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HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW YOUR POKER PLAYING STRATEGIES?

By Charles Hopkins Published 03/13/2006 | Games

Poker has always been an exciting card game, but of late, it has gained mounting popularity owing to such mega events as the World Series of Poker. One reason for this immense popularity is that any Tom Dick or Harry, who has been playing poker for a relatively short time, can walk away a millionaire, as the World Series has proved. Granted, the millions will not exactly tumble into your lap, but you have a great chance of bagging them if you devise your own poker playing strategies by building from a variety of traditional poker tactics. So heres some help to get you started:

‘    The most important trick for a beginner at poker to learn is how to read the body language of other players. Unless you have an absolutely miraculous hand that you are certain will win, the strategy of reading your opposing players, to help you decide what to do with your own hand, is vital. So observe them keenly and try to uncover habits that your opponents have that may indicate a good hand or a bluff. Veteran players can successfully hide any facial or bodily expression that gives away their hand, but there may be small, almost unnoticeable, giveaways that are entirely unconscious.

‘    Another good poker playing strategy that may tell you what hand your opponent has is to study verbal clues. He or she may try to distract you from your hand by carrying on an unimportant conversation or provoking you when he/she is carrying a bluff, be almost silent when he/she has a good hand, or acting as though he/she has an outstanding hand when he/she actually has nothing. After a few hands, you ought to be able to discern a pattern to such behavior.

‘    Remember, your fellow players are trying to formulate poker-playing strategies as well. Therefore, try not to develop noticeable patterns of your own. When playing with close friends, ask if there is anything you are unconsciously doing that could possibly give away your hand. Sometimes even something as little as a fluttering eyelid can give sharp-eyed opponents the advantage.

Having said all this, we must warn you that these poker-playing strategies will not work overnight. However, it is important no to get discouraged. The more you practice the art of studying your opponents, the easier it will get.

So that is one aspect of formulating your poker playing strategies. Side by side, here is a checklist that can help you put together your poker playing strategies:

P      When playing poker for the first time, it is best not to jump in at the deep end, but learn the basics first until you are comfortable with the way you play

P      Many new players try out all the variations of poker at once, but it is wisest to concentrate on one variety and familiarize yourself with it. This will help you focus and develop a comprehensible strategy.

P      Set your budget and stick with it. Dont be tempted to chase losses and carry a profit target in your mind which, when you reach it, is enough for you to quit the table. In short, poker is fun and you can make big bucks, but dont commit money you cannot afford to lose.

P      Playing too many hands will lose you money; so you need to choose the hands you want to play and be patient.

P      You need to teach yourself to fold when you have a bad hand. You might want to bluff sometimes, but dont do it too often and only in the right situation.

P      If youre having a bad time at the table, or not enjoying the game for some reason, take a break. To win at poker you need to fully focus on your poker playing strategies, otherwise you will probably lose.

P      Betting correctly and taking risks is an essential part of winning at poker. Make sure that you are only betting sensibly when the odds are in your favor. Never lose focus when you get a bad hand or chase your losses.

P      Dont try to be too clever at the low-limit tables. Players at these tables are mostly inexperienced and may be tempted to call your clever bluff.

P      Although it is possible for you to win big at lower limit tables, the big money is at stake only at the higher limit tables. If you have a good strategy, you will make big money, but move up only when you are confident.

P      Whatever game you play, you must have a well thought out poker playing strategy that gives you an edge. So you need to have a betting strategy, know how to bluff, etc. Remember, in poker, as in most other areas of life, practice makes perfect!