No matter what kind of poker game you are playing in, there are certain things you have to know. I list them and comment on them below. They are listed in order from the simplest to the most complex. The more of them you are capable of, the greater your chances of winning. Therefore, obviously I start with “kid stuff” that any poker player worth his salt knows as a matter of second nature and I progress to factors that may not even occur to anyone but players of the highest rank:
1. The rank of the hands. Don’t scoff at this-75 percent of all poker players have difficulty remembering.
2. What constitutes a good hand, a fair hand, a bad hand. All these are relative values and vary in accordance with the game you are playing. It is absolutely necessary knowledge that you must take into any game with you.
In jackpots draw poker, a pair of sevens is a weak hand not worth playing; in blind-opening draw poker, in certain circumstances, it might be a good hand worth a stay and even a bet. Before you go into a game, make sure that you have a very clear idea of this, whether you get it from experience, from intuition, from my website, or from any other source.
3. Your chance of improving. Poker is not a game of the higher mathematics. All you need is rough approximations of the accurate figures. Nevertheless, you have to know approximately what is your chance of improving the hand you were dealt.
To make an extreme example, if you did not know this you would be as likely to play an inside straight (in which the odds are nearly eleven to one against you, odds that you are seldom if ever offered by the pot) as a double-ended straight (when the odds are less than five to one against you, odds that you are frequently offered by the pot).
4. What you stand to lose and what you stand to win. At this point we begin to approach expert stuff. The ultimate phase of mathematical figuring in poker is the number of hands you will win and how much you will win on them, and the number of hands you will lose and how much you will lose on them.
It is not enough to know that when you draw three cards to a low pair the odds are eight to one against making three of a kind. The necessary next problem is, what are the chances that I will win if, in that one case out of nine, I do make three of a kind? If your three of a kind, once you make them, have only an 85 percent chance of winning the pot, then to be mathematically sound you must deduct your losses on the other 15 percent, the times you improve and still don’t win.
5. The best hand probably held by each opponent. This comes even closer to the expert level, and if (as in stud poker) it involves discounting all cards that you know about, it becomes super-expert. I will give you a simple and oversimplified example. In a stud game, you have a pair of kings. Your opponent has an ace showing. What is the chance that he has a pair of aces? If you have watched all the cards that have folded, and if three aces have shown, you know that the chance is zero; if two aces have folded, you know that the chance is a remote one; if one ace has folded, you know that there is a distinct danger; if no ace has shown, there is a probability that your opponent has aces.
All of this is modified by your appraisal of the opponent himself. If he is a player who probably would not have stayed unless he had an ace in the hole, then regardless of the mathematics of the case he is likely to have aces. The true expert in a stud game must watch every card dealt, remember every card folded, and judge every opposing hand in accordance with the cards that the opposing player cannot have or probably does not have in the hole.
6. What the opponent thinks he has. This again approaches the highest degree of expert skill. After all, your opponent may bet into your three aces when he has queens up, because he honestly thinks that queens up will be the best hand. So remember, when the opponent bets, that he may be wrong! Your bets and especially your calls will be based on your estimate of how good a hand the opponent thinks he has.
7. How to fool or outguess the opponent. This is as far as you can go in poker skill. It is the highest expert or superexpert level of skill, and it probably cannot be taught, cannot be measured, cannot even be denned. Anyone who has the knack or ability to outguess his opponents probably has such an aptitude for poker that he doesn’t need a book to help him win. Furthermore, he probably knows quite well that he doesn’t need a book, or my advice, and no doubt if he and I played poker together he could beat me.
Not only are these 7 tips going improve your game, they are a completre roadmap to success. You now know exactly where to start, and where you want to end up. Now keep reading, playing and paying attention, and you may be one of the skilled (not lucky) few that reach to top.
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