Poker Strategy for Beginners


Poker Strategy for Beginners

There is no, one all-inclusive strategy for winning at poker. The best strategy at the moment will depend on many factors, such as:

The player's experience level, The opponents' poker skills, The specific game you are playing at the moment, The situation in the game, The size of your bankroll and the pot odds for this specific bet.

This list is just the beginning! But there are general guidelines that will help you improve your game and win as well.

Click for details on history, hand rankings/nicknames and poker terminology/glossary.

Strategy Brass Tacks

Let's take strategy for beginners first. The single most important strategy that you can follow is:

  • Play no more than 20% of your hands.

For true beginners the percentage should fall to 10% or less. This means playing very tight. True, it tells your opponents that you have a good hand when you call or raise. But it also does two other very important things:

  • It conserves your bankroll and…
  • It buys time while you play thousands of hands to gain the experience necessary to advance to the next level.

You absolutely must play many hands before you will automatically know whether the hand you are playing should be folded, bluffed, or bet to the hilt. Unless you have a large bankroll and are truly playing just for fun, you will want to play in low-stakes games for a very long time.

  • New players "fall in love" with their hands. Especially when they hold an ace, they can feel unbeatable. It usually takes a long time to learn to fold hands that you would have played in the past.
  • The variation of poker you are playing is also important. You may be in a game with blinds. Your betting strategy will change when you are the small blind or the big blind. It will vary when you are betting early or late.
  • If you are playing with community cards, you have fewer cards to keep track of. If you are playing stud, there may be most of a full deck in play, meaning many cards to remember. If you are playing draw, you see only your own cards. In those games you must read your opponent, a skill that develops over time.
  • If you are playing high hand only, you have one mindset. If you are playing low hand only, you have a very different mindset. And hi-lo games force you to think in two directions all the time.
  • If you play in a land-based casino, you will see your opponent but s/he will see you, as well. You must not only learn to detect little giveaways that most players have, but also to minimize or eliminate your own giveaways. In a land-based casino, you may sit at a table with a player whose style or skill level is unsuited to your style or skill level. If you are the stronger player, by all means stay and win their money. But if you are the weaker player, you must learn to leave the table.
  • When you play online against real opponents, you have far less chance to read them. If you see yourself playing online a lot, you will need a lot of time to learn how to read opponents.
  • If you choose to play video poker, you will have only to make intelligent or obvious decisions. One reason video poker is so popular is because many players don't want a live opponent. Video poker can give you experience making simple decisions but it won't be enough to train you for poker against live opponents.

Player Types

  • We advised new players to play no more than 20% of their hands. We heard your disagreement all the way to our offices. But the most common type of big winner is the player who plays tight most of the time but is relentlessly aggressive when s/he has a good hand. So, be both tight and aggressive.
  • You may already be anticipating the next type of player: loose and aggressive. This is the type of player to hope to catch at your table. They bet aggressively and without attention to their actual chances of winning a pot. Impatient beginners often bluff the wrong hands at the wrong times, the clear indication of a loose and aggressive player.
  • The last two types are the passive players. Tight but passive players lose money because they are too afraid to bet up their strong hands.
  • Loose and passive players check and call hands that they should fold but they also check and call hands they should be betting up. These players also lose money.

Summary

Poker is like most things we want to do well. It takes practice, patience, and perseverance. You have to play a lot and read a lot before you can consider yourself a seasoned player.

By Denise Marie