Below are 10 tips that will help you as a starting poker player. For the basics of the poker game you can read our poker rules.
Tip 1: Do not play too many hands
Often starting poker players are not selective enough when deciding which hands to play or not. Do not think that every hand can win, it is better to play too few hands than to play too many hands.
When you play a lot of hands in the beginning, you end up in many difficult situations where you have to decide whether your hand is good enough. If you are an experienced player is not bad but when you just start you can get into trouble quickly.
Tip 2: Think about the possible cards of your opponent
When you just start playing poker, it’s hard enough to remember your own hand, let alone that you have an idea which hand your opponent has. Yet it is very important to pay attention to this.
If you can estimate your opponent a bit (‘putting it on a hand’), that often makes your decisions much easier. Now you know more often whether you have the winning hand, whether you can fold better or whether you have to bet a lot or just a little to win the maximum number of chips from your opponent during a poker tournament or a poker workshop.
Tip 3: Think about who you are playing
Make an estimate of the qualities of your opponents. If you think they are better than you are then you must adjust your playing style accordingly. Often this means (even) less hands playing. If you estimate that you are better than your opponents, you can use this by bluffing them more often or winning more chips if you have the best hand.
Tip 4: Do not bluff too often
Bluffing often only works against advanced players. If you play against beginners these are often busy with their own game and they have no idea if you are bluffing or not. Often, they will not be afraid and will not fold. In addition, many beginners overestimate their own cards so they will not fold against your bluff, even if they have a moderate hand.
Tip 5: Think about your position at the poker table
Your relative position with respect to your opponent is very important. It is a great advantage to be the last to say what you are going to do. This way you can first see what your opponent is doing and try to get a ‘read’ on him or her before you have to do something yourself. This also means that you can play worse hands if you have a good position.
The importance of position is often underestimated in (Texas Hold’em) poker. Your position can be just as important as the cards you get; often both players have a bad hand and those with the best position will win the pot.
Tip 6: Make sure you know the rules
This tip seems an open door, yet it often happens that players do not know the rules well. A well-known example is the so-called ‘string bet’. This is a bet that a player makes and where the chips are used in several steps (first 1 chip, then 1, another, etc.). This is not allowed because you either have to say how much you are going to bet or you must bet all your chips in one go. When a string bet is made, only the first chip that has been used counts.
In addition, it is of course also important to know what the winning hand is. This prevents you from thinking that you win with your street while the neighbor’s flush is really higher. Or that you think that your 4 consecutive cards are also a street …
Tip 7: Watch the game
You can make the fastest progress in poker if you pay attention to the table. Especially if you are not in control, you have the time and opportunity to observe the other players at the table. The information you collect here can come in handy later when you play against the opponent in question. The better you can estimate your opponents, the more chance you have of winning them.
Tip 8: Do not pay too much for draws
You will often find yourself in a situation where you have a hand that is not yet good but that can become very good if the right card falls on the table. Think of an almost flush (‘you need 1 more spades’) or an almost street (‘you need an 8 or a gentleman for a street’). A common mistake here is that beginners often (continue to) play this ‘draw’, even if they have to bet a substantial part of their chips.
To determine whether or not you should play the draw, you must apply a piece of probability. You deduct the amount to be used against the chance that you will make your hand. Say you’ve got four clubs for a flush and you have 5 the necessary clover. The probability of this (on the turn) is 9/47 e = 19%. (There are still 9 clubs in the deck and there are still 47 unknown cards). If you have to pay more than 19% of the pot in this case, it is not profitable to play this draw.
A side note here are the implied odds, but we will come back to the tips for advanced users later on.
Tip 9: Cards of the same suit are not much better than unsuited cards
Beginners often overvalue their suited cards (suited means two cards of the same suit, hearts, clubs, spades or diamonds). A flush will not often be made and statistically, suited cards are only about 2% more likely to win than unsuited cards.
Tip 10: Do not use too little when you raise
If you get a good card, do not be afraid to raise a lot. Especially if you play against beginners, they will more often than not just stay in the hand instead of folding their cards. If you raise too little you not only get less money in the pot but also play a lot of players, making it more difficult to win the hand in the end. Try to make sure you have 1, 2 or up to 3 opponents if you have good cards.