Whether you’re just starting out or already play regularly, poker can be a difficult game to master. There is some luck involved, but a lot of skill and psychology too. The right mindset is key to becoming a winning player.
To begin, learn the basic rules of the game. You’ll need to understand the ranking of standard hands as well as the game’s terminology. It’s also helpful to understand your opponents and how they think.
The first step is to observe your opponents’ facial expressions and how they handle their chips. How they move their chips and what they bet tells you everything. Do they look relaxed, or are their eyes fixed on the table? Do they fumble around with their chips? If you notice an opponent’s face getting red, flaring of the nose or throbbing vein in the neck and head, their blood pressure is up. That usually means that they’re ready to call or bet.
A second observation is the quality of your opponents’ cards. You’ll want to see that they have two personal cards and the five community cards on the board (or “table”). If they hit a flop or river with a card that would make their hand, it could change everything. For example, if you have pocket 7’s and the flop is 7-6-2 then you have the nuts as that would be three-of-a-kind.
Watch the way experienced players interact with other players and practice your instincts to develop a quick system. Avoid trying to outwit your opponents; their behavior is often predictable and attempting to lure them into taking the wrong line will just backfire.