It seems to me like a lot of people are asking "how should i play?" or "how would you play x/x hand?" or "what should i do in a situation like this?"...and there isnt a wrong answer, but at the same time there isnt a right answer. Everyone could give their different theory about how someone should play in a given situation and most likely will all be right. There are just to many things to take into consideration the just 2 cards in front of you. Things like: what position are you, how many acted before you, how many are after you, is the pot size worth a call, are you will to call a (re)raise if there is one, who was the original raiser, etc, and no answer is 100% accurate because almost no given situation is entirely the same.
Ive been playing for about 5 years now, so im still learning. i dont consider myself a good player or even a decent player...i think of myself as an advanced beginner. In this thread i'll post some tips/strats, that i have found to be effective in both house games friends and with strangers at casinos. These are tips they look beyond the cards in your hand and on the table. Im not writing them down in a specific order.
1. You dont have to justify your style of play/the hand you played.
If you turn over a below average hand that won a nice pot/lost a pot and someone asks "how did you call [a raise] with that garbage?" you dont have to answer. More likely then not, the person in question could care less about the hand you played. He may be a bit heated, but he is just waiting for you to answer so he can use that information against you. if you say "i was looking for a flush" then he knows you like to chase. at best i wouldnt say anything at all, but if i do respond its something simple like "i guess i got lucky."
2. Know your opponents style.
If you are seated amongst strangers learn how each person plays with in the half hour. find out who likes to go over the top vs a raise and who will likely fold to a reraise, this way you can pick your targets and know who you dont want to be involved in a hand with. i dont believe you have to go up against every single person at the table to make your money. if you can take it from the tight players then do so, if you're not getting anything worthy to go up against an aggressors, then dont.
3. Get to know your opponents.
At casinos, i make it a habit to introduce myself to people i dont know. You dont have to get personal and ask their life story. Just their name, where they're from, and how often do they come to the casino. If they ask you a personal question, then you can ask them that as well. (i usually get asked how old i am or when i started playing, etc) For the most part people who play at casinos are great people. they are there just to have fun and hang out, lose/win some money, so you should show them you are looking to have fun as well. There have been a number times where ive been heads up with someone i met and have talked with a few times and even though i lost a couple hands, i didnt lose as much i would've if i had become friends with that person. its not gonna be the same with everyone you meet, but if some one considers you a friend, their not gonna try and take all your money. and im the same way.
4.Learn how to take a win/lose with dignity.
Everyone loves to win, thats a fact...especially when it comes to money. If you win a huge pot and your hand held up go ahead and celebrate. go ahead and express yourself, but dont over do it. I dont think theres anything worse then someone who wins, then calls his friends over, talks about the hand and how much money he took from other people. if you're gonna do that, wait till after you leave before you start swapping stories. the last thing the person(s) want to hear is about how they got beat. At the same time, take your loses with dignity as well. Losing sucks, but you're not going to win every single time...so you have to be ready for it. ive lost a number of hands against better hands and against lucky garbage, hands...but ive always made it visible to the table that i could take it. Even though im heated and want to scream "How the FFFF do you call a $60 raise with that garbage and call me down to the river? FFFFin' chasers." but i dont. i simply take a deep breath and say "I guess you got me." im even sport enough to shake that persons hand if he killed all my chips or knocked me out of a tournament. the thing with loses are: no one remembers what hand you lost with and they dont care, but they will remember how you acted. if they know you go on tilt easily, then you're a good target for them.
5. None of us are pros.
I meet a lot of great players at casinos who have been playing for years and years, but arent pros in anyway...so why is it that i see a lot of people (mostly young people) coming into casinos, like they're wearing a WSOP bracelet? More often then not ill get a player at my table who plays like he is a pro...theres a diffrence between a serious player and someone who is living a poker fantasy. a serious player is just that: serious. he plays tight/aggressive when he needs too, he knows when to call and when to fold, hes not just playing just to play, but to improve his game. the poker fantasy player looks like he plays seriously (and he just might be), but its over serious. he likes to stare down, he likes to chip dance, he over analyzes hands, basically he acts like someone you would see while watching the WSOP or the WPT.
ive even called someone out on it. i raised with Q/Q and "the pro" called. the board came out 7-3-10 rainbowed and i bet into it. "the pro" called time and then proceeded to stare me down like i just made a huge bet for the pot and started asking "what do you have?" then picked up chips like he was gonna reraise and started chip dancing and counting how much he had. he then started analzying how i played which was 1. PFR and 2. bet on the flop. so finally after a while of this BS i said. "Come on, Freddie Deeb..i know you dont have anything so quit playing like you do." i was an ass for saying that, but he was dragging the game along.
6. Make sure your mind is straight.
If you walk into a casino/home game with the words "NEED" and/or "HAVE" in your head, then i suggest you walk out the door. if you walk in thinking "I NEED to make X-amount of money tonight" or "i HAVE to make x-amount of money tonight", then your are setting yourself up for a possible lose. If you cant affort to play, then dont. Playing poker because you NEED money is one of the worse things you can do, because 1. you might not come up. 2. if you lose money, you now have to work to get that back + the money you NEED. if you go to play you should be thinking "i HOPE i come up" or "im going to play my best and hopefully ill make some money." this way of thinking keeps your attitude positive and you're less likely to make mistakes.
7. Go with your gut instinct.
If you played a hand as best you could but is now against an all in and you're not sure about your hand..go with your gut instinct. However, that should be last thing you think about. Analyze the hand in your head and how everything was played out. If you still cant get a read or arent 100% your hand is the best, then go with your gut instinct. i say analyze the hand first, because your instinct isnt going to go anywhere, so you dont have worry about that first. Dont think about how much money you might win if you're right or how much you could lose if you're wrong. If im considering a fold i tell myself "Ok, if im beat then i saved myself a lot of money. if he bluffed, then he made a great play."
i have 3 great lay downs so far by trusting my gut instinct:
-laid down top pair and middle pair vs. someone who made trips on the trun
-laid down pocket kings vs someone who river set of jacks
-laid down flopped boat vs quad 7s. i had 8/8. cards came out 778-7-K opponent had A/7.
i guess thats all for now, i have a lot more ill be posting up in days to come. repsonse and your own tips are welcome.