Much of poker depends on the luck of the draw, but the pros use a few strategies that help them rack in the big bucks.
Don’t play every hand. If you watch a lot of poker, you know that the best players fold frequently. Sure, poker is a game of luck, but it’s also a game of opportunity. Don’t waste your chips on a lousy hand. Save them for betting on the good cards—without scaring away the competition!
Don’t be afraid to fold after the flop. So you had a pretty good hand…until the flop. Just because you’ve got some money in the pot doesn’t mean you have to take your cards to the end of the hand. If you think you're behind, get out. If you do think you're ahead, make it expensive for the other players to get to the next card (the turn).
Think about your opponents’ hands. Keep an eye on the common cards on the table and be aware of what your opponents may be up to. If you have two Kings in your hand, but there's an Ace on the table, another player only needs an Ace to beat you. If there's a pair on the table, someone might have 3-of-a-kind. If there are 3 suited cards on the table, your opponent might have a flush. If there are…well, you get the picture.
Don’t get caught chasing a straight! Hoping for cards to fill out a straight or a flush is a common beginner error—and a great way to go home early. If the flop has been dealt and you’re left fishing for a potential straight or flush, the odds are against you. You may get lucky every now and then, but in the long run you’ll give away more than you’ll ever win.
Be a bully! If your opponents seem cautious, you may be able to scare them away from the pot by betting aggressively, and the bigger chip lead you get on your opponents, the bigger bully you can be! But don't overuse this strategy, especially if you’re bluffing.