Poker is a truly unique game. It appeals to casuals, pros, and everyone in between, which is doubly impressive considering its longevity. A game nearly two centuries old is still popular today and incredibly popular at that. There are over 100 million online poker players worldwide, and it is a staple in casinos. Poker also has a thriving competitive scene if the total player base isn’t enough. You might not think a game with an element of luck could be competitive, but poker manages it. There are annual, million-dollar tournaments broadcast globally, and poker is competitive enough for some people to consider it a sport!

You may have questions about poker’s popularity like: “How does a century-old game appeal to every kind of player?” or “How does a game of luck have competitive integrity?” The answer to those questions lies in poker’s skill requirement, particularly Texas Holdem’s. The rules are straightforward at the basic level, and beginners can learn the game in minutes. Many casuals enjoy the element of luck since it makes every game interesting. While this is how casuals see poker, that does not mean the game doesn’t reward experienced players. Experienced players see the game in a new light and understand that you can circumvent the element of luck by playing with a solid poker strategy. That strategic depth is unheard of for any other casino game, meaning there is always something new to learn. This poker guide will teach you the skills you need to succeed in poker and mention some skills that aren’t too obvious at first glance.

Photo by Pixabay

Good math

Because of poker’s luck factor, there is a skill in recognizing your odds and making decisions accordingly instead of betting blind. Understanding poker math is the gateway to creating a consistent profit because of a concept known as the expected value. Expected value is a way to tell if a decision will be profitable or not over the long run. The best poker players maximize expected value with every chance they get to counteract the effects of luck. Luck is only short-term, so they know a consistent strategy will lead to long-term profit. Besides expected value, math has other applications that even work in-game. Pot odds allow you to determine if you should call a bet, fold equity helps you decide when to bluff, and pot equity helps you understand how ahead you are and change your strategy accordingly (ex., Value betting).

Bankroll Management

Poker is played with real money, so bankroll management is crucial to success. Managing your funds properly and not going overboard can be tricky, especially with a game as captivating as poker. If you have these bad habits, you are likely to go broke, which is why bankroll management is such an essential skill. A big bankroll also protects you from downswings, inevitable in poker, so you must be prepared for them. Bankroll management tips include only playing with disposable income (money you can afford to lose), considering dropping down in stakes, and refusing to play when you’re tilted.

Photo by Pixabay

Maintaining composure

Poker is an incredibly stressful game. There’s always an element of luck, so you never know what can happen next. This tension is only strengthened by the fact you’re playing with real money, and it’s common to doubt yourself and be scared about your potential losses. Maintaining your composure in stressful situations is necessary for poker and will help your consistency. Focusing on the game alone and not anything else just comes with practice and experience, so you must remember to practice this.

Improvisation and adaptation

No two games of poker are the same. Every game, you must account for changing variables like the players you’re up against, your position at the table, and the cards that are dealt. While this makes it challenging to win consistently, poker dramatically rewards those who can change their strategy to suit the game. Instead of sticking to one strategy every game, slightly changing things like your betting patterns and hand selection can go a long way. A great example is bluffing more against a tight player who will likely fold without a good hand or value-betting a loose-passive player who will call with many weak hands. You must also change your strategy to stop others from exploiting you, like having an equal amount of bluffs and strong hands in your range to become unpredictable.

Hard work and patience

Finally, poker can sometimes be as much of a grind as a game. The casual view of poker as a game of luck is wrong because luck is only short-term. Depending on the stakes, it can take thousands of games to make decent earnings and even more to get to that point. Poker being easy to learn should not make you think it’s not skill-based or easy to master. You must also be patient and realize success doesn’t come quickly. Patience lets you get through downswings knowing they are natural, not something to get frustrated about.

Photo by Pixabay

Where to practice these skills

We hope this article taught you all about how to play poker and the skills you need. If you want to practice those skills and improve at poker, you should play on sites like GGPoker, the world’s largest poker room. Online poker is great for learning and practice because it’s easy to find games, you can play from anywhere, and you can use poker tracking software to analyze your games and locate your weaknesses.