Core of Poker Game

Why do some people win and others lose while everyone gets the same amount of cards? Is it luck?

Although poker is a game of chance at its core, overall and in the long run, luck plays a small role: poker is a game of skill and has a very complex strategy. Nonetheless, some of its basic and general strategies are explained below. Please note that these are general guidelines, the best player is the one that can adapt to different situations, games, players and hands.

Table size: One of the most significant considerations is the number of players at the table. You need a strong hand to win in a large table with 9 or 10 opponents, i.e. you need to fold most of the hands before seeing a flop. You could play more hands in a smaller game as you are facing fewer opponents.

Be conservative: Poker players can be characterized as loose or tight payers. A loose player bets or raises with mediocre hands, stays in every hand until the showdown and generally looses money. A tight player is more selective, knows a bad hand is a bad hand and folds most hands before making a bet. You can’t be a winner if you play every hand.

Hand position: In every betting hand, the dealer is the last player to act. Therefore, the dealer has the most information about other players. You should be inclined to stay in more late hands, and fewer hands in early position.

Table image: Your table image alters the way your opponents at the table play. If they perceive you as a tight player who only plays with premium hands, they will be less inclined to call your raises. On the other hand, if they think that you’re a loose player, they will be more inclined to call your raises. Good poker players are able to vary their style and make their play less predictable.

Opponents play style: Knowing other player’s style (e.g. how often they raise, how inclined are they to call a raise) is very important. You should observe other player’s playing styles.

Know your hand odds: You don’t have to be a mathematician but you need to consider the number of cards left in the deck that will improve your hand and you need to know your odds.

Know your pot odds: You should consider how much is in the pot versus how much you have to call to stay in. You’re making money if your pot odds are greater than your hand odds.

Bluff rarely: You need to bluff occasionally otherwise other players will know that you have a good hand when you bet aggressively.