Poker is a game where there are plenty of basic fundamentals. These beginner tips will cover these basics and help you on your way to becoming a profitable poker player.
If these beginners tips are something new to you, make sure you read and study them all as you cannot be a profitable poker player without this understanding.
1. Understand the rankings of winning hands
You need to play the best 5 cards from your hand. Make sure that you know what beats what to avoid confusion and arguments. It’s also important if you think your opponent has a specific hand, so you can play your hand accordingly. See the below chart for poker hand rankings.
Remember, if you and your opponent have the same type of hand (i.e. 2 pair), you will have to refer to the 5th card to determine who wins the hand. Always take all 5 cards into consideration.
2. Don’t overplay suited hands
Suited hands look great, but from a mathematical perspective they aren’t that much better. You generally have an advantage of only a few percent over the same hand but unsuited. Suited hands can be very advantageous to play, but don’t play the hand simply because it’s suited.
3. Practice good bankroll management
Poor bankroll management is the number one reason that a poker player will not be successful. Knowing your limits and ensuring you stick to them is extremely important. You should be playing at limits you can afford, and that generally means 100 tournament buy-ins or cash game starting stacks. Yes, this does seem like a lot, but variance is huge in poker, especially no-limit varieties. You should be able to go days without a winning session and still have a solid bankroll to continue to play with.
It is also a huge psychological advantage to have a good bankroll management strategy. You are not stressing about particular decisions because you can’t afford to lose. Instead, you will make more correct decisions and be a more successful poker player.
4. Know the best starting hands
Starting hands is one of the most overlooked areas of poker. People might look down and see pocket jacks and immediately think they need to bet and raise. In a lot of scenarios, this is fine, but in other it’s terrible. If you are in the big blind with pocked jacks and 3 people move all-in in front of you, folding without even thinking about it is the correct play in 99% of cases.
5. Understand what pot odds are
If someone flipped a coin and said that if you win you will get $50, but if you lose you pay $100, you would never take that bet. It’s the same in poker. Make sure you are getting the correct price to call a bet. If the chance of you winning a hand is 50%, make sure you are at least getting evens to make the call. Anything less will lose you a lot of money in the long-run.
6. Don’t bluff too often
Bluffing is great – when it’s appropriate. One of the biggest reasons poker players lose big hands is getting out of line and bluffing when they shouldn’t. You might identify that your opponent is weak and you can bluff them off their hand. Great, but if you make your bluff obvious they you will end up losing anyway.
7. Put your opponent on a hand
Try to think about what your opponent has if you are facing a tough decision. Putting yourself in their shoes means you can better break down the hand and make sense of what they could have. It’s not always necessary to put your opponent on a specific hand, but a grouping of hands can help.
8. Understand the importance of position
Position is an extremely important aspect of every decision. If you are in the small blind, you are always out of position regardless of the action around you. This means you should be careful about playing too many hands in the small blind where you will always be first to act. The more action that happens before you the better. You will gain more information about your opponents possible hands and have easier decisions. You can also be more aggressive as your opponents will have a hard time figuring out what you have.
9. Don’t multi-table if you can’t keep up
Online poker allows you to play tens of tables at once. This doesn’t mean that you should. Make sure that you only play a number of tables that you are comfortable with. You will need to be able to pay attention to all of the tables to make correct decisions. The more distracted you get, the more mistakes you will make and the more money you will lose.
When you are learning the game stick to as few tables as possible.
10. Play for fun first and money second
When you start thinking about poker as income or additional money (or even necessary money!), your game will suffer. You need to look at every decision from a perfect-play point of view. If your decisions are affected by your financial situation you will not be a winning poker player.
The more you can get past the money aspect of poker, the more relaxed you will be and the more fun you will have. This will translate into long-term success.