Poker Strategy Guide – Top Tips & Tactics To Take Your Poker Game to the Next Level

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Sponsored Content No other game mixes skill and luck as beautifully as poker, making it one of the most exciting options in any casino. You know what makes an amazing poker player, though? Using an effective poker strategy to make those chips slide your way as often as possible. In this guide, we’ll walk you through some of the best tips for becoming a great player in any poker game – whether it’s tournaments you’re looking to play at sites like Ignition or a three-card poker against the dealer. If you’re ready to transform from a fish into a shark, read on. Best Live Poker Strategies While poker is a game that takes a lifetime to master, there are a few basic tips you can implement immediately that will give you a huge edge over most of the people you face at the tables. Below, we’ll talk about five of the biggest changes you can make to your game that should increase your winning chances right away. You won’t turn into Phil Ivey overnight, but at the very least, these should help you plug some of the biggest holes in your game. Pick the Right Poker Site To be able to apply the best poker strategies from this guide, you’ll need the best poker sites first. Here are our top picks: Ignition: Best overall Bovada: Big weekly tournaments BetOnline: Top mobile poker app Black Chip Poker: Best for Omaha Play Tight But Be Aggressive This is actually two tips in one, and these are perhaps the most important changes you can make to your game. Many rookie players make the mistake of watching pros like Daniel Negreanu and Tom Dwan play a lot of hands, and they think they can do the same – after all, it’s much more exciting to be in a hand than to fold, right? The problem is, you’re not Tom Dwan or Daniel Negreanu. Those guys have played millions of hands, and they have a sixth sense for knowing exactly where they are at all times in a hand. Until you develop that same skill (and it will take a long time), you’re better off sticking to good starting hands. As a beginner, you should mainly be using a solid preflop poker strategy that involves playing premium hands like aces, kings, and queens, plus ace-king. You should play other hands as well, like pairs below queens and suited connectors, but try not to branch out much further than that, at least initially. Now, here’s the key to this basic poker strategy: once you get a good hand, play it aggressively. If you’re the first to enter the pot, raise it up. If there are limpers ahead of you, punish them – make them pay to see the flop. And if you’re playing online at sites like Ignition, there are likely to be a lot of limpers. If you think you have the best hand (or a great draw), then apply as much pressure to your opponents as possible. While no poker strategy is unexploitable, a tight-aggressive strategy is as close as it gets. There’s a reason why it’s long been favored by pros like Doyle Brunson, Phil Hellmuth, and Dan Harrington. Solid and aggressive poker gets the money in the long run. >> Try out this strategy at Ignition’s anonymous tables Have a Plan Before you make your first bet, you need to have a plan for how the pot will go. Too many players only think about the decision in front of them, with no regard for how their actions will affect later streets and no idea how to react to certain cards that might hit. For example, you might have heard the rule that you need a big hand to play a big pot. That’s largely true, but one of the costliest mistakes novice players make is pumping up a pot with a mediocre hand and then facing a massive bet on a later street. What do you do at that point? Fold, and surrender all your chips while you still have a decent hand? Or call a huge bet that you’re not likely to win most of the time? If you plan your hands, though, you’ll be prepared for any situation that might arise. For example, let’s say you have pocket jacks. You might raise pre-flop with the intention of c-betting any flop – that’s a pretty standard move and about as far as most players go with their thinking. If the flop is favorable, they’ll bet more, whereas they might be more cautious on scary boards. So what if the flop comes 9-high? Are you willing to go all in on that board? If not, then consider betting smaller or potentially even checking. Try to put your opponent on a range, and think about what will happen if certain cards (like an ace or another 9) hit the turn or river. By keeping the pot small and practicing pot control, you can prevent yourself from having to make a risky decision for all your chips. You also make it easier and less expensive to ditch the hand if you feel you’re beat. Pay Attention You can’t play winning poker if you’re scrolling through Reddit on your phone or trying to flirt with the dealer. You just can’t. You have to pay attention at the poker table, focusing on the game and the other players. This will give you the information you need to make tough decisions later on. Watch what hands the other players are playing and how they bet them. Many times, this information will save you your entire stack later on, so the sooner you can start building a book on the other players, the better. Let’s say you raise with pocket queens and then face a large re-raise from another player. Should you call? Fold? Shove? The answer, of course, is “it depends” – and you won’t know the correct play if you haven’t been paying attention. Is this the first hand the guy’s played all night? If so, the cards should be in the muck so fast you’d think they were burning your fingers. Do they re-raise every single pot? Then let’s get those chips in the middle and