These are some general strategies that you should use when you are in poker games. In general, the best way to beat bad players is just to play the basic strategies. On the other hand, against good players you need to use deception and other skills.
Bluffing is a technique you will use only against good players. Since bad players will tend to call anything, bluffing is normally worthless. However, from time to time you can convince a good player to lay down a hand he shouldn’t. The best is to bluff by representing a hand. Sometimes blindly betting will convince the other players to fold if he has nothing in hand, but to make him fold something requires that he really thinks he’s beaten. It’s easier to bluff at no limit game than limit one. At no limit, you can just put in a pot sized bet if say a flush draw hit, but a good player is likely to call just one more bet in a limit game.
In a limit game, it is best to bluff early (at the flop), as once a good player starts calling big bets; he will be reluctant to lay down his hand unless he was drawing and missed. For example, let’s say I am in a late position or the SB and have JQ’s. I rise so maybe I will steal the blinds, but the big blind calls. Flop comes K46 rainbow. I bet at the pot, he may fold. I have nothing but there’s a good chance he has nothing too.
It is important to remember, in times you bluff, that you need to bet like you would bet if you had a good hand, just bet hard when there is something scary is not always wise, as good players might get a bit suspicious. If you bet hard when you have the nuts, then it’s fine to bluff hard when the nut hand comes on the board. However, if you tend to slowplay when you have the nut hand, they might realize you are bluffing.
This is the opposite of bluffing. Slowplaying is misleading your opponent into thinking you have a worse hand than you actually do. Slowplaying is effective against both good and bad opponents (bad opponents just bet their hand, so if they have something, they will pay you off no matter what).
You do not want to slowplay when there is a draw on the board that can beat you; you want to slowplay when someone has a hand that has little chance of improving to beat yours. For example, suppose A95 is on the board. You have 99 and you are certain your opponent has an ace. It is probably best to wait until the turn to bet hard, so you can suck him in for at least one extra big bet.
Selecting the right game to play is a skill that many good poker players never develop fully. Moreover, it is often just as important as playing good poker. If you are playing against other good players, then you really don’t stand any better chance than you do at the craps table. Keep good notes of the players you have played against and play in games where you really think you are better than the vast majority of your opponents.
If you are a new player, there are other methods for choosing a game than seeing familiar faces. In a limit game, choose a game with a lot of calling. This means that people are going to the flop with subpar starting hands and paying off people when they should not be. If you are playing a no limit game, look for a game where people are passive, a lot of light betting and calling. These people will not muscle you out of pots but are likely to pay you off.
This really isn’t a strategy to be used against good players. This is more of a strategy to avoid good players!
Changing your Pace
Playing the same style of poker gets boring and repetitive himself after awhile. It is also a bad technique to compete at poker. If you consistently play every hand the same way, you will get too predictable. At random intervals, you should mix up your play. If you are playing very tight, loosen up and vise versa.
This strategy is not really to be used for limit games with 7 or more players, but rather for no limit games or shorthanded limit games, where bluffing and table appearance become more important. You also don’t need to change your style of game against bad opponents; they don’t pay attention to how you are playing anyway.
Avoid the Second Best Hand
Most of the money you will lose at poker will not come from folding your big blind pre flop, but rather being caught with the second best hand. ‘Paying off’ the best hand is why most people lose at poker. Now, since you do not know what your opponent has, it is obviously impossible to fold whenever you are beaten. However, you can often prevent having the second best hand by folding hands that may be dominated preflop. If someone in early position puts in a raise, fold that AJ offsuit. Chances are he has AK, AQ, or a pocket pair of JJ or higher.
Relative Hand Strength
Some hands do better in some situations than others. For example, mid and low pocket pairs do better heads up or with many runners. In a heads up situation, you are a favorite against any non-poker pair higher than yours (22 will beat AK in the long run). However, once there are two or more people in the pot, your hand goes down in value because you will need to hit a set. However, if you hit a set, you will probably win, so your hand goes back up in value once more people have entered the pot (say 5-6 handed).
When there are more people in the pot, suited connectors go up in value and big cards down. When you have a hand like AQ, you want as few of runners as possible so you can with a pair of aces, queens, or maybe even ace high. However, with 56s, there are chances you will win because you hit something exotic, so you want as many people as possible in the pot.