Poker Tips and Tricks - Poker Strategy For Beginners
Poker strategies are as important a determinant of success at poker as are talent and luck. The best poker players are what they are because they developed a superior poker strategy to their opponents. Poker is in fact a game of skill where learning to use the right strategy, getting a read on one’s opponents, calculation, analysis and keeping a cool head are vital.
Therefore, tried and tested poker tips and tricks are important to know learn about if one is to become an effective and skilled poker player. Read on to know about poker strategies for beginners, more advanced players and effective online poker strategy that you can use.
How poker strategies became important over the decades
Poker is a game that requires understanding, insight, assessment and planning. It is a complex game that relies not just on the luck of the draw but on what one does with the hand they’ve been dealt. Over time, players improve their game by learning poker tips of other seasoned players as well as by developing some poker tricks of their own. The fact that poker games are now big money also means that poker strategy is now widely studied, analysed and written about.
A good player will rely on mathematical probabilities as well as their own unique intuitive abilities to gauge their opponent and their hands vis-à-vis their own. The professional poker player and author David Sklansky is famous for his mathematical approach to the game. His celebrated book The Theory of Poker is considered to be one of the most important early books about poker strategies; one that many later works were based on.
The story goes that when Sklansky was working as an actuary he figured out a way to do certain calculations faster but his boss did not let him share this with anyone else. He then went on to become a professional poker player where he used this technique to great effect. He was quoted to say this when speaking about poker tips for games:
"In poker, if you're better than anyone else, you make immediate money. If there's something I know about the game that the other person doesn't, and if he's not willing to learn or can't understand, then I take his money."
In other words, it is effort, planning, learning and practice that can make a difference to one's game. Sklansky certainly knew what he was talking about because he earned millions as a pro player! He also propounded what is now known as the basic theorem of poker:
Every time you play your hand the way you would if you could see your opponents' cards, you gain, and every time your opponents play their cards differently from the way they would play them if they could see your cards, you gain
This is the theorem that forms the basis of a lot of poker strategies. These poker tips for beginners try to use deception to disadvantage the opponent, or to distract them and throw them off their game. Winning at poker depends upon how effectively you as a player can make your opponent change their style of playing while maintaining your own style of play. The idea is to use slow play and bluff to make one’s opponent to play a certain way:
- Bluffing - this is when a player pretends to have a strong hand and bets accordingly even when he or she may have a weak hand. The idea is to induce opponents to fold even if they have superior poker hands. The bluffer will pretend to be confident and will raise even that confidence is not justified. The hope is that other players will cut their losses and the bluffer will win. This poker strategy works by deceiving other players into folding.
- Slow play is another deceptive strategy that may be seen in a poker tournament. Also known as trapping or sandbagging, this is the opposite of bluffing. Here a player with a strong hand will bet weakly, pretending to have a poor hand. This is a form of passive play that is used to induce opponents to bet strongly or to raise. Here you try to lull your opponent into playing against their own interests. The aim here is to increase the value of the pot by getting other players to contribute more so the strong hand ultimately enjoys a bigger playout.
Poker strategy for beginners
A lot of people who first start playing poker may do so on a poker app. This would typically be a free download for a phone or tablet that lets you play Texas holdem poker. This is the most widely played and popular form of poker, which is why the app may be named as such. However, typically these apps will also include other poker variations. Many such apps will award free chips or tokens or other poker offers to get players started.
New players can keep in mind some of these poker tips for beginners:
- A novice player who is not fully familiar with this card game can read up about all the poker rules for the particular variant being played. It is also a good idea to read up about the various poker terms and what exactly they mean. Watching instructive videos or learning how to play poker via tutorials is a good idea so that a newbie gets a fair idea about the game.
- Learn about poker positions: early, middle and late, and the implications of these positions. This refers to a player’s position on the table and the order in which players are required to act. This is particularly important in Texas holdem poker, where the player in a late position has a distinct advantage. The player in a late position has much more information because early players have already played and given the benefit of heads-up play to the late player(s). Remember, position can turn poor poker hands into winning hands.
- The value of poker hands and their rankings (what is a royal flush and how is it different from a straight flush for instance) are important to understand. A player has to have a clear and thorough understanding of what hand outranks another and how to use community cards to one's advantage.
- A good poker player is one who keenly observes their opponents. A lot of players adjust to the playing styles of their opponent to counter their opponent's poker strategy and gain advantage. Learning about the mannerisms and tells of the opponent can really be beneficial in money earning games. Do this even when you're not in the game, because the more information you have about your opponent, the more power you have.
- Start with low stakes games. When stakes are high, this can be exciting, but it can also make players nervous. A low stakes poker game gives one the reassurance that one isn’t risking much money. Any losses will be small and can be chalked down to a learning experience. These experiences offer poker tips for games in the future. Besides, low stakes games, typically attracts other newbies, so a less experienced poker player will be at ease playing with others of a similar skill level.
- Which brings us to the next of our poker tips and tricks. Play with players less skilled and experienced than you. Remember poker is a game of skill – the players that win most consistently do so because they are good and not because Lady Luck favours them with the best cards every time. In other words, play with weaker players whenever possible, not just as a beginner. This is one of the poker tips even experienced, seasoned players would do well to keep in mind.
- Choose your games with care. Do you want to want to opt for a real cash game? Are you ready for the MTT (multi-table tournament) format, which has high pay-outs and high octane excitement but also has tough competition?
- Know when to bluff. While bluffing is one of the most commonly used poker strategies, it will not work all the time. If another player is experienced enough and has the nerve to ‘calls someone's bluff’ this strategy will not work. So a player has to carefully assess the situation before deciding whether or not bluffing will be profitable. Play your cards well and use bluffing sparingly.