hope for the best. Beyond that, you can also take note of changing table dynamics. For example, the guy in seat five might be a solid player, but if you just saw them take three bad beats in a row, they might be ready to go on tilt. Or if the tight player to your right has raised your blind the last three rounds, you might need to consider giving their open raises a little less respect. When you’re using poker sites like Bovada, you can even write down this information so that you don’t have to remember it all. Tell a Coherent Story The bets you make tell a story, and if the story doesn’t make sense, then you’re not likely to get the result you want from them. For example, let’s say you want to make a big bluff. If you’ve been check-calling the entire hand, but suddenly lead out with a massive bet when a blank hits the turn, it won’t make a lot of sense. If that card really helped you, why would you lead out? You’d wait to check-raise, correct? And what kind of hand would you be playing that would draw to a blank like that? It doesn’t make sense, and while it might bewilder your opponent, it’s unlikely to get them to fold. You can use the same logic when evaluating your opponents’ hands. Why are they making the bets that they’re making? What story are they trying to tell? Does it check out? If the story is full of holes, then you should consider looking them up. Only Play in Good Poker Games This tip is just as important as any other you’ll ever find. No matter how good you are, you’ll always do better if you’re playing in a juicy game. Take note of the players at the table (this is where paying attention is key). Are most of them weak players? If you can’t spot at least two or three players that you know are worse than you are, then get up and move to a different table. Pride demolishes bankrolls. The good thing about the Internet, though, is that you’re very likely to find tons of weak players at poker sites like Black Chip Poker. Also, is there an opportunity to make a lot of money at this table? Sometimes, you’ll see a table full of weak players, but they’re hardly putting any chips in the middle. Making money at a table like that will be like pulling teeth, so try to find a spot where there’s more action. Likewise, a game is only good if you’re playing well in it. Are you tired? On tilt? If so, get up and walk away – there will always be another game. Many poker careers have been wrecked by playing in games when you’re not at 100%. Practicing tilt control is a skill that eludes even many pros (cough Phil Hellmuth cough), but mastering your emotions is key if you want to make money at this game. There’s no shame in walking away if you’re not at your best – but it’s hard not to feel shame when you’re walking away empty-handed because you let your emotions get the better of you. Best Three-Card Poker Strategy While three-card poker is very similar to live poker, it’s fundamentally different in the sense that you’re playing the house instead of other players. That means you’ll always be at a disadvantage, and your best hope is to limit the house’s edge. The good news is that there are ways to do that, and we’ll show you a few of them now. The Q-6-4 Strategy The most common strategy is to play if your cards are Q-6-4 or better. You’ll also hit “play wager” if you have an ace or king, regardless of the other two cards, or if you have Q-7-x. If your hand doesn’t meet those basic requirements (if your highest card is a jack, for example), then just fold and save your money. Modified Three-Card Poker Strategy If you know one of the dealer’s cards, you can modify your strategy to give you better pot odds. If the card is a queen, only play Q-9 or better. If it’s an ace, only play A-9 or better, and only play K-9 or better if it’s a king. If the dealer shows a jack, then you should always make a bet. Of course, as with regular poker or any other game, managing your money intelligently is the key to success in three-card poker. >> Play Three-Card Poker Best Video Poker Strategy Like three-card poker, video poker is a game played against the house, so you’re sledding uphill from the start. However, here are a few tips to stretch your gambling dollar a bit farther. Use a Poker Strategy Chart If you’re not a master of video poker, then use a strategy chart to help you make the correct decision every step of the way. These charts allow you to quickly find the mathematically correct play depending on your hand so that you never leave any value on the table. Poker strategy charts aren’t just for newbies, either. Even experienced players can use them to identify and plug holes in their strategy, ensuring that they’re getting full value on their winning hands (while losing the minimum on their trash hands). Understand Pay Tables Every machine pays out differently, so you should familiarize yourself with what each hand will earn before you start playing. This info should be listed right there on the screen. Knowing what payout you’re chasing can inform your playing decisions. For example, if you have a pair of aces but are one card away from a flush, you should know if chasing that last card is worth breaking up a winning pair. Bet the Max If you can, you should bet the maximum amount on every hand. Not only will this maximize your profit when you win, but many jackpots require you to bet the max to qualify. Of course, if you’re just learning a video poker machine and don’t quite know how to play it yet, you might want to bet smaller until you get the hang of it (and pray you don’t hit a jackpot during this time). Play Poker at the Right Online Casinos Not all online casinos are created equal when it comes to their video poker selection. Some have machines with higher payouts or bigger jackpots, while others can give you bigger bonuses, so it’s worth doing your research before you get started. Not sure which online casinos for real money are the right ones for you? You’re in luck… Best Sites to Play Online Poker If you’re looking for the best places to play cards online, here are short reviews of the five top poker sites we’ve found. 