Poker Strategy. Pt. 1

Woman hand holding aces and king cards

Poker Tips and Tactics

It’s been said that poker is easy to learn but hard to master. This page will give you some tips to help you become a winning poker player, with general poker advice and strategy for players new to the game, as well as some more advanced concepts to consider once you have a good handle on the basics.

Basic Poker Strategy Considerations

Decisions for the New Poker Player

Decide whether you want to play poker to win or to play for fun. To play at a consistently winning level requires both time and effort. In other words, it takes work. There is nothing wrong with playing poker for fun, but there is no reason to plan to lose, even when you are playing for fun. However, deciding which type of poker player you want to be before you start will make your decisions and sessions easier.

Make Good Decisions – the Results Will Follow

Even the best poker players in the world have losing sessions. Don’t make the mistake of expecting to win every time you play. Your goal should be to play to the best of your ability in every session. If you do, the cards and winnings will take care of themselves as you improve.

Many players make the mistake of judging their poker playing ability based on the results of each session. Your goal should be to make the best possible play every time. The closer you come to this, the better your results will be.

The Mathematics of Poker

Poker is a mathematical game, and it’s a game of incomplete information. That may sound complicated, but it really isn’t. On a very basic level, winning poker starts with the selection of which starting hands to play. If you enter the pot with the best hand more often than your opponents do, you will win more times than your opponents.

Beyond Starting Hands

Starting hand selection is fundamentally important, but it’s only one piece of the poker strategy puzzle. Once you have mastered solid starting hand guidelines and understand how they change by your position at the table, the next area you should work on is your play for the rest of the hand. The area that separates professional players from amateurs is that professional players tend to play much better than their opponents during the remainder of the hand, after the starting hand decisions are made.

This is especially true concerning the decisions made at the very end of every hand. These skills involve calculating pot odds, recognizing betting patterns, bluffing, and using position. The years of practice necessary to master the middle and end game play are well worth the effort, because even small improvements in a player’s abilities can have a tremendous effect on that player’s lifetime winnings. A great way to learn is to use the free resources available at our PokerStars School, where you’ll find plenty of opportunities to practice and improve your game.

Avoiding Tilt

Another meta-skill that should be part of a winning player’s poker strategy is avoiding tilt. Your opponents will use your emotions against you, but only if you let them. Emotional play results in poor decisions and lost money. Tilting and steaming can happen to anyone, and sometimes the only cure is a break from the game. That’s okay; the game will still be there ten minutes from now. In fact, it will still be there tomorrow.

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