When you start playing poker there seems to be thousands of things you don’t know.
The game didn’t look very hard when you watched in on television, but when you get in a hand it’s hard to know what the best thing to do is.
Don’t worry; every poker player goes through the same struggles. Some get stuck in beginner mode their entire life and others learn how to get better.
If you want to get better learn the 5 poker concepts every new player should learn immediately listed below.
1 – Position
Some hands can be played from anywhere on the table, but many depend on where you’re located in relation to the dealer button. The best position in any hand is when you’re the last to act.
Because poker is a game of limited information every little bit of information will help you make better decisions than your opponents. When you act last you already know what all of your opponents have done.
Never underestimate the power of position.
On every single hand you decide to play, think about your position before continuing.
If you have any question about if you should or shouldn’t play a hand, fold.
Until you understand the importance of position and start using it in all of your decisions at the poker table you’re going to have a tough time winning.
2 – Starting Hand Selection
Almost every beginning poker player I’ve seen plays too many hands. I played too many hands when I started and it took a long time before I started tightening up my starting hand requirements.
Do you know what happened when I started playing 10% fewer starting hands?
I started winning more often.
I’m not sure much else needs to be said besides you need to play fewer hands. Try to get to 25% or less as a first goal. Then work on getting to 20%. Once you reach 20% start experimenting to see how profitable it is to go lower or a little higher.
Your abilities and playing style will dictate where you need to be exactly, but somewhere between 15 and 25% is the best in almost all full ring games.
3 – The Semi Bluff
When you bluff you represent a stronger hand than you hold in hopes of convincing your opponent, or opponents, to fold.
A semi bluff is when you try to get your opponent’s to fold by betting when you may have the best hand but may improve to the best hand if you don’t.
Here’s an example:
You’re heads up in a pot holding the ace and jack of hearts. The flop comes up with a queen of hearts, jack of clubs, and 3 of hearts. You have a pair of jacks and four cards to the nut flush.
Your opponent bets. This is an excellent opportunity for a semi bluff. Your pair of jacks may be the best hand, but you may be trailing a pair of queens or a set.
When you raise in this situation you learn a great deal about the strength of your opponent’s hand. If she calls she’s likely to have a draw, probably a straight draw or a lesser flush draw, but she may have a queen. If she folds you’ve won the pot and don’t have to worry about what she had.
If she raises you need to consider your chances of improving versus the amount of the raise.
Only in the rarest of cases will you fold to a re-raise in this situation. You hold a flush draw, a back door straight draw, and a high pair, so the odds will almost always be good enough to call.
4 – Table Selection
It’s rare when a new poker player gives even a second thought to picking a table to start playing. Most beginners just want to get started so bad that they take the first seat available in any game close to the one they want.
Consider this situation the next time you decide to play poker. If you had the choice to sit at a table with the 8 best poker players in the world or at a table with any 8 players worse than you, which table do you think would be more profitable?
Don’t you think, even if you’re a terrible poker player, if you sit at a table with 8 players worse than you that you’ll win in the long run?
This seems to make perfect sense, so why don’t you look for opportunities to play in games filled with people who are worse players than you?
This concept alone can instantly start winning you more money.
5 – Patience
The most popular form of Texas Hold ’em is no limit. In no limit poker a single hand can be the difference between a winning and losing session.
Poker players get impatient and start playing too many hands. They haven’t seen any action for a few hands so they jump into a pot, chase bad draws, and end up losing money quickly.
What you have to remember is poker is a lifetime game. You’ll have ups and downs and winning and losing sessions, but you want to concentrate on winning the most in the long run.
When you play no limit Texas Hold ‘em or pot limit Omaha, you can win one or two big hands that make an entire session profitable. The difference is often how many hands you lose money on that should be avoided in the first place.
Stay patient and focus on playing fewer hands than your opponents. Keep looking for places where you can win a huge pot. You don’t have to win a bunch of small pots if you can win a couple big ones.
I wish I’d learned these 5 concepts before I wasted a year of poker playing and losing. It’s not that I wasn’t aware of these things. I’d read books and studied, but couldn’t seem to get it through my head that these things were so important that I couldn’t win without them.
Learn from my mistakes and shorten your path to poker profitability.