Poker, the King of card games, can take a minuet to learn and a lifetime to eventually master. The rules are fairly simple and the general gameplay is not that difficult to get to grips with once you learn all the different stages and routine of the actual game itself. To get deeper into the game there are some key points and in game strategies that you will need to understand in order to make the best choices in all situations. Like this, other elements of your game will simply fall into place because as you discover proper balance within your overall game, certain tactics and traits will become second nature to you and you will begin to play with more confidence and in a more fluid manner. It’s through this knowledge that you gain an advantage over your opponents because make no mistake, your opponents will be prepared for the game and if they aren’t then this becomes an opportunity to exploit their weaknesses.
As a general rule of thumb you should always be prepared for every eventuality. Our next 2 guides will give you an edge over the competition. Remember that information, education and then practise are the 3 words to live by as a poker player.
How to Play Poker
In our ‘how to play’ guide we will be focusing on one variant of poker that gets a tonne of airtime, both on television and live streaming via the internet. This is of course the immensely popular version, Texas Hold Em. This exciting variant is played with 10 players until 2 remain in what’s known as the ‘heads up’ stage. What this means is that the last 2 players face off against each other until there is only one overall winner. This version of poker is played with 2 cards that are unique to each player and then 5 community cards which can be used to make all the familiar hand combinations seen in many other poker variants.
These 5 community cards are presented throughout 3 different stages during a round of play. You receive the first three community cards (called the flop) after the first round of betting has finished. The fourth card (the turn) comes after the second round of betting finishes. The fifth and final community card (the river) is dealt after the third round of betting ends. Once this last card has been dealt then the final round of betting commences. This game type presents a huge challenge, most notably because you face off against real opponents. This throws many variables into the mix because each player is inherently different in character, nature and playstyle. One other factor to consider in this version of poker is the ability to bluff or be bluffed. This is another weapon your opponent can use against you and likewise you can use against them.
Our guide will take over the course of the game, how each part is played and also give you a reference guide for all the types of hands that can be played, in order of rank. If you’re completely new to the game of poker which many of our new recruits are, it’s a great little guide to get you started, letting you understand the flow of a round so as not to make any mistakes when you play for real.
Tips, Tricks and Tactics
Sometimes the most annoying thing about poker is that there are so many strategies available for playing the game. It can sometimes make you wonder which are correct and which aren’t. In short there’s no right or wrong answer because your opponents will respond differently to different strategies and situations that are presented to them. There are many reasons for this but the most common one is the strength or perceived strength of their own hand in relation to yours. For example you might play the best course of action which is dictated by the hand you hold, however depending on what they hold (or do not), they can, for example, counter with a re-raise that you were not expecting. In poker you will find yourself constantly debating in your own mind what cards your opponents have. It’s not simply enough to play your own hand without giving proper thought to the possible hand or hands of your opponents.
You can use betting as a way of gaining information about your opponents hand also. They will all act in a certain way when confronted with an initial bet or a subsequent re-raise. Would they spend that much money if they didn’t have a hand? Why are they not raising or limping in rather than raise? You have to watch out for bluff but in reality they’re not that common. Bluffing is like a get out of jail free card and most players will bluff when they’ve come in hard pre flop and find they have nothing worthwhile after the flop. They will do this purely to save any big funds that they have invested into the game. Most are clever enough to still fold if the action starts to heat up further, but you do get the odd player bluffing his way to the river card only to be called and publicly shamed after showing totally valueless cards. Word to the wise, bluff only in extreme situations or if you’re an incredibly good liar (sociopaths make great poker players by the way!)
To find out even more about the exciting game of Poker, take a look at another of our informative articles!