You would assume that the avatar you choose for your PokerStars account does not directly impact how much money you win playing the game of poker.
Just in case, I thought that this image of Mr Bean would be the last thing an opponent would want to look at while making a difficult decision.
Hence for the last 10 years, Mr Beans glaring eyes and awkward smile has been my avatar.
It Is a Strategy Blog, Not a Poker Blog
If you have no interest in poker, I still think this blog is for you.
I will move on to other topics after this post!
I just want to breakdown a simple concept, but first I will introduce you to the game that I love.
The game I play is Texas Hold’em.
Poker is a game of incomplete information.
You do not know your opponents’ cards or which cards will be dealt next.
People think it is a card game that involves betting, but it is really a betting game that involves cards.
I am paraphrasing that last line.
I always liked that description of the game, but I cannot remember who said it first.
The Rules of Texas Hold’em
Each player has “chips” (money to bet with).
Each player is dealt two cards (sometimes referred to as your “hand”), then there are five community cards.
Each player aims to make the best 5 card “hand” using a combination of your own 2 cards, and the 5 community cards.
If you bet and all of your opponents’ fold, you can win the “pot” (all of the Chips bet so far), without showing your cards.
The fun bit is that you can bet after:
Each player has their 2 cards
3 cards are dealt (“Flop”)
A 4th card is dealt (“Turn”)
A 5th card is dealt (“River”).
Each of these bets is an opportunity to win the pot.
If you bet and get called after the river, you show your cards and the best hand wins.
So the rules above are the essence of the game.
It is important that I point out, that the order of play changes every hand.
During each hand, one player has the “dealer” position, shown by the dealer chip in the image.
This means that they get to play last at every stage of betting.
The person to their left acts first, and the order of play is clockwise from there.
The further to the right of the dealer you are, the more likely you are to have to act first in this hand.
Having the final decision, or the dealer position, is know as playing “In position” (Spoiler – This bit is really important).
Winning at Poker
In my opinion, the most crucial strategy to understand in poker is playing in position.
By playing in more situations when act last, that extra information about your opponents actions can be used against them. You can:
Bluff them if they show weakness
Make well-timed bets when you think you have the best “hand” and want to get paid.
Control the pot size by seeing an extra card
Poker Hand Example
Below is a link to footage of a poker hand that I played online a few years ago. Click the link below and press play to watch:
$56 of my real money on the table for myself and $36 for my opponent who I will refer to as “Player6”. You will see how I played the two cards “King of Clubs” & “Ten of Clubs”. In this hand, I am in the dealer position, shown by the little white chip below with the red diamond on it.
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Poker Hand Summary:
Player6 bet $1.50, “pre-flop” (the term for betting before we saw any community cards).
I had good but not great cards but I am in Position, so I “call” (the term for putting the minimum chips required into the “pot” to continue).
I was hoping to use my positional advantage if I get a flop that I like.
Player6 bet big on the flop ($3.58 into a pot of $3.58), and now I have a good enough hand, to put it in all the chips.
I raise to $11.50 but they just called the “raise” (the term for putting a second bet after your opponent has just bet).
Player6 could have gone “All-In” on the flop, (Going all-in means betting all your chips. It’s a lot of fun), but they didn’t.
I interpreted that as a sign of weakness because if they have a very strong hand (i.e. AA, KK, 88, 77 or 55), they would surely want to get all the money in now?