Poker is a game that is a lot more about intelligence, mathematics, and strategy, than sheer luck. Read more about a few essential poker tips and strategies you need to know to play well in a poker tournament, including some of the more important poker odds shortcuts.
Poker Hand Odds
If you want to win in online poker tournaments, you need to have a strategy. Poker strategy may seem complicated at first, and there are many details, but you should be able to grasp the very basic principles pretty quickly. You need to be a human poker calculator! One of the most important things to know are the odds of any pair of cards you get in the pocket. The two cards you get in “the pocket” or in “the hole,” are the first two cards of the game. The cards you keep to yourself and show off only at the end.
Learn to Fold
There is a pretty straightforward hierarchy with these pocket cards. And there are only a certain number of pocket card pair variations that should be played. The best combination is obviously two aces, abbreviated to AA. If you get these two cards in the hole, you have to continue. The next best pair of cards is two kings or KK. But even if this is a strong beginning position, anyone having to aces in the hole has a better hand, so even with a double king hole, you need to consider. The important thing is to fold most of your hands.
Premium Poker Hands
Amateur online poker tournament players play way too many hands. So the first tip is to learn the top ten or fifteen pocket combinations, and their ranking. That means that you will instantly know the odds of your pocket cards leading to a win. This way you will know when to fold. The top five combinations are called premium hands. They are AA, KK, QQ, AK (suited) and JJ. Any time you get these pairs in the pocket, you should almost always continue the game. Any other card pair is not considered premium and needs to be analyzed more.
Is There a Raise?
But even if you have a premium hand you need to see if there’s a raise ahead of you, because if a player before you on the tournament table raises, and maybe even a few re-raises, it will sometimes be a mistake to play even the three lower premium cards. Just by understanding the concept of premium pairs, and the ranking of the top fifteen hands, you’ve grasped a lot. Most hands need to be folded. Only beginner players play most hands. Change this one thing, and you’re already a more intelligent player.
But even if you have two aces in the hole, you’re not guaranteed a win. First of all, you will only see two aces once every 221 hands you play. That’s the poker odds for any particular pair dumping into your hole. But two aces should always be played, as should two kings. Though most pocket cards will not be premium, and even if they are in the top ten or top fifteen categories, you will face a lot more challenges going forward into the flop, and beyond. So, the trick of winning in poker is how to play those hands that are below premium.
The Out Card
An important concept if you want to learn good, sound online poker tournament strategy is to learn about the out cards. The out cards ae the cards that are yet to be displayed in the flop, turn, and river. But more specifically, it’s a card that will help your starting hand. It’s the out card you want going forward in a poker game. Let’s say you’re p[laying a Texas Hold’ Em Tournament and have two spades in the hole. You’ve seen the flop and another three cards. On the table lies two more spades, which means you now have four spades. You only need one more spade to get a flush. You have nine “outs” of a total of 47 cards to be drawn, so the chances of your flush appearing on the turn are nine to 47. Get it?
The Rule of 4 and 2
If the spade does not appear in the turn, you will have a nine to 46 chance of getting the flush. This is basic poker stats, but let’s take the concept of an out card further. The rule of 4 and 2 is a quick poker tournament shortcut to understanding how you need to play in a specific situation. You need to know your outs. When you’re on the flop waiting for the turn, multiply your odds by two. Same for the turn, but on the river multiply by four. When you do this simple math shortcut, you get the percentage to compare to your pot odds to see whether it’s worth going forward!
Using A Poker Odds Calculator In A Tournament
A poker calculator is a special calculator designed for poker players that does the poker odds equations and mathematics for you. They are usually available for free from a variety of online websites. It's not cheating to use a poker calculator and many people find it helpful and recommend them to help you focus on your strategy and the game at hand, rather than the mathematics. But I personally find them a little complicated and, ironically, distracting. For each game you play, you will need to input the type of poker you are playing, the number of players, where you are in the game (the flop, river or turn), all the cards showing and your own hole cards in order to get a more accurate poker calculation. And all this is on a different webpage than where the game is actually being played. So while using a poker calculator might help you figure out the poker odds of your game faster and more efficiently, it still takes you away from the game. Plus inputting all the information could take longer than the actual poker round, meaning you miss the game being played while you are checking your odds. Even if your not playing in a Sitn'Go Tournament, the lost time means you will miss valuable strategic information that is more important than figuring out your precise odds.