It’s a game for some an a full-time profession for others. Poker has changed a lot since it caught the world’s attention decades ago. Players invest hours honing strategies, a necessary step to become a consistently winning player.
At the beginning, there are a few ways to ease yourself into the world of poker. You’re living at the best time in history to learn this brilliant card game, resources are all around you. We’ll have tips for beginners on the basics of Texas hold ‘em and Omaha poker, and point you in the right direction to continue learning.
Let’s Talk About Texas Hold 'Em Poker. Texas hold ‘em is the most played format of poker around the world. It might appear to be a gambler’s game to some, but its unlike any other card game you’ll find at a casino. Poker is deeply strategic, but you’ll need to study the game to become a consistent winner. Here's our top 3 choices of poker rooms to begin with:
Texas hold ‘em games have a minimum of two players (heads-up) and a maximum of ten. Every player receives two cards from the dealer after the blinds are on the table.
What are the blinds in poker? The blinds are two mandatory bets at the start of every hand. They inject value into the pot before it’s even begun, creating incentive every time a round starts.
After The Cards Are Dealt
When you’ve got your two cards, now its time to decide to continue or not. The action will move clockwise around the table. Each player must choose to match the required bet or throw their cards away. Community cards will be dealt face-up as the hand progresses. Players must use these shared cards to form strong combinations with the two cards they hold.
You’ll notice a small marker on poker tables, usually white. That’s the dealer button, which marks the dealer’s position. It’s going to show everyone at the table where action starts and finishes. The dealer button, sometimes just called “the button”, moves one position clockwise at the conclusion of each hand.
How To Win In Texas Hold ‘Em
Sometimes you’ll need to be creative to win, but other times you will be dealt unbeatable hand combinations.
- Win By Bluffing
You can win in Texas hold ‘em by betting and forcing your opponent to fold. This is what’s known as a bluff. It’s a fantastic aspect of poker that can be thrilling and frightening all at once. If your opponent lays their hand down, you’ll win without having to show your cards. Nobody will know if you had a strong or weak hand.
As fun as it might sound, this is a tough area of poker for beginners to master.
- Win With A Stronger Hand Combination
You can’t be trying to frighten your opponents into folding every hand, and luckily, you won’t need to. Sometimes you’ll have a stronger hand combination than your opponent. We’ve got a full list of poker hand combinations to refer to.
If your opponents don’t fold, there are four betting rounds before the final showdown of everyone’s cards.
The Four Betting Rounds
At four separate times during a round of poker, you’ll have a chance to fold your hand or continue. You can put pressure on your opponents during these four stages, but they might do the same to you. Here’s a betting round guide for beginners.
Preflop. We’re still at the beginning of the poker hand, but this stage is critical. We want to check our two cards and guage their value. Some hands are inherently more valuable than others, like being dealt two aces or two kings. To put things simply, we want cards that will perform well against our opponents.
As you play more, you’ll find out more about ideal hands to continue with. Hand range calculators are a great way to guide your actions during the pre-flop betting round. Pocket aces is the best starting hand in Texas hold ‘em, but there are plenty of other hands with strong potential. Suited cards in sequence, jack-ten or 9-10 for example, can build solid combinations.
The preflop round ends when each player has matched the bet amount or folded.
Flop. We get to see the first three community cards now. It’s time for you to compare your holdings to the flop cards. Did you connect or did you miss?
Consider your draws and the cards you need to improve. Even if you made a pair on the flop, you can still draw for stronger hands. Using a pair as an example, you can improve to trips and two pair on future betting rounds. Premium hands like flushes and straights might be a possibility too, depending on the texture of the flop.
Turn. If players continue to the turn, a fourth card is added to the community cards. Take a moment to consider how the card affects your combination, as well as your opponents. The player to the left of the dealer acts first, choosing to bet or pass the action on. When bets are matched or all players decide to abstain from action, we can take a peek at the final card.
River. If you’re on a draw, it ends here. The fifth and final community card also represents the last betting opportunity.
You’ll often be making big decisions on the river.
- You may find yourself in one of three different situations.
- Your hand is weak and you need to make your opponent fold
- Your hand is average but not strong. You may want to showdown without investing more, or you may want to bluff.
- Your hand is strong and you want your opponent to put chips into the pot.
Knowing what to do on each betting round will become clearer as you get more experience. We’ve written guides on what to do at each stage of a poker hand.
When action completes on the river, we go to showdown. Players that remain must turn up their cards so the dealer can determine a winner.
Other Poker Formats Like Omaha And Hi/Lo
Texas hold ‘em poker has the most traffic online and in casino, but other formats have a healthy following too.
Omaha Poker. If you walked past an Omaha poker table, you might not notice anything different right away. Instead of two cards, like in Texas hold ‘em, you’ll have four cards in Omaha poker.
At showdown, Omaha players prefer hand combinations that are stronger and less vulnerable. Since everyone holds four cards, there are more chances to create premium combinations. That makes it even less likely that weak hands like pairs will win a hand of Omaha poker.
In Omaha poker, you must use two of your cards to form your final combination of five cards. In a Texas hold ‘em showdown, you can use one, both, or no cards at all.
