How to Win at Poker – Keep Calm and Think Rationally

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How to Win at Poker

Poker is one of the most intense and high-risk games out there, with many debating if the game is governed by skill or chance. However, a study on poker win statistics showed that although card distribution plays a decisive role for a successful run, expert players are better able to minimize losses when confronted with disadvantageous situations. These players can do so thanks to their ability to keep calm and think rationally. If you watch any live poker you will see the top players remaining cool as the flop turns against them. The good news is that you too can improve your skills with our tips, and of course, lots of practice.

Think, then Think Again

According to experts, there are levels of depth when it comes to thinking and decision-making in poker. There are zero-level thinkers who play on luck, first-level thinkers concerned with their cards at hand, and second-level thinkers concerned about their opponents’ cards. Then, there are third-level thinkers concerned with what others think their hand is, and fourth-level thinkers who are concerned with what others think about their way of thinking. While third to fourth-level thinking is quite arduous and mentally taxing, you’ll have a higher chance of making the right decisions as compared to solely relying on luck.

Go With Logic, Not Emotion

“Tilting” in poker refers to a poor state of mind that can lead a player to make rash decisions and costly mistakes. It can manifest in playing hands you know you shouldn’t, bluffing too much, or betting too much. While no player is immune from tilting as it is a natural inclination to feel frustrated, try your best to think logically to avoid emotionally-driven decisions. Remind yourself that variance is a normal part of poker, and you only have control over some aspects of the game. In order to find the most logical decision, top players consider card ranges in order to calculate their winning odds. Rather than trying to predict the exact hands they are against, they consider the range of hands their opponent will likely bet on and compare it to their own betting range. This logical approach gives players an advantage over those who are only focusing on their cards and the river. In high pressure hands this approach can only be achieved by remaining calm.

Use Tilting to Your Advantage

This is another way to apply logical thinking during games. Although tilting is a bad thing for you, other players tilting might give you an advantage. Learn about your opponents through keen observation. A simple change in a person’s demeanor, such as accelerated breathing, sweating, or drinking too much, for example, can be signs that they’re about to play too many hands. If you observe your opponent bluffing more frequently, you should also call them more often. Witnessing tilting can teach us about our tendencies for recklessness, so it would be beneficial for us to take the chance and be more observant of others.

Be in Good Condition

If you’ve played a lot of poker, including a few late-night sessions, perhaps you’ve noticed that your body’s condition directly affects how the game goes. A study on gaming behaviors and sleep deprivation revealed that the lack of sleep has been linked to changes in emotional regulation, decision-making, and risk-taking behaviors. Sleepiness and hunger can cut your train of thought. Furthermore, stressors outside of the game can also lead you to lack focus. This is why it’s important to ensure that you’re well-rested and in a good state physically and mentally, so you’ll be able to fully immerse yourself in the game.

With these strategies, you’ll slowly learn to be a more calm and rational poker player, and eventually score yourself more wins. If this article interests you we have plenty more poker and casino articles.

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