To play poker with success, you must play smart. Poker is a "thinking man's game" that requires a great deal of patience and observation. You aren't just playing the cards in your hand, you're playing your opponents as well. Poker is a very psychological game.
Understand basic poker
Before you get started, take the time to learn the rules. Play poker as much as you can to get a little experience under your belt. Learn about hand rankings, betting structures, blinds and the different positions of the game. You will play your cards differently based on where you are sitting in relation to the blinds. Get comfortable with the logistics so that you can move on to more complicated aspects of the game.
Know your opponents
Learn about the players you are going to beat. Who is aggressive and stays in hands all the time? Who bows out at the first sign of a raise? If you learn about your opponents, you will not only get a sense of what cards they are holding, you will know how your opponents will react to your actions. This information will help you to better manipulate your hands for the most possible money.
Have a sense of your odds
When you play poker, there is a mathematical set of odds to match every hand that you hold. For example, if you have a low pair before the flop your odds of winning the hand are seventeen to one. If you are aware of your odds, you have a key piece of information about your chances. Don't live and die by your odds of winning, (especially pre-flop) but get familiar with hands that most commonly bring success and those that bring failure.
Pick your spots
"Selective aggressive" is the best way to play poker. Play strong when you have good cards, and be picky about when you play strong. You will find that this strategy has you folding hands all the time. Be patient and wait for the best possible moments to play with an aggressive force.
Don't go crazy with the bluff
Bluffing is a great skill, but it's to be used minimally overall. Successful poker players don’t bluff all the time. Big time bluffers lose credibility and their lies are exposed. For the most part, nobody is afraid of the big bluffer.
As you play poker, you will find that the game and its strategies become easier. Certain aspects become second nature. With a little practice, your true style of play will surface and you will find success when you play poker.