We can find many poker tips saying what is good and what is not, but in order to actually learn poker strategy and make this game profitable you need to distinguish what you should be learning at the start of your journey. If you are just starting out, this article will save you a lot of time and money on the way. We went through all the stages from being a complete beginner to playing poker professionally for a living.
Here are the best poker tips for beginners.
1. Learn the rules, positions and poker hands ranking
Naturally, this is the first step you want to take and most players understand that. While learning general poker rules can be easy, you should really spend some time understanding what poker hand ranking is. You should not be in the spot where you are in the middle of the hand and have to think are you beating a straight with your flush or not and be wasting your valuable decision time on that. This is how poker hand ranking looks:
Poker hands rankings chart
Learning positions is invaluable and you should not start playing before doing that. You probably have heard already, even if you did not play before, that position is very important in poker. It is one of the most important poker tips you need to learn when starting out. So do not overlook it. Generally, if you have a position on other players it means you are acting after them and it enables to see what they do before making your decision.
This is a huge chunk of information, which you can take into consideration. You will know if they bet or check, how long they take to make a decision and what sizing they are using. For example, seeing that your opponent checks quickly could be a good indication of him having a weak hand and you can decide to bluff knowing that. There are many examples like this one, but one thing is clear – it is better to see that information than to give it to your opponent.
When you will be ready to learn poker strategy just remember that having a position is crucial in poker games and you should play much more hands while being in position. The hands you decide to play are largely affected by the position you are in. The later position you have the more hands you can be opening and putting much more pressure on your opponents.
- Royal Flush: A Royal Flush is made out of Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, all of the same suit
- Straight Flush: A Straight Flush is five cards in a row, all in the same suit
- Four of a Kind: A Four of a Kind is the same card in each of the four suits
- Full House: A Full House is a pair plus three of a kind in the same hand
- Flush: A Flush is five cards in the same suit, not in numerical order
- Straight: A Straight is five cards in numerical order, but not in the same suit
- Three of a Kind: Three of a Kind is three of one card and two non-paired cards
- Two Pair: Two Pair is two different pairings or sets of the same card in one hand
- One Pair: One Pair is a pairing of the same card
- High Card: A High Card refers to a hand with no matching cards
2. Start at low stakes to understand poker strategy
Always take this poker tip into consideration before jumping into your games. Many players find no interest in playing low games, but you need to see that your goal is to learn poker strategy and not to waste money while doing that. Therefore, you have a few reasons for starting at low stakes:
- Firstly, you will feel more comfortable knowing that you are not risking a lot of money and even if you lose some at the beginning it will not hurt you. You will be able to learn the game and will not be spending a lot of money on the process so that is a good idea
- Secondly, a player’s skill level increases every time when you move up stakes. Starting at the lowest limits lets you play versus weakest players and learn the game instead of donating money to ones who are much better right now
- Lastly, it enables you to see the whole picture and get a feel the whole game looks. You will understand positions, what poker hands you should play and can take everything in practice
Before moving up you need to learn poker strategy and make sure that you feel comfortable in any game that you play.
3. Find the best games
This is a bit relater to the previous tip for starting at lower stakes, but finding the best games will help you even more and drastically increase your EV. There is no place for ego in poker, and if you stick to playing better players, you will end up losing. As simple as that. Even if you are the 10th best player in the world but keep battling against the nine who are better than you, you will go broke sooner or later.
Truth to be said, this is extremely important for every poker player, no matter how good they are since it will determine your win rate. On top of that, you will have smaller swings in better games and will be able to move up the stakes much quicker, which is a massive bonus on its own. If you are not sure how to find the best games, here are the top tips for you:
- Look for best games for your format (some rooms are better for cash games and other for MTTs)
- Research when you can find peak traffic and more recreational players
- Find the best option available in your country to be safe when playing and secure your money
4. Play tight but aggressive
Many amateur players make a huge mistake of playing too wide and opening too many Texas Holdem hands. The key when you are starting out is to play only your strongest hands to keep your VPIP poker stat at a lower side and avoid many tough decisions post-flop. This will let you play less, but more aggressively when you decide to take your hand into action. Most of your opponents in low games going to be playing random hands a lot of the time and taking this poker tip alone will let you start ahead of them.
Using this you will be able to learn poker strategy without losing money and in a much more effective way. So be raising and betting yourself when you play instead of just calling and put maximum pressure on your opponents. Knowing that you have the advantage of holding better hands pre-flop you will be just winning against their range of cards in the long run.
5. Use position
When deciding which hands to play in Texas Holdem, your position going to be one of the most important factors to consider. You win more money from later positions so try to play more hands from there. Play very tight from early positions, widen up going closer to the BTN and try to steal more pots there. By far the most profitable position in poker is Button (BTN) and sitting there you can be playing much more hands than from any other position. It is going to take some time to get used to this, but always take your position into consideration when deciding which hands to play.
