When friends of mine or friends of my friends find out that I’ve written a couple of hundred poker articles, they’re naturally inclined to grill me on how they can either become better players or teach them how to get into the game in the first place. It’s a common phenomenon that I’ve grown accustomed to, yet I always slightly enjoy the reaction I get from these same people after I start throwing tips and suggestions their way only to then get looks of extreme confusion on their faces, since for the most part they have no idea what I’m talking about. Most people want an easy answer and few are willing to work hard using the advice I give them. Perhaps you’ll have better luck understanding my tales.
Here are three expert-level tips that you can employ in any poker format regardless of buy-in level or quality of competition:
1. No limping
If you’re a smart player who can correctly use a pre-flop limp as a way of masking your hand or as an attempt to change up your table image, then limping can play a role in your strategy. For everyone else it just signals your weakness to the rest of the opposition and makes you very easy to predict and read, effectively ruining your chances to make something out of a pot unless you get lucky and flop a premium hand. If a hand is worth staying in with, it should be worth raising with.
2. Punish the limpers
Taking a cue from tip number 1, you want to never let up on the players that are limping into too many pots. They’ve proven themselves to be timid and cautious and unwilling to put a lot of money in before the flop. These are the same people that will check/fold all the time post-flop. In situations such as these you can almost raise limpers at will pre-flop and then bet them off their hand in the next round without even worrying about your own cards.
3. Maximise the value
This is the single most important thing I can teach you. So much money is lost from not seizing an opportunity to get the maximum value out of a hand. Don’t misuse scenarios when you are the likely favourite and overbet the pot or get too aggressive. You need to be willing to take these hands all the way to showdown, so base your bet amounts with the mindset of accomplishing that goal. As the saying goes, if you have a massive hand but force your opponent to fold, you might as well have had 7-2 offsuit.