Poker is a complicated game and it will take time spent studying and playing the game in order to get comfortable with the full range of poker concepts. That said, if you’re in it to have a good time or if you’re just looking for some good tips to get you started then you’ve come to the right place.
The cardinal sin committed by all new poker players is playing too many hands. In this article we’ll give you some tips to learn how to tighten up your range of hands and play a more solid and more aggressive poker game.
If these tips are already well known to you then may want to check out one of articles on a specific poker game such as our top 5 no-limit Holdem tips. Or if you’re ready to get down to business, check out our top 5 poker rooms.
Top 5 Poker Tips
1. Play Fewer Hands
Most players play far too many hands. After folding a terrible hand it’s tempting to watch the flop and see how you would have done if you had stayed in the hand. When you realize you would have made a full house or a straight you think to yourself, “why did I fold!?”This kind of results oriented thinking is the bane of good disciplined poker. Specifically it leads to terrible starting hand selection which in turn leads to losing lots of small pots.
A quick and easy way to improve your poker game is to play fewer hands.
If your range of hands is tighter on average than your opponents’ ranges then you will have an advantage right from the start of the hand. Check out one of our articles on a specific game of poker if you want to see what a good range of starting hands looks like for a specific game.
2. Play More Aggressively
Whichever player is doing the calling is the player who is on the defensive. The caller has to make the tougher decisions. The caller has to constantly wonder what cards his opponent is holding.
The aggressor on the other hand has the initiative and has fold equity. Fold equity refers to the fact that the aggressor can win the pot if his opponent folds. The caller can only win the pot by showing down the best hand.
Don’t play passive poker! You should be looking to take the initiative in the majority of pots that you enter. There are of course times when the correct decision is to call, but as a new player you should be folding most hands that aren’t good enough to raise with. This is especially true preflop!
3. Don’t Make “Crying Calls”
Whenever you feel yourself thinking “maybe I have the best hand” or “I just want to see what he has” fold! Questions like these are a cue that you are beat. If the player you are up against is capable of bluffing in difficult spots, take a moment to think through the hand. You may be able to come up with an actual reason to call as opposed to just closing your eyes and calling.
It’s worth mentioning that in limit games you’re frequently priced in and will have to call. But in pot and no-limit games you will save a fortune by making these folds!
As you become more proficient at poker, your instincts will warn you when you need to take a second and consider making a thin call. As all of your poker knowledge becomes internalized your instincts get sharper and sharper. Trust yourself and don’t make crying calls!
4. Play Within Your Bankroll
Playing within your bankroll is a foreign concept to a lot of players. The more you risk the more likely it is that a streak of bad luck will bankrupt you! If you understand these basic rules then it is almost impossible for bad luck to bankrupt you.
Start with a poker bankroll of 20 buyins at whatever your preferred stakes are. If you’re a new player this doesn’t mean you have to deposit $200 online in order to play $10 games. It means that if you don’t want to invest more than $200 total that you should stick to $10 games until you win enough to move up in limits. If you lose half your bankroll be sure to move down in limits so that you don’t go bankrupt!
Keep in mind that most poker sites offer a sign-up bonus that matches your first deposit, so it doesn’t hurt to put a few extra dollars online!
Check out our bankroll management tips for more information.
There is absolutely no substitute for careful consideration!
Consider all available factors. What is your opponent’s play style? What is his image? What is your image and is your opponent considering your image when making his play?
Given your opponents line of play, style of play, and tendencies what range of hands do you think he is likely to be holding? Given that range of hands, what is your best course of action?
It is too easy to put oneself on auto-pilot and make decisions quickly and without thought. If you take the time to really think through your opponent’s line of play, likely holdings, and your own best course of action, then you will find yourself making much better decisions and more importantly winning more money!