“Most poker players play “hands”. Learn what the “meta-game” is.”
So what is this “meta-game” that is so important to playing a well-rounded poker game? In short, it is the game within the game. Intricacies such as table positioning, knowing the tendencies of your opponents and selling certain actions of your own in hopes that they are interpreted differently by your opponents.
In the bigger picture, it’s viewing the poker game in a bigger light than just the current hand being dealt. Some hands might not result in more chips added to your stack, but through playing that hand, you can gain a read on how your opponents play certain situations. Say your opponent has a strong pocket pair and plays noticably more agressive in that hand, you can get a read on him and how he reacts when he knows the odds are in his favor. But you also might not know whether or not he has that winning hand unless you take him the distance to see his cards. Sometimes it’s worth a small dent in the chip stack in order to gain that information to use to your advantage later in the game.
Some situations aren’t exactly favorable in the sense of a single hand, but if you can gain valuable information about your opponent in that process, then something good has come of that. Learning how to blend that all together is how you play the meta-game!
To read more on some of the finer points of the meta-game, check out this article from The Poker Bank: http://www.thepokerbank.com/strategy/psychology/metagame/