You have to be different to win at poker

Poker players are different from almost all other gamblers.

They’re certainly very different animals than the gamblers who play the house games in casinos.

That’s because poker is a game of skill and luck. The same could be said of a few other casino games such as blackjack, but with poker, the strategy and skill element is far larger.

The truth is that the most talented poker professionals can win consistently. You can’t do this at any other form of casino gambling, where the fun of the game or the lure of the jackpot is what keeps players coming back for more.

With other games, the house edge gradually takes its toll. Even if you win in the short term you’ll lose in the long term. This is inevitable according to the laws of probability. But it’s not the case with poker.

This is why poker players are different. Like all gamblers, they want to win – but the top players simply expect to win. Crucially, though, they don’t expect to win every time they sit down at the table – and certainly not on every hand. The best players accept that there is a large element of luck involved in poker and the key to winning regularly is the way you deal with that luck.

If you play a steady percentage game, minimising your losses and making the right decisions, the chances are that you will come out ahead. But poker players have to accept that losses are an inevitable part of the game. A paper from Steven Levitt and Thomas Miles on the 2010 World Series of Poker found that skilled players enjoyed an ROI of 30% compared with -15% for other players. A ROI of 30% is a great return but it still involves losing a lot of the time.

The great thing about poker is that you can hone your skills for free before risking real money – and you can start playing for real money without even depositing. If you play poker at Betfair you’ll receive an immediate free bonus cash welcome pack – and you can play for virtual stakes while you get going. If you’re winning and want to start playing for real money there are plenty of cash games and tournaments running around the clock on Betfair.

Betfair also has a useful guide to show you how to get started. There are endless strategy articles and videos on the internet though, so use the site’s guide to understand the basics then cherry-pick the best of what you can find online. When you’re trying out new things in your game, try them on the play money tables or for small stakes.

It’s exciting and it can be extremely lucrative for the steady player who understands their way around the probabilities of a poker game. But for those who don’t, it can be a tough and expensive lesson – so always learn to limit your exposure before you start thinking about winning big.

Also – remember that just as poker players are generally different animals from other gamblers – you will also have to think differently during a game. The best players are able to continually adapt their strategies during tournament. If you continually behave conventionally in any market and never go against the majority, then by definition, it’s more or less impossible to do better than the overall market. The same is true with poker. Experimentation is key and the very best players change their game depending on their opponents. You’ll gradually get used to this as you learn the ropes and different strategies at different poker games.

Overall the best single lesson to learn is that while your decisions might be correct, the outcome might not always be the one you want – and there is nothing you can do about this. If all the odds are in your favour and you lose anyway, you need to learn to accept this as an inevitable part of the game.

Just take comfort in the fact that if you keep making the right decisions and getting your money in good, you will end up winning in the long term. There will also be times when your resolve is severely tested – every poker player suffers from bad runs!

Just remember that even the best poker pros in the world don’t win all the time. The best players in the world can get unlucky and they take these defeats on the chin. They know that they win more than they lose, which is all a poker player can aim for. The world’s top poker players understand this and keep doing the right thing.

To learn even more on how to be different in poker you can grab a free copy of PokerPlayer magazine here:

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