There are an unlimited number of poker variations, each with its own strategy. In seven card stud players are forced to be able to remember cards and calculate difficult pot odds at a moment’s notice. In Hold’em it is vital to memorize your opponent’s playing styles to give you the edge when a pot is up for grabs. In Omaha, good players know they will often need to utilize the ability to drive other players with good hands out of pots with aggressive betting. All of these strategies are required to win and each requires patience, experience, and skill.
The first step to learning basic poker strategy is to understand the basic betting terminology and how it applies to winning.
The most basic, and most recognized, term in poker strategy is the Bluff. Bluffing describes the act of making a bet or a raise when you do not have a good enough hand to win a pot. The object of this bet is to force the other players out of the hand, thus winning the pot, by pretending you have a superior hand. Without the ability to make a bluff you will never be able to win at poker.
A strategy I utilize often to win pots from loose players is the slow play. This is when you have a good hand but do not bet accordingly knowing (or hoping) a player behind you will bluff. When this works it can increase the size of the pot and hide the strength of your hand. You will often see this technique from players holding Pocket Aces (two aces in the hole). Players slow play Aces because the hand is so strong they want to keep at least one other player in the pot. Slow playing does not mean you should always check. Often, as with Pocket Aces, you want to make a normal raise before the flop to reduce the number of players in the hand. Just do not over-bet scaring all of the other players out.
Check/RaiseThe Check/Raise is a basic poker strategy which requires you to know your opponents betting tendencies. It is similar to a slow play in that you check and wait on a loose player sitting behind you to take a shot at the pot. The difference is, with the Check/Raise, you shoot right back at the player after his bet with a raise he or she cannot possibly call if they are bluffing or on a draw. Players typically use this strategy when they have a decent hand or a lot of outs and are up against a loose player. It is important to make sure the pot is worth taking. You don’t want to use 1000 chips in a no-limit tournament to win 100. To make this strategy work, you want your raise to be about 1.5 times the current size of the pot, enough to scare the good players out. The suckers can stay in and try to draw the card they need, but you need to make it unprofitable for them to do so. Watch out for players in the last position making a small bet to see a cheap card on the Turn. Check/Raising will often foil this technique and win a few pots for you in the process.
Vary Your Playing Style
I had a lot of trouble with this when I first started playing. I was a solid, tight, fundamentally sound player, but after a couple of weeks at a new site all of the regular players had me pegged. They all started to drop out of pots they normally would have played when I called or raised. Almost every poker site now has a way to record notes on other players. This means your playing style will be remembered by other players, especially if it is super tight or loose, even if you take a few months off. Tight players have to pick their spots and play hands they might normally not play because they are in position or have players they can exploit in a hand. Loose players need to decide every fourth table or so is going to be played ultra tight. This is a simple change to make and will throw other observant players for a loop. One of the most expensive lessons to learn in poker is how to vary your playing style, but it is necessary if you are going to be successful.
5 Card Draw strategy
7 Card Stud strategy
Omaha Poker strategy
Omaha Hi/Lo Poker strategy
Texas Holdem strategy
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