For years, poker fans have spoken about the “perfect poker game.” According to fans’ own definitions, the perfect poker game is a game in which no matter which card you end up being dealt, you still manage to win it regardless. At every turn, you successfully outwit your opponents, with nothing stopping you from making money on your bet (or staving off a potentially major loss, at least). The perfect game of poker is the seemingly unattainable goal as well as the one that every poker enthusiast aims for, but can it really be done?
Top level poker players have tried to figure out how to make the perfect game of poker happen and even scientists have gotten in on the fun. In 2015, researchers at the University of Alberta created a program called Cepheus which they said could not be beaten by a human even if they played for 12 hours a day for 70 years. So it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to reach computer levels of poker-playing any time soon, but you can get started on your path to the perfect game of poker just by considering the following factors.
Picking the Right Variant
Before you even enter the world of poker, it’s important that you pick the right variant. Thanks to modern poker innovations, there are now more poker variations than ever. Popular variations include Texas Hold’Em, which is one of the most well-known variants, Omaha and Seven-card Stud, while newer offerings include Flopomania which is a type of hold’em poker which doesn’t have a preflop betting round and so all players will play an ante before proceeding to the flop. Webcam poker also offers an interesting twist on the existing poker formats.
Each of these games will have their own quirks, rules, and objectives and therefore they will have their own strategies to succeed too. This means that the perfect game or poker play for Texas Hold’Em may look entirely different when you’re playing Omaha. What’s crucial is that you study each of these different variants an uncover their nuances, figuring out what you’re best at and which one best suits the way that you’d like to play or even what you may know about poker already. For example, in stud there are no community cards, but can you handle this challenge? Or are you better off sticking to Texas Hold’Em? Or maybe you’d prefer Omaha where you’re dealt four cards (instead of the two of Hold’Em)? These are all solid questions to answer when picking a variant.
Time and Blind Management
In poker, a blind is a forced bet which is posted by players who are left of the dealer in poker variants with community cards, also known as “flop-style” poker. So you will see these in poker variants such as Texas Hold’Em and Omaha but you won’t see them in Seven-Card Stud because as mentioned in the section above, it is played without community cards. There are big blinds (often equivalent to the minimum bet) and small blinds (often half of the minimum bet). Failing to manage your blinds properly is a rookie mistake and can quickly see you become out of pocket. Trying to achieve the perfect game of poker may be a tantalising objective but it’s important to set yourself a limit and know when to walk away so that you don’t turn a minor loss into a major one.
Likewise, time management is also an important element to your poker play. When you play poker with real competitors (rather than playing with your friends at the dinner table) you may fall afoul of time limits, wasting precious time idling when you could be getting ahead in the game and figuring out what your next move should be. This is a common mistake made by players who are moving from casual play to more serious poker, but Poker blind timers can often help improve your time management skills. By using an online timer you can keep track of your play, improve your time management and make those casual games with your friends a lot speedier.
Knowing the Probability of Hands and Pots
Over the years, poker has earned a reputation as a fun and entertaining game that turns evenings with friends into riotous events of laughter and competitive (but still friendly) rivalries. While it is all of those things, at its core, poker is actually a game about mathematics with the concept of probabilities baked into its foundations. Probability determines how likely it is that something happens e.g a 50% chance is more likely than a 33% chance.
Some common poker probabilities to be aware of according to Pokerology are a 1 in 13 (or 7.7%) chance of getting an Ace as your first card, while the odds of getting a particular suit as your first card is 1 in 4 (or 25%). But these probabilities will shift and change depending on the variant and its rules as well as which cards have been dealt. Another example offered by the publication is that if you are dealt an Ace as your first card, there are only three Aces left in the deck meaning that the chances of receiving another Ace dips to just 5.9%. The reason that computers like the aforementioned Cepheus are able to excel at the game of poker is that they are able to make these poker calculations very quickly, making decisions based upon those probabilities.
Poker is a fascinating game and it makes sense why so many players love to dig into it and figure out how they can have the perfect game or make the perfect play. But becoming a strong poker player requires a huge amount of learning and understanding. In order to get good at the game, you need to have a huge amount of patience as you get to grips with different strategies, rules and the concept of doing very complicated sums in order to calculate probability in your head!