Learn how to play poker

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Your opponents may be convinced that you wouldn't dare risk anything unless you have a winning hand. Tells are involuntary reactions that are hard to avoid. The best poker players are those most sensitive to their opponents' tells. Professional players use tells to "read" their opponents' hands. There's no way to know what is in another player's hand, but if you can read the player's reaction and compare it to previous reactions, you can often accurately predict whether they have a good or bad hand and whether they are bluffing.

Reading tells takes instinct, a great deal of concentration and a good memory. One thing you should understand is that, while you're trying to read and psyche out your opponents, they are doing the same thing to you. Most players employ an "opposite strategy" by trying to appear strong when their hand is weak and vice versa.

So if a player suddenly appears to be aggressive, and stares you down or tries to intimidate you, he is most likely bluffing to get you to fold. If he acts quiet and hesitant, he probably has a strong hand. Behavioral changes are a dead giveaway, especially when a player becomes very still and quiet. He's doing his best not to scare you because the longer he keeps you in, the bigger the pot he knows he's going to win.

Better players are less obvious and their acting is kept to a minimum. One of the most common bluff tells is covering part of the face. Most people aren't very good liars and will put a hand up to their face to distract you from what you might see in their eyes. Watch for hand-to-face movements, and avoid doing that yourself Not every player has a tell, and some are aware of tells and have trained themselves to show you what they want you to see, so it's not something you can rely on.

But most players you'll be up against are amateurs and won't be able to help themselves. Paying attention to tells can keep you in play until you come up against the really good players. A surprising number of people enter into play without a clue about how to calculate the odds, the poker equivalent of driving on the autobahn blindfolded. You might get lucky once in a while, but you're far more likely to get run over.

The easiest way to calculate pot odds is to consider the number of unknown cards to the number of outs, or cards that will help you.

For example, if you're trying to fill a flush on the draw and you already have four suited cards, there are 46 unknown cards; out of 52 cards, you have 2 pocket cards and 4 on the board. Since there are 13 cards in a suit and you have 4, 9 are somewhere in the deck, making your odds about 4 to 1 against drawing what you need. Those odds worsen when you consider that each of the other players also holds cards and you have no way of knowing how many of your suit cards are completely unavailable.

If you know the odds, you know when to play tight. Only make that gamble if the value of the pot is worth the potential loss. Poker strategy is a necessary component of play, but winning requires putting it all together to play smart. You have to think ahead of the game and develop an instinct for situational play. Every table is different, every game is different and every situation is different.

Your winning strategy is to develop some basic weaponry and then use that knowledge to adapt to the game at hand. For more than forty years, the World Series of Poker has been the most trusted name in the game. In the event of a tie, the highest three matching cards wins. Five cards of the same suit, not in sequence. In the event of a tie, the player holding the highest ranked card wins. Five non-suited cards in sequence.

In the event of a tie, the highest ranking card at the top of the sequence wins. Three cards of the same rank, and two unrelated side cards.

Two cards of matching rank, two cards of different matching rank, and one kicker. If both players have an identical Two Pair, the highest kicker wins. Two cards of matching rank, and three unrelated side cards. In the event of a tie, the player with the highest, and if necessary, second or third-highest side card wins. Any hand that does not qualify under the categories listed. From free tournaments to expert tips, check out the tools below and start improving your game.

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Index of Hold'em Strategy Lessons