Whether you're playing at your local poker hall, club or even a regular Saturday night game at a friend's house, poker is all about winning. Let the others 'play' poker, whilst you rake in the cash.
With that in mind, here are few extra hints and tips to help give you that edge over your competitors.
A Few Things to Remember
• The best poker hand is formed by combining the hole cards and the community cards. Sometimes the community cards can represent the best hand by themselves.
• A betting round is finished when all players have acted and contributed equal amounts to the pot.
• In Texas Hold'em no one can bet you off a hand. If you have entered a hand and run out of money you will always go to the showdown.
• In Fixed Limit the betting is doubled after the first two betting rounds.
• In No-Limit you can bet all you want.
• In Pot Limit you can never bet more than the pot.
Reading the Table
Reading the table is a significant skill in Poker and you will get better at this over time. There are so many variants and skills to learn that this process is an ever evolving cycle. The more you play, the easier it will become for you to make decisions automatically which will allow you to spend more time reading your opponents and being able to use this information to your advantage. Whilst a lot of the basic skills in poker can be mastered very quickly, reading the table is something that certainly calls for time and practice. All this information should be combined to give you the conviction to make your choice.
Table texture is all about the potential combinations and again, this is something that will become more and more automatic for you the more you play. Quite simply, the ‘texture’ is not only reading what you have but more importantly assessing your opponents and understanding what they may be holding as well as if the next card helped or hindered them. With practice you will instantly know what you have and what your odds are so you will be able to form a hand you’re planning to by the end of the game or easily read your opponents and count their odds automatically.
Let’s say you’re holding AA and the Flop is AK2. At the moment you have the ‘Nuts’ but you have to be aware than anyone holding QJ, J10 or Q10 has a distinct possibility of beating you as soon as the relevant card arrives on the ‘Turn’ or ‘River’.
Compare your hand with the best possible hand. Do you have the best hand? Do you have a good hand but don't know if your opposition may beat you? Now the difficult choice comes as to the best way to make the most of your hand.
You could now choose to play in a couple of different ways. Remember the aim is to get as much out of you opponents as you can but you must also weigh up the risk of them outdrawing you.
You could try and slow-play your opponents by checking rather than betting and leading them into a false sense of security by representing that the flop didn’t help you. This often can result in a devastating blow to your opponent(s) if you manage to suck them in to your plan, but, it also has the danger of allowing your opponents to obtain ‘free’ cards which may allow them to draw a better hand than you hold. Slow playing with 2 cards of the same suit on the flop for example runs the risk of your opponent making a flush so you need to have a decent idea what you may be up against prior to trying to slow-play your opponent. There are exactly those cases when it’s better to force your opponent out of the pot by making it too expensive for them to call.
Should you lead out and Bet?
In Fixed Limit this is easy, in Pot or No Limit you need to weigh up what you want your opponent to do.
If you suspect they are drawing to a hand then you do not want to make the pot odds so great that it is worth it for them to call. You are on a drawing hand. Is it worth staying in the hand or are you better off to simply muck the hand and wait under a better opportunity comes along? This is where your knowledge of Pot Odds and Implied Odds comes in. this means you should definitely call with the right odds.
Note: Poker is all about reading the opponents. Read your opponents, look at the table texture, decide what the odds are and then make your decision.