Poker is a thrilling game that can be both fun and rewarding. It’s also pretty complex, with many rules, strategies, and nuances to learn.
Understandably, these complexities can be pretty intimidating, especially if you’re just getting into the game. But don’t worry—we’re here to help! We’ll help you ease into the game with some practical tips you can start applying to your poker gameplay right away.
By the end of this short list, you will better understand how to play poker correctly and confidently. Let’s get started!
1) Learn the poker hand hierarchy
When playing poker, your main objective is to win the pot by having the strongest hand or set of cards in a round. This is why learning the different poker hands and their rankings is essential. You’ll be able to play more purposefully and intelligently when you know which cards you need to make a winning combination.
There is a strict hierarchy of poker hands, from the strongest (a royal flush) to the weakest (a high card). Take some time to familiarize yourself with the hand ranking chart to know what kind of hand you need to aim for when playing.
2) Learn the language
If you’ve never played poker before, all the jargon and slang can be quite confusing. Learning the basic terminology is essential so you can understand what’s going on during a game and how to make the right moves.
Poker has its language, with terms like “bluff,” “raise,” and “pot” that might not make sense if you’re new to the game. But don’t worry, it’s not as complicated as it seems. Before diving into a game, just take some time to learn the basic poker terms. Doing so will put you in the right headspace to fully immerse yourself, focus, and enjoy each poker game.
3) Play poker online
Join an online poker site so you can practice consistently and comfortably in your preferred environment. Online poker is a great way to get started because it offers a variety of poker games, stakes, and formats, so you can choose what fits your skill level and needs.
There are many online poker providers and communities out there, but we recommend you be selective of where you sign up to get the most reliable experience.
GGPoker is the world’s largest poker room and one of the best online poker sites you can join today. Apart from a wide range of poker types with different buy-in options, they also have an online Poker School that can help you develop your skills even further. Sign up for an account on their website.
4) Start slow and small
You don’t have to get into high-stakes, high-pressure games and tournaments right away. Some options allow you to play at your own pace while you learn the ropes and build your confidence (and bankroll) first.
Cash games are a great starting point for beginners. They usually don’t have fixed buy-in rates, so you can join a game at a comfortable rate. They’re also more flexible in terms of time commitment—you can join and leave a game as you please.
You can also join freerolls or online tournaments that don’t require an entrance fee. They’re perfect if you want to try your hand at competitive poker without risking your own money. GGPoker offers these regularly.
5) Stick to one type of poker first
Different types of poker have different rules and betting structures. If you’re just getting started, we recommend you focus on one type of poker first to master its intricacies before moving on to others. Focusing on multiple types at once might overwhelm and confuse you.
Texas Hold’em is one of the most popular types of poker, and it’s an excellent game for beginners. It has clear-cut rules that are easy to get the hang of, and it’s neither too complicated nor fast-paced.
Once you’re comfortable with Texas Hold’em, you can branch out and try other types of poker. GGPoker offers a wide range of poker games, from Omaha to Short Deck.
6) Know when to fold
Folding is an integral part of poker. It’s not always about winning every hand. Sometimes it’s better to cut your losses and fold early than risk losing everything by staying in the game.
Don’t be afraid to fold if you’re dealt a bad set of cards or if you don’t think you can win the pot. With more experience, you’ll develop your own tricks and strategies for turning mediocre hands into wins, along with other fancier moves. Until then, keep it simple and stick to the basics.
7) Bluff sparingly
Bluffing is when you make a bet even if you don’t have good cards in the hopes of tricking other players into folding. It’s a fundamental element of poker, but many beginners don’t realize that it should be done sparingly and strategically.
There is an art to bluffing. It must be done right to be believable. Otherwise, you risk getting caught and losing the pot. A good rule of thumb is to only bluff when you’re confident that your opponents will fold. If not, you can explore other poker techniques to achieve your goal—you’ll learn more strategic moves as you keep playing.
8) Observe the game
Experience is still the best teacher. You’ll learn a lot about poker at the table. Simply watching how other people play—how they bet, bluff, and react to different situations—can inform your playing style and develop your intuition for the game.
Of course, you can also learn from online resources like this one. But there’s nothing quite like sitting at a real table and seeing poker in action for yourself. Host regular rounds of poker with friends or find opportunities to play with experienced players—it’ll help you a lot.
There are many more tricks and strategies to learn in poker, but these eight tips are a great starting point for beginners who want to play better. Follow them, and you’ll be off to a good start! You’ll be able to refine your skills and adopt more sophisticated strategies as you keep playing, so remember to keep practicing.