Sunday, March 22, 2009

Keys to Sharpen Your Poker Skills

poker skills

Poker is the perfect combination of both skill and luck. However, you can play for years and find that you still have a lot to learn...

Know the ranking and probabilities of possible poker hands. The best hand is a straight flush, comprised of five consecutive cards of the same suit.

Make sure you know the basic rules and terms. After the cards are dealt, the poker player to the left of the dealer has the option to fold, check or bet. To fold is to retire your hand because you do not think you are capable of winning. Folding results in the loss of any money you have so far put into the pot but prevents you from losing more. To check is to stay in the game but to decline to bet. Betting means that you put additional money in the pot, and anyone wishing to stay in the game must do the same.

Prepare for the draw by deciding which cards you want to keep. Experienced players try to avoid drawing more than two cards, because doing so signals that you have a weak hand and limits your ability to bluff.

Understand that the game changes as the stakes increase. For example, in a nickel-ante game, bluffing is not likely because no one is likely to be scared away at such low stakes. As bets increase, bluffing becomes a more effective technique.

Poker is primarily a game of psychology, not chance. You are playing against other people, not against the cards. Study your opponents for "tells”, revealing traits that convey information about their hands. Does a player whistle when bluffing? Tap their feet when agitated? Look for these signals and remember them, while being conscious of any tells that you may be sending.

Keep your game competitive by avoiding patterns. Patterns in your play are signals that your opponents will pick up. If, for example, you follow the same betting pattern every time you bluff, opponents will figure this out. Poker is infinitely variable and every hand is unique.

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