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Tips on How to Win at Poker

Apr 17, 2008
There are so many different forms of Poker that no one could even count them all. And each of them would justify a book all by itself!

Generally speaking, you can divide all the more popular forms of Poker into four main types: Draw Poker, which to most American players means the game formerly known as Jackpots; Stud Poker, which usually means Five-Card Stud; its popular variation, Seven-Card Stud; and Low Poker, or Lowball, which is a form of Draw Poker in which the lowest hand, not the highest, wins. But all of these are played in combinations and variations. There are High-Low Poker; Blind-Opening Poker; hundreds of games that use wild cards and extra cards and special hands and odd numbers of cards. Bach variation affects the proper play, and sometimes changes it completely as in High-Low Seven-Card Stud, when you play with low combinations and drop with high ones.

Almost every bit of Poker advice must depend also on the particular rules, stakes, players, and conditions. Still, there are some principles that apply to nearly any form of Poker. I am first going to give some of those principles, and then I will take up special points that apply to the most popular variations of Poker.

First I would say that a winning Poker player must have a combination of two qualities. They are knowledge and courage. The knowledge part is what you can read about in books. Whichever form of Poker you are playing, you have to know what constitutes a good hand in that game; you have to know the odds against having the winning hand, and compare them with the odds offered by the pot; you have to know something of betting tactics,
psychology, and characteristics of the other players in the game.

The factor of courage cannot be taught; but you can't win without it When you get into a Poker game, you aren't there to keep from losing. You're there to win. And to do that you must back your good hands to the limit, and risk your money when you think you're right.
This lack of courage is the reason so many Poker players are at a disadvantage once they start losing. Every time another player bets aggressively, their first reaction is one of fear. They check when they should bet, and drop when they should call, thus winning too little on their good hands and losing on too many of their fair hands.

I have known men who were formerly good Poker players but who lost their courage, either through a reduced financial position, or family responsibilities, or even a seemingly interminable losing streak. They promptly changed from good players to poor ones. If the amount of money at stake is frightening to you, I can only recommend that you appropriate a certain amount of money that you are able to lose and play that money as though it were an unlimited supply. If you lose it all, quit the game. While you're playing you'll have a chance to win.

The Advantage of the Top Man Here is the first rule of Poker: Don't try to beat the other fellow; let him try to beat you. That isn't just an introductory paragraph. It is probably more important than everything else in this section. Do yourself a favor by reading it again.

The man who has the best hand going in (in Draw Poker) or the highest-ranking combination in the first two or three cards (in Stud Poker) will show a profit in the long run; anyone with a lower hand will show a loss. Even the man with the second-highest hand figures to lose unless there are at least six players in the pot altogether, in which case he will only break even.

Poker can't be played as a sure-thing game. That is losing practice too. Your decision is based on two factors besides the strength of your hand. One is the nature of the game you are playing in. The second is the odds you are offered by the pot. The Other Players You must make your style of play conform to the type of game you are in.

If the other players are conservative, you must be conservative. They will not play unless they have good hands; neither must you, or you will lose consistently.
If the game is a liberal one, in which most of the other players would rather play doubtful hands than be bored, you must play more liberally for two reasons. If you are too cautious, they won't like you and won't play with you. And the more liberal the game, the more players there are in the average pot, and the better odds you will get for your bets.

The conservative player stays in only about once in four hands that he gets. In the conservative game the average pot has only two players in it, though what actually happens, of course, is that most of the pots are uncontested, and some of them have three, four, or five players.

In the liberal game slightly more than half the players are in every pot say four players in a seven-handed game.

Whatever the game, don't play against a single opponent unless you are pretty sure you have a better hand. Don't play against two or three opponents unless there is a chance that you have the best hand, And with four or five opponents you should be pretty sure that you have at least the second-best hand going in, or that you will surely win (as with a straight or flush) if you improve.

In any game, serious or casual, there are a few matters of Poker etiquette that are necessary to the smooth operation of the game. Never throw away your hand or announce that you are dropping until your turn comes; it may help one of the preceding players at the expense of another. Don't put money in the pot without keeping it separate long enough for other players to see you are putting in the right amount. These are some of the main points of etiquette that should be oberserved.
About the Author
Malcolm Blake has conducted extensive research into all kinds of games including modern games such as games on Zune .
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