Poker is one of the most popular casino games on the planet. When it comes to card games, poker is played (or, at least, understood) by more people than any other card game in the world. As you might be able to imagine, that’s the main reason why the best online casinos offer poker and many variations of this amazing card game in their virtual tables.
This gives you the chance, as someone who’d rather gamble from your home, to enjoy a competitive playing environment in which you can face some of the world’s best poker players. Playing Poker in brick-and-mortar casinos is actually very similar to playing it online, with the sole difference of it being harder to read an opponent when playing on any digital device.
In this article, though, we’ll be exploring different poker strategies that you can use to win whilst also taking into consideration each strategy’s impact on virtual poker and real-life poker. Use these strategies wisely and watch your win rate rise! Once you’re done reading our ultimate poker guide and you checked out our list of gambling tips, remember to visit the best online casinos to play poker from your home.
Pay Attention to Your Opponents
We’re starting this guide with the number one rule to winning in poker: paying attention to your opponent and how they play the game. The cards that you have in your hand are just as important as understanding how your opponent plays, as that will allow you to know when to play lower-value hands and when to fold.
If you prefer not to play against other players but rather do so against the house, check out our Ultimate Texas Holdem Strategy guide and discover one of the best online poker games!
Learning to Mix Things Up and Avoid Gestures
Before we go into card plays and what you should do in certain situations, it’s important to understand the do’s and don’ts of your play and the things you do in the game. There are two aspects that come into play, which are as follows:
Gesturing in Poker – A Fundamental Part of the Game
One of the most difficult things to do in poker is to stop gesturing when you get something good, something bad, or when you’re getting ready to make a specific type of play. The reason why this is so difficult to do is that you don’t do it consciously. Your brain has a way of telling your body how to react to certain situations, which causes you to perform involuntary actions that can go against you in a real-life table game. Of course, this factor is completely off the table when you’re playing online poker, but that also means you won’t be able to read your opponent’s reactions. In any case, you should notice how professional poker players control their emotions when they play in professional tournaments against other masters of the craft. Oftentimes, it is the ability to keep oneself together when playing under pressure that separates average players from the pros. You can also use gestures in your favor, though. You might be able to make other players think that you have a good hand when you’ve had a terrible draw, or you might convince them to keep playing when you actually have a fantastic hand on you. Gesturing is one of the most important aspects of real-life poker. If you want to get good at the game, we fully recommend you study gesturing techniques in poker. You could also stop doing obvious follow-up plays in online poker, which helps to become more unpredictable and increase your wins. Always remember to use the safest deposit and withdrawal methods when playing in online casinos, though.
Changing Aspects of Your Play During the Game
Equally as important as gesturing, and much more relevant in the online poker scene, is mixing things up during the game. Detecting patterns of play are ways that poker players have, in real life, to know when you’re bluffing or when you’re serious about a hand. This is one of the main reasons why it’s important for you to try not to fall into patterns of play, but rather mix things up during the game. If you continuously do the same thing again and again, you will become too easy to read, and your opponents will get the hang of it pretty quickly. It’s important for you to mix things up and attempt different moves constantly without losing too many chips. For example, you might want to change the times at which you check or raise from hand to hand, or create smaller patterns of play for you to follow, without having your opponents catch up to them. The better the player, the easier it will be for them to read the way you play!
When to Raise in Poker
Raising is one of the most basic things in poker, which consists of you upping the met of whoever played before you. Raises occur in most rounds, so you’ll want to know when to raise and when to avoid it. This is a small raise guide that can help you understand when to do it, although situational factors also come into play. We’ll talk about them later, but these are the basics of when to raise in poker:
- When you have a good hand – Raising the stakes when you have a good hand is usually a good move. The more certain you are that you’ll win, the better the move might turn out to be
- Raise on the turn or the river if you haven’t raised and have a good hand – Not raising on the flop or pre-flop can allow you to get a better hold of your opponents, but you might want to bet before if you want to set a statement from the get-go
- Raising when another player has already raised – This can be a massive statement of intent that you give to another aggressive player during a hand. Some players are not easily scared of by raises, while others play more conservative games and tend to fold
- Raising as a bluff – This is the riskiest reason to raise in poker, but one that can be very common in professional poker tournaments. It’s often uses as a situational move, as players risk getting caught doing it and their games being easily read. In any case, you might raise during the flop or pre-flop as an aggressive bluff. The most common “bluff” raises occur during 1v1 showdowns, though, as it’s always easier and less risky to trick a single player than 2 or more.
