Learning the Basics of Poker

Poker is a game that puts your analytical, mathematical and interpersonal skills to the test. It also indirectly teaches you some valuable life lessons.

One of the most important things you will learn in poker is how to read your opponents. I’m not talking about making the kind of movie-like reads where you call someone because they fiddled with their chips or made a certain hand motion, but more the way they play the game. Watch how they bet, their raises and folds, and you’ll get a sense of what hands they are likely holding. You’ll also learn to recognize “tells,” or nervous habits like the way an opponent shuffles their cards or rubs their forehead.

Another thing you will learn is to understand ranges. This is a concept that’s important for beginners and pros alike. A good poker player will not just try to pin an opponent on a specific hand, but will think through the entire selection of hands they could have and how likely it is that theirs will beat yours.

When you learn the ranges of different hands you will see that it is much more profitable to raise when you have a strong hand than to call, hoping that your opponents will overcall you. This is known as “building the pot” and it will force weaker players to fold while you win more money. It will also make the odds of winning a hand higher.