Top five ways to improve your poker

Tired of going home from your Friday night game with nothing but the bitter taste of takeaway pizza and defeat? As the final table at the World Series of Poker Europe presented by Betfair gets underway today at the Casino at the Empire Leicester Square, we caught up with pro player John Tabatabai to give us his five tips on taking your game up a level:

1 Be patient
Too many people build up the pot early with unnecessarily big bets. All you're doing here is risking being knocked out and becoming the dealer. Keep it simple by paying good hands strong and aggressive and avoid unnecessary confrontations with better players.

2 Keep bet sizes consistent
Constantly varying the size of your bets, especially pre-flop, is a surefire way of telling other players what you've got. If you've got a hand you want to bet, keep them guessing what's in it by sticking with 3-4 times the big blind as your regular bet.

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3 Play tight and loose
If you're a consistently tight player, chances are you're easy to read. To become a more rounded player, exploit your reputation for only playing with good cards by occasionally throwing your chips behind a hand you'd normally fold, particularly when in late position. Tight players are doing particularly well on the tournament circuit this year because when they bet strong, noone can be sure if they're bluffing.

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4 Learn to small-ball
Tournament play is all about preserving your chipstack. You want to accumulate chips, but by risking the minimum number of chips as possible. Small ball poker basically involves playing a wider range of starting hands than normal, but only betting small amounts so you don't lose too much when things don't go to plan.

5 Observe and report
In regular games with friends, you're often up against the same players week in week out. Use this to your advantage by staying glued to how they act. What do they do when they've just made a big bet? Drink a beer? Stay quiet? Make a joke to the guy next to them? By noting differences in behaviour in different situations, you can build an internal database that will definitely come into play down the line.

Get live updates from the World Series of Europe final table at www.wsope.betfair.com