- Raising as a way to get info on the table – If you want to get a better idea of what your opponents have in their hands, you might want to take the risk of raising on the flop. This might allow you to understand what you’re dealing with, who’s more confident in their plays, and whether you should continue betting or not.
- Raising to pick off other players – If you have a fantastic hand and you’re sure you can win, or even if you simply don’t but you’re confident that a raise would eliminate some of the competition, you might do it as a way to get players off the table. If they had already bet a small sum of cash, it’ll remain on the table, and they will likely stop betting if their hands are mediocre or simply not good enough.
- Check-Raising – One of the most common moves in poker is the check-raise, a strategy that can cause a lot of problems to players trying to read your game and bring more money to the table. We’ll explore this one with more detail.
Explaining Check-Raising in Poker – The Most Common Raising Move
Check-raising is the act of checking when it’s your turn to bet, but then, when another player places a bet and it’s your turn again, you raise the stakes. This is a very popular move because it truly confuses players as to what they have, and if you have a very good hand, you’ll also be able to get more money into the table without revealing too much at first. Check-raising is so effective that players use it in all sorts of poker games. It doesn’t matter if you’re on a professional tournament, on an amateur tournament, on quick-play tables, or even playing from the comfort of your home at an online casino – check-raising it’s a very common strategy altogether. Check-raising can only be done when you don’t either have the option to raise or check, usually when you’ve already bet money on the round as part of a blind or as part of a call. In any case, raise-checking depends is not possible to do unless another opponent bets after you’ve already checked once. There are only two scenarios in which you should check-raise:
- When you have a great hand, so more people bet money (hoping that they don’t fold, of course)
- When you suspect that your opponents have better hands than you, to have them fold instead by bluffing with a raise
When to Bluff in Poker – The Trick of Tricking the Table
Bluffs are extremely common in poker, but they can also be very telling of whether a player knows how to play the game or not. Amateurs tend to bluff randomly, which can make them hard to read, but it can also expose them having terrible hands and betting money that they shouldn’t’ have bet. As such, as someone who has just started playing poker, you might be better off trying to be discrete with your bluffing. Bluffing is the act of raising or calling when you aren’t confident that you’re going to win. Although risky, it’s a necessary part of the game, as it gets in your opponents’ heads and could be what defines whether you win or lose a round. Bluffing is the only way you have of winning when you have nothing good on you, unless all other opponents magically fold, which usually never happens. When and When Not to Bluff:
- If you’re running low on cash, you might want to avoid bluffing altogether. You could lose all of your money and it simply doesn’t make too much sense to do it unless you’ve managed to get a strong grasp of how your opponents play and you’re certain they will fold
- When you’ve managed to keep the same strategy working for a little while, it might be time for you to bluff. If you haven’t bluffed for a while, it can even be beneficial for you to lose a small amount of chips in a single round as to show your opponents that you can bluff and lose
- On the contrary, if you have been placing too many bluff bets recently, it might be better for you to start valuing your bets more often. Players tend to judge your moves according to their recent memories – especially amateurs
Retreating IS an Option – When to Fold and When To Do It
Not knowing when to fold is one of the easiest ways to tell when a player lacks poker experience. Going all the way until the end is sometimes the smart thing to do. However, in most cases, amateur players will keep betting until the round ends and, in most occasions, they might even raise the stakes at the worst of times. As such, learning when to fold (also known as the art of retreating), is one of the best ways to avoid losing unnecessary money. You will need to learn the concept of cutting your losses if you want to be a successful poker player. Not even the best player in the world will play an entire poker tournament table without folding or losing money. It’s important that you understand, as a newcomer to the poker scene, that losing some rounds is part of the game. However, the amount of money that you lose is, indeed, under your control. There are times at which you are better off not betting more money and folding. You will also lose money uncontrollably at certain times, of course, but you can influence the amount of money that you lose by playing smartly.
