What is the best strategy, when playing poker ?
Is it in general better to play aggressive or safe and only call when having good cards?
5 Discussions

I think that your strategy should depend on whether you think other players at the table also have good cards. The key in winning big hands in poker is to have a slightly better hand than your opponent, and for them to be convinced they have the best hand.

If you have really good cards then pre-flop you should try not to give too much away. Bet normally for your position on the table. Don't be aggressive or you risk chasing hands off the table. Wait for a bite.

After the flop, if you have the nuts then you can let your opponents do all the running. Let them bet into you and just call. They may try to bluff and force you away from the pot. Re-raise once they have put in enough chips to make walking away difficult.

If you do not have the nuts then you will need to make a decision as to whether to push aggressively and take the pot early, or build the pot and risk another player drawing a good hand. Here is where you need to understand whether your opponent has good cards, or whether they are drawing for a strong hand.

If you think your opponents are drawing then make them pay for the privilege.  Understand that you may have to walk away from your good hand if you think their cards have come in. 

If you think your opponents also have strong starting cards, but weaker than yours, then you can bet more aggressively as they are unlikely to walk away.

As always in poker, maximising your winnings depends more on your opponents and their style of play than having your own particular strategy. It's a little like rock-paper-scissors, as much to do with what you think your opponent is doing, as to what you plan to do yourself.


The general strategy that seems to be most successfull consists of a TAG (tight agressive) apporach. This means having a very selective range of hands you play (not just premium hands, but also incorporating some bluffs so you arent to predictable), and playing them aggresively after the flop. This means being the agressor - the person making the bets and raises, rather than just calling.

Recognising the tendencies of the other players at the table is also key to success, as if you recognise what type of player they are then you can take advantage of them - for example if they are someone who bluffs to much then you can adjust by calling with more mediocre hands, and if they call to much then you can adjust by value betting more and bluffing less! In general it makes sense to play the opposite of how the table is playing - if they are mainly tight players waiting for the nuts then you need to bluff and play aggresive, to take away all the smaller pots. If they are all playing very aggresive then in general it is best to sit back and wait for a strong hand and then let someone bluff into you, and trap them for a big pot.

If you Google 'small ball poker' you will find a wealth of resources about betting strategies aimed at playing small pots as a way to not risk going broke. Although this is used by many good players now it is handy to know and recognise how others use this and how you can combat this strategy.

Good luck at the tables!

"Know when to hold em, know when to fold em, know when to talk away, know when to run.  You never count your money, when your sitting at the table, there'll be time enough for counting, when the dealings done." - Kenny Rogers, The Gambler

Know how to count your odds of winning by examining probabilities. You got your cards and how much money you get to work with. Put them all into account and often weigh your chances of winning each time the dealer reveals a card over your opponent. 

Other than the usual poker face and bluffs, poker relies heavily on the math side. It would be best to start learning probabilities in poker before playing your next game. 

I think in general you should play aggressive, when you have good cards and play safe or not play at all with bad cards. This would be my basic advise.