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Poker Strategy - Cards or Player

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Play the Cards or Play the Player? Choosing Your Winnning Strategy
March 2014 // PKR
Playing online poker is not “just” a card game.
Combining skill, psychology and a sliver of luck, Texas Hold ‘Em poker is a thinking game that demands a strategy.
There are two common strategies for poker – playing the cards or playing the player. Here we take look at what both strategies have to offer the online poker player.
Playing the cards
The old proverb says that you must play the game with the cards you’re dealt. And like all old sayings, there is some definite truth in that.
The key to playing the cards, is what you get in the hole.
Anything lower than a pair of tens and you could be struggling once you hit the river. As a beginner, there’s no harm in folding early unless you are confident in your bluffing skills.
The strength of your cards is also reliant on your position in relation to the dealer …
The player under the gun, directly to the left of the big blind, is in the weakest position because they have absolutely no information on this hand, other than their holding cards,to go on.
If this is you, a strong hand is essential if you are going to make it to the flop – you can find examples of strong poker hands at
Where your hole cards are solidand you are in a late position (closest to the dealer), you should try and raise pre-flop to encourage other players to fold early.
With up to ten other players at the table, the fewer left come the flop, the greater your chance of taking the pot. And it’s good to discourage those with weaker hands from playing … because if your strong hand doesn’t connect with the cards on the flop, then their raggedy hand just might – and you won’t see it coming.
Playing the cards is actually about calculating the odds of your cards against those of your opponents and your position round the table.
Playing the player
Because Texas Hold ‘Em is poker is an adversarial contest, paying attention to the other players around the table will give you important clues about how to play them.
Because Texas Hold ‘Em is poker is an adversarial contest, paying attention to the other players around the table will give you important clues about how to play them.
How your opponents act will help you decide whether to fold, call, raise or re-raise.
Playing the player takes effectively takes time. You will have to sit through a number of hands to see how each player reacts. Watch how they play so you can keep track of:

  • How many opening hands do they play?
  • How aggressively do they raise?
  • Do they raise or call consistently?
  • Are they super-aggressive on every play?

Using this observations you should be able to get a good idea of your opponents, how they play the game, and thus how you should adjust your own game to beat them.
There are usually four classic poker player types,whoyou should be able to identify in most games.
Which is right for you?
Although it may sound like a case of either/or, the reality is that the best Texas Hold ‘Em players play both cards and people to win. And win big.
Most players learn to play the cards first, before trying to play their opponents.
With enough time and practice, players will be able to use both techniques to become a formidable force at the table. And don’t be shy about keeping notes on your opponents playing styles – every little helps when it comes to winning big. © Copyright 2013 All rights reserved