Contrary to popular belief, poker is not a game of luck. The cards, or luck of the draw, comprise only part of the game. In order to win consistently at poker, every good player exhibits a certain set of skills.
In poker, the necessary mathematics skills include more than simply knowing how to count cards. Yes, any poker player should know how to add the flop and board cards as well as have the ability to calculate the cards that are left in the deck (outs). However, he also needs to understand odds and probabilities of the outs.
How do you learn how to calculate the odds of any given game and translate them into a good betting strategy? Turn to a good poker player for help or research poker tutorials online.
Individuals who can not concentrate on a task and become easily distracted will find it hard to become successful poker players. While poker requires the ability to handle multiple tasks, the key is to keep track of the other players' actions without losing sight of the big picture.
Of course advanced poker players know how to control their reactions by putting on what is called a good poker face. However, an individual with good observation skills can pick up those small, uncontrollable telltale signs that show up with a good or bad hand. That is when a good memory will come in handy when you can match up those signs with winning or losing hands.
Players evaluate their opponents before the first hand is even dealt. Bluffing and manipulation skills (making the opponent think you have a better or worse hand) win the game. A good poker player evaluates what kind of hands opponents have and what the opponents think others have. Betting high with a bad hand (fast playing) and betting hesitantly (slow playing) with a good hand as to not scare off the opponents constitute relatively simple forms of this strategy.
Understanding the Concept of Risk Compared to Reward
It takes experience to balance risks with rewards. It might take a streak of losing hands before getting ahead in a particular game. A skilled poker player needs to know when he is up against players who can afford to take bigger risks. He also needs a certain amount of ruthlessness and take advantage of the situation when competing against smaller fish.
It takes a lot of self-discipline to come out ahead. For example, a good hand can easily lead to too much confidence and distract the player from paying attention to the whole game. Bet too high when someone else holds a better hand and the loss can be significant. On the other hand, playing timidly when the cards do not fall right might make for a short game.
However, even the most disciplined and skilled player can encounter better players. In that case, lack of respect for those skills can lead to foolish losses as well. As the saying goes: Know when to fold.
Good players understand that poker is about skills and know how to work all of these. While unskilled players can get lucky, advanced poker enthusiasts do not rely on luck. They simply hope no one else gets lucky.
About The Author:
Sarah writes for Allpro usually about sports and game reviews.