Paul Phua answers: How often should you play your hand?

Here is a quick poker tip from me on a question I am often asked – how often you should fold, and how often should you stay on in the hand during a poker game?

Too many players play the same percentage of poker hands no matter what the situation of the game is.

That’s a mistake.

For example, if you are in the casino and you know you are playing against weaker players, you should play more hands, and fold less. That’s what I do. In terms of poker strategy, post flop is where skill comes in. Better poker players will always come out on top. So give yourself that chance. Against stronger players, be more conservative.

The number of players at the table on poker night is also important. For example, when there are 9 players, there are 9 sets of cards. It’s tough to have the winning hand in that situation. And you should be careful about spending too much money to see a flop when you might only have a small chance of winning the poker hand. A good hand in a 3 handed game is not the same as in a 9 handed game.

Amateur poker players don’t make this calculation often enough. Even between 4 and 6 players, there’s a lot of difference. Say a Texas Holdem game starts with just four players. But then after an hour another 2 sit down around the poker table and join in. Amateur players will often carry on playing the same way. They shouldn’t. The game has changed, and the difficulty of getting a winning poker hand has too.

Position around the poker table is important too of course. This is another poker tip to remember and to bear in mind.

Don’t keep playing the same percentage of hands every game. Assess the circumstances and the poker players in the casino first.