Do you want to learn how to play better poker or a new poker player? Are you constantly losing at your home game and tired of your friends rubbing it in because they know how to play better poker than you? Maybe you’re lacking some of the fundamental concepts of how to play poker. This article will show you the basics of poker in such a way to make is easy to understand where you’re going wrong in your poker game. Before you know it, you’ll have a much better idea of how to win at poker.
How To Play Better Poker Trick #1 – Play Tight
As a beginning poker player, playing any two cards at any point in a poker game will most likely result in catastrophe, causing you to lose all of your money. This is especially bad if you’re playing in a real money online poker game, because a) its real money and b) you’re dealt twice as many hands as playing a live poker game. Just try playing every hand one game – it will end short and won’t end well for you. Although a professional poker player may be able to get away with this for a certain period of time, it is highly likely that you’ll end up with a poor result. The poor result is because a professional poker player knows how to play poker better than you. At the beginning level, your understanding of poker hand strength has not yet developed, and you’ll end up giving away chips when you don’t need to.
Therefore, beginning poker players should play their hands tight as possible before they have a real grasp on how to play poker. In No Limit Texas Hold’em, there are five hands that are considered “premium” and should always be played if nobody has raised in front of you:
- Pocket Aces (AA)
- Pocket Kings (KK)
- Pocket Queens (QQ)
- Pocket Jacks (JJ)
- Ace-King (AK)
Learning how to play better poker with these big poker hands (also known as “premium poker hands”) will help you become familiar with poker hand values and when you should betting, raising, and folding. As you grow accustomed to playing with these strong poker hands, you’ll learn to open up your poker hand ranges and become comfortable playing better poker with weaker hands in position.
How To Play Better Poker Trick #2 – Play Position
One way to play better poker is to always remain conscious of is your position at the poker table. Many beginning poker players disregard the importance of this concept and focus too closely on their poker hand, resulting in an advanced player eating them alive over the course of a ring game or tournament because they know how to play better poker. Why is position so important in a poker game? First, let’s take a look at the different positions at a poker table:
How to Play Early Position
The first players to act when the action starts. The very first person to act is immediately to the left of the big blind and is called the “Under The Gun” player. In a full game, the two players to the left of the under the gun player are also considered early position. In this position, you should play very few hands, as there are far less bluffing situations and you’ll be put at a major disadvantage in many situations because you are forced to act before your opponents.
Having early position puts you at a huge disadvantage. The reason is that you will always be the first to act, which means your opponents can make decisions based on your actions. Generally this results in early position players playing very tight and only raising premium hands preflop. If you’re just learning the game, taking this approach is the best way to go in order to avoid finding yourself in an uncomfortable spot with a lousy hand. A premium hand will most often lead to easier decisions at the table.
How to Play Middle Position
The players immediately to the left of the early position players. In a full game, these are usually the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th players to the left of the button. You can open up your range a little bit compared to early position, but not very much. You’re better off playing more hands in late position than middle position. In middle position, you’ll be able to play poker better against early position poker players, but will still be at a disadvantage to late position poker players.
How to Play Late Position
Late position includes only the last few poker players to act in the round. Late position has terms for the last three players to act:
The third to last person to act in each betting round. This is the least favorable late position place. However, anywhere in late position is still good position.
The cut-off is the second to last person to act in each betting round. The cut-off position is the player between the hijack and the button.
The button is last person to act in each betting round. The player on the button has position on everyone at the table during the entire course of a hand.
Players in late position will generally raise with weaker hands preflop. Most of the players at the table have already folded at this point, which gives the late position player an opportunity to “steal” the blinds. Even if the big blind calls the raise, for instance, the late position player still has the advantage on the flop as the big blind will be forced to act first. This gives the late position player another chance to steal the pot should he or she miss the flop after the big blind checks. Or, should the late position player flop a draw, they can call a bet and reevaluate their situation based on what the other player does on the turn. Having position on players during a hand will always play to your advantage.
Always keep position in mind when learning how to play better poker. It is just as important as the cards you and your opponents are holding.
How To Play Better Poker Trick #3 – Learn the Math
Whether you want to believe it or not, learning how to play better poker will always have mathematics attached to it in some way or form. Probability and calculating odds are part of the game, and while it may sound complicated, I can assure you that the mathematics of poker is one of the easier steps in winning at poker (as long as you completed grade school math).
Knowing your poker hand strength compared to others is extremely important, and knowing how to calculate pot odds will help you learn how to play poker better. Pot odds determine the amount of money in the pot compared to the amount of money you need to call in order to stay in the hand. For example, if the pot contains $10 on the flop, and you need to call a $2 bet to stay in the hand, you’re receiving 10:2 (or 5:1) pot odds.
For example, should you have a drawing hand, such as a flush draw, pot odds are used to determine the expected value (or equity) of your hand against an opponent. Equity is calculated by comparing the pot odds to the odds of drawing a card that will win you the pot.
With a flush draw, you more than likely have nine outs to win the pot. To calculate your equity, take your total number of outs and multiply that number by four on the flop (or two on the turn).
In our example, since we are receiving 5:1 pot odds and our hand has 36% equity on the flop, we have enough odds to make the call. Figuring out the math in poker takes some time to fully grasp, but will ultimately lead to profitable plays in the long run.
If you’re still learning poker and consider yourself a beginning, then you should be doing several things right now to excel your learning of how to play better poker:
- Print this article and put it somewhere you’ll re-read it
- Bookmark this page
- Sign up at an online poker site to practice what you’ve just learned.
Also, don’t forget to like this article on Facebook, share on Twitter, and if you have a Google Plus post this to your page.