When to Fold in Poker
- If you have a very bad hand, you might want to fold as soon as the flop drops. It’s pointless to make a bet after the flop if you really have nothing on you, as it will only compromise your total stack and it won’t allow you to recover any cash
- When you’re on a streak of bad luck in terms of the hands that you’re getting, you might want to avoid folding too often. This will allow other players to read your game much easier. Folding too often also makes you a target for more experienced players, as they will know that you’re not much of a risk-takerTrust us – they will exploit this and you’re going to struggle to come back from it if you don’t know how to change your strategy mid-game
- You have to learn when to fold even if you’ve already made bets on that round. Your opponent might be bluffing, but are you certain you should take that risk with a pair of 5s with a K and a J on the table? It’s important that you understand that, sometimes, cutting your losses is the best thing you can do in a poker game. Betting and raising instead of folding just to force your opponent into “proving:” that they really have a winning hand can cost you a lot of chips in a single round
- If you’re almost certain that your opponent has a better hand than you (even if you have a high pair on your hands), you might be better off folding. This is a very risky move because it can backfire catastrophically, but it’s also a safe way for you not to lose any unnecessary chips.
How to Fold in Poker
- Never fold before it’s your turn. One of the worst rookie mistakes that some amateurs make is to simply throw a bad hand back at the dealer almost as soon as they receive it. That will not only tell the table that you’re inexperienced, but it will also serve as a clear way to demonstrate that your hand was bad from the get-go.If you happen to have the chance of keeping your bad hand until after the flop, then you should always do it. In fact, if you can afford to call a small bet with a small sum of cash, it can be really worth it in the end. You might see a bad hand turn into a full house with some luck, and then you can simply raise your bet as the round goes on.This applies both to online and real-life games. Your reaction at the time of folding is crucial. In fact, if you have the chance, don’t program the game to fold automatically. Other players will pick up on this. You might want to take a closer look at your hand, or even if it takes you a couple of extra seconds, simply wait out a bit and click the fold button yourself.
- If you’re playing real-life poker, you should always give your cards to the dealer facing down. Giving your cards facing up will allow other players to see what you have and it will impact some players negatively while others will benefit from it. It’s unprofessional to do it like this, se we advise you to avoid it at all costs.
- There are times at which you might want to show which cards you had in your hand when you fold. This is often done when all other players have made their bets and you simply want to give hints of your strategy, like when you perform the so called “Hero Fold”. Hero Folds are made when you have a great hand, but you still think your opponents have better odds than you.
When to Call or Check in Poker
Calling or checking is one of the most basic plays in poker, which happen multiple times per round. However, checking or calling is not as straightforward as it seems. Depending on the hand and what happens on the flop, checking might leave you exposed. You could also perform the check-raise that we told you about, but if all players check and your turn is after the big blind, you’ll be left in a weaker position in the eyes of everyone else. In fact, calling a hand or checking will leave you in a different stage of vulnerability depending on when your turn is. Players that bet one or two turns after the big blind are the most vulnerable, as everyone else plays after them and they will be dictating the tempo of the start of the round. Players that bet last have the upper hand, whilst players that bet between these two groups are not as vulnerable as the first ones.
- Some pro players like to fold when they are the first ones to bet, as they have no information to work with. Again, analyzing opponents plays a huge part in poker, which is why most pros hate to be the ones that bet directly after the blinds.It makes no sense not to call or fold with a good hand, though, so you might want to always call at first to see how other players react and what the table does.
- Folding low value cards at the first round is also a very common strategy for beginners. You might want to simply fold whichever bad hand you get. However, it’s important that you don’t do this too often. Even if your opponents aren’t seasoned poker players, they can still pick up on your strategies if you keep them as basic as can be.
- It’s also a good move to check or call after the flop. Some players are tempted to raise as soon as they see that they have a pair of Aces, which can be detrimental for their strategy as it can scare off other players or put them as the “leading” player on the table from the get-go.
