Poker is a game of chance, but it also requires skill. Players must be able to determine their pot odds, calculate percentages, read other players, and develop strategies.
Determining Pot Odds
The pot odds are the ratio of money in the pot compared to what you need to call to keep playing. For example, if the pot odds are 11-to-1 and you have a made hand that has more than a 1 in 10 chance of drawing to a better hand, you should call.
Bluffing is a strategy in which a player bets strongly on a weak hand in the hope that opponents with superior hands will fold. Bluffing is an important element of poker strategy, as it can influence the outcomes of hands in which one or more players have strong but bluffable hands.
Professional poker players are highly sensitive to their opponents’ tells, which are involuntary reactions that telegraph whether a hand is good or bad and whether it is a bluff. Some tells include touching a player’s face, obsessively peeking at their hand or chip stack, twitching of the eyebrows and a change in timbre of their voice.
The best poker players don’t get upset about bad beats. Phil Ivey, for example, never complains about losing his aces on a river and has never lost a World Series of Poker bracelet or other major tournament in his career.
A study at the University of Alberta, Canada, revealed that the best professional poker players were able to control their emotions and use them to their advantage. The researchers used brain maps to compare the brains of amateur and expert players. They found that the experts’ minds were able to react more quickly and decisively to the action at the table, whereas the amateurs were more prone to distractions such as frustration.