5 Poker Tips for Today's Games
Recently, we talked about the best places to find an edge in poker. Now let's cover five strategic philosophies worth bearing in mind in your next poker game:
1. Be patient.
This is probably the single most effective tidbit of poker strategy you could receive. It's a highly applicable approach to deep stacked cash games and tournaments. In shorter stacked tournaments, one should caution against being too patient.
A reason playing patiently is so effective is that not very many people do it. Poker can be an anxious activity. Patience is not always the natural response in an anxious setting. Many mistakes your opponents commit could be helped with the simple suggestion that they should play more patiently.
2. No auto-pilot decisions.
Not only is it important to play patient but it is also important to play methodically. Poker can sometimes seem like riding a bike in that it's easy to assume you don't really need to be actively engaged in the activity. You've done it plenty of times before so it's okay to only barely be paying attention. But some of the most successful poker players out there have mastered the ability to tune out all distractions while playing and dedicate a keen sense of focus and contemplation to each decision at the poker table.
3. Bet more frequently.
As a general rule, people don't bet (or raise) often enough in poker. So while one should play patiently, it is also important to play more aggressively when you are contesting a hand. Look for more situations to bet where you otherwise might only check. One good spot to amplify your betting volume in a two-way pot on the turn when you are in position and already bet the flop. In this situation, many players will "check behind" the turn if they are not really fond of their hand. But your opponent is folding a pretty decent percentage of hands to a second bet even though they called a bet on the flop.
4. Think about what your opponents assume about you.
One can begin to exploit certain scenarios at the table by developing an awareness for the perception that their opponents have towards them. For example, when your opponent makes a bet sized in such a way that it must seem obvious to them that you have to call, consider folding if you're unsure about your hand.
Another example is when you are short-stacked in a tournament and in early position. If you make a small preflop raise in this situation, your opponents will immediately be inclined to expect that you have a strong hand. This can be a sneaky way to pick up some blinds and keep your head above water in the later stages of a tournament.
5. Regard the small blind as garbage.
Almost no one folds the small blind as often as they should. It's the worst position on the table. You are guaranteed to be out of position on every post-flop betting round.
Rather than viewing the small blind as "only half a blind more to see the flop", look at it differently: each time you decide not to complete the small blind, you save yourself half a bet as well as the expectation of future losses from having to play a hand out of position.
Many players feel a sense of pride for defending their small blind. As if folding is a threat to their manhood. This is especially true of hands where all players fold to the small blind. Just give your opponent a walk and get onto the next hand. Who cares? You're in an awful position against any competent player trying to contest the blinds out of position.