Texas holdem poker, especially the no-limit variety, is about much more than simply knowing what beats what. It’s about more than understanding the mathematics and odds involved, although that is extremely important as well. To be an effective Texas Hold'em player, you must also understand the psychology of the game, both for yourself and for your opponents. Here are five easy ways to improve your Texas Hold'em game through psychology.
1. Learn to Check Your Ego
Although many Texas Hold'em players on television appear to have tremendous egos, the most successful ones know how to control themselves in this regard. While having extreme self-confidence is definitely an important element in being a consistent winner, if you let that ego control you rather than the other way around, you may be headed for disaster. Ego can cause you to get involved in pots with superior players, or make you play badly in order to put a bad beat on someone who sucked out on you. Once you start to make these kinds of mistakes, you are acting the role of a weak player, even if you are capable of greatness. Make sure your moves at the poker table are always in the service of winning, and not to prove anything to yourself or your opponents.
2. Know Thyself
It’s important to understand what your image is at the poker table and how accurate that is as a representation of your poker self. Many poker players will tell you they have a tight-aggressive image because they know that this is the traditional model of a successful poker player. However, in practice, these players may play much looser or more passively than they realize. Furthermore, it is usually better if your image is somewhat counter to how you actually play, so a true tight-aggressive player might at sometimes prefer to be viewed as a rock so they can steal pots, and other times as a maniac so that they can get paid off when they have the nuts. Be sure you understand what kind of player you really are and how your image plays into that.
3. Know Your Opponents
Poker is not a game played in isolation. Each of your opponents at the table will have different tendencies. Even if a player is weak, these tendencies will not necessarily be obvious. You can’t assume a player is a loose-aggressive maniac just because they go all-in the first hand they play. Maybe the player had the nuts and is actually a very tight player. Or maybe they know the particular opponent they were facing in the hand wouldn’t be able to take the heat. Your impressions of players should form gradually over the course of the session, but you should start to try to form them right away.
4. Play the Opponent
You should be thinking about more than just the objective strength of your cards. Your observations of your opponents should give you some idea of the types of hands they are likely to play. When you are in a hand with someone, think about not only what you have, but also what he or she is likely to have and what that means for you.
5. Control the Table
In all games poker it can be a very liberating feeling to take control of a table. Try playing at a lower limit and playing more aggressively, raising whenever you come into a pot and frequently raising and re-raising opponents. The feeling you get when you know the whole table is afraid of you can be tremendously confidence boosting both at and away from the poker table.
Guest Article provided by PokerJunkie.com