Advanced poker strategies teach you how to react in any given situation: what to do post-flop, how to lure your opponents into placing bets on the turn and river, how to make everyone believe you have a flush poker combination, and so much more.
But while most strategies focus on what happens after the flop, major decisions are often made earlier in the game. So, the real question is how to perfect your pre-flop decision-making process to ensure you win? What are the best strategies you should employ before you know what the community cards are?
There are many things you need to pay attention to at the pre-flop stage to get a satisfactory result. Here is a checklist you should follow every time you play:
- Understand your position.
- Locate the weaker players.
- Pay attention to strong opponents.
- Choose the hands you want to proceed with.
- Play aggressively.
- Show confidence.
Want to learn more about how to better play poker online? Stay tuned for this pre-flop strategy crash course.
What is the Best Pre-Flop Strategy?
As we've mentioned, our checklist includes six important steps you should follow before you decide whether to stay in the game or fold pre-flop.
1) Understand Your Position
In previous articles, we've reviewed how important your position is and how it can affect your entire poker strategy.
In short, if you are one of the first players to make a decision, you won't be able to gather enough intel to make a calculated choice. You won't be able to guess what kind of cards your opponents might have and what they might do. When you don't have enough details, going in blind is never smart.
Therefore, if you are out of position, you might want to fold – unless you have a powerful set of hole cards.
2) Locate the Weaker Players
Yes, it is important to understand the impact of your own position. But finding where the weaker players are is just as crucial. Are they sitting to your right or left? Are you in or out of position when it comes to them?
Knowing where the inexperienced players are seated will allow you to make better decisions. If your position can allow you to lure other players into doing your bidding, you will be able to grow the pot with minimal effort.
However, if you don't have an advantage over the weaker players when it comes to position. Sometimes, folding is the smartest choice.
3) Pay Attention to Strong Opponents
As poker players, we often fall into an unintentional trap of underestimating our opponents and thinking we are the best players at the tables. While that might be true, there is also a decent chance that one of your opponents will be able to outsmart you if you aren't careful enough.
To avoid unnecessary mistakes, you should clock the strong players at the table before the game starts. Once you do, you will know who might set traps for you, so you won't get roped into placing bigger bets when you don't have the upper hand.
4) Choose the Hands You Want to Proceed With
At the pre-flop stage, there is no knowing which cards will appear on the table. Therefore, the best thing to do is to think of the odds. Yes, it is possible that a hand of ♥3 and ♥5 will end up awarding you a straight flush combo, but the chances of that are rather low.
You should strive to play only hands that have high chances of awarding you with a win, no matter what the community cards will turn out to be. You can learn more about poker odds here!
5) Play Aggressively
If you decide you are ready to see things through even without seeing the community cards, don't hesitate. Showing uncertainty at the pre-flop stage will alert your opponents to the fact that your hand might not be as strong as you want it to be.
So, once you make the choice to do your best at the pre-flop stage, strive to play aggressively and don't allow your opponents to doubt your ability to win!
6) Show Confidence
Your actions at the pre-flop stage have the ability to influence the outcome of every round. If you go all-in right off the bat and you don't flinch when someone plays aggressively as well, you might have a chance at intimidating your opponents. That way, you might be able to make them fold without even challenging you in the first place.
If you follow this simple – yet effective – checklist, you might have a chance at increasing your profits without even seeing what the community cards have to offer you!