A deck of perfectly drawn cards, a stack of chips and an oval table with the dealer in the middle. The blinds are placed, cards are dealt and the fun begins; for some. Usually, at the end of huge tournaments such as World Poker Tour (WPT), you get to see the winner basically getting flooded with piles of cash.
But how exactly do you get to be a great poker player?
You don’t. But there’s hope.
First of all, if you didn’t know this already, poker is so little about the cards that at some point, they simply don’t matter anymore. You’ve got more chances to win the pot by a better technique than you have by getting a good hand. The reason this happens is because unlike in other card games, in poker you:
Play the man, not the card
Betting on hunches
You, as well as the other players at the table bet according to the strength of your hand and also according to how strong your opponents’ hands you presume to be. There are no facts, just hunches at this point. This is why it’s hard to impossible to generate a lead just from the two cards you’re holding. Instead, look for various signals your opponents are transmitting unconsciously: nervousness, sudden silence, scratching the chin – these are called tells. From here here we deduce the second rule of enhancing your poker game:
Observe, then act
Find their weak spots
Everyone has a tell. And since there is no chance on Earth you can win every single hand at a poker table, time would be better spent concentrating on strong hands only; in the meantime observe your opponents. Do they bet strong on the river? Does the guy next to you touch his shades every time he’s about to go all-in? Try and make a virtual “tell” map in your head; after a few dozen hands, you will be able to tell more about how strong your opponents are just by looking at them. After you pass through this stage, there’s just one thing left:
Practice makes perfect
And it’s not just a cliche; the more you play, the better you will become, as long as you focus on the right part of the poker game: playing the man instead of just betting on the cards. Finally, there’s just one more part to mention:
Bad beats happen, no matter what
And it sucks when it happens. At some point, no matter how prepared you are and how well you deal with your opponents, bad beats happen. It is up to you to carry on and push that frustration and anger into an even better poker play.