Short Deck Poker. Also know as Manilla, Triton, and 6-plus poker, this variant originates in Asia. It was formed by high-stakes poker players and businessmen Paul Phua and Richard Yong. The deck has 36 cards, not the standard 52. Cards 2 through 5 are removed, and flushes are stronger than full houses.
What’s The Best Way To Learn?
There are two main poker formats that you should be aware of. While you’re learning poker, it’s best to focus on one, rather than spreading your attention around.
Cash Games. Chips have a direct cash value in this format. The stakes at cash game tables will be display the small blind and big blind amount, $0.10/$0.25, for example. There’s also a minimum and maximum buy in, which dictates how much real money you can bring to the table. One of the nice aspects of cash games is the freedom to leave the table at any time.
Here are best poker sites to begin with:
Stakes can be very affordable, starting with a big blind of just a couple of cents. High-stakes cash games might have blinds of hundreds, or even thousands of dollars.
Tournaments. For online and live tournaments, there’s a one-time fee before you take your seat. In this format, a prizepool gets divided among a certain number of the top players. In online poker rooms you’ll see various styles of tournaments. You’ll have to invest some time and carefully monitor your tournament position until the final table.
The best way to practice is to enter the freerolls — tournaments without buy-in and with prize fund.
Learning Poker Terms
There’s a lot of lingo and slang being used around the poker tables. You’re probably familiar with a few, but check our article for a full glossary of poker terms for beginners.
5 Poker Terms
|Value bet||A value bet is a bet that you want your opponent to call, because you beleive your hand is stronger than theirs.|
|Let’s say you raise during the pre-flop round. A c-bet is you continuing the momentum and bet again on the flop.|
An over card is any card that has a higher denomination than the community cards.
If the flop is 2-3-4, then 5-6 would be considered overcards.
This means the highest pair using on of the community cards, plus the highest possible kicker.
If the board showed 6-7-8, holding ace-8 would give you top-top.
This is an unbeatable hand. It’s impossible to make a better hand combination than the nuts.
If the flop shows 3-4-5, then have 6-7 gives you a straight, and the nuts. That’s because there isn’t any way to make a stronger hand. In this example, we can also say the nut-straight.
Places To Train Your Poker Skills
We’ve written in-depth articles that take you through more advanced poker strategies, but here are a few other ways to learn. Whether it’s the best books for poker or the in-depth video tutorials, always check reviews from other players.
Youtube And Twitch. Find clips on Youtube of your favorite poker players or visit their official channels. Watching live poker games has taken off recently, like Hustlers Casino and Live At The Bike. Major poker companies have their own Youtube and Twitch channels where they’ll showcase professional poker ambassadors or tournament footage.
It’s important to note the difference between watching poker for entertainment and watching it to improve. Lex Veldhuis, Bart Hansen, and Daniel Negraneu are just a few poker pros who focus on teaching, rather than showing highlights.
Poker Coaches. Tailored advice from a coach can help you smooth out rough spots in your strategy, at a price. There are numerous coaches and they all have different hourly rates, you’ll be able to find one that suits your budget.
Poker Training Software. It’s rare to find quality software for free, but training programs can be more affordable than coaches. Flopzilla provides a handy range calculator to show you the true value of preflop hands. Software like LearnWPT tests your actions through various scenarios and measures your win rate.
Low Stakes Real Money Poker. Start playing at low stakes, so that any mistakes you make during the learning process don’t have a huge impact. You should never play poker with amounts of money that you would be dismayed to lose. Being concerned and nervous about losing negatively affects decision-making. .
We’ll show you some great places to start in the next section.
Places To Play Poker Online
These two poker sites are great starting points for beginners. Ease your way up slowly, always play at the stakes and opponent skill level you are comfortable at.
1. Easier Competition At Low Stakes
Nobody can predict the skill level of the players at a poker table, but some sites have reputations for softer competition. The lower stakes at 888poker are known for being slightly easier for newer players, but don’t assume winning will be simple.
2. No Deposit Bonus
Playing without investing is a great way to learn the basics for beginners. You can get an $88 bonus just by signing up, but it’s not all given to you in a lump sum. The catch is, the bonus money gets unlocked by playing at the poker tables. After you register, follow the instructions that are emailed to you.
GGPoker. Like 888poker, you’ll be able to find soft competition and other beginner players at GGPoker. It’s a massive site with high traffic, so there are plenty of recreational players. Here are a couple things we like about GGPoker.
- Easy-To-Navigate Interface With Fun Features
The GGPoker app is one of the best-looking of all online poker apps. When you’re looking for tables, everything is easy to locate. On top of that, the avatars, animations, and table features are really cool. You can straddle, and rabbit hunt (see the card that was coming next if a hand ends before the river). GGPoker provides everyone with a HUD that tracks player information.
- The GGPoker Honeymoon Promotion
As long as you activate it within three days of your first deposit, you can grab up to $300 in prizes. Complete different challenges over a 30-day period to unlock the Honeymoon Promotion’s full value. The rewards for completing the daily milestones range from $0.50 tournament tickets to $150 in cold hard cash.
Don’t miss out on future freerolls and VIP promotions. When you register, enter the code "vipintern" into the promo code box. Check the “Enter Bonus Code” box when you see the Sign Up page, and a text window will open for you to enter the code.