How To Improve Your Poker Game
Do you find that you’re losing the poker games you play with your friends no matter how much you play? Poker is a game of skill, luck, bluff, and patience but with a key set of skills and strategies you can learn how to outsmart players in any situation. Here are six ways you can take your poker game to the next level.
The Art of Semi-Bluffing
If you want to truly defeat your opponents, it is vital that you master the art of bluffing or semi-bluffing. Bluffing is a crucial strategy in poker, but if you bluff ineffectively, you will soon find that your chips are running low. So how do you bluff effectively?
The most effective way to bluff is to let the cards in your hand be the decider of whether you’re going to bluff or not. This is where you bluff with hands that have certain cards that will give you a good chance to improve your hand later in the flop. Straights, flush draws, and potential high-card doubles can all play a big component in effective bluffing. This strategy is known as semi-bluffing, as there is potential beyond the initial bluff.
Strike When Opponents Seem Weak
When holding hands capable of calling multiple bets, players don’t check as often as they should. If faced with multiple bets, they usually fold if they have a relatively weak hand and check. If you notice that your opponent is checking on the flop and the turn, you can take advantage of this initial sign of weakness by using an aggressive bluffing strategy. Additionally, you must also bet as a pure bluff with some nothing hands, preferably those with good blocker effects, along with your usual semi-bluffs.
Don’t be the First to Limp
Limping is another term for calling the big blind preflop, and it is a strong faux pas as the first player entering the pot. This is for two key reasons. There are no opportunities to win the pot in the same way as if you had raised, plus you’re giving more players the opportunity to play, meaning your likelihood of winning the pot is reduced. One of the only reasons you should consider limping is if another player has already done the same. This play is known as over-limping and boosts your pot odds which hopefully becomes a fortunate play when the flop comes around.
If You’re Unsure, Fold!
Want to know what makes a professional player different from a bad one? When a player believes they are beaten, they can lay down a good hand like the top pair. This sounds pretty simple, but it can be difficult to follow in practice due to our curious nature. Missing the chance of the right card to be turned over or to see what our opponents have can feel like a loss in itself. Besides ineffective bluffs, calling too often and in the wrong situations will make you lose at poker in no time. You should always fold if you aren’t sure whether to call or raise.
Fast Play Strong Hands and Build The Pot
Having to awkwardly table their monster poker hand when their opponent checks back the river is one of the saddest sights when a player checks their flopped nut flush three times. When players have strong poker hands, they struggle with slow playing too often, fearing their opponents will chase them out of the pot. In the majority of situations, you want to bet your strong hands to try and build the pot providing a level of protection to your chip stack. This being said, you shouldn’t always raise/bet when you have strong hands postflop.
If you aren’t the preflop aggressor, bet (or check-raise) when you are uncertain. Getting outdrawn or losing potential value is less disappointing than losing when your opponent folds.
Play Fewer Hands with More Aggression
There are a limited number of hands you can play before the flop in Texas hold’em, even for the most experienced players. If you try to play too many hands, you will bleed your chip stack dry unless you fall on the side of luck. If you’re looking for the easiest way to improve your game, developing a solid preflop poker strategy is essential. Developing a concrete preflop range is particularly easy, but sticking to it is another question. Being impatient can come into play, but it is important to hold off and bide your time.