A game of skill and psychology, poker requires a lot of patience and focus. But it’s also a game of chance, and luck can bolster or tank even a great player’s hand. To become a great player, you have to commit to smart game selection and limits for your bankroll, as well as the proper game type to meet your skill level and personal goals. You also have to know when to quit and take a break, and have the discipline to stick with your strategy despite being bored or frustrated during games.
Each betting round begins with each player placing one or more chips into the pot, the sum of all bets placed during a hand. Players then reveal their cards and form the highest ranking hand possible, called a “pot” (the term for all bets in the pot). The highest pot-winning hand wins the hand.
In general, if you have a strong hand and want to win a pot, raise pre-flop. This will force weaker players to fold and make it more likely that the flop will be favorable for you. If you don’t have a strong hand and don’t care about making a pot, you can also raise to bluff. This can scare players into folding and may make them think you have a strong hand, which can be useful in a bluffing situation.
To win a pot, you must have the best possible hand, or a “flush.” A flush is five cards of consecutive rank in any suit. Three of a kind is three cards of the same rank, plus two matching cards of another rank. A straight is five cards that skip around in rank but are all of the same suit. A pair is two cards of the same rank, or two unmatched cards.
It’s important to mix up your style of play, so opponents don’t know what you have and don’t call your bluffs. If they always know what you have, then your bluffs won’t work, and you won’t be able to beat them. So, don’t be afraid to try different bluffing strategies and be patient, as your success will come with practice. Observe experienced players and consider how you’d react to certain scenarios to develop quick instincts. Good luck! This article is adapted from an original piece by Jeremy Schreiber. Jeremy is a professional poker player and the founder of The Poker Practice. He works with clients to help them get to the next level in their poker careers. Jeremy specializes in high stakes tournaments and live action poker. He has been playing professionally since 2007. Follow Jeremy on Twitter!