Poker strategies. What are they? How to use them?

Why do you think we have professional poker players and champions? Poker isn’t about luck. That can only get you so far. Numerous studies and investigations proved that poker is a skill sport where the best mind and best strategy win, and luck is a small factor. This is why understanding and mastering poker strategy is crucial for players aiming to improve their game and win more. Let’s dive deeper into poker strategies and how to use them.

Must-know facts about poker strategy in general

Before we set off, there are certain points to make about strategies.

  • No guarantees. Your strategy doesn’t guarantee a win or a fixed percentage of wins. It’s all about details, execution, and the dynamics of every game.
  • Long-term only. Strategies only guarantee that long term, your results will be better than with no strategy.
  • Aggressiveness Pays Off. With every strategy, you must be assertive with your strong hands to build the pot and win more money. Aggression should be measured, but you must avoid dwindling and doubting.
  • Playing the right position. Maximizing position means acting after your opponents, which gives you more information about their hands & intent before you make your decisions. Respond rather than initiate. People make more mistakes when initiating.
  • Avoid Limping. Limping, or just calling the big blind preflop, is generally a weak strategy that can lead to trouble. Instead, enter pots with a raise to assert your strength, and don’t bite into bait.
  • Understand Pot Odds. Pot odds are a fundamental concept in poker that helps players make much better decisions about whether to call bets when holding any kind of hand. Watch a few YouTube videos to understand the basics.
  • Observation is Key. Paying attention to your opponents’ actions, betting patterns, and tendencies is invaluable. This allows you to adjust in real time.
  • Value Betting. When you have a strong hand, make sure to bet for value. Many players, especially beginners, miss out on potential winnings by playing too passively with strong hands.
  • Manage bank. Don’t overspend and play within your budget.

Now we’ll get a bit more into detail on 3 different strategies.

TAG – one of the more popular poker strategies

The tight-aggressive (TAG) strategy involves playing a limited number of hands and being aggressive with the hands you choose to play. So, in short – go strong, or don’t go at all. This approach requires patience, as you’ll be folding a lot, but it also demands boldness when you have a strong hand. TAG players are not too easy to identify, when the execution is right, so you might bait others into thinking you’re bluffing. Here’s the execution of the TAG poker strategy:

  1. Focus on playing only strong or stronger starting hands. This selection process greatly reduces the number of hands you play, which helps minimize long-term losses. You need to familiarize yourself with pot odds to know what are great odds.
  2. Bet and raise rather than check and call. When you decide to enter a pot with one of your strong hands, be aggressive. This puts pressure on your opponents, forcing them to make tough decisions and sweat which leads to mistakes.
  3. Being in a late position (closer to the dealer) allows you to see how others act, giving you valuable information before you act. Use this to your advantage by being more aggressive when in a favorable position.

Bluff & Bait – a delicate option for a very methodical player

Have you ever heard of the term bully in the context of poker? This is usually a poker strategy, reserved for those who are psychologically tough and have the necessary experience, trash-talking ability, and methodical approach to bluff, bait and provoke opponents.

The core of this strategy is simple – Make your opponents believe you have a better hand than you actually do. Effective bluffing can force opponents to fold strong hands, but you must be smart with pushing. Overdo it and you’ll get found out. Also, if you push too little, it won’t make your opponents second-guess, eliminating the benefit. Key ingredients of this strategy include:

  • Reading opponents. Successful bluffing requires an understanding of your opponent’s tendencies. Bluff against players who are more likely to fold and give in to pressure.
  • Situational awareness. Bluff in situations where the board and your betting history can credibly represent a strong hand. It’s much harder to get what you want if your betting history is so-so.
  • Manage your intent. Don’t do this too often. If you try too hard, observant opponents will catch on and call your bluffs.

The best strategy – if you’re unsure, just fold

Top players know when to bet and how much they can risk. Mind games are fun and exciting, but at the end of the day, it’s all about odds and reading your opponent. If the risk outweighs the potential reward, remember that life isn’t the plot of the movie Maverick or a Hollywood blockbuster. The outcome may not be in your favor.

Remember that more often than not, folding is just delaying your chance at the pot and victory. It’s not in any way a failure or loss. Yes, you won’t scratch the urge that pushes you to go to the bitter end and find out, but poker is all about managing urges and playing a calm & collected role.

So, if you’re too unsure – don’t put any more money on it. Check or fold. Dedicate your time & energy to hands that can win.


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