Step Up Your Game in Poker - Tips for Intermediate Players

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You know what they say: "poker takes five minutes to learn and a lifetime to master." Still, if you've clicked here, the chances are that you know the basics but are still struggling on the felt. Maybe, you already know the main playing styles but don't know how to counter them or feel that you need longer-term strategies. Anyway, this article is for you.

New Concepts

Unlike those beginners tossing chips around cluelessly, you're aware of other players' styles. Above the beginner's level, playing your hand isn't enough. Players are constantly trying to play tricks with each other, deceiving and misleading their opponents. How to tell a genuine move from an attempt to lay a trap?

Bluffs and Semi-Bluffs

There isn't only one way of bluffing. Bluffs can have different intentions and intensities too. Bluffs aim to scare opponents off the table when they can't really tell whether your hand is killing or not. Semi-bluffs have a similar function, but it also has another purpose: to fatten the pot for the final moment.

Bankroll Management

Quit the careless, mindless gambling. Even when playing on free platforms, bankroll management is an essential part of successful playing. In fact, free platforms are the perfect place to try out your skills without the risk of burning yourself. The best approach to bankroll management will depend on the situation. Tournament situations are different from those so-called 'cash games.'


Frequent players may have already noticed that some days are just better than others. The difference between those days is called 'variance.' Not even the sharpest mathematical thinking can save players from bad moments. Moreover, variance is about long-term results and decisions. Even with a few bad games, the average results of 100 games can still be positive. When players lose this perspective, they often start tilting.


Tilts are those unfortunate moves we make when we're hot-headed. During a negative variance, some players may lose their cool and risk their game unnecessarily. In games for real money, the consequences of tilting can be disastrous. Experienced players learn to recognize triggers and patterns and how to avoid them. It's a self-knowledge journey.

Odds - Standard and Implied

Poker requires sharp mathematical thinking. There isn't futurology in poker; there's no way what the next card will bring. Still, odds can help you decide whether that pot is worth fighting for or not.

For instance, consider a situation where you'd need to call $100 on a $10 pot. Calling that bet would be pretty unwise because your winning odds are about 10:1, while you're paying over 1:10. Those are simple odds. Calculating implied odds is slightly more complicated. Still, it's an attainable (and instrumental) knowledge.

Pot odds are based on solid numbers, and implied odds, as the name suggests, are more speculative. While standard odds calculate your chances for that specific bet, implied odds calculate your chances in the endgame. Implied odds also consider the chances of your opponent calling your bet. It means you must have a grasp of how your opponents play.

Live Playing vs Online Playing


Live poker and online poker have different gameplays, and strategies will work differently, too. Rules are still the same, of course. However, online games tend to be more fast-paced, while the action happens slower on live games. Somehow, online players play more aggressively too. Satellite competitions to bigger tournaments are also common in the online environment.

Live games allow players to read facial expressions and cliques. In online games, all the information you have about your opponents is given by their betting behaviour and showdowns. Online platforms have the disadvantage of involving a lengthy registration process. That's why Pay n Play technology is a big thing in Finland.

Common Mistakes of Intermediate Players

The more we learn the best practices, the more the wrong ones seem apparent. At the intermediate level, some players may be able to identify their mistakes, although a tad bit too late. Avoid the following mistakes:

Overestimating Your Abilities

Yes, you aren't a beginner anymore. Still, there's an awful lot to learn, and there are many players ahead of you in the journey. Such a presumption can halt the learning process and make you lose money.

Fighting Lost Battles

Many intermediate players stay in a bad hand way longer than they should. If you see the old habit of chasing rainbows crippling back, resist, be patient, and wait for the next hand.

Short-sighted Playing

It takes a while to get familiar with the concept of variance. In online games, those swings can be even more extreme. Forgetting about variance can push even experienced players to tilt.

Reading Other Players

Identifying the other players' styles is an instrumental skill to success. Only after reading your opponents correctly can you calculate implied odds more accurately. Here are the most common playing styles and how to fight back.

Aggressive Types

Aggressive players tend to get all the attention on the table. They bet and raise constantly, and at first, it's hard to tell whether they know what they're doing or not. Aggressive players can be tight or loose, meaning they can either call other players' bets or raise the game themselves. This kind of player is after easy money from small pots that no one cares about fighting for. Still, it can be dangerous to keep trying to get them red-handed every time.

Passive Types

Passive players tend to call bets for no good reason (loose type) or fold almost every hand. They aren't there to put on a show but stay in the game for as long as possible. Those players bet the least they can, so they'll offer little competition over small pots. However, when they start betting out of the blue, chances are they've got something on their hands.


The road to perfection in poker is winding and never-ending. Absorbing the concepts approached here represents an upgrade to the beginner's gameplay. If the road to perfection is endless, without practice, we won't go anywhere.

Keep reading and sharpening your tools on free platforms before jumping into the real thing. A player who can't win consistently in free tournaments cannot hope for success on paid ones.

Play responsibly and keep studying!