Games come and go, particularly in this age of ever-evolving technology. Convoluted board games gave way to simplified plastic versions. Then home computers arrived, but were soon overtaken by consoles. Now, we are being told, the console era is coming to an end and it is back to the computers or over to our smartphones.
Through all that upheaval, though, card games have never significantly diminished in popularity. In fact, some have enjoyed something of a revival in the digital age. Early PCs saw us all go freecell-crazy, but perhaps it is poker that has seen the biggest upsurge in popularity. WSOP has given the top players sports star ranking, while simple video poker games can be found anywhere online and provide an opportunity to hone your skills.
Of course, they say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. So if you’ve put in the hard yards at the video poker and learned the basic odds and strategy, you probably think you are ready to take things to the next level and sit down at a table with some human competition for a game of Texas Holdem. Go ahead, you won’t regret it, as long as you keep the following tips in mind.
Know when not to play
The biggest giveaway that there is a newbie at the table is that he or she wants to get involved in every hand. It’s an easy trap to fall into, but remember, playing more does not equate to winning more – usually, the converse applies. Be patient, and know when to throw in your cards, or your bankroll will evaporate faster than it ever did at the video poker machine.
Go in hard when you’re going to win
This is really the flip side to the first tip. If you’ve got a good hand, this is your moment to move in for the kill, so don’t be shy. The best players are the ones who make the best use of a good hand and use it to make up for those small losses they incurred when discretion proved the better part of valour.
Be careful about bluffing
Every great poker scene from the movies includes bluffs and double bluffs, and bluffing is all part of the theatre or poker. It’s good fun, but it is not obligatory. Paul Newman and Clint Eastwood weren’t playing with their own money, but you are, so keep your feet on the ground, stick to your strategy and only bluff if you are confident that it is going to work on that hand and against that opposition.
Watch your opponents
If you play blackjack, you will know that a golden rule is to ignore the other players as they have no bearing on your game. In poker, the opposite applies. If your opponents are reticent, you might want to raise a little more, while if they are being extravagant, it could pay to hold back and take a conservative approach. The experience and attitude of your opponent will also dictate whether bluffing is likely to be a good or bad strategy.