Knowledge is power. So good, simple advice is the best gift we could think of to give you as you start out on your poker playing journey.
Poker is a game and, like any other game, it can be fun, a challenge or downright frustrating as you learn all the tricks of the ‘trade’.
There are some basics you will need to know as a beginning poker player, basics that all your opponents already know too and will definitely use against you if you aren’t prepared for them.
Becoming a poker pro is a lofty goal that many people aspire to, lured by the promise of ‘easy’ cash and a luxury lifestyle. The reality is often quite different, however. Winning consistently in any game takes a great deal of time, spent studying your own and other players’ tactics, learning how to adapt each strategy to each new situation and luck. Lots of luck.
Unfortunately, luck is something you will just have to hope for. But, we can and will help you develop your tactics. Starting right here.
According to world renowned poker expert David Sklansky’s ‘fundamental theorem of poker’; every time you play as though you can see your opponent’s hand, you win, and every time your opponent plays as though they cannot see your cards, you gain.
Learning to anticipate both your own strategy as well as that of each opponent you face is perhaps the most difficult aspect in mastering poker and something that takes time and dedication to achieve.
There are four crucial elements which you must consider with every strategy you devise:
As you continue to develop the varied strategies you will need to be successful at poker, you will need to keep these elements as the cornerstones of your plans. Because, just like you, every player will have their own tactics and strategies in every game you go on to play.
Why am I here?
Every player has their own reasons for joining a poker game. Do you want to pass a couple of hours with a fun game? Or are you in it purely for the cold, hard cash? Whatever your reasons are, your strategy needs to reflect your goal. If you want to have fun, then the stress of aggressive, tight play may not fit your purposes. If you want to win some money, sitting out passively and refusing to fold your weak hands won’t get you there. Find out what you want to achieve before you join a table, make your plan and play with your goal in mind.
Where am I going?
What is your ultimate aim? If you want to become a professional player, then you are going to have to learn to take it on the chin. Win or lose, do not lose sight of your goal. Even longer winning streaks are part of the package and Lady Luck will not always smile for you. The experience gained from a loss can far outweigh any financial gain from an easy win over the long term.
Whatever your long term aim, stick to your goal and keep your purpose in mind as you play.
Make it count.
Poker is a game of numbers, statistical probabilities, mathematical equations and unpredictable variables. In every game you play, the probability of a win is divided equally between the number of players taking part, which means that you have as good a chance as anyone of taking the pot. Don’t get sidetracked by a loss; new hands equal new chances and everyone starts off on the same level.
Heads up, hands down.
In poker, how you start is not necessarily how you will finish up, but your starting hand – and what you do with it – can make all the difference. As a beginning player, you will need to concentrate on honing and fine-tuning your starting hand strategy and learning how to influence your position at the table based on the cards you are dealt.
As you develop strategies for rest of the hand (middle to end game), learn to calculate odds and percentages and recognize betting behavior, your skill in poker will continue to improve.
‘Tilting’ means to be literally out of balance. In poker this refers to a player’s emotional rather than physical state and can be caused by frustration, irritation, unexpected in-game actions or sparring with an opponent. Tilting can lead to poor decisions, made by a confused, emotionally-charged player, which usually result in losses that make the situation even worse.
The best advice is always the hardest to follow but you know it makes sense in the end: walk away. If you can’t think properly, you should not be making any financial decisions. Come back and play again when you’ve cooled off.