How to Win at Poker. Starting with the Basics

To know Poker, you first need to get familiar with its roots. Unlike other games, the origin of Poker is difficult to determine. There are a lot of theories as to where it came from and how its rules changed. The first theory is that it originated from China sometime in the 10th century — It was a game emperors loved to play. Another hypothesis is that Poker is the descendant of a Persian game called As Nas. The rules were somewhat different though — the deck had only 20 cards, and the main ones were As (Ace), Shah (King), Bibi (Queen), Serbaz (Soldier), and Couli (Dancer). However, gambling was mostly punishable by law in Persia, so they didn’t play it for real money. All in all, for most of the theorists, our modern Poker game is a variation of this ancient game.

Poker became popular among the Europeans only in the 17th century, in France. The French referred to it as the game of Poque. It quickly spread to Portugal, Spain, and Italy — and all of these nations named it differently. However, not too long after that, the French brought Poque to the USA (at that time, the state of Louisiana belonged to France), and the Americans quickly re-adjusted the term. It would be known as Poker ever since. Moreover, after the WW1, the game spread back not only to Europe but to Australia as well. The Europeans accepted the new rules, and the Aussies quickly fell in love with the game too. It didn’t take too long before dozens of Poker tournaments emerged. Today, you can learn different poker strategies from professional poker players — the world is your oyster, so make the best of it!

Improving Your Game

Playing Poker can be very interesting, even if you’re not planning on doing it professionally. You get to outsmart your opponents and develop a personal poker playstyle. To you, a regular player, this game is just a form of relaxation — only a hobby to pass some time. However, if your goal is to become a professional player, then there are some investments you need to make. Or did you think that Daniel Negreanu decided to become the best player overnight and then did it? — To become a long-term player, you need to learn and continuously educate yourself. Daniel made all the Poker news in 2014 when the GPI (Global Poker Index) recognised him as the best player of the decade.

So you want to be like Daniel? Well then, warm your seats, as we’re about to uncover all the best methods of how to win at poker. Remember that all of these techniques apply to online poker as well — That goes for all of you who prefer playing from the comfort of your living room.

There Are No Strategies, Per Se

This is the most important thing for you to know — every player develops their own strategy that they stick to. Furthermore, what’s important is to have a good playstyle, and there are a couple of widely known options that might work if you combine them with psychology.

  • Tight Play
  • Loose Play
  • Aggressive Play
  • Passive Play
  • Hand-Reading
  • Tells
  • Levelling

Although these methods are widely popular, don’t let it discourage you. It’s not about which one you use — it’s how and when you use it. So let’s set off.

Tight Play VS Loose Play

These two present the two extremes. If you opt for the tight play style, it means you will be playing few hands with almost no risks. This is considered a beginner’s tactic because it makes you come off as too cautious to other players. Additionally, this can be turned into an advantage against you. But should you use tight play in combination with loose play, you can confuse your opponents.

On the other hand, a loose play is the exact opposite, where you play more hands and don’t fold too often. If you combine these two styles based on your hands and cards, other players will end up confused and unable to predict your next move. After all, that’s what poker is all about — Good bluffing techniques.

Aggressive Play VS Passive Play

Aggressive play takes the crown in this case, but it doesn’t mean the passive play style is useless. In fact, it is a perfect bluffing technique. The aggressive approach demands a lot of betting and raising, all with the aim of putting your opponents under pressure. Just remember that this requires big bets, so watch your money.

Alternately, the Passive approach is the complete opposite of aggressive — it means you’re letting your opponent dictate the game so you can follow up on their mistakes and figure out their strategy. Consider it the ‘Lay-low’ type of playstyle.

Hand Reading, Tells, And Levelling

Hand reading means you need to take a guess on the pot odds of your opponents. Basically, you will try to predict your opponent’s hand according to their previous actions. The point is not to know exactly which cards the other players hold (it’s impossible) but to guess the range of possible cards in their hands.

Next to this, tells means that you’re continually following and analysing your opponents’ behaviour to see any changes in their demeanour. For example, if the player keeps drawing but decides not to at some point, are they bluffing or not?

Finally, levelling is more or less hand reading but on a whole different level. It’s mostly professional players who use this technique to try and predict hands of their opponents and re-adjust their playstyle accordingly.

However, the biggest stars out there combine these methods with their intuition — so if you want to become a Doug Polk type of player, you better start practising. Poker is a strategic cash game, and if you’re trying to win big, then you’ve got to think big as well.

What’s Your Story?

There are a lot of different Poker variations, but you can still apply these playstyles to all of them — It doesn’t really matter whether you’re playing Omaha Hold’Em or Texas Hold’Em. The most important thing is that you’re telling a story. You’re using all the different methods and incorporating different techniques. Here’s what matters the most — don’t always use the same tactics. This will make you predictable. Instead, you should use different methods at different times, with different types of players. This is why Poker demands your ultimate attention and a lot of time investment.

Ultimately, Poker is a story that you tell to others, but it is essential that you remain the only narrator. There are a lot of copycats out there, but if you keep working hard, nobody will be able to catch up. Good luck at the table!

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