In essence poker is a very simple game, you are dealt two cards, five more are then placed face up and you bet on your best five-card combination from these seven cards. Sounds easy!

 

There are however, a lot more subtle plays, tricks, bluffs, mathematical calculations and financial considerations to be considered along the way. In the game of bluff and tell there are many things you can learn that will lead to you becoming a much better poker player, whether you are just a social player, betting online at party poker or a professional ace face.

 

Confidence

 

Always approach the game with confidence, if you come across as unsure and indecisive the other players will soon pick you off.

 

Body language –  “The Tell”

 

Watch your opponents, see what their tells are, how do they react when making a big bet, what do they do with their hands, are they showing any signs of nerves. Once you spot a player’s tell you will be able to know whether they have a good hand or are just bluffing.

 

Know the percentages

 

Good players, don’t instinctively know the odds of having a good hand, they calculate it. Learn the chances of a flush coming up, what are the percentages of a full house and what are the odds your opponent has a better hand. This skill is how the professionals decide on whether their cards are worth playing or not.

 

Know your limit – call, raise or walk away

 

Don’t throw away chips; even a good hand can turn into a bad one once the flop comes. You may be holding an ace and a king but if the flop comes down 4,6,9 you are likely as not going to be wasting your chips by betting any further.

 

Knowing when to play

 

Professional players do not play every hand; a good player knows the odds and can calculate the chances of any particular hand winning. Knowing the odds, your opponents and the bet will help you decide whether it’s worth playing a hand.

 

Anticipation – know the opposition

 

Many beginners only think about their own cards but think about what other combinations are possible from the cards on the table. What hands are your opponents likely to have and can you beat them.

 

Watch out for color blindness

 

Remember there are four suites and not just two colors, black and red cards. Face card fever is something else to watch out for; just because you have a couple of picture cards doesn’t in itself make a winning hand. Try to figure out what combinations your opponents might have, face cards are good value but they have to be seen as part of the whole.

 

To bluff or not to bluff?

 

There is no denying that winning a hand on a bluff is a thrill but try it too often and the other players will learn to read you. You will earn more in the long run by bluffing less and leaving players uncertain of your motives.

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