Some tips for aspiring professional poker players

Poker has been becoming an incredibly popular game to play over the many years of its existence. There have been so many international championships held, dedicated to the game, that it is hard to tell when it all started getting a little out of hand. Now, there are dozens of championships all around the world held every other week, it seems like. So, it is not surprising that now more and more people are hoping to become professional poker players. Whether they are inspired by discussions of these championships and the casinos that hold them, or by their regular Saturday game with the boys where they constantly keep winning the pot, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that there are those who believe they will be great players without knowing that the game is much more complex than the players let on. So, to help out all of the poor souls that are about to get into poker championships without knowing what to think or what to anticipate, we are providing a few tips to make their lives easier and help them not lose a lot of money while they are at it.

Game theory and mathematics

The concept of game theory was created because of the fact that gambling is such a popular thing to do around the world. Game theory addressed probability and the application of it to the different outcomes in specific games, such as poker. At its most basic, game theory is mathematics applied to the probability of certain outcomes, and it is invaluable to any player that is going to be involved in playing poker.

There are only a limited number of cards in every game of poker. After certain cards are used, they are discarded. If you try to keep track of this, players might be able to start anticipating certain outcomes in certain situations. Even if not counting and keeping track of the cards that have been discarded, even just being aware of what is in your hand and what is on the table should help the player identify the outcome. The mathematics of all this might seem a little complex, seemingly because probability needs to be calculated, but that is not so. Humans have a certain intuition for probability. All they have to od is look at the cards they have and the cards that are on the table and then start counting a little. Once counted, the player can then start predicting the potential outcomes by predicting what the other players might be holding. But this process is not entirely correct, as there is a second step to all of this.

Poker face and bluffing

Once a player has identified the possible outcomes, it is time to start seeing how correct these assumptions might be. Those who do not know how to play will assume that the only way to identify these outcomes is by seeing the final cards. But the pros know that betting will be what is showing the correctness of the assumption that the player has made about the cards of other players. Usually, if the players are following the betting, or betting high, they might have the exact combination of cards that would be the best in that situation. If they are checking or are being reluctant, they might not have the cards. If they fold, well, then the answer is that they fold.

This is where the fun starts. Those players who know what they are doing, also know that there is potential for psychological warfare. Bluffing, betting above what might be our potential card and deceiving the players is one of the biggest parts of poker. A well-trained poker face is capable of winning a lost game. Well placed psychological pressure might even allow players to make those who would have won fold the cards in order for them to win. There are some great examples of this happening both in film and in the real world. All it takes is to make the player doubt themselves, which results in the folding and you winning the pot.

Practice, practice, practice

But the most important of all of this is practice. There are many strategies and techniques that a player might learn in their quest to become a good player, but they won’t be able to do so if they don’t apply these strategies in practice. Simply jumping into a game of pros without first practising the game on pro-level means that you will be outclassed, outplayed and out bluffed every time you try to apply these strategies. Social engineering, which is what it could be referred to, is the most important part of poker and it is also the most complicated, as it is not simply achieved without knowing and practising how to do it first. The theory is good, practice is better, and in poker, practice only happens at real tables. Staying sober while you play poker is also important because being drunk will only result in your judgement being impaired and your practising sessions being useless.

By Sam

Sam Lowy is a writer, actor, comedian, musician, and everything in between. A true jack of all trades, Sam is constantly striving to learn and grow. Whether it's for a festival or just a once-in-a-lifetime club show, Sam loves to travel across the country to catch the best artists around. When he's at home in Tempe, AZ, Sam enjoys reading, playing guitar, and watching Frasier, Seinfeld, and Curb Your Enthusiasm.