Key Skills to Master to Succeed at Poker

Poker is one of the most classic gambling games of all time. You could, of course, play it only for fun. But there’s more thrill in a high stakes bet that rides on your next decision. It’s the stuff so many movies are made of, and one of the classic Las Vegas moments we all aspire to have.


That said, poker is also a strategically complex game that demands excellent social skills. You have to know when to hold ‘em and fold ‘em, as the song goes. You also need to be good at reading people and possibly fooling them. If you’re already good at those things, then you’re on the right track! If not, there’s no shame in that. Analyzing people and making informed decisions on their nature is an entire field of study. So is guessing the validity of your poker hand. There’s a reason people make a profession out of poker playing.


If you want to up your poker game, we’ve included some tips and tricks for you. These won’t make you a pro overnight, but if you put these into practice over your next few games, you’ll find a lot more hands going in your favor. If you’re playing for money, you might even find your wallet getting fatter. So read on to learn the key tactics you need to work on to become a poker master.


The Best Way To Bluff

Let’s get right into the most famous poker skill: bluffing. You’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s all about lying really well, or tricking other players into thinking you have an unbeatable hand. In reality, your bluffing game should be more about buying time to turn a decent hand into a great one.


If you find that your hand is simply garbage, you’re better off folding and waiting for the next round. You lose less that way and can try to come back stronger when the cards are more in your favor.


You want to try bluffing when your hand actually has potential. Even if it isn’t great in the current form, you might be able to turn it into a straight or flush with future draws. That’s when you bluff – when you want to buy time for better cards or get your opponent to fold. Pros call this a “semi-bluff” as you’re not totally lying. You are still betting on the chance of something good happening, but you’re better off than if you were trying to completely bluff a bad hand.

Go All-Out On Your Good Hands

As said in the tip above, just fold if your hand isn’t going to go anywhere. Your goal is to limit the hands you’re playing to ones that can believably be a win. When such a hand does come along, be ready to go on the offense.


Aggressive play can scare off less experienced players easily. It can even give poker enthusiasts second guesses about their hands. It can be hard to project full confidence, but it’s a skill you must master to make the most of your game. Raise, semi-bluff, and play as quickly as you comfortably can. After some rounds of doing this successfully, the other players will learn to be wary of you.


Play With People That Are Worse Than You

It might sound mean, but the best way to win and make money is to bully weaker players. That doesn’t mean actually harassing them, just that there’s no shame in being the best player at the table. You should prefer that, in fact, as it makes it easier to consistently win. This tip goes differently if you’re playing for the love of the game, as then you might relish the challenge. But if cashing in is your goal, be sure to leave the table once you discover someone is consistently outplaying you. Look for players who hesitate or raise too eagerly, as those are the ones who are prime to make mistakes that you can take advantage of.


It’s an exciting time to be a poker player, as you can engage using online casinos to stay safe and play at your convenience. This goes doubly for those in Arizona, as online gambling just became formally legal. DraftKings Arizona is open for business, as are many other great online casinos and sports betting sites. Many are offering great bonuses for signing up during the opening, so check in to get some extra plays and put your new poker skills to the test.

Share this with your horse racing friends
Handicapping tips from


* indicates required

Email Format

About Editor

Rich Nilsen is a 19-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 of the NHC twice. A former executive with and a member of the NHC Players’ Committee, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

More in Online Poker, Poker Skill
A Poker Champion’s Knack for Knowing

Making the Best Decisions In poker, the way we used to delineate players who relied on their intuition was to...