Poker Strategy: How To Play Like A Pro? We Got You, Bro!
A lot of people lost their livelihoods because of poker. Even if you see yourself as a profitable poker player, the game has a way of biting you in the ass the moment you let your guard down. So it’s no wonder people love to play it.
5-card draw poker is a Wild West type of game where you are playing the opponent more than the cards. And boy, lemme tell ya, it takes some mad skills to rule the table. If you wish to play tournaments, need help calculating pot odds or are just sick of complex strategy articles, you’ve come to the right place. We feel it’s our duty to teach you how to play the most popular casino games!
We ain’t selling no magic pills, but we’re going to show you a few useful poker strategy tips that will help you to become a better and deadlier poker player. Let’s roll!
The Basic Rules Of Poker
Before I get into the poker tips, let’s talk a bit about the rules. Although it’s not as popular as Texas Hold’em, it still packs a decent punch. If you are an experienced poker enthusiast, skip this part and go straight to the poker strategy tips. A game of poker requires a single deck of 52 cards. That’s it. As in most other forms of poker, all cards count at their respective values. Of course, Aces count as either high or low – standard stuff.
Start Of The Poker Game
If you played Texas Hold’em poker before, you probably know how the blinds work. Two players at the table pay a forced bet on each hand. This way the game ensures there’s always money in the pot for someone to win it.
Back in the day, the 5-card draw poker had a different betting method. Instead of just two players (small blind and big blind) having to place bets, all players paid a small bet at the start of each hand. This bet is also known as the ante. Hence the famous phrase “up the ante”.
Personally, I like the ante method because it makes me feel like we’re all equals at the table. Don’t get me wrong, the ante method is still in use today, but the blinds are more popular, especially on poker sites. This is why I’m going to show you how to play 5-card draw poker with blinds.
At the start of each hand, one player is the dealer. As the name suggests, he or she deals the cards. The best position at the table is when you play later in the game. Such individual is able to see what other players are doing and make their decision based on those observations.
In front of the person who deals the cards, there’s a “button”. This chip stands there just so you know who the dealer is during each hand. The dealer deals cards starting with the player on their left. After each hand, the button and all other positions move around the table in a clockwise direction. Before the dealer starts to deal, two players need to place blind bets. The contestant who sits first to the dealer’s left pays the ‘small blind’. This is usually $1 and if you are playing a cash game, this amount stays the same on each hand depending on the limits you set.
The player located two seats left from the dealer (next to the small blind) pays a big blind bet which is normally double that of the small blind bet. Players take turns being in these positions and that’s why the dealer button gets moved around after a hand is finished. As I said earlier, the purpose of forced bets is to ensure there is always money in the pot for players to win it. Okay, let’s talk about what happens after the cards are dealt.
The Two Betting Rounds
Unlike most poker variations, this game has only two betting rounds. I think this makes the game much simpler to learn. Experienced poker players love the game for its simplicity. But don’t be fooled, though! Usually, simple games such as 5-card draw poker are easy to learn, but hard to master. I suggest you keep this in your mind every time you sit at the poker table.
Let’s play out a situation and see how the betting works. Imagine that you are sitting at the five-player table. The dealer has dealt everyone their cards and it’s time for betting. Now, you are sitting three seats left from the dealer and one seat left from the big blind. Your position is called Under the Gun and you are first to act after the forced bets have been placed. You are looking at your cards, they are damn good and your ticker is pumping hard from all the excitement. Remember: you gotta keep your cool and consider your options! Here’s what you can do:
- Call the current bet
Having to play after the big blind is not a perfect situation to find yourself in. This is because you are basically the first person at the table who is making a decision based on the cards in hand. However, most players tend to call the bet, just to see what other players will do. You know, to test the waters.
After you’ve called the bet, other players at the table have the same three options. The hand ends with the big blind who plays last. The second betting round starts with the first player left to the dealer who is still in the game. However, before making new bets, players have to choose whether or not they want to draw new cards.
Picture this. You have two aces, but the other three cards are not good enough. What do you do? Most poker players would ditch those three cards and draw three new ones. However, this doesn’t guarantee you that the three new cards will be great. In fact, every poker hand is different and this kind of risk is only advised when all of your five cards are bad. One of the best poker tips I can give you is to be patient. Hold on to those two aces and one other strong card. Replace the two remaining cards and, who knows, you might be looking at a full house or three of a kind.
You can replace how many cards you want, but once you do this, that’s your final hand. After the drawing of the cards is finished, the second and final round of betting begins. The players have the same three options they had in the first round. However, in the second round, there are no forced bets or previous bets. The first active player on the dealer’s left can simply check and the next player chooses one of those three options. Once the bets are placed, the game enters the third and final round – showdown.
