Ah poker – the classic card game with several variants. Which do you prefer? The original straight? The classic five-card draw? Maybe you prefer the multiple betting rounds of Caribbean Stud or the mystery of Texas Hold’em. A few weeks ago, we provided a beginner’s guide to playing poker to help you with the vocabulary and poker hands. Now let us go a step further and share some of our favourite tips and tricks to improve your game!
To play or to fold?
We know, you’re quite excited to show you know the difference between a royal flush and a simple high card hand. You want to play as many hands as possible to be a part of the action and win! Except, playing more does not equal winning more. You don’t need to play every hand. Know that there are good and bad starting hands – for example, if you have a 2 and a 7 in Texas Hold’em, fold. Sure, you will forfeit the round and lose the money you’ve bet so far, but it is almost impossible to win since these cards will at most make a very low flush. Better to wait it out and try again the next round.
What about bluffing?
The bluff – a primary feature of poker that differs it from similar games. We know you want to try it out and see if you can get the other players to fold to your pair of 3 hearts. But, bluffing for bluffing’s sake isn’t the way to go. Bluffs only work in certain situations and when you are up against certain people. So bluff if the probability of being called is lower and remember that bluffing is not required in a game.
Upset? Avoid playing.
Tilt is slang used in poker describing the angry or frustrated emotional state of a player. This can be due to having a really bad day and choosing to play to escape your feelings, except you’ll be playing emotionally instead of rationally. Often this emotional play is overly-aggressive. Tilt can also come about when you start losing, particularly in a public and humiliating fashion, or become frustrated by the other players’ attitudes and manners. Tilting happens to every player – the most important thing is to remember to take a break and calm down, whether for a few hours or a few days. This is true in land-based casinos, but also while played at Mummys Gold, the best online casino in Ireland.
Keep an eye on the other players
Pay attention to your opponents, even if you aren’t at the table with them. By observing, you may note that Mr. A has a tell when he bluffs, Miss B raises every time she reaches a certain position, and Mr. C always folds when there is a re-raise. When you sit down to play with them, you can use this information to help decide the strategy that will give you the best chance to win.
Consistency is key with strategy
With all of the different forms and dynamics of the game, poker strategy is a complex subject that requires much studying. The best is to pick up books and workbooks such as Jonathan Little’s The Poker Workbook and Doug Hall’s Poker Workbook for Math Geeks. The first presents 15 real poker hands and explains how the pros played them. Each step of the way you learn the logic they used. Hall’s workbook works on poker’s mental math, repeating and repeating until you know strategies and shortcuts that will help when you sit down to play. Whichever strategy you choose, you should stick with it throughout your game. Particularly as a beginner, you may start with a strategy, start thinking it isn’t working, but miss the fact that in the long-term it can even back out and win.
When playing Texas Hold’em you may end up with two aces as your hole or pocket hands. Remember these are the cards dealt face-down that only you can see. Once you see these cards, you generally will bet/call/raise before the flop (the dealing of the three face-up community cards). Most of the time, two aces (“pocket rockets”) is the best Hold’em hand you can hope to have. However, sometimes you may decide to fold post-flop if other high cards show up on the table. In extremely rare cases, folding pre-flop is the best decision – namely in a satellite event for a big tournament such as the World Series when you’d win just as much by stopping as continuing on.