Up Your Game with some Poker Strategy

All seasoned poker players know that, when enjoying a legal poker game, it's not just about the cards you are dealt but also how you read the other players. Our handy guide on this page will help you build on your strategy and get the best performance out of your game. Our expert advice takes you through:

  • The Basics of poker strategy
  • Learning the patterns
  • Poker psychology
  • Your position at the poker table
  • Working out pot odds
  • Not being predictable
  • Reviewing your play

What are the basics of strategizing for poker?

There’s an element of chance involved in poker, but it’s your skill, experience and smarts that win you money in the long run. The best players in the world are those who have studied every facet of the game and understand how to shift the odds in their favor and how to predict the play of others.

Learning to understand your opponents’ patterns of play

Playing poker with a new group of players is all about learning their playing habits as soon as possible. The sooner you can predict when a player is bluffing, or indeed when they’re holding a killer hand, the more chance you have of coming out on top. You can do this by monitoring their betting behavior, and also their human behavior during a hand.

Poker psychology and the art of bluffing

You’ve all seen the world poker tour players who like to wear sunglasses to hide their eyes. What that tells us is that winning at poker is often as much about how you act, as it is about the cards in your hand. To become a truly great player you need to master your emotions and also the skill of learning how to read others.

Learn how position impacts poker

Where you sit at a poker table might seem like an afterthought, but understanding the positions is key to being a successful player. There are very different implications for the player in the first blind spot, for example, than there are to the player who sits to the right of the button (the dealer).

Understanding the odds of the pot

Winning at poker is all about taking calculated risks. You can never know for sure what your opponent is holding, so you’re weighing up all the available information and going with your best-informed hunch. The key is figuring out whether your betting outlay to potential winnings makes sense as odds you would take in another situation. You should also work on calculating the odds of you getting a certain card, or an opponent having a certain hand. When it comes to poker, math is king.

Don’t make yourself predictable

Poker players who play to exactly the same pattern every game will eventually come unstuck, because their opponents will learn to read them. There’s no science to it, but it’s always best to keep varying your approach during a game, so as to leave your opponents with that nagging element of doubt.

Always review your play later

You’ll have good poker days and you’ll have bad poker days, but the key to being a good player is learning how to evaluate your performance and improve your approach for next time. Identifying the wrong decisions you made will help you avoid making them next time. Equally, reinforcing a successful strategy you followed will help you remember to follow the same approach the next time you play.