Why poker isn’t about the hand you have

In most games, the goal is to win through playing by the rules. The person with the better team, set of cards or the ‘most’ of whatever is used in a game will win. They will tend to have the upper hand and can easily beat their opponents.

And while this obviously is still present in Texas Hold’em – the person with more chips and better cards will generally play well – it is not the be all and end all. This is really because the person with the better hand comes down to chance. A lot of people may feel there is some kind of skill in recognizing a good hand, and that having a good card to begin with is a matter of skill, this really is not the case. Every time you play Texas Hold’em simply by trying to have the best hand, you are missing the point of the game.

Because obviously you stand the same chance as everyone else of having the best hand, and occasionally you will win based on dumb luck. But that is all this is – blind luck. Because it is not about having the best hand, but about trying to figure out who might have the best hand, so you can see if they will win or not.

Quite often someone will be able to win with a really poor hand, while someone with a good hand may lose simply because they think someone will have a better hand. Obviously if you have the best possible hand for the cards dealt and you realize this, you will win by default if you keep going. But at the same time, if you make it too obvious that you have the best hand and others believe you, they will fold far sooner than you might want them to.

As the goal is about being careful – keeping people in the game long enough to bet a lot of chips for you to win, so you can take the most possible. If everyone folds on the very first hand then you won’t really gain much at all, so you need to play it carefully.

Obviously there are different tactics involved though, and it is not all about playing one way rather than another. Some people will prefer to primarily make people think that they have good hands, others will prefer to be more neutral about the cards that they have and play the other people as and when it suits them.

So do change your tactics as and when you want, just because a certain tactic works well for one person it doesn’t mean it will work well for you necessarily. So use logic and figure out which you prefer, and play the game based on that. After a while you will really start to get a feel for which method of play you best work with, so simply stick with that as much as you can and see where it gets you, alternating if you need.

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