1. Experience: Whether you are playing poker games in a casino or online games portal, there is nothing that gives a poker player confidence, understanding and skills more so than experience. So, even if you are not always playing for money, play the game as often as possible to gain experience and further your understanding of the subtle nuances of the game.
2. Play your cards, not what the flop may reveal: It is tempting as a new player to try and play every poker hand you are dealt. Despite this, many a time you may be dealt a hand that is weak pre-flop. It is tempting to think that the flop may be kind to you and turn your 2-7 hand into a full house, but the chances are that it won’t and that you’ll have put chips into the pot that you now have no chance of winning. As a beginner, always play on the strength of what you know and is in your hand, not what could happen.
3. Stay sober: Poker is a social game, so enjoying a few beers is the right thing to do! Well, not if you want to keep your focus on the game at hand and on winning. Alcohol dulls the senses and reduces focus, both critical to any successful poker player.
4. Observing opponents: Have you ever noticed how good poker players always seem to know when a lesser opponent is bluffing? Alternatively, when they need to fold what appears to be a winning hand because they know someone else is holding onto something better? This skill of observing your opponents, their body language and movements and ‘tells’; give away signals which let you know what your opponent has in their hand.
5. Avoid excess bluffing: Everyone loves the idea of winning a huge pot thanks to an enormous bluff; the only problem is that this actually happens far less than many people realise. A well-called bluff has a chance of success if executed at the right time and with the right cards. Bluff too often and it is asking for trouble, as your opponents will quickly figure this out, even in online poker rooms.
6. Knowing when to cut your losses: It can be annoying when the cards that come on the flop, turn or river make what looked to be a good hand into a poor one. Many novice players, especially if they have put a fair amount of money into the pot, feel obliged to at least call the hand on the off chance that their opponent was bluffing. Most often they won’t be and you are just giving them more of your stack. Knowing when to cut and run is a key strategy as you progress through the poker ranks.
7. Play logically, not emotionally: To be the best poker player you can be requires you to be calm, rational and sensible and to play the game logically, rather than emotionally. Do not let victories allow you to become blasé about betting; in a similar vein, do not let losing make you withdraw into your shell. Treat every hand as if it is the first of the game and stick to your logic and playing the odds.
8. Don’t spring the trap: Experienced poker players, even if they are dealt an outstanding hand, will often play a hand cautiously hoping to make lesser players commit large sums of their stack into the pot. This form of slow-playing is a real danger for a novice player who believes they hold the best hand, quickly go all in, expecting their opponent to fold, only for their opponent to reveal a winning hand. Don’t be the player that gets caught in this trap!
9. Even if you are not in a hand, you are still playing: Many novice players will throw in a hand and then not bother paying attention to what happens in the game without being in it. This is a critical error. If you are at a table, whether in person or online, there is a huge amount of information to gather about your opposite numbers by observing their play. Even if you are not in a hand, you are still playing the game and you can retrieve a lot of valuable information!
10. Knowing the percentages: The very best players have an almost machine-like ability to understand the percentage chance of their hand winning depending on the cards on show. Understanding these percentages will allow you to understand much more clearly your chances of winning on any given hand.