These days, more people than ever before are partial to a hand or two of poker. Enjoying poker is one thing, being good at poker is something else entirely. The good news being that if your poker prowess leaves a lot to be desired, you’re in good company!
This is because while millions of people enjoy playing poker, comparatively few make any real effort to improve their capabilities. Instead, they simply assume that sooner or later, things will fall into place and they will start winning naturally. In reality, this simply isn’t the case at all. Professional poker legends like Daniel Negreanu, Bertrand Grospellier and Phil Helmuth don’t dominate major poker tournaments by chance.
Quite the opposite, in fact. Professional poker prowess is a product of intensive research, practice and the development of sensible playing strategies. Not that you have to dedicate your life to the cause, but a little homework could nonetheless go a long way.
Even if you have no intention of going pro, there’s still nothing more satisfying than dominating your friends and colleagues around the poker table. All the time and effort you invest in improving your capabilities is pretty much guaranteed to pay off. Or if simply looking to ensure you’re not the first to crash out every time, you might want to take affirmative action to turn things around.
So with this in mind, what follows is a brief overview of six tried, tested and trusted ways to improve your poker prowess, starting right now:
- Watch the Pros
First of all, the value of watching the experts doing what they do best cannot be overstated. The reason being that watching professionals play poker will help you build a sense of the kind of moves you should and should not be making, depending on the cards dealt. It’s not as if you can expect to remember every move they make, but you are nonetheless guaranteed to pick up at least a few helpful insights. Get online and study a good few past tournaments and competitions – YouTube alone is packed with epic action.
- Video Tutorials
Speaking of which, there are also plenty of helpful tutorials that can be accessed online free of charge. This can be perfect for anyone looking to take their poker skills to the next level – particularly if there is one aspect of the game you need to focus on specifically. Reading up on poker strategy can be useful, but nothing is more insightful than watching the action happen as you’re learning.
- Forget Bluffing
Most newcomers to poker fall into the trap of thinking that bluffing is a wise course of action. In reality, most professional poker players don’t resort to bluffing nearly as often as assumed. The reason being that the only reason you ever have to bluff is when you are holding a hand that’s of little to no value whatsoever. Subsequently, you are hedging your bets on pure luck, which is not conducive to good poker strategy. Not only this, but those who resort to bluffing on a regular basis also run the risk of giving their game away. By detecting when and where you are likely to be bluffing, other players will have every opportunity to drive you out of the game after bleeding you dry. Bluffing can work on occasion, but isn’t a technique you should ever become reliant on.
- 4. Don’t Sit Out Too Long
Sitting on your cards for too long during a normal game of poker can be costly. If you are unwilling to throw your hat into the ring until you are dealt a strong hand, you run the risk of watching your chip stack slowly but surely disappear before your eyes. Worse still, you will make it pretty clear to everyone around the table that you only ever join in when you have a strong hand. This in turn means it will be borderline impossible to pull in a decent payoff, even if you win. While a certain degree of caution is of course important, you need to ensure you are not sitting out so long as to do yourself and your chip stack damage.
- Take Your Time with Tournaments
The temptation to go hell for leather when it comes to poker tournaments can be borderline overwhelming. After all, you only paid say £5 to enter, so why not take a few chances? In contrast to the point above, taking your time with tournaments can be a useful course of action. Particularly in the early stages, when sitting back and waiting for a good hand also means giving dozens of players the opportunity to crash out of the running. Don’t fall into the trap of rushing.
- Fake Vs Real Money
Last up, poker tables that allow free-play can be absolutely brilliant for newcomers. If you aren’t familiar with the way poker plays out for example, spending some time on free-play tables comes highly recommended. What’s more, they can also be great for developing your own personal playing style and strategy. On the downside, nobody playing for fake money plays in the same way they would for hard currency. With fake money, there are technically no stakes and no risk to worry about whatsoever, meaning you’re far less likely to be truly strategic and mindful. By contrast, you are significantly more likely to fall into the kinds of bad habits that could prove costly elsewhere.
Practice Makes Perfect
Of course, the only realistic way of building more advanced poker skills and talents is to put them to use as often as possible. Carry out a little homework, see how the experts get the job done and attempt to bring a little more savvy into your next game. Whatever you do, anything’s better than simply making things up as you go along and wondering why you’re always the first to be bled dry.
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