Not having a poker face is not a big deal at all! Yes, pros know some of the important probabilities off the top of their head, but it’s not crucial to getting started in playing.
It’s like doing a jigsaw puzzle where you don’t know the final result. You just have to look at the pieces and think what should go where. The information you have is what’s in your hand / what’s on the table. You don’t know what your opponents could have and that’s the information you’re trying to gather. Learning / using what you learned over many rounds = poker. Playing just one hand = gambling. If you were to play perfect poker, you’d be playing as if you could see your opponent’s hand in every decision you make.
So how do you figure out what your opponents have in their hands? You infer it based on position, their betting patterns, and by making intentional bets
In betting every round, small blind starts off the betting, being the first to make a decision. Dealer is the last one to make a decision. Position is where you sit at the table relative to that. Later position = see more of other people’s decisions before you have to make one. This means you can stand to play a bit looser (explained next slide) if you have a better position.
VPIP is how often you put in money when you don’t have to (i.e. when you’re not big/small blind). Someone who puts in money often is loose, someone who rarely puts in money is tight. Generally loose means they’re willing to play even when they have mediocre cards, while tight players only play when they’ve got some high cards or a pair. Once you figure out where your opponent falls within that spectrum, you can use it to predict what kinds of cards they may have. For example, if you have a 7 and a 2 in your hand, and on the flop there’s 7,5,2. If your opponent has been playing really tight this whole time, it’s unlikely they’ll have any of those crappy cards, while you have two pairs!
PFR is how often you raise in the first round of betting, before the flop. Continuation bet is how often you bet after the flop after you’ve pre-flop raised. They determine how aggressive you are. It’s good to play aggressively. Aggressive poker is winning poker! If you’re not raising, you’re not making as much money as you could be. A common mistake beginners make is to do what’s called “limping”. That’s when you call the big blind during the first round of betting instead of raising, just so you can see the flop. If you’ve got something mediocre, you shouldn’t be playing that hand. If you’ve got something good, you should raise! One thing you can do is punish limpers when you’re in a late position by raising. Then they have to decide if their initial investment is worth continuing for. You don’t want everyone to see the flop because even if they had something crappy, they could get lucky on the flop and get some pairs.
Before we talk about making intentional bets, I want to talk about the course of action you should take on your turn. This is a simplified model - there’s more reasons you should continue playing when you don’t have the best hand, but that’s more advanced and we can ignore that for now. Using the information you’ve already gained about your opponents, when you infer what hands they could have, is your hand better than all of them? If it is, you should raise. If you need 1 more card to make a straight or flush or something, which would then make your hand better than what your opponents may have, then call “when it’s worth it” (see next slide).
Given our decision tree, if you’re in scenario 1, you want people who are in scenario 2 to fold before they could potentially have a better hand than you. At the same time, you want people who have worse hands to call so you make more money. When you make intentional bets, you can use your opponent’s action to determine what they may have.
How To Poker
How To Poker
What is Poker?
A way to de-clothe your attractive friends
Probably for most people...
A (sometimes) enjoyable card game where you
(sometimes) win money
Each player given 2 cards (hand) -> Bet
-> Flip over 3 shared cards (flop) -> Bet
-> Flip over 1 more shared card (turn) -> Bet
-> Flip over last shared card (river) -> Bet
-> Best 5 card combination wins
CHECK = continue without putting more money
(only possible when no money down)
CALL = match highest amount of money put in
RAISE = put in more money than highest
FOLD = give up; lose any money already put in
“I’m not good at bluffing, I shouldn’t play
“Poker’s all about knowing probabilities and
What is poker really about?
Poker is a game of working with incomplete
It’s about gathering intel and making decisions
from what you know.
How to information
To figure out what people have in their hands:
Take advantage of position
Determine opponents’ betting patterns
Make intentional bets
Later = better:
See more people’s
More moves = more
Betting Pattern Key Words
Voluntary Put Money In Pot (VPIP) -> tightness
Infer what they have based on tightness.
Counter loose by playing tight. Counter tight
by playing loose.
Aggressive Poker = Winning Poker
Pre-Flop Raise (PFR) /
Continuation Bet (CBet) ->
aggressiveness of player
Be aggressive, but not
(same advice could apply to life)
How to decision
1.Have best hand? RAISE!
1.Need 1 more card to make best hand? CALL
“when it’s worth it”
“When It’s Worth it”!?!?
Read that book ->
Or look up “pot odds”,
“implied odds”, and
… and then read that book
Making Intentional Bets
Based on what’s on the table, which hands
would [RAISE/CALL/FOLD] if I bet X?
When betting, maximize potential gains.
Minimize potential losses.
“If I raise, everyone will fold and I won’t make
any more money”
Not an issue if there’s intent behind your
raise. Raising is HOW you make money!
Another Common Misconception
Keep In Mind
People folding is not a bad thing.
If you play until the end, the only way to win
is by having the best possible hand.
In the middle of the game you can win by that
OR by getting all your opponents to fold.
FIN(Strip your opponents of their wealth and garments responsibly!)