When you’re dealt a good poker hand like a pocket pair or draw to a straight or flush, it can feel as if the universe is smiling down on you. But the truth is that in order to win, you’re also going to have to lose. And sometimes, that can be hard. Especially when the clueless drunks or newbies to your left and right keep making bad decisions, raising with junk and calling with second-rate hands, and winning pot after pot while you’re watching your chips dwindle in a sick, numb feeling.
It’s important to learn how to play poker and understand the rules of the game before you start playing. But it’s also vital to develop a strategy that works for you. The best way to do that is to practice. Observe other players and think about how you would react in their position. Over time, you’ll be able to develop quick instincts that will help you make the right decisions.
The most common mistake that new players make is to check too often or call too often, fearing they’ll be burned by a big pot. In reality, the key is to bet when you have a premium opening hand and not worry too much about losing your buy-in. Then you can assert your dominance at the table from the start. If you’re not in the mood for that, there are plenty of other games that allow for more leisurely play and lower stakes.