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Intermediate Strategy

Intermediate Poker Strategy

Once you've learned the basics of poker, some intermediate poker strategy tips will help you hone your poker game.

Learn to be devious

In most sports, they teach you the value of good conduct – gentlemanly play, it's called. Well, you can toss all of that out of the window when it comes to playing poker. Here the most prized skills are not your ability to behave honourably. Rather, it's all about being as devious as you can.

You must mislead your opponents into thinking your hand is better than it is. The best outcome of a hand of poker is not to reach the end and have the strongest hand – although, admittedly, that is completely sweet, particularly if you've managed to get the other person to go all in.

No, the real strategy and skill in professional class poker playing is to play in such a way that your opponents would rather fold midway through the hand, abandoning the pile of chips they've already shoved in, rather than risk more. Long term, this is a far more effective strategy than getting into raising matches. Many small wins are better than a few big ones.

You need to bluff well, in other words. It's fibbing. It's being perhaps not 100% liberal with the truth. It's that thing your mother told you not to do – but if you're convincing at it, you have a great career ahead of you in this game.

Mislead, mislead, mislead

When you play tournament style poker, or even in private single table games, you will be trying to learn about how your opponents think and behave by observing them. Check them for clues. Watch their faces when they see their hole cards for the first time.

Narrowed eyes? Interesting. Throbbing vein on the forehead? That can't be good. Quickly suppressed smirk? Quickly fold your hand.

But remember this: in the same way that you are observing the other players at the table, they are observing you. You must try as hard as possible not to give away any emotion. But, at the same time, you must use the knowledge that they are watching you to your advantage.

Deliberately misinterpreting the data

Now, in our beginner strategy article, we spoke about the importance of being able to correctly interpret the flop. Read the flop carefully, see what could possibly be made out of it. Here in the Intermediate strategy article, we're taking it a step further, by adding a devious twist.

Now, here's the important bit. Did you actually hit anything when it came down? No? Too bad. But your opponents don't know that. For all they know, the three useless low clubs that just appeared on the table could be completing a flush in your hand.

So bet as if it does.

Think about it from the other person's perspective. They look at the flop and they can see a possible flush, but they have nothing in their hand that could match it. Then you go and raise up a big bet, leading them to the conclusion that you clearly have the flush.

That means that they're taking an awfully big risk by sticking around to see if the next card is better. Chances are, they will fold out, and you get to take home the fat pot.