1. Ignition – Best Site to Play Poker Online Overall Pros: Welcome package up to $3,000 Jackpot SNGs offer up to 1000x the buy-in $100k guaranteed MTT every Sunday Anonymous tables protect against sharks Zone poker perfect for playing lots of hands Cons: Must spend half of bonus at the casino Lack of ewallet deposit options If you’re looking to play real money poker on the internet, Ignition is the place to do it. The cash games at Ignition Casino are second to none, with regular action at limits ranging from pennies to $5/$10. Zone poker tables allow you to get in hundreds of hands per hour, as you’ll be dealt a brand new hand every time you fold. If you’re worried about running into pros, the anonymous tables here ensure you won’t be targeted. You’ll be assigned a random number every time you log on, so no one will be able to follow you based on your screen name. The tournaments here are excellent, with the crown jewel being the $100,000 guaranteed MTT every Sunday. If you prefer single-table tournaments, you can play Jackpot SNGs that promise up to 1000x your buy-in. New players can get up to $3000 in bonus money if they deposit using crypto or $2000 if they choose fiat currency. You redeem the bonus by earning “Ignition Miles,” and you’ll get a buck every time you accumulate 30 miles. To qualify for this offer, you will need to use the Ignition bonus code GWPCB150. The site accepts multiple cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin, as well as major credit cards. The deposit minimum is $25, and most crypto cashouts are processed within 1 hour. Bank and check withdrawals can take up to 5 or even 10 business days. >> Claim up to $3000 in deposit bonuses (Ignition) 2. Bovada – Best Poker Tournaments Pros: $2 million in guaranteed tourney prizes every week Bonus for poker players up to $500 Good player traffic Satellites available for most MTTs Turbo tourneys for action junkies Cons: 30-day expiry period for bonuses Some tourneys have high buy-ins If you consider yourself the next Phil Hellmuth, Bovada is the best place to start your MTT career. Every week, they offer at least $2 million in guaranteed tournament prize pools, and there are also turbo options for players who don’t want to commit a whole day to finding out if they made the money. Some of the tournaments are expensive to enter, but the prize pools are worth it, and the site offers satellites for most of their biggest events. There are also tournaments aimed at online blackjack players, which is a really nice touch. If you’d prefer to play in a ring game, there’s excellent traffic at all hours of the day, especially at the lower stakes. Bovada offers a 100% deposit match up to $500 for poker players, and you can deposit with both crypto and credit cards to claim it. There are also plenty of other Bovada casino bonuses to look forward to as a regular player. There’s a $25 deposit minimum and a $10 cashout minimum, and most withdrawals are processed within a few hours. However, keep in mind that bank transfers do take longer. >> Claim up to $500 in poker bonuses (Bovada) 3. BetOnline – Best Mobile Poker App Pros: Great features like straddles and all-in cashouts Mobile-friendly design Deposit bonus up to $1000 Bad beat jackpot rewards unlucky players Offers unique games like six-plus hold ‘em Cons: $50 minimum deposit to qualify for bonuses 30-day expiry period on bonuses Anyone who loves to play cards on their phone or tablet should bookmark the BetOnline website, as it has the best mobile experience we’ve found at any online cardroom. It’s one of the few sites that lets you play in either portrait or landscape mode, so you can play in whatever manner is most comfortable for you. The layout is sleek and intuitive, making the mobile playing experience as easy as playing on desktop. The casino offers most of the same features you can find in a real-life cardroom, like being able to straddle the blinds or cash out your hand based on its equity without running it to completion. There’s also a slew of table games and real money slots to explore – if you ever need a change of scenery. You will also find unique games like six-plus hold ‘em here (a game in which all cards below a six are removed from the deck). If you ever get bored with normal no-limit hold ‘em, there’s plenty of variety to explore. When you open a new account and make your first deposit, you’ll be able to redeem a 100% deposit match up to $1,000 if you use the code POKER1000. BetOnline accepts 16 different cryptocurrencies and deposit and withdrawal minimums vary depending on what transaction method you use. >> Claim up to $1,000 in poker bonuses (BetOnline) 4. Black Chip Poker – Best Site to Play Omaha Poker Pros: 5-card Omaha cash game available Bonus up to $2,000 $1 million in guaranteed MTT prizes on Thursdays Tourney buy-ins starting as low as 11 cents Bomb pots generate massive action Cons: Limited game selection Not all games count towards wagering requirements Omaha has taken the poker world by storm in recent years, and it’s almost as popular as Texas Hold ‘Em in certain circles. Of course, a good thing can always be improved upon, which is why Black Chip offers 5-card Omaha, which is like Omaha on steroids. Speaking of things that are juiced, the prize pools here are massive, with the biggest tournament day being Thursdays. There