How To Win
If there was one simple answer as to how to win at poker – who ever thought of it would be able to make an absolute fortune out of it by sharing their knowledge with other poker enthusiasts, let alone by playing the game. Of course there is no magic panacea by which anyone can automatically become a winner at poker, but by studying poker winners you can start to figure out just what it is that sets the winners apart from us lesser mortals.
The number of players
Especially important to remember when you’re entering a poker tournament is that the shear number of entrants to the tournament automatically means that your chances of winning are reduced. This is true even for the very best professional poker players, going into a tournament they know their chances of winning are reduced but by having enhanced skills they also know they can at least get amongst the top money prizes. Even in a cash game a higher number of players reduced your chances of winning and, the same as for any sport or game, there’s always the element of chance that could work in your favor or against you anyway. Faced with a large number of fellow poker players all you can do is remain faithful to your tried ad tested strategy, maintaining a constant and consistent approach to your poker game and remain confident of finishing ahead of the other poker players.
A key aspect in knowing how to win at poker is knowing how important it is to stay alert. If you’re not concentrating on the game 100% all of the time you’ll never be able to absorb all the poker information that’s right in front of you, that can enable you to emerge the winner. In tournaments this means assessing the opposition – their poker playing styles and any fluctuations in their chip stacks and how they react to them. The problem of course is that you really don’t want to be doing that just for the table you’re sat at, but for as many other poker tables around you as you can manage too. After all, in a poker tournament you know you’ll soon be playing against different opponents before long. As the average chip count in a tournament increases you need to be alert to keeping pace with it. If you’ve been playing tightly your chip count could well be below par and so it would be a good thing to loosen up a little and make sure you start winning some pots and increasing your stack. Stay alert and you should be able to avoid having to play out of character in order to survive, let alone stand a chance of winning.
Big stacks and small stacks
From the big stacks perspective knowing when to pressure short stacks can be a key component of a winning strategy. However, choosing the exact right time to put the pressure on a short stack is an art in itself. The simplest way a big stack can intimidate smaller stacks is by making large bets, providing they have a strong hand. Another favored method for big stacks to try and finish off smaller ones is to get the short stacked player to call all-in or raise. However, if you’re only holding a marginal hand this could back-fire on you as they might just have the better hand. So reserve calling a short stacked player’s all-in bet only if you’ve got a decent hand and you wouldn’t profit better by continually calling in, as it will only deplete your own chip stack.
Change the speed of your play
Having a poker plan that includes varying your betting patterns and whole approach to the poker game will invariably pay dividends in both tournaments and cash games. Playing the opposite to the rest of the table can be particularly effective in this regard, with being able to play tight against a loose table being one of the best ways possible to win at poker. Similarly playing an expansive game in the midst of timid and conservative player will usually pay off. Timing when to apply the change in speed of your poker play is something you’ll only appreciate through experience, but don’t be frightened to change gear early on if the poker table isn’t giving you much luck. You’ll probably quickly learn that when you need to change gear is ruled by the speed with which the betting levels increase. If you’re in a tight spot having sufficient chips to cover antes and blinds is essential. So adopt a positive mental attitude and bet aggressively, even with a poor hand, to force players with hands they’re uncertain of out of the round. Whilst the above is all good advice for a tournament, in a cash game you’ll stand a better chance of winning by sticking to your regular poker strategy and only making adjustments to your game if absolutely essential.