There have been hundreds of approaches to game’s strategy. Yet the most truthful of them (which is called a fundamental theorem) was presented by David Sklansky – an American poker player and author of 14 books about gambling. In one of his works, he wrote: Every time you play a hand differently from the way you would have played it if you could see all your opponents' cards, they gain; and every time you play your hand the same way you would have played it if you could see all their cards, they lose.

This principle has become the foundation of multiple strategies. For instance, using deception techniques (we will tell about them below) can stimulate others to step aside from their planned actions. Of course, it’s not an ultimate rule. It has certain “ifs”, especially in specific situations.

### Doing the math: pot odds, implied odds and probabilities

Understanding your chances of winning is the most crucial concept in the strategy of the game. Pot odds are the ratio of the sum inside the pot to the sum that a player must bet. Here’s a simple example: let’s say that one participant must call \$10 for an opportunity to get \$50 pot (his \$10 call is not included). In this case, pot odds are 5-to-1. For an optimistic outcome, gambler’s chances to win must be bigger than the pot odds. In our example, the probability to win is around 17%. It means that a person can lose 5 times but win only once.

A bit more complex term related to pot odds got the name “implied odds”. It is based on the estimated sum in this very pot at the end of the hand rather than a current sum. The key part of success here is to estimate your drawing hand. Let’s suppose that you were lucky to get a strong drawing hand (Straight Flush, for example). An experienced player will definitely call all bets to increase the sum in the pot and hope that the others will keep doing the same until the end of the last round.

### Bluffing

According to David Sklansky, this is an important part of your road to success. By deceiving one or several of opponents, you force them to change their style of playing, while you keep sticking to your own strategy. Again, this fundamental principle we have mentioned in the beginning.

Normally, bluffing is used to hide the fact that you’ve got a weak game this time and try to force the others to fold their superior cards. Another kind of deceit is semi-bluffing: when you think you have a possibility to improve the final outcome in one of the last rounds (when more community cards will be revealed). Again, this is made for two reasons: getting a better combination during the turn or the river rounds and to force as many opponents as possible to fold in fear of losing.

Slow playing is another trick that you can benefit from. The essence of this concept is: keep playing smoothly, even if you are 100% sure in your victory. When a person is confident in his cards, he performs all actions reluctantly to make others raise or call instead of folding. This is done for one purpose only: to make the final payout grow.

### Positions

In poker, this term is an order in which participants are seated. Position always defines the strategy. For instance, having an early position (hence acting first) requires a stronger hand if you plan to call or raise. If there are 5 people to act after you, there might be a possibility that one or several of them can create better combinations with community cards. As a result, if you’re the one playing the last in every round, you have a great advantage. Why is that? Simply because the last person to play can see and analyze all previous actions.

The late position is the favorable one as it allows the gambler to go to the next stage, even holding a weak hand. Naturally, the blinds (two first people to perform their actions) may fold at the very beginning if doubting their possibilities to get the prize.

Knowing how the position works is another secret of any poker player. The seating defines the range of cards necessary to succeed. Of course, it also depends on the behavior and experience of other people at the table. With some luck and skill, it’s possible to come out as a winner even with a low chances. The only thing you need to know here is when to raise.

### Why and when you need to raise

For increasing the amount of money if you are confident in the superiority of your hand. In this case, raising will force other confident players to match. For getting rid of other gamblers if you know you hold the winning hand. In this case, raising will allow you to remove some of the players from early rounds and prevent them from creating a better combination than you have. For bluffing, obviously. If a gambler with low chances plans to force his opponents with possibly winning combinations to fold, he needs to raise. As a result, others may actually believe that their cards are not good enough to win (even if it’s not true). For semi-bluffing. A gambler raises to increase both the value of his hand and the prize as the game keeps going. In this case, a bigger prize will be at stake during the final round. Technically, it is still considered as deception as no player knows which community cards will be revealed. For blocking or using a “blocking bet” against other participants. It’s a relatively small bet that you make to decrease the possibility for others to do the same during their turn. Here, your early position is favorable as you won’t have to match the possible bets made by players acting after you. For getting a free card. When making a raise with a drawing hand, most gamblers would prefer to call and check on the following round, giving you the possibility to get a free card and improve your chances. For gathering information. Here, you do it just to watch the reaction of other gamblers. A small raise in such a position is a valuable tool to evaluate the options of the others. For getting rid of better hands. Useful when raising after someone’s bet. If a person before you made a bet and you decide to raise, the third player in a row would most likely choose to fold (even if holding a promising hand).

