| On Updated : Jul 6, 2020 4:38 PM IST

Beginner to Intermediate Guide for Poker

By Dheeraj Singh

Once you are done with the basics of learning the poker, it’s time to level up your game. It’s been said that Poker is easy to learn but hard to master and in this section we will learn a few tips to master it. One thing that makes Poker so fascinating is its different approach and ways of playing. There are plenty of approaches and game styles and each player has its own style of play.

  • Be More Aggressive than You Might be normally

The first step of transition from a beginner to intermediate is to start learning the different approaches of the game or the game styles of your opponents. Now, you know the complete mechanics of the game, which hand is strongest, when to fold and when to raise the bet, and many more tactics. But, there are a variety of styles to reach out the desired result and each player has its own way of doing so. This part of the game is called different styles of play. There are four major styles of playing poker –

Tight – A cautious approach of playing poker where you don’t take much of the risk and play relatively fewer hands is referred to as a tight approach

Loose – Playing loose is referred to a careless approach where you tend to gamble a lot and play relatively more hands. In simple terms, it is opposite of tight approach

Aggressive – Aggressive approach is all about controlling the flow of the game. It involves making big bets, betting a lot, opening the pot and putting the pressure on opponents.

Passive – Passive approach is like taking the back seat i.e. calling more often than betting, and letting the opponent dictate how the game unfolds.

Now that you know the major styles of playing poker, does anyone of the above describe your approach? As a beginner, you should try to focus on a ‘tight-aggressive’ combination. Try to get comfortable with this style of approach as it will help you in betting aggressively in the long run. However, this doesn’t mean you should not learn the loose-passive combination of playing poker. You should know how to play all the styles as playing any style too rigidly will make you predictable. And, being predictable is the biggest mistake in Poker.

  • Watch like a hawk; keep an eye on your opponents

Keeping a close eye on your opponents and their moves is one of the basics of the play which you need to follow irrespective of your level – beginner, intermediate or pro. There’s a saying in Poker – “Play the player, not your cards” and this does make sense. Not every time you have the winning hand but this doesn’t mean you cannot win. This is the situation where this saying comes handy.

You will have to study the gaming style of your opponent, calculate the poker mathematics, check the odds and accordingly will have to make the decision to call, raise or fold. This is the situation where you have to decide to bluff or not? Always remember, your hand is usually good or bad only in relation to your opponent. For instance, K-K is a fantastic hand, but if your opponent has A-A, you are going to losers 82% of the time. At this time, your skills and understanding of the game come handy.

  • Improve your skills

The next step is to improve your skills. How will you tell if one of the persons is bluffing or not? How will you know if your opponent has two Aces or what are the odds of two aces? For this, you need to improve your skills.

Now, it is not necessary that you will learn the game only by playing it. Sometimes, you learn some tricks by watching other people’s game. Playing online is a great way to improve your skills and understanding but sometimes it is necessary to just watch some pros play their game. Observe their game styles, their approach, how they conduct themselves and you will learn a lot. You can also check our section Poker tips from Pro to improve your skills.

Check out the videos of players winning the tourneys and sharing their experience. Start reading blogs about poker pros and strategy articles. Try to get more and more involved in the game apart from just playing live tables.

  • Strengthen your bluff game

A well-timed bluff could win you a pot you might otherwise lose. That’s the power of bluff in Poker. But when a player bluffs, what is he/her trying to achieve? Actually, he/she is trying to convince one of the opponents to fold the best hand. It’s that simple. And this is why it is necessary to call a well-timed bluff.

A successful bluff will convince your opponent that you hold cards that will beat their hands. So, first of all, it’s important to know how your play looks to your opponents. Do they take you seriously? Have you convinced them with your bluff?

Your actions at the table describe your gaming style. So, when you are bluffing make sure that the story you are telling your opponents makes sense. If you just decide bluff as your last hope to win the pot, then there are chances that a smart opponent will see through it and your plan might fail. It’s very necessary to take your opponents in confidence before calling out a bluff.

  • Learn about Poker odds

Odds are a way of expressing the probability of an event. The same thing happens in Poker. Let’s understand this with an example-

Let’s say, you have four clubs and are waiting for the last club to fall on the river. This will make your flush and you will win the pot. Now, let’s do some calculation. There are 13 clubs in a 52-card deck of which two of them are in your hand and another two are on the board, leaving nine clubs remaining in the deck. Discounting the two cards in your hand and the four on the board, there are 46 cards that could come on the river, nine of which will win you the pot. So, you see the odds – 37 cards of the 46 cards will not make your flush, while nine cards will.

This calculation will help you throughout the game. If you find it difficult to calculate, you can also take help of different software and poker tools that let you know the odds of your hand, gaming styles of your opponents, stats of your opponents, and many more.

Dheeraj Singh

I believe Life and Poker work on the same principle. The more you learn the better you become.