How to Play Poker Like a Pro

Poker is a game that is inherently competitive and challenging. It requires discipline and perseverance to become a winning player, especially at the higher limits. It is also important to have a sharp focus and not get distracted during games. A successful poker player will commit to smart game selection and understand the importance of a proper bankroll management plan.

Players start by receiving 2 hole cards and there is a round of betting. There are then a number of mandatory bets called “blinds” that are put into the pot by the players to the left of the dealer. Players then decide whether they want to call or raise, or fold their hand.

Generally speaking, it is better to be the one dishing out aggression rather than defending from it. This means you should raise with strong value hands and avoid limping unless your hands are very weak. You should also try to position yourself late so you can control the size of the pot on later betting streets and chase away any mediocre or drawing hands that want to make hero calls.

There is an old saying in poker that your hand is only good or bad based on the situation you are in. A pair of kings may be excellent, but when another player is holding a J-J, your kings will lose 82% of the time. This is why top players fast play their strong hands, i.e. bet and raise a lot, to build the pot and trap opponents.

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