Just like any game, poker requires a lot of skill and a healthy measure of luck too. The more you know about playing, the more likely you are to have an amazing game.
After all, winning your first poker math – and winning a pot of cash, is a great feeling. The more you can learn about basic poker strategies, the better you are likely to do.
Here are some tips that can help take you from a poker beginner to a master of the poker craft.
Build Your Skills
Attacking your poker playing like you would building a shed or baking bread will be to your benefit.
Any time you have the chance to play a few hands, online or in person, you should take them.
Ask friends and family to join you on a Friday evening, and play a few rounds of poker. Rather than play for cash, use chips with a fake value attached.
Aside from playing regularly, you can also spend plenty of time researching the poker strategies and players that make a big impact.
Poker blogs are one of the best places to get real experiences and learn from the skills of other players.
There is a treasure trove of great matches available to watch on YouTube, including some of the best from the World Poker Tour.
If you want to take your learning offline, several books on poker strategy, poker basics, and even poker theory are available.
The most highly recommended are:
- The Theory of Poker – David Slanksy
- The Mental Game of Poker – Jared Tendler M.S & Barry Carter
- Small Stakes Poker Tournaments – Jonathan Little
Some books are also based on the mathematics behind poker and specific types of poker – like Applications of No-Limit Hold Em by Matthew Janda.
A Matter of Seating
In the early days, you might not pay too much attention to where you are seated at the poker table. Over time you will begin to see that the position at the table matters.
You’ll also understand that you need to have a strategy for any of these seats.
Here are the ones you need to learn, and then learn a strategy for:
- Big Blind
- Small Blind
These terms all denote where a player sits. The first best position at the table is the Button and the second-best in the Cutoff. The better your seated position, the more time you have to study the other player and make intelligent decisions.
Become a Watcher
Although a poker game will take on its own pace, you need to prepare professionals who act at speed. Within seconds you’ll need to assess players, look for tells, calculate your odds, and work out if someone is bluffing.
Understanding the body language behind a game of poker will give you an increased advantage – even if you don’t have the best hand.
How can you assess other players to maximize your winning potential?
- Some players change the speed at which they play based on how good their hand is – note speed changes.
- Some players have tells like rubbing their eyebrows or pursing their lips.
- Tells can also be micro-movements; a player may be trying to hold their face still, but micro-movements are there.
- If a player is behaving cautiously, you might assume they have aces.
Learn Aggressive Play
Playing aggressively can often be associated with more experienced players, but with good reason.
Playing with an aggressive style will help you to learn to trust your instincts. Pushing a game to a higher speed will force you to process more table information and sharpen observations.
In your first few games, you might not be sure if you should be playing the hand, folding, or raising. Playing more aggressively forces you to make those decisions at a faster rate.
And for the professionals at the table, the easiest way for them to spot a beginner that can be bluffed and squeezed out of the game? A slow and hesitant player.
You can take the same approach and put pressure on other players. If they have weaker cards or aren’t seasoned players, they will leave the table – leaving less competition for the pot.
Poker games can go on for hours, or as legend has it, years. Training your brain and body to be in a high-focused state for that time takes work.
Playing short games will help you make quick decisions, but longer games will help you build your stamina for the longer and more intense games.
Over time as you get tired, you may notice that your tells become more obvious, and you are more likely to make more mistakes.
Aside from playing longer games or many games in close succession, you need to take care of your mind and body. Ensure that you are hydrated and eating a balanced diet. A simple move that will keep your brain and body in great shape – ready for your turn in the big tournaments.
Check out our post: Why Should You Take Foods to Boost Memory?
In It For The Long Haul
No matter how excellent you are, you might have a few big losses like Chun Lei, who is reported to have lost as much as $10 million in his Full Tilt account.
Losses can happen to even the most seasoned player, with a career spanning decades – but rarely do they quit.
Poker players understand that their luck can change, and the people at the table can change too. They are in it for the love of the game, as much as they are for the possibility to win millions at the table.
Professionals and seasoned poker players will both make calculated bets based on their knowledge, understanding – and ability to play the game and the players simultaneously.
Over time you will create your playing style, and you will trust in your instincts more than in the early days.