I’ve begun to play poker three years ago. Initially, I tried to hold every hand that I was dealt. As any first poker player knows, that’s pretty much impossible. In fact, it was nearly impossible to win any given hand pre-flop or post-flop.
I soon discovered that the way to win big pots and win easily was to be more selective (and aggressive) than the other players at the table. Since being selective and waiting for the best hand (or a good starting hand) was the name of the game, I began to slowly loosen up my starting hand requirements and actually took a lot of pots down pre-flop or on the flop when I was in position.
However, I also began to acquire a reputation as a player that only played top-notch starting hands, and therefore was known as a “pokerrepublik“. This draw against me bothered me more than anything else because it meant that I had to open up my game and become a better player on the flop than other players.
The best way to win at poker is to be able to adjust and adapt to your opponents. If they’re all playing the same hand, then you have them beat 99% of the time. If they’re all making the same sized bet pre-flop, then you need to find a way to get them to fold here as well.
As I adjusted and became more in tune with the game, I started to realize that the best players at the table were not utilizing the same set of rules for everything. This meant that I had to do a little adjustments, or I tended to lose very quickly. This is why I recommend taking notes on players, which will help you see the holes in your own game. When you recognize a mistake, it’s easier to take the time to correct it. And the more you correct, the bigger bonus your improved play will provide you.
There are many spots on the flop that are very important to your hand, and you should be using this to your advantage. On the button, you should be fairly confident that you have the best hand pre-flop, but be a little more cautious on the flop. Further, you should be taking advantage of all pair possibilities. If your opponents over-pair their hands, and you have the better kicker, then take your chances and win the pot.
On the turn, you should throw out all drawing hands and only stay in with the best hands. Again, the pot odds and the implied odds will be much bigger if you have several players involved in the pot.
In the river, you should be playing very aggressive. You took your time on the turn, and it should pay off for you now. If you check to your opponents, or call them all, and your opponents play back at you with a draw, you will have lost some money, because you couldn’t make the fold or didn’t bet enough. Playing aggressive in this spot will pay off dividends if you make all your opponents fold pre-flop.
Playing soft or wild hands can be a mistake if you are relying on the pot odds to win. The odds might not be in your favor, but by playing more aggressively you might be able to get the pot to be in your favor. Further, while you are in a tough position, if you make a couple of calls and wins, that’s even worse.
The best setting to use aggressive play is when you are in late position. Being on the button or close to last to act allows you to bet aggressively to chase outdraws and maximizes the chance of your hand hitting. You can play more aggressively later on in the round by betting with the same tactics. A good idea is to play against your opponent at an online poker site that offers a lot of opponents. By having many players in the pot, you are more likely to have a better chance of winning.
In the middle of the round, you should play even more aggressively. Since the amount of players has built, you might as well take advantage of the situation and bet aggressively.
In the end, don’t be afraid to mix up your play and your cards. You should follow your instincts, and if you feel that you are not getting the right odds, don’t hesitate to fold.