The Showdown At The Poker Table
Yes, this part of the game is as cool as it sounds. Honestly, this is the main reason I play poker. Staring at opponents, holding the cards close to your chest, and waiting for them to show you what they got. I mean, it’s like a damn duel, but without the guns. Also, there are strict rules you have to follow during a showdown.
It doesn’t matter how many poker players are at the table, you have to wait for your turn. The first active player to the dealer’s left shows their hand. The play then continues around the table until every player has shown their cards. If you have the strongest hand, you get to take the money from the pot while saying something cheesy like: “I usually don’t mix business with pleasure, but taking money from you feels damn good.”
But if you want to be a deadly poker player, you must have your go-to poker strategies at the ready. Let’s get into the most important poker tips and dish out some useful strategy advice.
Master The Poker Strategy
Having the love for the game and knowing the rules is a good start, but it’s definitely not enough. If you are a beginner who wants to learn how to beat professional poker players, you gotta know your strategies. I’m going to show you a few poker tips that will help you to win poker games. Let’s get to it.
Learn To Be Patient
This is probably the simplest, but most important poker strategy you have to learn. Patience can save you truckloads of money and nerves. Trust me, I learned it the hard way. I even considered quitting poker, but then one night, after a horrible defeat, a poker veteran showed me the way. I’m here to pass on the knowledge. Here’s what he said to me:
“Son, I took your money tonight, but I’m gonna give you something far more valuable – a piece of advice from an old dirtbag who’s been playing the game for 30 years. Even though it doesn’t feel like it now, the game will still be here tomorrow. Don’t rush it and your time will come.”
Those words are ringing in my head every time I’m at the poker table. My message to you is this: Try to find a way to slow things down at the table. A lot of inexperienced players say that betting aggressively is the way to win. That may be true in a sense, but only when you have absolute confidence in your cards. Most of the time, you have to be patient and let the reckless players make their mistakes. Then, after they reveal their hands, you go in for the kill. That’s how you win poker games.
Watch Your Opponents Closely During Poker Games
You gotta be a hawk if you want to be a pro-5-card draw poker player. In other words, you must learn how to play the opponent, not the cards. You can’t see their cards and there are only two betting rounds, so you don’t have too many opportunities to see through them.
That’s exactly why you have to watch every single one of their moves. Devil is in the details, so here’s the poker strategy tip you have to keep in mind – don’t take your eyes off of the opponent. More importantly, let them see you watching them. If you can make them nervous chances are they’ll make mistakes and show their hand.
Look for the frequent swallowing of saliva, clearing of the throat, and shaky hands. If you see any of these signs, lock your eyes on the opponent and force them to slip with your stare. Trust me, if you’re convincing enough, they will make that mistake.
Control Your Emotions
Having a lot of pent-up emotions will get you nowhere in life. And yet, poker has a tendency to be counterintuitive. If you want to master the game, you have to learn how to control your emotions.
I know, I know. Cards come and go, but this – it’s easier said than done. Look at it this way: You don’t want to be the one who’s sweating and making mistakes, while other players at the table are clearly profiting from your insecurities. You gotta stay cool like a cucumber, cooler than your grandma’s tit. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t succeed this instant. This will definitely be a challenge. One that might take years to overcome.
Of course, if you play online poker, you don’t have to worry about showing your emotions because opponents can’t see you. But I’m not talking about poker sites. I’m talking about a real-life poker game with cold-blooded sharks at the table. If you don’t want them to eat you alive, you must sport one helluva poker face. Here’s what you have to do:
- Don’t avoid eye contact
- Steady breaths keep the hands steady
- Make sure your hands are resting at the table
- Don’t laugh (smiling is okay)
- Be deceptive if you comment on your cards
Here’s something to keep in mind: The moment you lay your eyes on your cards, other players will lock their eyes on you. This is the crucial moment of every poker game and you simply mustn’t react. Even the subtlest of reactions could reveal a goldmine of information that opponents could exploit.
Although I find this ironic, most rookie players have a hard time concealing their emotions when they draw a strong hand. Potentially winning a pot has a way of increasing the heart rate. Trust me, Jitterbug, you will experience this eventually. And when you do, you will feel like you’re burning inside. That’s when you have to stay ice-cold on the outside as if death itself came for a game of chess. Once you manage to do this, you will be ready for poker tournaments and exclusive cash games.
