How to Win at Poker: Top 10 Poker Tips

If you really wanted to, you could spend the rest of your life working on your poker game. It’s like any other sport; there’s always something new to learn, and learning takes time. That being said, it only takes a few minutes to learn our top poker tips – we have five for beginners, and five for more advanced players.


Top Five Poker Tips for Beginners

Learning the ropes is an absolute must if you want to figure out how to win online poker games on the regular. These are five of the most important things you can do right away to get the best results possible during these early stages of your online poker journey:


1. Play at the lowest stakes

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with playing at whatever stakes you can afford – unless you’re serious about learning how to play poker. This isn’t the right time to chase that rush; you need a clear head while you’re working on the fundamentals, and the best place for that is the microstakes. You won’t get nearly as tilted when there are just pennies on the line (or less, if it’s a freeroll tournament or a Play Money game) instead of hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Even if you’re somehow impervious to tilt, this is your opportunity to make all sorts of wacky plays on purpose, just to see how people at these stakes respond. You’re going to meet the same kind of players later on down the road.


2. Set a stop-loss of two buy-ins

If you’re going to ignore Tip No. 1, then you’d better follow Tip No. 2. When you’re a beginner in any field that you’re trying to master, your focus should be on avoiding, limiting and correcting mistakes, rather than trying to play like a superstar. One of the easiest ways to avoid making mistakes is to quit a cash game session anytime you happen to drop below two buy-ins, even if you think you’ve been playing well, or you think you’re up against soft competition. If you want to keep playing poker anyway because you’re having a good time, the microstakes are calling your name.


3. Play all the games

Pretty much everyone plays No-Limit Hold’em. It’s a great game, and as a beginner, you should probably invest most of your poker time in cracking Hold’em – provided you enjoy playing that particular variant. But consider dabbling in Omaha and Omaha Hi/Lo as well. The things you pick up while you’re playing those other games will help you when you’re at the Hold’em tables. You’ll also be better prepared for expanding into “mixed” games down the road, if you choose to continue your poker education. While you’re at it, play a mix of cash games and tournaments, especially 1-table Sit-and-Gos. They’ll introduce you to the different gameplay conditions you’ll run into at larger multi-table tournaments.


How to Win at Poker: Top 10 Winning Poker Tips

4. Play Limit Hold’em

As an extension of Tip No. 3, it’s a good idea to try out all three betting structures: Fixed-Limit and Pot-Limit games, as well as No-Limit. However, there’s another reason to play more Fixed-Limit Hold’em (or just Limit Hold’em for short), and it’s the reason Tip No. 4 might secretly be at the top of our Top 10 poker tips: Limit Hold’em is a much easier game. Because there are only two bet sizes (the small bet, and the big bet), you don’t have to think about how much you should bet – only whether or not to pull the trigger. By learning the simpler game first, you’ll protect yourself from getting owned at the tables while you’re just starting out. As an extra bonus reason, the pots you’ll play for in Limit Hold’em will naturally be smaller than what you’ll find in No-Limit, making rookie mistakes less costly.



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5. Fold like a boss

Actually, this might be the most important poker tip of them all. Every decision you make at the poker table should be made with confidence, even if you have to fake it at first. When you fold, don’t be disappointed – be proud that you made what you thought was the right decision at the time. If your opponent shows you a bluff, don’t let that kill your buzz. The more you can get this mindset and this emotional feeling ingrained in your system, the less likely you’ll be to call (or raise) for the wrong reasons, like being too ashamed, too greedy, or too curious.


Top Five Tips for More Advanced Poker Players

If you’ve skipped ahead to this section, here’s a special bonus tip: Go back and read the five beginner tips first. You might learn something. Everybody starts at zero on this road to poker glory; the more you work on the fundamentals, the better decisions you make at the table. With that in mind, here are five of the most important things that advanced poker players are working on as we go to press.


1. Focus more on Omaha 

In case you haven’t heard yet, Omaha is the Game of the Future. People haven’t always been playing Hold’em; it wasn’t that long ago when 5-Card Draw was the poker variant of choice, and hardly anyone plays that now. Generally speaking, the world’s favorite poker games have gotten progressively harder to crack, and Omaha is a natural step up from Hold’em, with all the extra layers of complexity that you get with four hole cards instead of two. Edges are getting smaller and smaller in Hold’em as people use better and better software to figure it out. Omaha will be in the same place at some point, but for now, this is where sharp poker players can have the kind of edge Hold’em players enjoyed maybe 10 years ago. If you're unfamiliar, read our How to Play Omaha Guide.


How to Win at Poker: Top 10 Winning Poker Tips

2. Look for cards that “unblock” as well as block

As an advanced player, you’re probably aware of the concept of blockers – if you have certain cards in your hand, that means your opponents don’t have those cards, which affects the number of combinations in their range. But it’s also important to think about what cards you don’t have. When you’re thinking about making a call, it’s better if you don’t have cards in your hand that might normally be in your opponent’s bluffing range, like a pair of Eights when the board is Ten-Seven-Six-Four-Deuce. Likewise, if you’re thinking of betting for value, it helps if you “unblock” your opponent’s calling range.


3. Embrace data visualization

There’s a new piece of poker software every minute. Some are more useful than others, but on the whole, these programs are getting better and better at presenting information in a way we can easily digest. One thing we can all agree on: Nobody wants to sit through a bad PowerPoint presentation. Be prepared to invest some time and money checking out the newest batch of “solvers” on the market. The best ones will help you learn Game-Theory Optimal poker strategies more quickly and effectively; even if you’re a poker wizard already, you might discover a few new wrinkles you can add to your game.


4. Pay attention to player pool tendencies

So you’ve got this Game-Theory Optimal thing all figured out – or at least close enough, which is really all anyone is capable of. The next thing to do, which you’re probably doing already, is adjusting to your opponents’ tendencies. A few years back, the rule of thumb was to start playing GTO, then adjust based on your reads. The new school has people starting off with exploitative play, based on combined databases containing millions of hands. This information has even more value when you’re playing at anonymous tables, where using tracking software and heads-up displays isn’t practical.


5. Don’t forget to have fun

Tip No. 10 actually applies to everyone, but it’s something expert players don’t get told often enough. If you’re not having fun with what you’re doing, that’s a good sign that you should be doing something else. It could be as simple as switching to a different poker variant. Maybe a tournament would be nice instead of the usual cash games, or vice versa. Or perhaps it’s time to take a vacation. Poker is a game, and games are designed for fun, so if you’re not having fun playing poker, you’re doing something wrong.


There you have it: our Top 10 tips for getting your poker game out of the muck. None of this stuff is rocket science – these are tips, after all, and there are a lot more where these came from. As we said, you could spend all your life trying to get better at poker. Don’t get sucked too far down the rabbit hole. Poker is a dynamic game with a lot of subtle complexities, but it’s not quite as complicated as it might seem when you’re just getting started. Learn a little more every day, and let the chips fall where they may.



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