Nowadays the game of poker reaches a widespread and diverse audience. Online poker and poker tournaments are enormously popular. Learning how to play the game in poker school is also the rage. And virtually everyone who plays poker discusses beating the odds. New poker players, in particular, are apt to get hung up on the concept of luck versus skill and the game’s hidden secrets.

If you want to learn poker—how the game is played in all its nuances—focus on acquiring and maximizing your skills. The more you know about the game, the less you will need to rely on luck. Yes, there will always be an element of luck in poker, but it doesn’t define the game. It really all boils down to the old saying: You make your own luck. And making your own luck takes a healthy measure of skill in poker playing!

Foremost, play your good hands in poker and be done with the bad ones. Unless you have a very solid hand and a reasonable shot at winning, scrupulously avoid getting drawn into showdowns with very assertive opponents.

It’s critical that you don’t needlessly risk your chips on losing hands. Some inexperienced players feel they can bluff their opponents into folding good hands. This brand of poker interplay may occasionally succeed, but it’s more often than not a recipe for losing and losing big.

To absolutely maximize the poker odds, scrutinize your opponents’ styles of play. Never play your game in one set mode. Play your cards in response to your competition: Who are they and how do they play? By utilizing this studied approach, you become a player that your opponents cannot read and boost your poker odds. The less the competition knows what’s in your head, the less you’ll need to rely on lady luck to see you through to a winning pot.

In the big picture, steer clear of ill advised drawing circumstances and, too, betting the ranch—with everything in the pot—unless you categorically feel that you have a realistically good chance of winning the hand.

And whether you are participating in a poker tournament or playing online poker, craft strategies. Never allow emotions to get in your way and govern your decision-making. Let others play their games while you play yours—smartly and calmly. This is the truest route to beating the poker odds.