In the gambling world, poker is king, and if you don’t know how to play, you’re missing out on one of the most exciting and entertaining types of card games. There are several popular varieties of poker, including Texas Hold’em, Omaha, 5-Card Draw, and 7-Card Stud.
Everyone has their personal favorite, but all of them are enjoyable and worth your time to learn.
For those of you trying to get into poker for the first time, there are some easy ways to sprint out of the gate to take an early lead on the competition. Unlike other table games that are pure luck, poker requires both skill and a sound strategy to succeed at the tables.
Here are 7 ways to immediately improve your game, so you’re not getting embarrassed at the poker table.
1 ‒ Learn the Rules
As I mentioned, there are several different forms of poker, each with its own rules, regulations, and particular strategies. The number 1 way to look like a fool while playing real money poker is to fail to learn the game’s basic rules. Like most other forms of gambling, the rules of poker are somewhat basic and easy to understand. There is no excuse to come into the game unprepared.
Deciding which form of poker you’ll specialize in should come down to personal preference; there is no wrong answer. I am of the mindset that those of you who aspire to become serious poker players should learn every type of poker to give you the best opportunity to play consistently.
Each game has similar characteristics and rules, and once you know a few variations, it will be easier to learn the rest of them.
When it comes to learning the basic rules, it’s as easy as doing a few minutes of reading and a little practice. Minimal preparation won’t make you a good poker player. Success will come after diligent play and practice, but it’s crucial that you build on a solid cornerstone of information.
2 ‒ Become a Student of the Game
Once you’ve learned the basics of poker, the learning truly never stops. To be a winning poker player, you need to be continually learning more and more about each game.
This will make you a more well-rounded player. The worst thing that can happen to newer players is securing a win in the early stages of their poker playing career to become complacent with their development.
The internet is full of reading, tips, and strategies for each version of poker. There are countless websites and books written by experts on the game that are sitting there waiting to be explored.
I suggest consulting several different sources to come up with a comprehensive plan of attack. This will help you avoid picking up lousy information and running with it.
The best part of poker is playing the game, of course. Not many of you enjoy doing homework; I certainly don’t.
The best poker players will tell you that the learning process is never complete. You should always be searching for new and better information.
3 ‒ Find Out What Type of Player You Are
Sitting around a typical poker table are several different people with various personality types and playing styles. At the outset of your gambling stint, you will most likely sustain some early losses due to your lack of experience. This is to be expected, and every single poker player has to take their early lumps.
Your particular playing style will become apparent as you continue to play the game. Once you find out whether you’re a shark, a rock, or a maniac, you can alter the way you approach the game.
New players have a tendency to either play too many or two few hands when they start playing the game. Both of these methods should be avoided.
The only way to break old habits and become a better kind of poker player is to continue to play and learn about each variation of poker. If you’re a passive person, there’s a good chance that it will translate to you being a passive poker player.
Similarly, if you find yourself consistently throwing caution to the wind, your style of play might reflect that. Regardless of your personality type, there’s always a way to break from your poor habits and curate a poker style that works for you and can lead to wins.
4 ‒ Find a Strategy that Works for You
While it’s essential that you find a strategy that works for you, there is a right and wrong way to play poker. Most experts will tell you the best way to play as a beginner is known as tight-aggressive.
This means that you’re playing around 25-30% of your hands, but playing those hands aggressively.
As I said earlier, newer players struggle when deciding how many hands they should play during a given game of poker. Choosing when to fold and when to continue to bet is one of the most challenging parts of the game. This is because you don’t know for sure what your opponents are holding.
When you first start playing, avoid being overly aggressive and unpredictable. This might work for a few hands, but better players will catch on to your style in a few hands and bleed you dry.
Consistency is crucial when you first start playing, so regardless of what style ends up working for you, be consistent in your approach to the game.
5 ‒ Plan a Poker Night
After a few hours of reading and practice, you might think that you’re ready to head to the nearest casino or poker room to play for some big stakes. Beginner’s luck might be a thing at some other table games, but this is hardly the case with poker. Whereas you’re playing against the house in games like blackjack, craps, and roulette, when it comes to poker, you’re competing against other players who probably are more experienced and better than you.
The most important thing for people in the early stages of poker playing is to plan a poker night with your friends or family. Being comfortable at the table is one of the most important keys to success.
The best way to get comfortable with the game is to play real-life games with people you know. Competing in a low-stakes game with people you’re familiar with will provide ample opportunity to continue to understand how the game plays out.
6 ‒ Play Online During Free Time
Playing poker in person is easily the best way to play poker but competing online is not such a bad alternative. While you won’t get a great read on the players you’re competing against, playing poker online is a more readily available form of poker that will assist your development as a player.
It’s much easier to log onto your computer to find a game than it is to play in person, especially in the time of COVID-19. When you have some free time, instead of mindlessly combing through your social media feeds, consider finding an online game. At the very least, download a poker app on your phone, so you can have no excuse not to practice.
Playing online or on your phone is a watered-down version of the game; there’s no denying that. Most of the fun in poker comes from the interactions you have with other players around a table.
Playing online offers an invaluable experience that can translate to success when you’re finally able to play in person.
7 ‒ Leave Your Pride at the Door
If you think you’re going to sit down and throw your money down at a high-stakes table and walk away victorious, it’s time to check your expectations. That’s not to say you can’t eventually work your way into becoming a quality player.
It will require diligence and hard work along the way. When you most likely run into the heightened competition during your first few games and get bounced from the table, do not be discouraged.
Success will come with time, and there’s no reason to get dejected and quit the game altogether. Frequently I see new poker players unable to overcome their hubris and refuse to take early losses as a learning opportunity.
The fact is that the players who are beating you have been in your position before. The first few months playing poker are valuable, and those losses you sustain will only make you a smarter player.
In summary, regardless of what variation of poker you choose to play, it’s crucial to take advantage of these early opportunities during your development. Older poker players get stuck in ruts and develop bad habits that are incredibly hard to break once they start playing consistently.
When you first start playing, make sure to familiarize yourself with the rules of the gam.
I recommend learning several different types of poker. Even after you begin playing consistently, continue to learn more and more about the game because the learning process should never stop. You need to know what type of player you are so you can make some minor adjustments as you play.
Finally, finding a strategy that you’re successful at and try to schedule some casual games with your friends and acquaintances who also play. It’s important to feel comfortable at the table, and there’s no better way to attain that level of comfort than playing with people you enjoy.
If you begin on a losing streak, don’t get discouraged and continue improving each day.
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...
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