ready. If you’re an amateur, or simply an average player, then getting an edge at winning is all about being the best at the table. You can’t turn a significant profit with small wins against great players; the way to get to the big leagues is to play with people that are consistently making fundamental errors.
You don’t need to be stubborn (and get better at the game) and play with the best players out there.
As they say in the classic 1998 poker film Rounders, “If you can’t spot the sucker in your first half-hour at the table, then you are the sucker.”
Consistency is key
It’s important to come into your poker game with a strategy; and for long-term results (and big wins), it’s imperative to keep it consistent. Changing things up, whether it’s out of excitement or a tilt, will only decrease your success and profits overall. Think through a solid strategy, applying your prior experience and learning to make it foolproof.
The professionals will tell you that applying the same winning strategy over and over again is the way to make it big. It can be tempting to switch things up if you’re experiencing losses — but stick to what you know, and you’ll have a more favourable outcome in the long run.