Wait And Do Nothing
An idle mind is the Devil’s playground. It doesn’t matter what type of poker game you’re playing, the hardest thing to do is to do nothing. Period. What exactly do I mean by this? At certain poker tables, the best thing you can do is sit and simply fold a few hands. Yes, even when you draw good cards. This may sound a bit counterintuitive, but hear me out. Sitting out a few hands is a good poker strategy for two reasons:
- It allows you to watch your opponents and look for their tell (everyone’s got one)
- You can sit and relax while other players cancel each other out. Then, when there are few players at the table, you go in for the kill.
This poker strategy is especially good if you’re playing against beginner players. They tend to be reckless and you can capitalize on that. Sacrificing a few small bets in order to win the poker game is definitely worth the hustle. People might not like this strategy, but hey, it’s poker. It’s nothing personal.
Fold Your Aces
What what what?? Yeah, you heard it right. Folding your aces in specific situations can be good for you. When an old buddy told me this back when I was a newbie, I thought it was a chock-full of bull. However, after a few years of playing (and many losses), I realized that this poker strategy is worth trying. Here’s how this poker play works.
Having a pair of aces is always nice, but that doesn’t guarantee you the win. It will make you feel powerful, but you must not get drunk with power. In most cases, this should be enough for the win, but there will be situations where a stubborn player will call every single one of your raises. This is when you have to be careful. If he calls, raises, or goes all-in, you will have to fold those aces. Sure, you can risk it, but risking it won’t pay off in the long run. Opponents who go all-in usually have a good reason for doing that.
One of the things I learned playing this fierce game is that if you want to improve your poker skills, you have to know when to cut your losses. A pair of aces is a good-looking hand, but being able to sacrifice that hand will make you a deadly poker player, boots the house down mama yes god!
Consider The Position
Just like when you’re developing your Texas Hold’em strategy, the position is crucial in 5-card draw poker. But, how can you use it as a winning poker strategy?
When playing poker, players change their positions constantly. This is how the game ensures an equilibrium exists at the table. If you want to play like a professional poker player, you have to make the best out of every situation and every position. In order to do this, you have to know when to take your chances, when to wait, and when to simply fold. The most important thing you need to know about table positions in poker is this:
The later you play, the better it is for you.
This means when you are the first to act in a hand (Under the Gun position), it might be best to fold, ESPECIALLY if you have weak cards. This is a low-risk play that will keep you in the game for a long time. Of course, if you have a strong hand (a pair of aces), test the waters by calling the bet. See what you’re up against. If, however, you play later in the hand (Button or Cut Off positions), you should use the hang-time to closely observe your opponents. Their behavior and betting decisions might give you enough insight to make the right call.
Mix Things Up A Bit Every Once In A While
A poker buddy of mine once told me that predictable poker players are the easiest to beat. Ever since then, I would do something unexpected during a game, at least once. I would either raise right after the big blind, draw all 5 cards, or fold unexpectedly.
Mixing things up every once in a while can throw the opponents off your scent, but if you want this to be a winning poker strategy, you have to be careful. Don’t overdo it. Be subtle and they simply won’t be able to figure you out. I played a lot of poker variants in my time and this is one of the rare poker strategy tips that can be applied to all of them. If you want to win at poker and bring home the bacon, be the mysterious type.
Poker Strategy Summary
I’ve been playing poker for years and one of the things I’ve learned is that no two games or hands are alike. This means you will have to adapt and change your approach. Every. Single. Hand.
The poker strategy tips I talked about today will help you to improve your game, yes, but the real strength comes from experience (and enduring those staring contests against opponents). So trust your gut, stay the course, and hold your cards close to your vest. Trust me, something will click as your progress. That feeling will be your compass. We got you, Bro!
How long does an online poker game last?
The length of a poker game generally depends on three things: the type of game, the number of players, and blind levels. It is estimated that a 6-seater sit and go game lasts approximately an hour, whereas tournaments could reach up to several hours.
Is poker more a game of skill or luck?
Although most will tell you that it’s both, we like to think that is 100% a game of skill. Yes, luck is a factor, but the decisions you make is entirely up to your cunning. Pro players avoid relying on and rely on making mathematically superior decisions instead.
Is learning poker easy?
Like most table games, the rules are relatively easy to learn, but winning takes skill and cunning. The moment you digest the basics, it might be best to move to the tables of the top online poker sites if you want to improve your game.
What’s the difference between live and online poker?
Fundamentally, it’s all the same regardless of whether it’s played live or online. The basic rules apply in both scenarios. A few notable differences are the pace of the game (playing online is much faster than playing live) and playing online is also much more convenient in terms of game selection.