For you, the beginning poker player, there are some common tricks and strategies worth learning to improve your game. Examples include: betting, bluffing, and calculating odds.
Betting is an important skill because often you have to bet to stay in the game. When a hand is dealt, each player has the option of placing a bet. If a player makes a bet, the other players have to choose if they will call that bet (by matching it) or check that bet, which means they will not add any money into the pot. If there is a bet and you choose not to call it but other players around you do, then your only alternative is to fold. If no one makes a bet in the group, then everyone is still part of the hand. You don’t want to keep making your own bets or matching the bets of other players if you become convinced early in the hand that your cards are lousy.
Bluffing is an important skill that has more to do with your ability to convince the other players that you have a better hand than the actual value of the cards you are holding. This is where the dramatic side of poker comes into play. If you think you hold a good hand, it might be a good idea to put on your best poker face and act confident. You will have to keep matching the bets of other players to stay in the game, and the longer you stay in, the more the other players will think that you are holding decent cards. The extent to which they believe you hold cards that will beat their own depends on your ability to bluff them.
Calculating odds is another skill that might take you some practice and you will have to be able to perform some simple math in your head during the game. For example, if you are playing Texas Hold ‘Em and you want to find out the odds for your hand, begin by identifying how many outs you have. An out refers to another card that gets you one step closer to achieving the hand you want. If you need a heart for your hand, and you hold two hearts, there are 11 other hearts in the deck. Usually you don’t have any clue what cards the other players have, so only subtract any other hearts you see on the table. If there are no hearts on the table and you hold two, then the odds for getting a heart is nine out of eleven.
Poker is an exciting game. Explore other tricks and strategies for improving your poker game.