Poker is an extremely complicated game. People can spend their whole lives learning about the game (and some do), and will tell you they still have a lot to learn about the game. Even so, anyone can become an above-average poker player by studying the game seriously and applying the techniques that are used by professionals. In this section, we’ll give you some valuable poker tips and go over some of the things you need to know to advance your game.
Control the Ego Instead of Letting it Control You
Rational thinking is particularly important in the game of poker. However, your rational thinking must be focused on utilizing the right strategic information. If your logic is twisted by your egocentric mind, you will not do well in this game. Unfortunately, it is far too easy to let our egos get the better of us without even realizing it. I’ll give you an example.
Imagine you are in a game where the low card opens for $5, and the next four players fold. You raise without a good hand because you are trying to take the ante money of this player. The other player knows you are ante stealing and he doesn’t like it in the least. His ego perks up and decides not to let you get away with it. He then raises you even though his hand is absolutely terrible. But your ego then shoots into the game a little more, and you raise him back despite the fact that your hand is a shining example of a pathetic poker hand. Next, your opponent finally decides to call you. Unfortunately, the winner is now decided entirely by luck. The winner will congratulate themselves for a well-played hand regardless of the fact that it was nothing of the sort. This was a hand dominated by the ego, and much worse scenarios can be imagined as well.
This is not to say that you should let people steal the ante, but only that you should not base your decisions on anything but the facts. You have no idea what your opponent has, and if your hand is terrible, you should not raise based on a desire to see your opponent fail.
Another important poker tip regarding the ego: if you don’t like someone, you may tend to overestimate or underestimate their hand’s value. You should be acutely aware of this possibility and evaluate a player’s hand based on their abilities, past actions and by looking at the information you know. Evaluate the facts, not the character of the other players.
Log Your Play
Most winning poker players keep track of their games in a journal. This is quite an important poker tip to take from the pros. They will take notes on every poker session they participate in while it is still at the top of their minds. As soon as you get the chance, write notes about each poker game you play. For every day, you should have a log of games played, including details of notable hands, money lost and won, number of players, location, time, and anything else relevant that happened. If you consistently take notes, you may begin to notice patterns in your play that will help you learn which games you do best in, on what days, against which players, etc. You will also be able to objectively look at any mistakes you have made, become aware of your strengths and weaknesses as a poker player and track your progress.
Change is Good
A good poker player knows when to reassess their hand, regardless of how good their hand was on the deal and how far into the betting round they are. In contrast, bad players, if dealt a good hand to begin with, refuse to fold, urged onward by the initial excitement of a good deal. They are too occupied with calculating the size of the pot to notice that perhaps another player’s hand has the potential to easily beat theirs.
This situation can be compared to trading. A good business trader is aware that your ability to divest in something when the deal goes bad is the only thing that will allow you to have money for a better investment. Good traders will not invest $15,000 in a failing company that used to be good simply because they already put $115,000 into the company. Poker players commonly follow this very logic, however, with the classic mistaken resignation of thinking “Since I’ve already gone this far, I might as well go all the way.”
This is utterly faulty logic. You have to think of a poker hand just like a good businessperson thinks of business investments. The next time there is a good chance you are beat, be smart and fold.
Observe Your Opponents
One of the most important poker tips to keep in mind is that the game of poker isn’t just about mathematics. You have to balance calculating odds with calculating your opponents’ moves. Especially in the lower level tables, players tend to give what are known as “tells”. A tell is something a player does that may give away what kind of hand they have and what their intentions are. It is important to watch players not only for these tells, but also to catch any patterns your opponents follow. Watch for things like heavy breathing, fidgeting, fumbled bets, failure to make eye contact, sighing, shaking or anything else that might constitute a noticeable deviation from a regular, passive existence.If you follow the above poker tips, your game is sure to improve. Never stop seeking out information about the game in the form of tips from trusted pros on the Internet or acquaintances you make in the casinos (online and on land). If you are just learning the game of poker, remember, the game is different for everyone. What works for one person might not work for another. Someone who looks aggressive may be able to get away with an aggressive play more easily than someone who does not, for instance. So find out what works for you and don’t rely entirely on what others tell you. The only real way to become a good poker player is experience.