Learning good poker is an art form. There are those, such as top professionals like Daniel Negreanu, Johnny Chan or Phil Ivey who can claim to have perfected the methods of playing top level poker against other world greats, yet can anybody truly claim to have mastered the game?
Perhaps not and it is this simple fact alone which draws so many people towards playing poker every year. Its popularity enhanced over the past decade by repeated showings on television of the high ranking tournaments, there are plenty of smaller satellite tournaments that the average punter can enter on a whim to test themselves against the best. So whether you want to take your game to the next level to improve your tournament play, or just brush up on the basics to enhance your enjoyment with family and friends, take a look below at these five top poker tips to help you achieve that goal.
1. Keep it Simple – It is true to say that poker strategy only becomes essentially complex at higher levels of the game. At lower limit games or against beginner players, most players are only taking notice of the cards they have in their hand. Any subtle bluffs you may attempt will not work because they won’t even register as a bluff. In such situations, keep things simple, play the cards you have. When the odds are in your favor play, but play cautiously when they are not. When the stakes are low, paying $4 to see your bluff hand doesn’t hurt, compared to paying $4,000 or $40,000.
2. Slow playing can Work – Putting doubt into the mind of your opponents, even if you have a strong hand, is always beneficial and here slow-playing can work a treat. Taking your time to move into a hand, even if you have flopped a full house, can make others think that the hand they hold may well be better than yours. Remember, don’t over-egg the omelette, but just do enough to sow that seed of doubt in their mind and let psychology do the rest.
3. Select which Hands to play Wisely – Stuck with a 7 of hearts and 2 of spades? If you have been dealt nothing, then do not be afraid to throw your cards away. The only time you should keep hold of a poor hand is if you have paid the big blind and can see the flop as everyone else in the hand has called. IN this case, you’re committed anyway so see the flop. If the bets start to increase though, throw them away and wait until you do have a good hand to play with.
4. Time your Bluffs – Try not to bluff against lower ability opposition but against stronger opponents the key to a good bluff is knowing your opposition, having a good idea of what they have in their hand and also, what they believe you to have. If you mistimed a bluff, it will quickly be called by an experienced player who will recognize that you are just trying to pull the wool over their eyes. Time it right, and you can end up winning a pot you should have lost.
5. Enjoy it – Remember, poker is fun! Don’t play emotionally, or get uptight if you lose a hand. An emotional player is one that is easy pickings for the best player. Stay calm, stay cool and above all enjoy what you are doing and you’ll be a markedly better player as a result.