8 Poker Concepts to Help You Build a Solid Poker Strategy

Photo by Freepik

In your quest to become a poker champion, it’s crucial to arm yourself with as much knowledge about the game as possible. Countless guides and articles will admonish you to study poker strategy to optimize your gameplay. But with so much poker information and advice, it can be tough to know where to start.

To guide you on your journey, we’ve compiled a list of eight key poker concepts that can impact your strategy significantly. By understanding and utilizing these facets of the game, you’ll be well on your way to building a watertight plan to help you get ahead at the poker table, whether that’s in live poker tournaments or online games on sites like GGPoker, the world’s largest poker room.

1) Pot Odds

Studying poker concepts starts with understanding pot odds and how to calculate them. Your pot odds are the ratio of the size of the current pot to the amount you need to call to stay in the hand. Simply divide the first number by the second to determine your pot odds. So, if there’s $100 in the pot and it costs you $10 to call, your pot odds are 10:1.

If your pot odds are higher than the probability of making your hand (more on that below), it’s mathematically correct to call. Otherwise, it might be more prudent to fold. For example, if you’re drawing to a flush and the pot is offering you 4:1 pot odds, but your chance of making the hand is only 10:1, then it’s correct to fold since you’re getting worse value than the pot is offering.

2) Drawing Odds & Outs

Photo by Freepik

When calculating your pot odds, you must also be aware of your drawing odds or the probability of making your hand if you stay in the hand until the next card is dealt.

Your drawing odds are based on the number of “outs” you have. An out is any card that will improve your hand and make it a winner. For example, if you’re holding two hearts and get two more at the flop, you would draw a flush with nine outs since there are 13 of each suit in a 52-card deck.

Your drawing odds will be the ratio of outs you have to the number of unknown cards left in the deck. Taking the example above, if the flop reveals five cards, then there are 47 unseen cards at this point in the game. Of these unseen cards, nine are outs, and 38 are non-outs. So, your drawing odds are 38:9 or approximately 4:1 against you making your flush by the river.

3) Implied Odds

When calculating pot and drawing odds, you might also want to consider your implied odds. Implied odds are the ratio of the amount you stand to win if you make your hand to the amount you need to call.

To put it simply, sometimes, a pot won’t be large enough to justify a call. However, if you’re playing against loose opponents, you have good reason to believe your implied odds will improve, making it worthwhile to stay in the game.

4) Position

In poker, position is everything. The dealer or “button” is the most advantageous position since it’s the last to act in a given hand. In Hold’em games, the small blind and big blind are considered “out of position” since they act before other players.

The further away you are from the button, the worse off you are. This is because you’ll have to make a move without knowing what everyone else at the table will do, putting you at a distinct disadvantage. Alternatively, an early position can be advantageous if you have a strong hand. It gives you the benefit of controlling the pot size and putting pressure on players in later positions.

Knowing the pros and cons of these positions can inform your poker strategy and help you make the best decisions for each hand you’re dealt.

5) Tight-Aggressive Play

Most poker experts agree that a tight-aggressive playing style is the best way to win at poker in the long run. “Tight” means only playing strong hands, while “aggressive” refers to betting and raising when you have a good hand.

Of course, this playing style may not be the best option for every game. It’s always advisable to be flexible and switch up your strategy depending on who you’re playing against and your position. However, as a general rule, you must be selective with your hands, deliberate with your moves, and unafraid to bet and raise when the situation calls for it. These qualities will help you take control of the game and put yourself in a stronger position to win.

6) Bluffing

You can never guarantee to get the best poker hands at every game, so you must be ready to bluff to improve your chances of winning overall.

There are different types of bluffs. A “semi-bluff” is when you have a drawing hand that could improve if the right card comes up, so you bet or raise it as if you already have a winning hand. A “pure bluff” is when you don’t have any chance of making a hand, but you still bet or raise it in an attempt to trick other players into folding.

Be careful when you do either of these, however, as there’s always a chance your opponents will catch on and call you. The key to successful bluffing is to do it sparingly and confidently. Pick the right moments to bluff and make it believable by betting with conviction.

7) Reading People

Poker is as much about reading people as the cards you’re dealt. Pay attention to your opponents’ behavior and try to glean information from how they play.

For example, if a player always raises pre-flop but never continues with their bets after the flop, they’re likely bluffing. Alternatively, if a player always calls, they’re probably playing too passively, and you can take advantage of this by bluffing or betting more aggressively.

Learning to read people is a complex skill, but it will give you a significant advantage over your opponents if you can master it.

8) Table Image

Table image is how other players at the poker table perceive you. Your opponents will try to read you as much as you’re trying to read them, so it’s important to be aware of the image you’re projecting.

If you play too many hands or make too many risky moves, you’ll develop a reputation as a loose player. Conversely, you’ll be seen as a tight player if you only play strong hands and never take risks. Other players can use this information against you, so you must mix your play enough to keep them guessing.

Additionally, you can use your table image to your advantage. For instance, if you’ve been playing conservatively, you can bluff or make bigger bets when you have a strong hand, as other players are likely to believe you. Alternatively, if you’ve been playing aggressively, you can switch up your play and check or call more often to catch opponents off guard.

Photo by Freepik

There you have it, eight poker concepts to help you build a solid poker strategy. Your playing style will evolve as you gain experience and learn more about the game. But these concepts can keep you on the right track and help you play your best poker at every match.