Poker is the most fantastic card game in the world. It teaches a heady mix of psychology, game play and evaluation of probability. There are a host of different variations of poker, from the most well-known Texas Hold Em, to Omaha, Stud and Draw. All variants have a mixture of different limits, rules and betting. Once you start to learn, it takes a lifetime to master. Here are some tips for those just starting out.
Learn your starting hands
One of the biggest traps new poker players fall into is playing every hand. It’s a natural impulse to try and be involved in every flop, but a chip saved is a chip earned. The ability to win at poker comes only with patience. Learn the best starting hands for each game. Then, simply wait for them to appear. In Texas Hold ’Em, the best starting hand is a pair of Aces, but in a low-ball game like Razz, the best hand is an Ace (which is low) and a 2. Guidelines for each poker game are easy to find and will improve your play immediately.
Put the hours in
Start a low buy-in friend’s game offline. Invite a mixture of new and experienced players, so you have different levels of ability. Time playing hands is the only way to really learn about poker. Start by learning Texas Hold ‘Em and talk through hands with your friends to improve your understanding of the game and how more experienced players think.
Play low stakes/free sites
While you are playing offline also try a few online sites. You can download software and sign up without depositing any money. Just about all online sites have ‘free’ play, where you play for virtual chips. Many sites also have poker tutorials or schools, which will walk you through how the different poker games work. Check out The Gaming Club as a fantastic starting point: GamingClub.com/nz.
This is often the most overlooked and forgotten aspect of poker, especially for beginners. Where you sit in relation to the dealer is very important. It relates to the timing of your bets and being able to watch the ‘action’ before making a choice of whether to bet your precious chips, or not. Playing weaker starting hands in good position can be justified, but playing poor hands in early position is just wasting your chips.