Chess may be the game of kings (and of at least one Duke, given how much John Wayne loved it) but poker is the name of the game for any red-blooded American ready to win his fortune via a dance with Lady Luck. But as any player worth his (or her) salt will tell you, there’s a good deal of strategy involved— too much for us to impart on these pages. However, the tips below should set you on the path to taking home more money than you brought to the table—most of the time.
1. DON’T BET YOUR RENT MONEY
The first rule of winning poker is to make sure losing the game won’t have disastrous consequences for you. Don’t bet actual money your life depends on, such as the cash set aside for the heating bill or groceries. Sure, there’s a certain thrill of playing with the knowledge that you’re just a bad hand away from crashing on your buddy’s couch next month but…you still would have to crash on your buddy’s couch. It’s not worth the risk.
2. BET WITH YOUR BRAIN
One of the most common mistakes beginners make at the poker table is undermining their own good fortune with a poor betting strategy. If you find yourself holding a royal flush, pushing in your whole pile of chips will most likely signal to the other players that they should fold. Congrats! You’ve just blown a great hand on a meager pot that won’t even pay for gas money home.
3. DON’T FEAR THE FOLD
Obviously, you can’t do this for every hand, but novice players have a seemingly pathological aversion to folding. The truth is, most hands you’ll draw in poker aren’t going to be great. Sometimes you can bluff your way to victory, but more often than not you need to cut your losses and save your money for the right hand.
4. BE A QUICK STUDY
One aspect of the game you should always be studying is how your opponents’ betting matches with the cards they have. If you can determine their patterns and behaviors, you can (somewhat) predict the strength of their hands based on their bets alone. For example, if someone makes big bets and it’s consistently revealed he or she does so only when they have a good, winning hand, you might not want to take that “all-in” seriously.
This post was derived from “The Official Handybook for Men” by James Ellis. For more handy tips, you can purchase the book from our online store.