Analysing your opponents
When you play poker one of the key things is to analyse your opponents. See how they play and what they do in different situations – when they enter the pot, when they raise and when they fold. Let’s say you’re taking part in an online tournament and the player to your left enters every hand, often watching both the flop, turn and river. If 10 hands have been played so far, this is not a sign of anything, but if after dozens of hands the player on your left is still playing every hand, it is obvious that you are dealing with a recreational player who has come to play and has no knowledge of how to play poker properly.
Also, some players give signals about the strength of their hand. This is usually referred to as telles. When studying your opponents, see how they look and behave when participating in a hand. Do they behave differently when they have a strong hand or when they are bluffing? Sometimes a single signal can make the difference between winning a session or ending it on a negative note.
Above I mentioned the example of a player who tended to take every hand. Imagine how such knowledge affects the potential profit of the session. He bluffs in almost every hand, so it is easy to play against such a contender. When observing other players, look for patterns in their behaviour. Some players bluff too often, others only raise when they have a great starting hand and others limp all the time and try to trap someone.
Of course, the hardest poker players to compete with are those who have no tendencies. They usually play straight poker, but mix up their plays so much that you’re unable to bet them on a particular hand. Remember, though, that despite the ever-increasing average player level, most players don’t know exactly how to play, and as a result you can bet them on a given range of hands and catch patterns in their behaviour.
Control your emotions
There is no room for emotion at the poker table. You can’t afford to get over-excited when the hand goes your way or upset when things don’t work out the way you want them to. When you play poker and let your emotions take control of you, it leads to mistakes. Negative emotions can make you fall into a tilt, and that almost always means losing money.
Never make any decisions if you are angry or frustrated. You might accidentally win a pot or two, but that never ends well in the long run. Every time you make a mistake while playing poker, it could cost you money. Whenever you feel emotions taking over at the poker table, you should walk away from it and rest until you have inner peace.
Become a master of position
Position at the poker table is one of the most misunderstood concepts, although it plays a very big role. It takes years for many players to understand the actual value of table position. It is difficult to summarise the essence of table position in a few sentences, but you must perceive your position in relation to where the dealer button is located. The later your position at the table, the better for you. You have comfort because you already know what decisions your opponents have made and can easily react to events on the court.
Taking advantage of your position at the table is crucial to your long-term success. If you are in the process of improving your poker skills, surely this aspect will be very important for you and will help you to build an advantage over your rivals. For more valuable tips on how to get started playing poker, visit the GGPoker Poker School.