How to Win at Poker: 7 Strategy Tips to Improve Your Game
Poker is the ultimate card game with a unique combination of strategy and chance. Enjoyed in casinos since the Wild West days, the game will surely thrill you with its mix of intense competition and exhilarating risk-taking! So whether you're looking for an exciting night out or merely testing yourself against luck with online play, poker promises intense excitement no matter where you go.
With U.S. casinos recording $60 billion in revenue in 2022, it demonstrates how popular poker and other gambling games are. But working out a poker strategy for beginners is challenging, and without it, you can lose chips faster than you can say “all in.”
So, if you’re looking to perfect your game, here’s everything you need to know about how to win at poker, with some poker tips and tricks to master your game.
Are Online Poker Tips the Same as Traditional Poker Tips?
Online poker is the leading form of poker worldwide. During the COVID-19 lockdown period, online poker players increased by 255%. This statistic shows the game’s enormous popularity, making winning even more challenging.
Most Texas Hold’em tips for beginners relating to online play are relevant to the live game, but there are differences.
The primary variance is that online players are used to playing multiple tables at once, enabling them to go through hundreds of hands per hour, whereas the live game is far slower. Moreover, you cannot take advantage of physical “tells” online because you can’t see your opponent.
While tips relating to the physical part of the game aren’t relevant to online play, advice on the fundamentals of the game will be applicable regardless of where you play.
7 Tips for How to Win at Poker
Everyone wants to know how to win at poker every time, but even the best players will not dominate every tournament. Success in poker is based on long-term consistency. Luck can only carry you so far, but consistently clever play will eventually yield a profit.
Playing free Texas Hold’em online is an excellent way to study the fundamentals and develop your unique strategy.
In the meantime, here are seven valuable tips to improve your poker-playing skills.
1. Learn Hand Rankings, Rules, and Positions
You cannot expect to play poker without understanding the rules. Spend time studying hand rankings, the basic rules, and the meaning of positions.
For example, do you know the difference between a straight and a flush? Do you know the impact of playing in the Cut-Off (CO) position vs. Under the Gun (UTG)?
Where you are at the table will influence which hands you should play with because the person acting after you is reacting and therefore has an advantage over everyone behind them.
With these basic concepts in hand, you have already developed the foundations of a successful poker strategy.
2. Use Low Stakes While You Learn
Most people lose money when playing cash poker. This is a trend that’s reflected across every country worldwide. For example, in Australia, $187.6 billion was spent on online and offline gaming. Few people walked away with more than they started.
The number one reason newer players lose money quickly is that they start at a table that is too advanced for them. Different stakes indicate more than just how much money you have in the bank. They act as a ladder showing what types of players you’re likely to find at that level.
Skilled players will not waste their time on $0.01/$0.02 or $0.02/$0.05 tables. These beginner tables are the ideal place to learn and experience the game.
3. Play Fewer Hands Aggressively
Involving yourself in more hands is the best way to learn poker, but that isn’t a green light to start trying to hit flushes and straights.
Playing tighter, watching the game, and waiting for the perfect opportunity will preserve your stack and reduce your exposure.
Beginners often go broke because what they see as a good hand is actually a terrible hand. These players are known as “maniacs” and are prime targets for more conservative players.
Play smarter, not harder.
4. Learn When to Fold
Bowing out when you know in your gut that your hand has been beaten is the hallmark of a great player in the making. Watch the World Series of Poker, and you’ll hear the commentators gush when a legend of the game lays down a three-of-a-kind or a low straight because they know they are beaten.
Making an intelligent laydown will save you countless buy-ins in the long run.
5. Attack When Opponents Show Weakness
What is a weakness in poker?
This is anything you can exploit in somebody’s game. For example, if you see a player always trying to hit a straight or flush draw, you know you have a good chance of beating them whenever a draw hits the board.
Advanced software can log stats on the players at your table, but there’s also value in watching how each hand plays out.
You’ll soon see the strongest and weakest players sitting at your table.
6. Bluff Effectively
Bluffing is when you present a strong hand when you have a weak hand. Too many players at the low-stakes tables like to bluff because they have seen the professionals do it.
Bluffing should never form a core part of any viable poker strategy. Players who regularly bluff usually get caught out more often than they succeed.
Utilizing bluffing is considered to be an advanced technique used infrequently. Ensure you work it into your strategy, but beware of who you use it against and how frequently you employ it.
7. Think of Your Opponent’s Cards
Your cards dictate whether you should get in on the action, but every aspect of poker is trying to determine what your opponent has.
