Despite its reputation as a game of pure chance, poker actually involves quite a bit of skill and psychology. Especially in a high-stakes game, good players use several key skills to help them win, including calculating pot odds and percentages, reading other players, and adapting strategies to match the game’s dynamics.
A good poker player will also understand the importance of playing with a balanced range, i.e., calling with strong hands and raising with weak ones. It’s not usually profitable to “limp” – that is, call every single bet with a mediocre hand – and raising with weak ones is essential for putting pressure on your opponents to improve.
Shuffle and deal four hands of cards face down (as if there are only four people in the game). Each time you play this routine, try to decide which hand is best quickly without hesitating for more than several seconds. Repeat this process for the flop, turn and river (or fifth street). This practice will help you learn how to read a hand quickly, as well as helping you become more consistent in your decision making.
Lastly, the best poker players will know when to quit a session. This is particularly important because this mentally intensive game can take its toll on your mental state if you let it. If you feel frustration, fatigue or anger building up, it’s generally best to walk away and come back another day.