Some will say that poker is nothing but a game about getting lucky with cards. But nothing could be further from the truth. It is an extremely deep, complicated game, requiring a great deal of strategy and thought. As far as casino games go, it is one of the most demanding mentally. Many professional players are exceptionally good at mathematics, which is a major advantage.
But, more than anything, it is about out thinking your opponents on every level. Getting a good hand is not essential for winning, and is only a part of a much bigger, broader approach to game that is, at it’s core, about deceit.
Perhaps one of the biggest decisions in every round is whether to play with a hand, or fold with that hand. From this decision all other decisions for the round will follow. The question is; what sort of hand is worth playing? Some say that a minimum of a high pair should be achieved, before even considering playing. This is not a bad approach, but not a rule set in stone.
A smart player may go ahead with a poor hand, simply for the sake of breaking up the pattern of their play. If having established a dominant position over opponents, a weak hand could easily be used to bluff a massive win.
At its core, poker is a game about making bets, and calling bets. It sounds simple, but happens to be a multi-layered, multifaceted process. Betting big or betting small are massive decisions, and could drastically alter the course of a game. The question is; what are you trying to achieve?
If your hand is a killer, drawing in the other players, with a tiny initial bet, is a good strategy. Or, perhaps even skipping the first round of betting, just to get an idea of what the other players might have. The trick is this; betting big on a great hand is not always a good idea, and betting small on a mediocre hand likewise not necessarily the best approach. Baiting and fleecing opponents is an art, depending on the competition for the round.
As already said, being good at maths is an enormous advantage in poker. Having razor sharp mathematics skills could quickly help a sharp player determine the chances of getting a better hand, based on statistics. Is throwing out one card a better idea than throwing out another? Are the chances better getting a straight, than a flush? Knowing these odds helps, and will improve performance.
Though, being excellent at on the fly mathematics is not entirely necessary. Strategy guides can quickly help a player learn the best approach to take, without having to have the mind of a mathematics expert.
Either way, understanding the game, learning the tricks, and keeping a mind sharp are all key in being a better player.