Poker is a game where both skill and luck are required to win. While luck is the primary factor that determines the initial outcome of a poker hand, over time the application of skill can eliminate the variance of chance. In this article we will share some basic poker tips that every beginner should follow to increase their chances of winning.
Start With a Strong Hand
While most players begin the game of poker by limping with their weakest hands, the best way to improve your chances of winning is to play aggressively with premium starting hands such as a pair of Kings, Queens or Aces. Many novice players shy away from raising with these types of hands, but the fact is that you should bet frequently in this situation. A big raise will scare off the other players and force them to call, giving you a better chance of building your hand into one that is capable of winning the pot.
Study Player Behavior
The more you practice and play, the quicker your instincts will develop. It is important to learn the basic rules of poker, but it is equally important to watch and study other players to learn how they play. You can pick up on their tells by studying their body language, idiosyncrasies and betting habits. It is also important to pay attention to their reaction to certain situations, as this can reveal the strength of their hand.
The location of your seat at the table will significantly affect how you play. It is important to know the meaning of each position at a poker table, such as being in the Cut-Off position (CO) or Under the Gun (UTG). The position of the player directly to your left will also determine how you play. In general, if you are in the late position, it is generally better to raise than fold because you will be able to see the flop more easily.
Play the Player, Not the Cards
A common misconception among poker players is that a poker hand is good or bad only based on its own merits. In reality, however, most poker hands are either good or bad only in relation to what the other players at the table are holding. For example, if you have pocket kings and another player has A-A, your kings will lose 82% of the time.
This is why it is important to learn how to read your opponents and understand their range of hands in each given situation. A skilled player will be able to anticipate what type of hand their opponent is holding, and they will be able to adjust their own range accordingly. For example, a good player will not only be able to recognize that an opponent is holding top pair, they will also be able to figure out whether or not they are trying to bluff.