[toc]So you want to win at poker, do you?
Of course there are many steps to take to improve your skills and bolster your bankroll management when you are playing live poker or online poker at Bet365, but these five basic steps will put you on firmer footing on the path to profitability.
5. Position is everything
You may have heard that poker is a game of incomplete information.
This means that it’s different to a game like chess, where you can see all the pieces and (theoretically) calculate all the possible permutations.
However, in poker, you do not have one vital piece of information: your opponents’ cards. That’s why it’s so important to act after your opponent; if you know their choice of action that’s one extra bit of information.
Position is so important that an average player would stand a good chance of beating the best in the world heads-up if the average player acted last each hand.
You should be playing literally three to five times as many hands in position as out of position in a regular game.
4. Tight is right
A mistake that most new poker players make is playing far too many hands.
In actuality, you should only be playing somewhere in the region of one-fifth to one-quarter of the hands you are dealt.
Bearing in mind that position is so important, you should note that it’s wise to play many more hands in position than out of position.
First to act (under the gun) at a cash game table, you may play as few as 10 to 15 percent of hands. Last to act (on the button) at that same table, it’s likely you’d be looking to play around 30 to 50 percent of hands.
Another key point relating to position and playing tight is the Gap Concept, coined by poker player and theorist David Sklansky.
Simply put, it means the following: You need a better hand to call a raise with than you need to make a raise with.
3. Be aggressive, B-E aggressive
As well as playing too many hands, many new players will play these hands far too passively.
This means that they will be checking and calling far more often than they are betting and raising.
It’s clear that this is a mistake when you realise that there are two ways to win a hand of poker: You can either make the best five-card hand at showdown or have your opponent fold and relinquish the pot.
Doing the latter is much easier than the former!
Many players are worried that by betting, their opponents will fold when they have a good hand.
They may well, but it’s not a bad outcome – if you have a hand that is a 65 percent favourite to win, your opponent folding their 35 percent chance of winning the pot isn’t awful.
2. Manage your bankroll
If you take the world’s best poker player, give him $50 and sit him in a $1/$2 game, then you may expect him to make a ton of money in short order at these low stakes.
That’s not actually all that likely for one reason.
Bankroll management is the most important aspect of poker success, because even the best players in the easiest games will suffer bad luck from time to time.
You can play absolutely perfect poker and still get outdrawn, or even be dealt kings against aces and be out of the door.
It’s recommended that you have at least twenty times the buy-in for your regular cash game at an absolute minimum; for tournament poker, where the variance is much higher, you should have over a hundred!
1. It’s not about the money
Related to the above, it’s worth remembering that the money you win or lose isn’t a mark of how well you’ve been playing.
Let’s take an example: let’s say you have Kc-Ks on a board of Kh-Qd-4c-Td-Kd. I go all-in for $500 and you call, only for me to turn over Ad-Jd for the royal flush.
Did you play badly? Of course not!
I could have easily had Q-Q, 4-4, T-T or another flush that you win; unfortunately for you I just so happened to have one of two hands that would beat you.
Even though you lost $500, your Expected Value (EV) was much higher, because you stand to make money from when I have a much weaker holding. On average, your call will make you money in the long-term, so you can’t sweat it that you lost this time!