Tips for the beginner

This is a compilation of tips for all new players at the game of Texas hold’em poker.

1. Be realistic about your winning prospects

Everybody wants to win and many feels that they are better than the average. Sometimes that is the case, but as a beginner you must realize that you might face opponents that have been playing for many years.

learning versus results diagram

The diagram is only a hypothetical illustration.

They may not be expert, but they have at least learned some during their playing. Try to not be to focus on the result in the beginning and instead have the focus on learn the game and become better at it.

2. Choose a cautious approach to begin with

Wait for good cards before you join pots. The problem to play with too many starting hands is that you often have to fold directly after the flop – that means that you lose your investment. And if you decide to keep playing on with a mediocre hand, the risk is that you lose more money.

Avoid starting hands like 42 (two low cards), 85 (one middle range card and one low card) K3 (one strong card, but a weak kicker).

3. Don’t be curious

To be curious in poker will cost money. A curious player calls many hands in hope for hitting a pair, a straight or a flush. This is in most cases not worth the cost for calling. A curious player also calls the opponents to see what they have just to be sure they had him beaten – that will also cost a lot of money.

4. Don’t bluff to often or by impulse

 A bluff in the right spot is something that distinguish a great player. Beginners may lack this ability; therefore, don’t bluff too much until you learn how to find the right spots.

In poker, you should’t bluff only because you feel for it. A bluff should be based on many factors. For example, a board that give many possibilities to represent good hands.

5. Loose the minimum when other have better hand than yours.

This advice is a follow-up to the last. When you don’t have a hand that will beat other hands in the specific situation, fold directly against a bet. You will sometimes fold to a bluff, but in the longer run this approach will save you money.

6. Let your opponents pay when you have a hand

When you hold a strong hand, bet! You don’t win any big pots by checking. In some, cases it can be better to just check if that stimulate the opponent to raise. But the default approach is to bet with your strong hands on every street to build a pot.

7. Study your opponents

Your opponents have different playing styles. You may for example observe how a specific player use a betting pattern often. Take always mental notes about things like that and you will have better chances to exploit the player in the future.

8. Don’t get upset

Poker is a game that can feed anger. The down- and upswings during a session can take its mentally toll. As for beginners, that are not use to the swings and the bad beat, strong emotions are common. But negative emotion can also spoil your game in many ways and influence your game in a direction against bigger risks.  

9. Learn the odds and act upon that

Every situation has some odds implied. If the odds aren’t good enough, you should not make the call. If make the call and win the hand, you had a negative expected value, which meant that the play you did still lose money over time.

10. Understand the long perspective

Poker is a marathon. It is not very important if you win a certain hand or not. The important thing is if your decisions will earn you money in the long run.  

11. Avoid disadvantageous playing conditions

If you want the best possible result based on your capacities when playing poker, avoid all unnecessary distraction. The supermarket queue is not the funniest place, but neither is it the optimal environment for gambling about money looking at a cell phone.

There are many possible distractions. Listen to music can be positive for some, but to share your attention between the TV and the poker tables aren’t.

12. Site selection

The poker sites around the web have some different features and different player bases. You may find features on one site that you like and it can also be that you find the competition softer on one site. Thus, it can be a good idea to try different site, see listed poker rooms on this site.

13. Learn the lessons for free

As a beginner, you will often lose more than you win. The good news are that you can participate in freerolls and get the needed lessons for free. If you lose, you don't lose any of your money and you can sometimes win some money, which will step up your motivation.

14. Pay the minimum rake and fees

You won’t find a poker room without rake and fees (you pay rake in cash game and fees when buy in to a tournament). However, you can perhaps find a poker room with lower rake and fees than that you play on.

Thus, it can be a good idea to compare rake. To know if your site doesn’t give you overprices you should be able to buy-in to a tournament and pay maximum 10% fees of the amount.

15. Customize the playing conditions

There are many things you can modify from the default when playing online. Some of these things are avatars, color on the cloth, background in the game window and appearances of cards.

When it comes to the cards, you can in many cases choose everything from animations to the looks on the back and front. This is minor things – and for many just curiosities – but something that actually can affect your performance is to choose a 4-color deck. Playing with four color may seem unnecessary – after all you are probably not color blind, but it may have some benefits than you think about it. When playing online, the tempo is much higher and you will often end up taking faster and faster decisions. The chance that you will mistake a diamond for a heart can happen.

16. Don’t play when you are tired or in a bad temper

You will not perform as well when you’re tired or in a bad temper. In addition, there is a greater risk that you will be on tilt.

17. Keep studying the game

After you have learned the fundamentals, keep studying to get insights about the subtler finesses in the game. The sum of the details you understand in the game, can be what separates you from winning.

Written by Oscar Sand

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