Playing with a Small Stack of Chips
One of the most challenging things in poker is to play when you only have a handful of chips in your hand. In fact, going into a 1v1 in a poker table when you have less chips than your opponent can be one of the most difficult things for amateurs and professionals alike. The player with the most chips will always have the upper hand on the one with less chips, as a higher stack will always allow the player to dictate the tempo of the game. The player with the most chips can always outbid their rival, and can force them to go all-in if the player with less chips thinks they can win the round. All in all, playing with a smaller stack of chips in a poker table will mean that you’ll have to play much more conservative. Being aggressive with a smaller stack of chips could also cause other players to fold in more occasions, though, even if you’re bluffing. It’s highly unlikely that a player with just a handful of chips would bet them all unless they were confident of winning. Again, mind-games play a huge part in poker when you’re running out of money. Study how your opponents react to your risky plays during the game and see what they do when you’re on a smaller stack of chips. When you’re about to lose, reading your opponents’ moves becomes more important than ever if you’re looking to turn things around. Here are some tips for playing with a smaller stack of chips, which could help you not lose all of your money:
- Only play hands that are guaranteed to work out. For example, place a bet if you have a pair already guaranteed – don’t play hands that have the potential of becoming flushes if one specific card gets drawn
- If you have an Ace, and another high card, you should be chasing a win if you’re on a smaller stack of chips
- As we’ve said, you should only bluff in certain occasions and only if necessary. When you’re on a small stack, you won’t want to be taking too many risks that could compromise your stay in the game
- Don’t bet on low pairs if there are high-value cards on the table
Playing a Less-Favorable Hand – Should You Do It?
If you’re just beginning to play poker, then we have to recommend you not to play too many low-value hands. Experienced players can often tell when they can take the risk of going for the pot with a low pair, but when you’re just beginning, it might not be smart to take too many risks until you get a grasp of the game’s basics. Once you start becoming more comfortable with poker plays and understanding basic betting strategies, you can then give it a go by risking the chance to win with a low-value hand. Adding to what we’ve said in our last point, you should avoid playing low-value hands if you’re lacking money. Don’t try to take too many risks with a small stack of chips – we can’t stress this enough! In most cases, when you try to play a hand that doesn’t really hold a lot of value, you will be doing it because you’re looking to bluff or confuse your opponents. Chances are that you can win with a bluff – especially if there are high-value cards on the table, which can serve to confuse your opponent and trick them to believe that you have something good in your hand. The problem with betting or raising with a less-favorable hand is that you will end up having to bet throughout the entire round if you don’t want to make your opponents see that you’re bluffing. When the round ends, it might be beneficial for you not to show to your rivals the cards that you were holding if you happened to win. You could also show them that you were bluffing if you want – it’s all part of the mind games that form part of a player’s ultimate strategy.
Variation is Crucial if You Want Sustained Success
If you’re looking for long-term poker success, you need to learn to vary your strategy. Amateurs are hard to predict because they often play without a clear strategy given the lack of experience. However, intermediate players that are finally starting to get a grasp of the game can struggle to vary, making them easy pickings for the pros. Have you ever heard about beginner’s luck in poker? It’s a very common concept, but mainly because it’s not really luck. Beginners tend to play all over the place, which makes them really hard to read. As they start grasping the basics of the game and creating their own strategies, it’s highly likely that people with more experience will begin picking them up quickly. Why not play randomly at all times, then? Well, because it cannot be done if you’re looking to have sustained success in the poker scene. Random plays will only take you as far as other players permit, given that solid strategies outdo random plays in every type of poker game; especially so in Texas Hold ‘em. You will need to develop strategies and mix them up during your game. If you’ve been playing aggressive for a while, then you might want to play more conservatively for a couple of rounds, then pick up a couple of aggressive wins, and then go back to conservative plays. Pros are also very good at spotting player patterns. If you want to beat pros (or become a pro yourself), you will need to start scrapping patterns in your play and detecting them yourself before other people catch up on them. Mix things up and watch yourself become a successful poker player in the long run!
Playing Online Poker vs Playing Real-Life Poker
Many people prefer playing online poker than real-life poker. However, the skillset required to be triumphant in both variations of the game is very similar. The main difference, as we said in the beginning of our guide, is that you won’t be able to read your opponent’s physical reactions but only their in-game reactions to plays.
That also means, however, that your opponents won’t be able to read your reactions either. This can be very helpful for players who are just getting started to poker, as it can be very hard to control your reactions at first.
One of the main pieces of advice that we can give you is to play online poker first before adventuring into real casinos to bet against other players. Online poker will allow you to get a strong grasp, use online casino bonuses that you know how to use thanks to our casino bonus guide, and understanding of the game without having to feel the pressure that comes with playing in a real environment.
