Tips to Win at Poker All The Time
Understand Poker Basic Theory
Poker theory is knowing the fundamental probabilities so you can use them to your advantage. The goal is to maximize wins and minimize losses. There is not better book to understand this than “The Theory of Poker” by David Sklansky.
Stick to rational calls and your pot size is more likely to grow. Off course, surprise lucky hits by your opponents can take you out, but based on probability these will happen less often.
Know your cards
First thing about poker theory is selecting the right cards to play. In tournaments you have a limited time or hands to choose from before the bets rise in value or your opponents grow too fast with chips and leave you behind: but on sit and go tables you can actually wait for as long as you wish before making a play.
As a general rule of thumb, the closer you are to the button, the more hands you should be playing. Study beforehand which hands you should be playing and from which position. Avoid getting involved in bad calls.
This is a simple exercise to understand positioning. Which locations on the poker table would you play these hands?
Each of these hands is different from the other, and they should be played from different positions.
Knowing when to go all in is key when playing tournaments to maintain an edge with a large stack during the tournament, or simply to reap a profit during cash games.
Hide your play
You should never become predictable in poker. Never follow a similar playing pattern that other players can easily read and adjust their strategy against. If you always play in a conservative manner and only take part with big cards, smart rivals will take you out with small raises and retreat whenever you decide to finally play with your great cards.
The goal is to always keep your opponent guessing. They shouldn’t know if you are conservative, aggressive or a bluffer.
These are some tips when defining a game style:
Raise to the same size with all the hands you play
Play many hands postflop with the same actions
Play a couple of weak and strong hands the same way
Never show your cards to the opponent if you don’t have to
By keeping the same size on every raise your opponent can’t guess if you have a strong or weak hand. There is no pattern. If they begin to see you raise with bad hands, they can pay for it when you raise the same way with big cards.
The purpose of playing many hands post flop keeps your decision making disguised, throwing off your opponents who will begin to fold at every raise you make clueless to what you actually have.
By playing strong and weak hands similarly just keeps your cover safer. Maintain the secrecy by never showing your hands. Mistakes might happen, and if they do learn how to use them at your advantage.
Find the right table to play at
This means finding a group of players that you know you can take. In the book “Super System”, Doyle Brunson confessed to scout for games were players were either drunk, steaming, or just making terrible decisions.
These aspects might be a little hard to identify with online poker, but not entirely. Players behave different on different timeframes. You can expect some players to be more bold and careless late at night and you can always sneak peak at tables before you enter.
Here are some tips to select the right table for you:
How high is the house rake. A game with no rake is a great one.
Playing against recreational players.
A game with alcohol consumption.
A lot of loose action by several players at the table.
Are the players weak, average or good. Make sure you are above them.
Player style – are they tight holding down their cards or making calls all the time?
Have you played with these people before?
A table that complies with many of these aspects increases your chances or overcoming opponents. Most importantly stay away from a game if you identify players way better than you, if your goal is to reap a profit. If you want to play against them to hone skills, go ahead then.
Making adjustments to your game
This is a skill that is you master it can level up your game. Identifying patterns and decision making on your opponents is what give the definitive advantage. Phil Ivey is one of the pro players that adjusts his gameplay accurately depending on his opponent. Through tournaments he studies rivals keenly to exploit any hints and clues obtained from the players. Most of the game his focus is mostly on the other player decisions than on his own hands. Learning how to read other players is an art.
These are some patterns you can look in a player:
How aggressive are they playing
What cards are they playing at showdown
When do they appear to be stuck, or tilted
Do they play hands that don’t make much sense
With this information you can form a mental map of your opponent’s style.
For example, if an aggressive player looks bored or annoyed at the game play, you might decide to check strong hands vs. making a raise. You can bait the player to raise and force them to re-raise.
Don’t check all your hands thought. Remember never to show a pattern.
Most importantly, analyze if the players are making the right calls? If they make wrong calls it means they are more likely to make more mistakes in the future.
Take simple decisions
Never stress yourself while playing. Keep the cool, use breathing techniques to maintain focus and leave emotions and thoughts from interfering.
Do not let other players intimidate you and avoid growing nervous about how far you’ve come into a tournament. Take as much time as you need when making a call and follow your own rules.
Feeling stuck? Mentally go over all the other hands you would play in the same way.
Don’t feel afraid of annoying other players or getting the clock called on you. Take as much time as you need, and logically think through the hand in progress.
If you are playing sit-n-go’s and things are not coming out right, cut your losses and wait for a better day.
Follow these simple tips and your gameplay will improve considerably.