How to be better than the other guy in the dog-eat-dog world of poker

Poker is rapidly climbing the casino game charts as more players take the opportunities provided by the mobile age to learn the basics of the game. Variations like video poker provide an ideal first step for those who don’t know a full house from a straight flush to get to grips with the basics. But sooner or later, players want to advance to “real” poker where they go up against other players instead of just a machine or the dealer’s hand.

As well as being tremendous entertainment, poker provides a genuine opportunity to win money. It is not like roulette or slot games, where the only certainty is that the house edge ensures there is only one winner in the long run. With poker, you are not playing the house and in order to have an edge, you simply have to play better than the other players. If you focus on specific skills, that is more achievable than it sounds. 

Apply the statistics

Casinos use cold hard mathematics to give themselves an edge. Here’s one example. In roulette, you get a 1:1 payout for red. That implies 50/50 odds, but the zero or zeroes, mean the likelihood of red is actually a little less than 50 percent. To be a winner in poker, you need to take a similarly logical and statistical approach.

What that means in practice is that in games where you have a statistical advantage, you put more money in the pot and in games where you are at a statistical disadvantage, you put less money in. 

Using your skills

To continue our logical train of thought, playing the advantage at poker is about knowing whether you are at an advantage or disadvantage. It’s about knowing when to fold and having the courage to do so, and also about when to raise and by how much. If you get that right most of the time, you will win most of the hands you play – that is a statistical fact. 

Luck evens out

Sometimes you will do everything right and the casino drops you right in the smelly stuff. It happens, just like the roulette wheel will sometimes land on that lucky seven that you put your chips on straight away. But now that you are in the casino’s position, think about the bigger picture. If your opponent won a hand because he was lucky instead of because he was good, you want him to keep playing, because just as the house edge catches up with roulette players in the long run, so your advantage play will reap rewards if you play with more skill than your opponent.

Bluffing adds to your advantage

Bluffing adds an extra sharpness to your skill edge in poker. When you learn how to bluff in poker, you can even win some of those poker games in which you do not have the statistical advantage. Being able to read your opponent and know whether they feel weak or confident can help you push them into folding when they have a better hand than you. 


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