### When and why it’s better to make a call

What action to perform is the hardest debate in a gambler’s head. Here are some essential situations when it’s absolutely necessary to make a call. To see other community cards. If you feel like getting a better hand as soon as more cards are opened, calling is the only option. To limit loss in equity. When the pot odds are adequate for calling but too low for raising, it’s better to call. To prevent a re-raise. At the closing position (i.e. acting the last), it’s always safer to call than to raise. To remain the “dark horse” and hide the fact of having a high-value hand. If a gambler is confident in his win, he has to lay low and act passively if he wants to increase the prize and prevent others from quitting too early. To influence pot odds. This is a clever move for making your rivals build the pot. Again, it works when you have a winning combination and feel like encouraging others to believe in their luck. To bluff during the final round. This would be not just a simple deception but a long-planned bluff. Here’s how it works: a person with a strong hand keeps calling during the first rounds so he would see more community cards without placing too much money in the pot. However, if the current community cards do not satisfy him, he can keep calling in hope to create a more powerful hand in the end.

### Table Stakes and All-in

Although heat and tension of poker games look very impressive in Hollywood movies, especially when a gambler doesn’t have any more chips and casually throws his watch or car keys on the table, the reality is far away from this kind of drama. When participating in an actual poker game, you can use only the chips that you have had since the beginning of the hand.

This rule is called “Table Stakes” and it’s applied to all games you find on our website. Another rule that is closely connected to this obligation is called “All-In”. It says that a player cannot be forced to lose the hand if he doesn’t have enough chips in his possession for making a bet.

In case if a bet is bigger than the player’s sum, this bet is declared as “All-In”. However, he can get only a part of the pot (depending on his final wager). Others will compete for the so-called “side pot”.

If you feel like lacking some piece of information and want to learn the specifics of the poker games, don’t hesitate to contact our Customer Support. Feel free to ask any questions.

### Gap effect

This is another term which we know due to David Sklansky. According to him, a player needs to have a better hand if he wants to gain victory over any other gambler who has already opened or raised than he might need to make this opening himself. Let’s put it simply: if a person before you opened the betting or raised it, the significance of your cards would shrink (even if they are initially quite good). This effect is purely psychological. According to this gap concept, you must hold a better combination so you wouldn’t be forced to fold.

### Sandwich effect

Just like the previous concept, this term says that you need a high-value hand to keep fighting for the pot if there are gamblers acting before you. As no player knows his effective pot odds (since no one is aware of the actions of others), a better hand provides a certain psychological comfort.

### Loose and tight play

Depending on the behavioral patterns during the game, two kinds of players can be distinguished: loose and tight.

Loose players are characterized by more frequent participation: they have a tendency to keep playing even if holding initially weak hands. With tight players, it’s the other way around. They have a tendency to quit playing (fold) when seeing a weak hand.

Knowing your opponents is essential for building a correct strategy. For instance, bluffing may not have any effect on loose players, as they are likely to continue the game no matter what. However, it doesn’t mean they have high-value hands.

### Aggressive and passive play

This part is easy to understand: the so-called “aggressive” player keeps adding the fire and tension – they are betting and raising. While “passive” opponents would prefer to follow the game made by other, in other words – to call and check when it comes to their turn. However, passive play may be just a distraction or even deception. In general, aggressive behavior is believed to be a more powerful move because it basically forces your opponents to make mistakes.

### Hand reading, tells and leveling

Hand reading refers to making suppositions about the possible combinations of hole cards your competitors have. Mostly, judgment should be done as an analysis of their actions. Skilled players don’t usually tend to guess the exact combination of cards that others may have. So here, “hand reading” is more about narrowing down the possibilities and thinking of the possible hands by evaluating the opponent's behavior and actions during previous turns.

Tell refers to the change in your opponent’s behavior or actions that can give you hints about his odds. Tells can be a truly powerful tool for any poker player. They allow avoiding mistakes in your own game and force opponents to make those mistakes. Typically, tell refers to facial expressions and actual actions. However, there are maybe online tells too. For example, online chat and the number of chips used.

Another term for Leveling is Multiple Level Thinking. In simple words, this term stands for thinking what other gamblers may be thinking about your chances. Skilled and experienced gamblers know how to use this concept in their favor. Leveling can be of different categories: Level One Player thinks about his cards and his actions only, Level Two Player considers the options his opponents may have, and Level Three Player thinks of the image they create for the others. Experienced gamblers know how to build their game to trick others into thinking what they have.