How to Play Poker Like a Pro

Have you ever watched a casino or poker movie and been blown away by the skills and the bluffs? Eagerly awaiting the day that you become a poker master?

Well, today is your day. 

Or instead – here is what you need to know to build your skills and play like the real professionals you see on WSOP tournaments.

The problem with the movies is that most of them aren’t always accurate. So if you want to learn how to play poker, watching real-world professionals is the way to go.

There are many different types of poker games too! Texas Hold’Em is one of the most popular and well-known. But you might prefer a blast poker game, stud poker, or no-limits hold ’em.

We all start somewhere, and here are some of the basics that you need to get to grips with before you take a seat at those coveted tournament tables.

Not every hand

Learning when you should and shouldn’t play a hand can be trial by fire. However, this will be one of the essential skills that you know and use.

How can you tell when you should or shouldn’t play a hand?

In the early days, you should start with a simple rule:

Only play about 80% of the hands you are dealt preflop. Look at the cards you have, and if they aren’t in the top 15% of the deck, you’re likely going to get in trouble relatively quickly.

The top 15%-20% are cards like double aces, aces, any other face card, or double numbers like two 6’s or 2 2’s.

Face cards are king, queen, and jack. 

Learn what different poker hands are valued at.

Play aggressively

Some of the best poker players play aggressive games. Why? Well, there are a few reasons.

Aggressive play usually puts enough pressure on other players that they fold relatively quickly.

A general rule of thumb is to raise the big blind by three – you may see this increased in tournaments and live games.

Playing aggressively gives you control of the pot, and it makes it significantly easier to win after the flop because you will have the betting lead.

Seasoned players will quickly spot beginners when they play either erratically or too cautiously.

Play skills levels down

Once you have reached a firm standing and understand all the hands and have a strategy – it’s time to shoot fish.

The term fish is applied to beginners who play far beyond the top 20% of cards and will often throw cash into a pot they aren’t likely to win.

Use this to practice spotting tells and understand why that top 15%-20% is vital.

You may also hear the terms juicy or soft when referring to these players.

They’re on a learning journey too, and while you shouldn’t hustle them, you can practice what you know and sharpen your edge – an likely walk away with a win.

A little bit of bluff

Being a master bluffer has its pros and cons. While bluffing is an incredible skill to have, you can also bluff your way into trouble.

If you bluff a little too much, you will get the reputation of playing very weak hands and will be an easy target for experienced players.

It is wholly expected that you may raise preflop and bet on the flop too. But if you aren’t holding much, you need to slow down and be more cautious on the river.

Holding out for a good hand is often more beneficial than bluffing, but a little bit of bluff here and there will work in your favour.

And always be prepared that someone at the table might call your bluff.

Bankroll in mind

Your bankroll should be set before you hit a table. New players can often get carried away in the rush of poker and play with more than they should.

Your bankroll is the total amount of money you have to play with. Don’t increase it once you have set the number – no matter how good your hand is.

How do you know what your bankroll should look like? A general rule that can serve you well is that you should have over 20 buyins for your game.

The reason for having such a big bankroll is the term variance. It just means that you might win or lose, and having this bankroll will allow you to take those losses comfortably.

Leave high stakes – for now

If you are freshly off the back of a few nice wins, then you might be tempted to want more to hit the high stakes.

But, take a moment and consider whythey’re high stakes.

Starting at the lower limits and staying there for a while is one of the best ways to increase your skill levels.

Don’t always be fooled by lower buy-ins either; just because they’re not high stakes doesn’t mean they don’t have incredibly skilled players.

Start small, then move to high stakes when you have plenty of wins behind you, some losses, and a healthy helping of knowledge.

Master single tables first

When playing online, you might be tempted to add as many tables to your screens as possible. Everything this can increase your odds and increase your winnings.

But initially, you should stick to a single table for a while. If you find that one table is too easy, then expand to two.

It isn’t uncommon for professional online players to play as many as 12 poker tables at once (although you’ll likely find they use poker software to help them keep track and spot player patterns).

Although, if you happen to get your hands on phones such as Galaxy Z Flip 3 – you might be hoping for the opportunity to play multiple tables a little sooner.

When it comes to playing poker like a professional, the most important thing you can do is to take your time, read books, blogs and watch the pros!