- Don’t play when you're upset. You are more likely to be distracted, to make mistakes and poor judgements. In short, emotions can mess up your poker strategy so don’t play when you're upset, tired, angry and certainly don’t play when you're drunk.
- One of the most important poker strategy for beginners is to choose the platform carefully. Do you get to play with real players? What do other players say about the platform? Is the site reputed and trustworthy and has it been around for several years? Can you set up your own table and bring friends to play? Do you get a genuine sign up bonus? Do they also offer poker variants, online rummy and other games you may enjoy? Choose a known and popular platform; maybe even one that celebrities are comfortable being associated with.
- Focus on your game. For beginners, the kind of ferocious concentration that the top players bring to a game may be difficult. However, focus is an important poker strategy and it is essential to try and cut out distractions and focus on the game at hand.
Online poker tips
While people have been playing real money poker face to face for literally centuries, online poker is a relatively recent phenomenon. Not only has poker become hugely popular since the big games started to be televised, but its popularity has grown exponentially since the internet has allowed people to play online. Some of the same poker tips and tricks can be utilised for the online game as well but it is a good idea to keep some of these additional online poker tips in mind as well:
- Keep in mind the convenience of online poker. Not only can you play at any time and from any place, the pool of players you can faceoff against is practically limitless. You can choose the kind of game and the opponent you want to play. While one cannot read the face and mannerisms of one’s opponent, there are other online poker tips you can use
- Read habits, not tells. Players can read a lot of tells in the form of visual cues of face to face games. Players have some habitual gestures when lying, could adopt a defensive physical posture, use some words or phrases, and may appear angry or stressed. These cues may not be apparent in online games, but you could read a lot of online poker strategy of your opponents as well. Check out their online playing habits, winning or losing record and analyse other aspects; don’t just expect to rely on tells.
- Beware of bad beats. As experts will tell you, online players have to be prepared for bad beats. This may be between three and ten times more bad beats in online poker because dealing is faster as well. This online poker strategy is particularly important to keep in mind when a player is playing the multi-table format.
- Start with low and micro stakes and then move your way up to the bigger real money poker games. High stakes and big money are certainly attractive, but it is necessary to play the easy competition before making your way up to the bigger games. Experts recommend that even experienced poker players should do this when they first start playing online poker.
- An experienced player will often use the online poker strategy of entering a pot with a raise pre-flop. This can sound counterintuitive to a IRL poker player, but it should be kept in mind that limping (entering the pot by calling rather than raising) is much less common in online poker than it is in live poker. This also helps the player take control of the pot with a raise before the flop.
- Don’t bluff too often, even against the fish (the weak or inexperienced player). These are applicable poker tips for games you play online as well as offline. Experts advise that the bluffing should be kept to a minimum since inexperienced players tend to call too frequently. Obviously this could have the opposite of intended consequences
Poker tips advanced players can also use
Experienced players can also keep in mind some of the poker strategy for beginners. However, the more expert players will typically plan, analyse, assess and calculate a lot more as they gain skill and expertise. Experts advise more advanced players to keep these additional poker strategies in mind.
- Should you raise? In a poker game, raising can be very useful from a strategic perspective. It helps get more money in the pot, it helps drive out opponents when you have a good hand, it can induce a player with a better hand to fold (bluff). It can also can get you a free card and can give you more information about the opponents. Consider all the possible outcomes given the poker rules of particular poker variations you are playing.
- Should you call? Calling has many benefits: you could get to se more cards, may be able to limit loss in equity or prevent re-raising. It can also hide the strength of a hand, manipulate pot odds, or set up a possible bluff for a later round. So consider whether this move would be an effective poker strategy at that particular juncture of the card game.
- Consider the odds. The pot odds, the implied odds and poker probabilities have to be among the most important poker tips advanced players will pay attention to. Check out the pot odds vis-à-vis the odds of winning and consider whether your odds of winning are better than the pot odds.
- Aggressive or passive? Both types of play have their benefits but players must take care to use these poker tricks appropriate to the situation. While playing passively by checking and calling can fool opponents and induce mistakes, there are benefits to playing aggressive as well. Aggressive play could throw opponents off balance and induce even more mistakes.
- Study the numbers. There are 52 cards in a deck (some may have wild cards in addition or a reduced number in some poker variations). There are fixed numbers of hole cards and community cards in each variation. The rules are set as well, however the possible combinations are limitless. This is why studying game theory and probability are very important poker strategies. What cards does a player need to win? What are the odds of drawing a face card from a standard deck? What are the possible poker hands an opponent will have given your own hole cards and the visible community cards? These are complex and involved calculations that top poker players concentrate on to try and beat their opponents.
As a player, one must also work on one’s mind set. While keeping all the above poker tips for games in mind, work on mental toughness as well. One study of professional poker players found that certain player characteristics were better predictors of game outcomes than the poker tips and tricks they used. The more skilled players showed more concentration and focus and seemed to be able to control their emotions better; not letting irritation or frustration put them off their game.
The top players studied their own game, watched replays and found ways to improve. These players were seen to use a combination of logic and intuition to make the gaming the decisions that helped them come out on top. Mental training techniques used by top poker players and other elite athletes can prove to be an effective poker strategy to help other players elevate their game as well.
And in conclusion, remember to have fun. This is one of the poker tips for beginners as well as for more advanced players. While poker strategy and the proper techniques are important, it is as important to enjoy the game as something that challenges you and enhances your mental acuity. You can keep learning and keep improving your game. If you lose a few, it doesn’t matter. As someone once said “I have not failed. I have just found ten thousand ways that don’t work” – the same applies to poker strategies as well.
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