When To Make The Best Decision During A Poker Game

by Joe Ellison Last Updated
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Learning when to make the right play in poker is not something that comes easy to players – in fact, it’s something we continually learn over years of experience. Even the very top World Series of Poker players are constantly figuring out when it’s best to make the right call.

While practice certainly makes perfect, earning a step up with some killer poker tips on how and when to make the right calls is always welcome.

Indeed, many newcomers to the game will pour over guides on how to play poker in search of tips for poker plays, without ever finding them. Yes, you might master the rules of poker pretty quickly but knowing when to raise, call and crucially the moment to fold is hugely important.

Below we’ve marked out the moments when it’s best to make the core moves of Texas Hold’em poker at our online casinos. With these tips in mind you should stand a greater chance of winning poker tournaments at UK live casinos – although we can’t guarantee you’ll win every hand!

5 Moves To Make In Poker

When playing Texas Hold’em Poker there are five moves you can make during each round of betting. These moves are:

  • Bet – If there is no money yet placed on the round you can opt to bet and challenge others to meet that wager.
  • Raise – You can also choose to raise if someone else has already bet. When you raise, you surpass the amount already wagered.
  • Call – This is where you meet the bet level set by either another player or the blind bet. Once all bets are called, the hand progresses to the next play.
  • Fold – You decide against continuing with the hand and throw away your cards plus any previous bets.
  • All In – You bet or raise your entire pot amount. Win the hand and you could earn a fortune. Lose it and you’re out of the game.

Now you know the moves associated with Texas Hold’em poker, it’s time to discover when to use them…

Best Time To Bet In Poker

Betting in poker is what wins you hands and therefore money. You can’t sail through a game of poker relying on blind bets – and so you need to know when to bet. The difference between bet and raise in poker is that the bet comes before anyone else has wagered in the round. Perhaps you’re the first player to act in the round, or maybe other players before you have ‘checked’ (not placed a bet) or folded.

The best time to bet in poker therefore depends on your hand strength and the state of the game. Here are some examples of when to bet, and how much your wager should be:



Start of hand with medium-to-high strength hole cards Your hole cards are strong enough to begin thinking about boosting the pot
After the flop and still with a medium-to-high strength hand This is where you’ll flush out no-hopers who will fold, and those who think they’re onto a winning hand
Between the river and the turn If you still have a strong hand this is when you’ll either force others to back down or lure them into a showdown
After the turn if you’re truly confident of winning You’re testing the mettle of the opposition here. This is also where players might bet to bluff their way out of a hole

As you can see, the best times to bet in poker are when you have some strength in your hands, as you’re likely leading the bet sequence during each stage. Players who bluff are more likely to do so when they’re positioned elsewhere in the bet sequence.

Best Time To Raise In Poker

Raising is when you surpass someone else’s bet amount and wager even more money, which means you’ve set a new benchmark that players need to meet in order to stay in the hand. This is where bluffers can really flex their muscles because raising causes the initial bettor to consider whether they truly want to risk more money on their hand.

The best times to raise in poker are:


You have a medium-strength hand that could improve You want to force most other players to stand down
You know a rival is bluffing having placed a big bet If a rival is trying to bluff (perhaps an earlier big bet was called and then they checked on the next round) then it’s time to test their mettle with a raise yourself
You’re bluffing your way out of trouble by the river So you make a large wager before the turn, in order to intimidate everyone else into folding. If this move doesn’t work and someone calls, then you’re likely to check on the final round
You have a strong hand and sense someone else does If you think you can beat anyone with your hand and someone else seems willing to call any raise, then go for it

Best Time To Call In Poker

Simply calling a bet in poker can be a smart move that flies under the radar, especially when two or three other ‘big’ players are fighting over most of the hands. What’s more, calling can be a cheap and easy way to stay in the game and test your luck on the community cards.

The ideal times to call in poker are when:


The bet level is low and you have a medium-strength hand which could grow stronger with more cards By calling a low bet you can retain a mild interest in the game, which could become a serious interest if you strike lucky on the flop, river or turn
No-one else has bet yet (known as a ‘check’) If no-one else has bet and you have a poor hand, and don’t fancy bluffing, then simply check
Lure someone in before the turn If you have a strong hand before the last card but want to make out that you don’t then simply calling another player’s bet will maintain relative obscurity. You can then bet bigger after the turn and benefit greatly
You have a strong hand at the beginning of the game If someone bets or raises at the start of the game and you’re confident in your hole cards (perhaps you have pocket K or A), then calling could see just you and one other player receiving the flop. From here, you can milk the chips out of your opponent

Best Time To Fold In Poker

Folding is a sign fo strength, not weakness. The best poker players will tell you to fold before it’s too late. While there’s always risk associated with poker, needless risks are foolish. Here’s when to fold:



You receive a poor opening hand and the bets are high from the first round Having a hand like 6/2 or 7/3 off suit is incredibly weak, so don’t waste your chips
Your hand isn’t strong enough to test a bluffer It’s all good and well calling a perceived bluffer but there’s no worse feeling than seeing someone else’s miserable hand and realising yours is still worse
You still have nothing after the river Once the fourth community card is revealed, many players will fold if they still have weak hand
Two opponents are sizing up each other Sometimes it’s best to stay out of the heat of battle, and when two players are fixed on each other then folding can be a way of avoiding being caught in the crossfire

Best Time To Go All-In In Poker

Going all-in can make or break your game in an instant but is a technique the best poker players use to show strength and determination. Here’s when you should go all-in:



The blinds are high and you’re running out of chips

As the blinds increase your pot could quickly dwindle and so a speedy injection of chips from going all-in can really help

You’re low on chips but have a half-decent hand At this stage you just need chips or you may as well leave the table, so once you have a good hand it’s time to test your luck
You’re struggling to shake off a rival If you and a rival have fought over numerous hands and both have healthy pots, it may be time to force their chips into your hands with some aggressive all-in betting
You have a strong hand and there are multiple players remaining after the turn Once that last card is revealed and you’re confident you will win the hand then it’s time to pile on the chips. The worst that can happen is everyone folds and you’ll take home what’s there in the pot

About the Author


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Joe is a journalist, editor and copywriter who specialises in sport, politics, film and the gaming industry. He works on Fleet Street for national newspapers and other publicans across the UK and in North America. He is an experienced product reviewer and editor for global brands and gambing companies. He has interviewed everyone from elite sport stars to the next generation of influential business people.
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