It’s a risky title, but I knew it would grab your attention. Extroadinary claims, but the information below is a culmination of experience from online pro’s all over the world, and my immersion into the online poker community to find out their secrets and share them with you. Practice doesn’t make perfect… Practice makes permanent. These skills won’t make you a millionaire, but they will give you the tools necessary to make smarter decisions on your way to taking down your friends in a home game, or sitting at a table for the Pokerstars European Poker Tour.
There are many different kinds of Poker, but the main one we’ll be focussing on, is the worlds most popular version; Texas Hold’em. This game re-kindles ideas of James Bond, as well as characters and real men since he was introduced. The poker player is perceived to be logical, unemotional, stern, analytical and with as much integrity as he has chips. Cheating isn’t an option. The difference between them and you, is that they want to win big, and you want to lose small. It’s gambling for the charming man.
The game consists of two ‘hole cards’ that are dealt to each player, and then 5 community cards that are dealt to the table to help you make the best hand. The beauty being, nobody has any clue what the other players have, and it’s not always the best hand that wins.
The basic hand breakdown being :
- High card (2 being lowest and an Ace being the best)
- 2 pair
- ‘Trip’ or triple (3 of the same card)
- Straight (a numerical progression of 5 cards. Eg 7,8,9,10,Jack)
- Flush (5 cards with the same suit)
- Full house (One pair, and one Trip)
- Straight Flush (A numerical progression of 5 cards sharing the same suit. Eg. 5 of Hearts, 6 of Hearts, 7 of Hearts, 8 of Hearts, 9 of Hearts)
- Royal Flush ( A 10 to King straight of the same suit. )
I’ll assume you know the basics and what each hand is, if not, there are many places online for you to learn. The best resource for me was probably http://wwww.pokerschoolonline.com
When you know how to make the hands, and what hands will likely win, you’ll be well on your way to the biggest chip stack, but before you do, you need to decide your style of play.
Styles of play
- Aggressive – The aggresssive player is a menace at the table, the man who keeps raising, forcing others to fold, playing every hand and over-estimating most of them. The problem here is that this person is hard to bluff, hard to call with bad cards, and often steals the pot from under your nose. So why not be this man? When deciding your style, you may want this to be you. The leader of the table who dicates the reactions of each player and clears the table for serious players only.
The downside here is that if anyone guesses you’re trying to be aggressive, they will more than likely start to call you even more, and sometimes win. The upside though, is that less experienced players will see your confidence and assume you’ve got the best cards.
- Slow play – The slow player is patient, deceptive and enjoys any opportunity to bleed you dry, chip by chip. They win small pots, but they also lose less chips. They fold 90% of their hands, and only play good cards before the flop. They don’t often want to pay to see the flop. In the industry they call it ‘limping’. Making miniscule bets, either to envoke a reaction of a raise, or to ensure they can secure a cheaper chance to make a great hand.
The downside here is that big and small blinds will dwindle your chip-stack quicker than losing bets. Playing too slow gives the risk-takers a chance to build a chip-stack that you’re unable to match and recover from.
I would take this approach on a busy table, or in a tournament, as it gives you security and ensures you won’t be knocked out too early.
Top 5 tips for success in Poker
- Vary your style – The best way to play is to be unpredictable. Vary your style between aggressive and slow. If the other players aren’t able to guess if you’ve got good cards or not, they’re more likely to fold to you, or lose against your superior cards.
- Find the tells – Other players will have tells. Raising on ‘The River’ is one I see in most players. In that example if they call and then raise on the river, they’re trying to steal a pot after not being able to make a good hand. By making notes on all players, you’re able to discover tells by seeing if they call, raise or fold in a pattern. Thus giving you the advantage.
- Raise ‘on the button’ – When you’re ‘on the button’ it means you’re the last player to bet a hand. Raising from this position puts pressure on all of the other players, as they have to call to be able to see the next card. This way, only players with good cards are likely to play, and that table of 9 players will likely drop to 2 or 3 people playing that hand. Less opponents increases your chances of winning.
- Only play good hands on busy tables. – If the table is busy, you need to avoid being the hero. The grass is always greener on the other side, and often, a good hand is eclipsed by an even better one. Bluffing is not an option here, as not everyone will fold on the river, and you’re staring down the barrell of a proverbial gun. Stick to what you know, vary your play, but stay tight. Don’t over-bet on a pair when someone else could have a flush. It’s the quickest way to lose your stack.
- Don’t overuse the bluff. – The biggest rookie mistake is those who ‘bluff’ too often. Stop going all-in every 3 hands. Other players will quickly smell a rat and take a chance on getting you out of the game by calling you with a good hand. Poker pro’s use the bluff like a medical ointment; sparingly.
Practice Practice Practice
Now you know the secrets, you’ll be keen to sharpen your teeth and add another scratch into the bedpost of success. This can be accomplished VERY easily from the comfort of your own home. Either by arranging a night-in with friends, or by playing online.
If you want to play online, the easiest and best way is to download the free http://pokerstars.net client. It’s the biggest poker site in the world, and for good reason. Here you’ll be able to play for free, to hone your skills and ensure you’re not losing money to every closet-professional on the client. You can even play on your tablet or smartphone. When you’ve built up confidence you can have hours of fun taking play chips until you’re ready to graduate into a real cash game. Most of which can be entered for less than the cost of a pack of gum and can win you enough for a free coffee.
Practice, practice, practice and build from there. I look forward to hearing your success stories.