Anyone that watches any kind of news channel will at some point or another have seen a reporting about some crazy huge money pool Poker tournament. Yes, hundreds and even thousands of players enroll in such events each year, more than once, but not all of them will come out winning and the reason is pretty basic: some of them are not familiar with the basic rules of playing poker, and so, they end up failing.
Sure, as the saying goes “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” it is good practice to play lots of games and even risk a game with the pros in order to learn a few things, but, the best thing you can do for yourself is first get acquainted with the general rules for playing this notorious game of chance and strategy.
A poker game’s outcome, and implicitly the outcome of your hand depend on many factors. You experience level counts the most after which come in your poker skills. Seeing as there are many variants of poker out there, the play also depends on which particular game you are playing as well as what the situation of the game is at that specific time.
Pot odds and bankroll are also two important factors because even as a beginner you want to play smart and lose as little as you possibly can. Possibly the most important newbie rule to keep in mind when starting a game of poker is to only play out 20% of your hands. If you can go lower, under 10%, then that’s even better.
The reason being that you should look to play as many hands as you can and not yet make winning a primary focus. This technique also conserves your bankroll so you don’t wake up penniless and forced to get out of the game completely. Practice makes perfect, so play long and play smart.
Part of playing strategically means knowing when to fold, bluff, or keep betting up. Knowing when to throw down that Ace in your hand will become second nature and will not feel so bad once you know what you’re doing. Playing low-stakes games will continue to add knowledge and skill to your play and of course unless you have a huge bankroll, will keep those moneys under control.
A variation of the game, where you’re playing with blinds will also influence your betting style and strategy. Small blind or big blind, betting early or late, are bits of knowledge you can only gain with time, but it is good to know from the beginning what you are getting into so as to pan accordingly. Playing stud will require remembering lots of cards while a community style game will have a fairly lighter load.
Draw must be the most challenging style of poker since you must develop reading skills, meaning you must be able to tell whether your opponent is bluffing or not. This is one of the more important skills to gain and unfortunately it will take some time to master it.
Hi-low games require multiple-direction thinking while playing one of the other can provide a one-track mindset. If you’re playing at a land-based casino the environment again has a say in how the game goes. You see your opponents and your opponents see you, so face-reading is of the utmost importance. If your skill level is lower than you opponents’ then the first thing you must learn is when to leave the table and try your luck and skills another day.
Online poker and video poker are another thing all-together especially if you’re not playing with real opponents. Reading will be out of the question, but this kind of gameplay can only take you so far. Eventually, if you want to become better at poker you will have to venture out into the real world and play with real people.