To an outsider, the world of poker can seem like an endless realm of complicated rules and bewildering strategy. If you don’t have a helpful guide, it can be easy to lose more than just your head when playing. Yet, with just a few simple tips, you can go from new fish to whale in no time!
- Know The Rules
This advice may seem painstakingly simple but it’s important. Poker in its most basic form can still be considered relatively complex to some. Yet, given that it’s one of the most widely-played games across the globe, it’s no surprise that there is a range of variations - each satisfying some need or skill of the card game enthusiast. With each variation of poker hosting its own set of unique rules and gameplay, it’s important that you pick one that aligns with your skill level. When you’re in the heat of the game and making snappy decisions, there’s no tip or trick to substitute a comfortable familiarity with the rules.
- Choose Your Game Wisely
If you are totally new to poker and have no idea where to start, you should probably ease yourself in with a game like Texas hold ’em. Not only is it arguably the most popular game in poker, but it’s also the most widely available. As a bonus, Texas hold’em is also one of the easier games to get to grip with. If you become proficient in this poker variation you’ll find that other poker games just require a few tweaks in your knowledge to master. Of course, these reasons contributed significantly to the decision to make Texas hold’em the primary game in KamaGames’ flagship app, Pokerist.
Of course, we would be remiss not to mention some of the most popular variations of poker - Omaha, Set and Split Bet poker. Once you’re familiar with Texas Hold’em, you can then start thinking about trying some of these other variants. Omaha is considered by many to be a good second game to learn, but this is a matter of personal taste. From there, you can progress to Set and Split Bet poker or even something more unique like Pokerist’s Party modes. If you’re ready to improve, you can read more about the rules of Omaha, Split Bet and Set poker here. [hyperlink to the previous article where Omaha, Split Bet and Set is mentioned]
- Play Low - For Now!
Is there a game more famous than poker for its reputation of playing hard and winning big? I don’t think so! Still, it’s a good idea, in the beginning, to start slow and play low. When you’re new to the game the last thing you want to do is blow your whole bankroll on some dodgy or inexperienced plays. Pick a low stakes table and heavily practice some of your poker playing techniques and strategies. A word of caution, don't dive into a high stakes game because you took the pot at a few lower stakes tables. If you wanna build your bank balance and your skillset, then it's better to be the winner at an easy table than the loser at the harder one.
- Play With Your Head
Poker is nothing if not a passionate sport. The game has a talent for burrowing into the hearts of players and skyrocketing emotions. While this makes for compelling gameplay, if you’re not careful, you can easily lose the run of yourself - and your chips! Tilt is a poker term for a state of mental or emotional confusion or frustration that occurs when playing. If a player is on tilt, they adopt a less than optimal strategy, usually resulting in them becoming overly aggressive in their playing style. One of the key elements of a good poker strategy is to play a detached and logical game. Therefore, if you feel your emotions being amped by the highs and lows of the hand, take a minute to cool down. After all, if you’re playing with seasoned players, they may read your mood and use this insight to take advantage of you.
- Learn The Art Of Folding
No, we’re not talking about origami! If a player folds it means they’re expressing that they no longer have an interest in the current pot and will sit out until the next hand. As a beginner, don’t be drawn into the trap that says you have to play every hand to win. Success lies in knowing the strength of your hand and in the wise words of Mr Kenny Rogers, “know when to hold 'em, know when to fold’em.” If you are dealt a poor hand, don't stick with it hoping for a divine miracle. If you’re clearly beaten, be willing to part ways with your hand and your ego. This applies, no matter how good a hand it was when it was dealt, or how much money you've sunk into the pot.
- Pay Attention (even after you’ve folded)
Your hand isn’t the only thing you need to remain focused on. Good poker players have an innate ability to read their opponents and surmise whether or not they believe they hold a strong position. Eventually, through gameplay, players reveal patterns of behaviour and that information can then be used to inform your strategy. So, even if you’ve folded, continue to watch how other players engage with the game. Notice their body language or behaviour when they win or lose a hand. This information could be invaluable when deciding to fold or bet in future hands. Furthermore, pay attention to your own body language. Like your opponents, you may be giving away more than you intend to with small tells or movements. While body language isn’t a factor in online casinos like KamaGames’ Pokerist app, you can still tell a lot by how a player bets, raises or folds.
- Play A Soft Game
As a beginner, don’t face off against seasoned poker players who have years of experience in the game. This won’t be good for either your chip balance or your confidence. Instead, seek out players on low stakes tables whose skills and experience are inferior or at least similar to your own. Some in the industry refer to these as “soft” games and use them to boost themselves up before taking on higher stakes opponents. It may seem like obvious advice but you’d be surprised how many newbies get roped into a game that’s out of their depth before they’ve even learned the rules.
- Play Your Position
While it may not always be in your control, your position at the table could have a significant effect on your overall game. Knowing where you are can be the first step in knowing what to do next in poker. Ideally, as a beginner, you want to be the last player to act on your hand. This allows you to not only digest and contemplate your own hand but also scope out the competition. The most favourable position to play in is the button as, in this position, you have the chance to play more hands than in any other. Learn more about the button and blind positions in our article here. [Hyperlink to How do blinds work in poker?] Recognising the value of your position will become easier with time and practice, but as a beginner, it's best practice to always consider your position when deciding which hands to play.
- The Art Of The Bluff
The art of the bluff is one thing that makes poker a truly mental exercise. Players have two things to consider when bluffing. Is a bluff the right play for your current hand or should you just fold? Also, consider that you are perhaps unknowingly falling foul to a bluff yourself and ask yourself, are you being hoodwinked by an opponent. It’s important to bluff with purpose - not just because you think you have to in poker. As a beginner, don’t try and out-bluff a bad hand because more often than nought, serious players will spot this strategy and use it against you.
- Think 3 Bets Ahead
In poker, it’s always useful to play the long game. What we mean by this is, don’t just consider your current bet but what you’re willing to do if your opponents decide to raise. Is your hand strong enough to risk staking all your chips in a betting war? Essentially, the advice here is don’t call a player if you’re not in a position to then raise that bet. Similarly, don’t raise if you’re not prepared to then call the re-raise. To get a more in-depth idea of betting, read our poker betting blog post here. [Hyperlink to betting blog]
Win or lose, you can always bet on poker to be a thrilling game. The simple tips and tricks outlined above will take you over the initial hurdles from poker beginner to enthusiast. Remember, be humble when you’re on a hot streak and refrain from being a sore loser when the cards aren’t dealt in your favour. All the talent in the world won’t make a difference if no one wants to sit at your table. And the most important tip of all...have fun playing!
Check out the rest of our blog section to pick up more poker knowledge.