Playing your strong hands and knowing to fold preflop with a weak pocket are the staples of any new poker player’s strategies.
This is a wise course of action, of course, and very conservative. However, if you never learn any new strategies you will always be labelled as a newbie by the other players at the table, and soon your strategy becomes your tell.
If you are that predictable in how you approach the cards on the table, any poker veteran will be able to guess with a fair amount of accuracy what cards you are holding and will manipulate you into handing over your whole stack.
Luck may certainly play a part in who has the stronger cards, but the one of the most important skills in poker is knowing how to bluff successfully. This is vastly different to 21, for example. There is some strategy involved but when it comes down to if you win or lose you are dependent on the luck of the draw- what card is next.
There are a rather large following of people who want to reclassify poker as a skill game. You are not only a winner or loser every hand. At times, it doesn’t even matter if you had a good hand or not. You are playing against the other people at the table. It isn’t the house money you are taking, but other player’s bankrolls.
Because of this many claim poker is not a game of chance. If you have the knowledge, and the strategy, it is possible to win even with a terrible pocket. This all revolves around your ability to bluff.
Bluffing is basically tricking other players into believing they have found your tell and using that to your advantage. A master at bluffing can make their opponents believe whatever they want them to, even making them believe you have a strong hand when they have nothing.
Sometimes you even want your opponents to believe you have a weak hand when you really have a ringer. This requires skill, preparation, and patience. With enough time beforehand, playing consistently and conservatively is a great way to make other players believe they can predict your actions.
Examples of this are folding weak hands, betting slowly with a good pocket, or playing excitedly and aggressively with a monster hand. Every poker newbie knows this textbook approach, and can lull other players into a false sense of confidence. They will label you as a newbie, a tight player, a loose player, a conservative player, and if you are successful in your preparations they will be completely unprepared when you deviate from this pattern.