To beat the odds, we need a sound poker strategy. Of course there is the luck factor in poker, but with the right strategy we can diminish that luck factor. But what is the right strategy? Well, there is no “right strategy”, as many ways lead to Rome. That’s exactly why poker is such a fascinating game. It takes a minute to learn, but a lifetime to master!
There is a basic strategy though, one that beginners should definitely learn before they start playing for real money. It includes learning the odds, starting hands and when to check, bet, call or fold. On this page we use No Limit Texas Hold’em in our examples, because it is by far the most played poker game in the world. So without further ado, let’s learn some basic strategy right now..
A mistake that many beginners make, is playing way too many hands. Two face cards might look pretty, but if you get dealt a King and a Jack in early position you should just fold your hand without a second thought. We advise beginners to play a solid preflop strategy of playing only premium starting hands. We should play these premium hands pretty aggressive though. This strategy is also known as “tight-aggressive”. By only playing strong starting hands we will not get in too many difficult spots. When you decide to raise Jack-3 offsuit (=different suits), the flop gives a Jack and your bet gets raised by your opponent, you have a very hard decision because of your bad kicker (the 3 in this case).
To decide upon the right starting hands, your position at the table is key. Assuming a ring game with ten players, you should adjust the hands you raise and call with. In the first few seats next to the blinds, you should really only play the best possible hands. The reason is that there are many players acting behind you who all have position on you. This means that in the rest of the hand, they can make their decision to call, fold or raise after your decision. And that’s a great advantage, because poker is a game of information. The more information you’ve got, the better. In later positions you can play some more hands, with the best position being the button. Keep the same tight strategy when you paid one of the blinds. Like in early position, you have to play the rest of the hand out of position so you always have to decide first.
Beginning players are often having troubles with finding out what the odds are for winning a certain hand or what’s the chance of making their flush or straight. Our advise to beginners is to play around with an poker odds calculator to get a feel for what your chances are with certain hands.
For finding out your chances when you have four cards to a straight or flush, we have a mnemonic for you. Just count the number of cards (=outs) that improve your hand and multiply with four on the flop and two on the turn to compute the odds of making your hand. If you have four cards to a straight, you have eight outs to complete your straight. This means you have more or less 32% to make your straight with two cards to come and 16% with only the river card to come.
The strategy tips in this article are pretty basic and by far not enough to give you a complete beginners strategy. There is no need to worry though, as you will find enough strategy articles for beginners (and advanced players) to give you the strategy advise you will need. Browse around on the site, practice a lot and you are on your way to play some serious poker!