Poker Strategies You Should Know

Ah, the intricate game of poker! Throughout my journey in the poker world, I've come across a ton of strategies. Most of them were spectacular failures while others were game changers. And eventually learning there’s no silver bullet strategy. You need to know when to apply a certain strategy, and why. Poker isn’t just about the cards you’re dealt; it’s about reading your opponents, understanding the game's psychology, and applying the right strategy from your arsenal.

Poker chips on the table.
Photo by Chris Liverani on Unsplash

In this article I’ve collected some essential poker strategies I've found invaluable. Poker is a great game that teaches you a lot about other people, and about yourself. I hope they help newcomers and increase the number of poker enthusiasts. These strategies are good for live or online games, for cash games, or for poker tournaments.

How Poker Strategies Help in Life

It's often said that life is a game, and if that's true, poker might just be one of its best metaphors. Beyond the cards and chips, poker teaches us invaluable lessons about decision-making, risk assessment, and human behavior and soft skills. Decisions made on the fly in poker mirror the choices we face in life – whether it's evaluating an investment, negotiating a deal, or navigating interpersonal relationships.

The art of reading opponents at the table can sharpen our ability to gauge reactions and intentions in the boardroom or even at home. Additionally, the discipline and patience needed to master poker strategies, from tight-aggressive play to bankroll management, provide a foundation that's applicable in many of life's challenges. In essence, poker doesn't just refine your gameplay; it refines your approach to life.

Tight-Aggressive Play (TAG)

This is one of the first strategies I learned, and it revolves around being selective with the starting hands you play, but being aggressive when you decide to play them.

By playing fewer hands, you often get into fewer challenging post-flop scenarios. And when you play aggressively, you exert pressure on your opponents, which can lead to winning pots without a showdown.

This is an excellent approach for new players or when you're at a table where players are playing too many hands and are overly passive.

Positional Awareness

Understanding the significance of your position at the poker table is crucial. The later you act in a hand (closer you are to the dealer button), the more information you have about others' actions.

Acting after most players can be a huge advantage. You can make more informed decisions based on the actions of players before you.

Never ignore this! Always be aware of your position and try to play more hands when you’re in a 'late' position.

Bluffing And Semi-Bluffing

Ah, the art of deception! Bluffing is betting or raising with a weak hand, hoping your opponent folds a stronger hand. Semi-bluffing involves betting with a hand that has potential to become the best hand, like a drawing hand.

Bluffing keeps your opponents guessing and forces mistakes. Adds an unpredictable element to your game.

It’s best when used sparingly and in the right situations. For example, if you sense weakness in your opponent or if you’re in a good position.

Pot Odds And Expected Value

Pot odds is the ratio of the current size of the pot to the cost of a contemplated call. Expected Value (EV) calculates the potential long-term value of decisions.

Knowing your odds helps in making mathematically sound decisions. Over time, following positive EV decisions will lead to profitability.

It’s extremely useful when faced with a decision to call a bet, especially in draw-heavy situations.

Player And Table Image

It's how other players at the table perceive you. If you’re seen as tight, they might believe when you bet big, you have a good hand.

By being aware of your image and adjusting accordingly, you can exploit opponents' beliefs about your play.

If you’ve been playing tight, it might be time to throw in a bluff. Conversely, if you’ve been loose, tightening up can yield dividends.

Observing Opponent Tendencies

This involves closely watching your opponents to understand their habits and patterns.

Knowledge is power. By knowing if a player bluffs too often or always plays tight, you can adjust your strategy to capitalize on their tendencies.

You should use it throughout the entire game. As a golden rule: always be observant!

Bankroll Management

Deciding beforehand how much of your total bankroll you're willing to risk in a single game or session.

Ensures you don’t go broke from a few bad sessions and lets you play with a clear mind, without the fear of losing everything.

Before you even start playing. Decide on buy-in amounts, table limits, and when to walk away.


Embracing a wide range of strategies can elevate your poker game from being a novice to being the player everyone fears. While it’s important to study and understand these strategies, poker remains an ever-evolving game. The best advice I've received is to continue learning and adapting. Trust me, when you're seated at that table, and your heart is racing as you push your chips into the center, knowing you have a diverse toolbox of strategies is the best feeling in the world.