In the live game, you can learn about your opponent’s cards by analyzing them for physical tells, but in the online game, you have to rely on analyzing how each player operates.
Over time, you may discover things like a player always raises the pot whenever they have a hand. Alternatively, another player may be prone to playing conservatively until the river and then going all in.
These are the little characteristics you will pick up over time.
Skills You Need to Win at Poker
Poker is not for everybody.
Some people are smart but struggle to uncover the skills needed to win the game. Poker tests you in more ways than you expect, even online. While every player is different, three core skills are necessary for anyone who wants to play poker with “how-to win” strategies. These skills include the following:
Patience is everything in poker. You will sit at a table with nothing to do for 20 minutes regularly. Players who lack patience will deviate from their strategy because they are bored, and these are the hands that later prove catastrophic.
The tightest players may play less than 10 hands all the way through during a marathon session. Although some players, known as loose cannons, are more aggressive, they are still patient enough to determine when to strike and stand aside.
So, what is the definition of patience?
Patience is having a strategy and sticking to it. It’s not being dealt pocket aces and then losing your head in the next hand because everyone folded pre-flop, and you picked up nothing but the blinds.
Ability to Read People
At its core, poker is a truth-telling game. Who is telling the truth, and who is lying?
Poker is such an enthralling game because it is a battle of wills. Even in online poker, hiding your emotions is vital. The most competent players can tell when someone is betting on emotion or hiding a poorly concealed bluff.
Learning how to read people is one of the best ways to win in poker because most people cannot hide their emotions effectively.
Some of the ways you can read people include the following:
- The strategy they employ at the table
- How they react to a bad hand
- How they react to a good hand
- What are they saying in chat?
And in the live game, physical tells can provide vital information about a person's feelings. Whether a player is sweating buckets, how often they look at the other players, and even how they push their chips into the pot can tell you a lot.
Unfortunately, reading people is a matter of experience and cannot be picked up immediately. Continue practicing the game to develop this skill.
Keep a Strategy
Strategies are numerous in poker, with countless basic and hybrid strategies to incorporate into your game. The professionals will have several strategies for different situations and facing certain players.
As a beginner, it’s best to stick to a single strategy and learn how to play it well. Most beginners will opt for a conservative strategy, only playing the strongest hands aggressively.
Once you become an experienced player, you can experiment with concepts like semi-bluffing, 4-bets, and more.
According to Dan Cates, one of the most successful professional poker players, the growth mindset is essential during your career. You must open yourself up to the possibility of doing things differently.
Poker Tips for Beginners
Other than learning the basics, where should you start?
Focus on understanding the fundamentals and building a basic strategy around them. Getting experience is vital at this stage, especially if you want to grow into a gaming career.
Here are five tips for how to win at poker for those new to the game.
Be Selective with Your Play
Beginners should play relatively tight in the beginning. Avoid playing crazy hands, even if you are on the button.
As a rule of thumb, you should only be playing the top 20% of hands in a six-player game or 15% of hands in a ten-player game.
You will find plenty of free graphs online if you don’t know the top 15 to 20% of hands.
Be Aggressive When You Play
Playing tight means you need to maximize the hands you play with. Always play aggressively, meaning you should raise the pot most of the time.
Opt for raising three times the big blind in most online games, whereas you may choose to raise even more in live games.
Remember, playing aggressively enables you to control the pot.
Play Against the Bad Players
Bad players at the beginner level play far more than the top 20% of hands. These are known as “fish,” the players you should target.
Targeting players who are worse than you is always a recipe for success. Likewise, avoiding other smart players is a good strategy. For example, if the standard buy-in is $2.00 and a player sitting at a table has $10, it’s a sign to find another table.
Make More Value Bets
Value betting means extracting the maximum value from your hand. Raise on the river when you have a made hand instead of calling or folding.
Sometimes, you can get caught out when another player hits a lucky hard on the river, but value betting is a recipe for long-term success.
Play Within Your Bankroll
Your bankroll is the total amount of money you have to play with. Generally, you should have 20 buy-ins minimum for the level you choose to play at.
For example, if you are playing a $50 buy-in game, you should have a minimum of $1,000 in your bankroll. If you go below this limit, it indicates that you need to drop down to another level.
Fail to play within your bankroll, and natural variance can mean going broke.
Become a Successful Poker Player with Arkadium
Starting your journey in the poker scene means learning all the tricks of the trade. Garnering experience and dealing with the game's intricacies will help you jump into your first games.