If you’ve gotten to a stage in your poker play that you are reading articles on advanced poker strategy, it means that you have lost the training wheels and are ready for the serious stuff. There is at this level, no more holding of your hand and telling you what cards to bet on and what not to; now it’s about getting into your opponents heads.

Understanding your Opponents

When playing poker there is no such things as “hanging out”; poker is a game of knowing your opponents as much as it is of knowing yourself, thus in order to excel at poker you need to be paying attention to how your opponents play so that that information can be used against them. There are a few key things to look out for, that will help you in your game. For starters you should be able tell from a fairly early stage if your opponent is a loose player or a tight player; do they fold a lot early on? Do they dive into big pots and fold out later? If you can identify some kind of pattern in their play you will be able to predict what it is that they are doing. Furthermore, you should be spying on each called hand. If you have a guy who is constantly going to the end with mediocre hands then that’s important information that you can use against him. Finally, you should be looking for tells. Does somebody sweat more when they have a good hand? Do they tap their cards when they are going to bet big? These tells could be anything, but if you’re able to identify any differences from their regular behavior, this will be helpful beyond belief. 

Manipulate your Opponent

This is the opposite of the first point which is to do with using your opponents’ behavior against them , here you are using your behavior against them. The idea in manipulating your opponents is to put them in a position where they do not feel comfortable, to take them out of their comfort zones. This can be done in a number of ways. For starters if you see somebody is a conservative better then you can easily make them feel uncomfortable, by forcing them to either make a large bet or to fold. You will find that it’s actually quite easy to pushing people into a place where they’re not comfortable, and this will work for winning you the pot either by forcing them out, or applying pressure so they make mistakes, but in the long run it can also result in a resistance to enter into a heads-up battle with you, thus allowing you to have eliminated a challenger before even entering into the challenge. 

These are just a couple of ideas on advanced poker strategy – they relate to living and breathing the game, not just playing the game. Internalize the ideas that are being presented here and you will find your game improving; ultimately you must remember that you are as much of a tool in a game of poker as your cards are.