6. Start playing one table
Your goal is to learn poker strategy and concentrate on seeing all the information. So leave multi-tabling for the future, stick with one table, and try to absorb all the information you can get. Look how your opponents are playing and what hands they have at showdown. Concentrate on using your position and playing a tight-aggressive approach and it can take you quite far.
7. Only play when you feel good
Emotions are your enemy at the poker table. Sure enough that you can start feeling angry or sad when you lose while playing and you need to deal with this as well, but don’t make it even worse by starting your games when you feel bad. We do stupid things when we are tired, angry, or even drunk and it can cost us a lot of money. Avoid starting your games when you feel bad and it will be the first, but a very big step in becoming a better poker player. When you will be able to deal with these emotions, you can take it one step further and take a few minutes to prepare for your sessions before starting playing.
8. Learn poker odds
You need to know poker odds you have to hit the winning hand and what pot odds you are getting. All you have to do then is make your decisions based on it and not your emotions. What are the pot odds? It is a concept that lets you understand are you getting the right price to continue with your hand and help you to make the right decision. Here is a quick list most common Texas Holdem hands and how many outs you have to improve a specific hand until next street:
- Gut-shot – 4 outs
- Two overcards – 6 outs
- Open-ended straight draw – 8 outs
- Flush draw – 9 outs
- Flush draw & gut-shot – 12 outs
- Straight flush draw – 15 outs
You can have a good indication how likely you are to improve your hand by simply multiplying your outs by 2 if want to know an approximate probability of hitting your hand on next street or multiplying by 4 if you are looking for the number how likely you are going to improve your hand from flop to the river.
If you have an open-ended straight draw on the flop with 8 outs you can count that you will improve it approximately 8*2 = 16% on the turn and hit your straight or 8*4 = 32% of the time by the river. These are not exact numbers but are very close to accurate ones and by far it is the best and easiest way to learn poker strategy. Think about it when making a decision with a draw and take this poker tip seriously.
9. Think about your opponent cards
When you know how likely, you are to improve your poker hand when you have a draw you have to learn to put your opponent on a range. This will let you understand how many outs you actually have and then make a more educated decision. Many factors can suggest what hands your opponent could be playing. It is quite tough and advanced topic, but you can start with a simple version of it.
- Think about their position, what hands he could be opening and playing from there
- Their post-flop action can suggest what they could have. Betting or checking can indicate his strength or weakness and you should be looking for that information
- Board texture is an important factor to take into consideration as well. People are less likely to have many strong hands on dry boards compared to connected ones
- A time they take to make a decision and sizing they are using can give us additional information as well
There are many things to consider and you need a lot of practice to be able to think about that. Do not blame yourself if you struggle with it at the beginning. As we said this is a complex topic, that has books written just about it so do not expect to master it in a day or a week. Keep playing and learn poker strategy in the right way.
10. Take your time
Do not fall into a habit of making decisions automatically. It is a huge mistake that even advanced players are making a lot of the time and killing all their chances to win money. Take your time and think about all the stuff we already discussed. Especially at the beginning, it could be overwhelming thinking about everything at once, like your positions, poker hand ranking, opponent’s cards and much more. That is why you should stick to that poker tip of playing just one table and take all the time you need to make your decisions.
11. Don’t bluff too much
When you move up stakes and start playing bigger games this will not be an option because many players tend to play much more aggressive there and bluff more, so you need to learn how to play against them. But in the beginning, sticking to this strategy is your best bet. Soon, you will move up and start playing with a bit more reasonable opponents. You can take your game to the next level by crushing your opponents in the way you did not think was possible.
12. Learn to fold
You need to take this poker tip into serious consideration. When your passive opponents who are just calling all the time start raising out of nowhere you should be folding a lot and even some of your strong hands. Most of the time one pair hands even as good as a top pair or an overpair should go into a muck. When just starting playing you will have some problems letting go of these hands, but it is one thing that you need to learn if you want to be successful.
Players in the lowest games are not bluffing so much and in the long run, you will be doing yourself a huge favor by folding one pair hands to aggression in these spots. Not all opponents are passive ones and if you are playing against a maniac or someone who is very aggressive and raising constantly you should not be folding these hands. You need to understand that there are different types of players and you really need to play differently against them.
13. Use software
If you want to be able to compete with players even on lower stakes, you should get some help. We are not talking about advanced programs that can help you learn GTO poker strategy, but a simple one that every player should have. Tracking software is essential because you can see stats on your opponents and know how they are playing. It lets you quickly spot the different types of opponents that you will be facing and to change your poker strategy and decisions based on that.
We think these are by far the most important poker tips that you should take seriously when starting out. It will help you to learn poker strategy faster and protect you from many common mistakes that players do.
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