You will still lose or win money, but the pressure is not as big. Learn how to control your reactions when you get good or bad hands, try out different strategies, and explore the different plays that can be performed in a regular poker game online. Then, you can move on to playing online poker tournaments. If your success continues, you can then move on to a real casino to try your luck in a land-based poker table. Try out your strategies and techniques against real players and embark on a journey that could take you to the very top of the poker scene in the world!
Best Poker Websites
Now that you know everything there is to know about the basics of Texas Hold’em Poker, it’s time for you to start discovering the best online casinos at which you can get your poker adventure started. Not all online casinos offer you the chance to play poker against real players, but those that do tend to have some very performance-friendly apps that work quite well in most devices. Two of the best online casinos that we’ve reviewed on The Casino Wizard have fantastic poker apps, both of which allow you to play with different types of currency from all over the world. The reduced graphical quality of poker apps is done on purpose as to allow players to access them from all devices. As such, lag won’t be an issue at all when playing at any of the following online casinos. Also, if you want to play poker against the house, both of these online casinos also have live dealer sections where you can play against a real dealer from the comfort of your home.
Our 888 Casino review shows that it is one of the best online casinos in the world. We have had the chance and pleasure of enjoying their online poker app and it’s, by far, one of the most entertaining poker apps that we’ve tried. The entire app is designed to work on virtually any device, as we’ve tried it in older computers as well as in modern ones. The poker section of the 888 Casino comes packed with activities and things to do, although the app’s payment processing could be a bit more straightforward. Players can struggle a bit to maneuver around the cashier, and the 888 Casino does ask for a lot of personal information when playing online. These are nothing but security checks, though. We actually really liked that the casino really cared about our security. Betting money on the 888 Poker app will not only open up a door to countless tournaments and online casino tables, but it will also allow you to feel safe in one of the best poker environments that we’ve encountered. It’s no surprise that this amazing website has become one of the most popular places for internet lurkers to enjoy a good round of online poker. It also comes with a plethora of amazing online casino bonuses that will help you enjoy slots, virtual table games, and many other types of casino goodness!
We have to admit that the Betsson poker tables are nothing but fantastic. The artwork of the entire game is smooth as possible and the way the website transitions is absolutely perfect. The Betsson casino is one of the best online casinos in the world, but it’s made even better by the fact that the site has one of the most comprehensive poker apps as well. As with the 888 Casino, the Betsson Poker section must be downloaded to your device if you wish to truly enjoy it. It’s made to work mostly on modern computers, but playing Betsson Poker on mobile devices is also possible. In any case, Betsson comes packed with a plethora of fantastic casino bonuses, like the Betsson sign up bonus, that are nothing but beneficial to most players. The site is, by far, one of the largest in terms of how many games it hosts as well as the number of players that it has. If that’s not enough to convince you about visiting Betsson, you’ll want to check out their Poker tournaments and tables. Much like the 888 Casino, you can also play poker against the house in the Betsson Live Dealer Casino. This section is filled with some of the best online casino games created by Evo Gaming, the finest developer of live dealer casino games on the planet. Play against the dealers or against real players – it’s up to you to decide where to begin your poker adventure at the amazing Betsson Casino!
Play Poker Online and Start a Journey That’ll Take You to the Stars and Beyond
You’re now more than ready to visit the best online casinos and start making a large profit in their fantastic poker games. Be sure to apply all of the gambling strategies that we’ve given you and you’ll be good to go to beat other amateurs and get the best out of seasoned players in more than one occasion.
Don't miss out on claiming the best no deposit poker bonuses, too, if you'd like to play for free!
Remember, though – becoming an expert takes a lot of time. You can’t expect to win every time even if you manage to master all of the poker strategies in existence. You will start seeing better results and bigger wins with consistent playtime, though. Keep up those spirits and be sure not to give up on your dreams of becoming a better poker player with each day that passes; consistency is key!
Kickstart your adventure in these two online poker websites that we’ve mentioned, and you’ll surely be on your way to becoming a better player as time goes by. Which would you pick? The virtual tables of the 888 Casino or the acclaimed online halls of the fantastic Betsson website?