are over a million dollars worth of guaranteed prizes on that day, spread out over nearly a dozen tournaments. You can also try your hand at the bomb pot tables if you like crazy action. In these tables, there will be randomly selected “bomb pots” in which every player will have to contribute a certain amount and see the flop, regardless of their starting cards. You can get a 100% deposit match up to $2,000 here, provided you deposit at least $25. There’s no code required, and you clear the bonus by playing raked hands or paying tournament fees. The site claims they accept over 60 cryptocurrencies, although they’ll definitely steer you to the biggest ones like Bitcoin or Ethereum. Crypto cashouts take about an hour on average, while fiat transactions will have a minimum of two or three days. >> Get a 100% match up to $2,000 (Black Chip Poker) 5. Americas Cardroom – Highest Traffic on Poker Cash Games Pros: Weekly cash rewards for loyal players 100% deposit match up to $2000 Special events have prize pools up to $10 million 27% rakeback available Daily double jackpots for tourney winners Cons: $50 withdrawal minimum Not all games available on mobile If you like bonuses, then let us introduce you to “The Beast.” The Beast is a program that Americas Cardroom offers in which it gives cash awards to its most prolific players. The more you play here, the bigger your rewards will be. That’s not all the site offers in terms of cash prizes, as you can earn up to 27% rakeback. There are also “Daily Double” jackpots for users who win special tournaments, and they also have events like their Venom tournament, which has a $10 million guaranteed prize pool. Open an account here, and you can get a 100% deposit match up to $2,000. You’ll get a dollar of the bonus every time you earn 27.5 points through playing raked hands or paying tourney fees. Americas Cardroom accepts multiple payment methods, including cryptocurrency, credit cards, and Luxon Pay. Withdrawals are processed quickly, although there are $50 cashout minimums for certain transaction types. >> Claim up to $2,000 in poker bonuses (Americas Cardroom) Guide to the Best Poker Strategies – FAQ What is the Best Online Poker Strategy? There is no “best” poker strategy, but rather a combination of different approaches and styles that you can implement to increase your odds at the pot. Typically, though, a tight-aggressive strategy will yield the best results for newbies. What is the Best Tournament Poker Strategy? Most experts believe the best strategy for winning poker tournaments is to play solid poker early, then open up your game and take more risks as the blinds increase. Regardless of how you play, winning tournaments takes a blend of skill and luck, and even the best of the best lose more than they win. Is Poker Skill or Luck? There is both skill and luck involved when you play poker. Luck tends to have a bigger impact in the short term, while in the long run, the most skillful players win the most money. Can You Win Real Money Playing Poker? Yes, you can win real money by playing online poker. There are tons of real money ring games and tournaments at most online poker sites like Ignition, and many have free poker games as well. Can You Really Win at Three-Card Poker? If you use the correct strategy, it’s possible to win at three-card poker in the short term. Ultimately, though, the house will always have an edge. Even if you have a rock-solid money-management system to beat the house – the table limits will stop you from doing so. What Are Poker “Tells,” and Are They Reliable? A “tell” is a subconscious indication of a player’s hand strength. There are multiple tells that a professional poker player will use to determine whether to call or fold, but they tend to only be a part of the decision-making process. As a general rule, strong means weak – meaning you should assume the opposite of whatever signals a player is consciously giving off. In online poker, things like bet sizing and timing tend to be the best tells available. What is the Best Site to Play Poker for Real Money? Currently, the best site to play online poker for real money is Ignition. It has a generous $3,000 deposit bonus, great features like anonymous tables and zone poker options, and it offers both high-stakes and low-stakes games. Ready to Become a Better Poker Player? Having a winning poker strategy offers a huge advantage to any would-be card sharps. Since most players just wing it at the tables, knowing how to play winning poker ahead of time will set you up for success before the first hand is even dealt. The poker strategy tips and tactics above have been proven to work again and again, and they form the backbone of the strategies used by top pros all over the world. When you’re ready to put this guide into action, we’d recommend heading over to Ignition Casino. It has the best games and most lucrative bonuses of any site we’ve found so far. No matter where you end up playing, remember to play smart and trust your gut – and never be afraid to walk away from a bad game. IMPORTANT: Gambling can be addictive. If you have a gambling problem or somebody you know does, then we strongly advise calling the National Gambling Helpline at 1-800-522-4700 to talk with a certified advisor. All gambling sites are 21+ only. Some of the sites listed on our site may not be available in your region. Check your local laws to ensure online gambling is available and legal where you live. Please, visit these organizations for free gambling addiction resources: Article paid for by: PlayTogga, The news and editorial staff of the Bay Area News Group had no role in this post’s preparation.

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