Poker is one of the most popular card games in the world, and the launch of online poker a couple of decades ago truly launched it to new heights.
Thousands of players who were introduced to the game during the days of the Poker Boom in the early 2000s have made a career out of it, and a brand new generation of players is now starting poker careers of their own.
With online poker now fully legalized in a number of US states and in Ontario Canada, there are plenty of reasons to learn the game and get good at it, and not just seek to pad your bankroll with a one-off online poker bonus.
If you are a new poker player or have some understanding of the game and are looking to take it to a new level, here are a few useful tips you can follow to hit the ground running and get an edge over most recreational players right off the bat.
#1 – Mind Your Position
The position is one of the most important concepts in poker, yet one that many players neglect in a big way, which is why they never truly become winning poker players.
When we say position, we don’t mean the seat at the table you are sitting in, but your position relative to the button and the blinds in any given hand.
Playing too many hands from early positions (the one right after the blinds) will cost you a lot of money, as it is nearly impossible to play a loose strategy from such positions profitably.
On the other hand, it is late positions, such as the dealer button and cutoff, where you will print all the money, which means there is plenty of reason to loosen up in a late position.
There is a lot you need to learn about positional play in poker, but even simply remembering that it is always preferential to play last rather than first after the flop is dealt is a great advantage.
Always approach hands with some positional awareness and try to learn at least the most basic opening ranges for every position before you jump into any serious poker game.
#2 – Bet Sizing Matters
Bet sizing is another area that many players don’t give much thought to, and that actually has a huge impact on the outcome of every given hand.
Sizing up your bets the right way will help you win the most money possible with your big hands, lose the least when you are bluffing, and keep your opponents guessing at all times.
Many novice poker players make the mistake of often betting too small or too large in various spots, which causes them to lose a lot of money over the long run.
Switching up your bet sizes could turn you from a breakeven player into a big winner in your games, so this is one area that’s definitely worth dedicating a lot of time to learning.
One basic thing to keep in mind is that you should balance out your bet sizes and not always bet big when you have it and small when you don’t, as this is something other players will easily pick up on.
Instead, make sure to include some value bets and bluffs into both your big and small betting ranges on all streets so as to make sure your opponents never know what you are doing.
#3 – Create the Image You Want
Your table image can have a great impact on how well you do when you are bluffing or value betting, and this is something you can definitely influence.
Being aware of the way other players perceive you is a skill that will do wonders for your bottom line, and doing things on purpose to impact that perception will do even more.
For example, you can approach the early stage of a cash game session playing very tight, as the pots tend to be small and the play snug for the first couple of hours.
As the game advances and the stacks get bigger, having an image of playing tight could help you get some extra bluffs through, allowing you to bluff more often when the pots are bigger and the ranges looser.
Conversely, if you throw some chips around early on, others at the table might think you are a maniac. Using this image when it matters the most can help you get paid big in the key spots of the night, leading to some huge wins.
#4 – Mind Your Opponents’ Tendencies
While many players these days will tell you that GTO (unexploitable) approach to poker is the way to go, this is definitely not always the case in low-stakes poker games.
Players in low-stakes games you will be playing as a new player will be making tons of mistakes, and noticing such mistakes can help you print huge amounts of money.
Simply being aware of which players bluff too much and which don’t bluff nearly enough can help you make the exploitative adjustments that will greatly increase your win rate.
Of course, it will take some time before you know how to profitably exploit different tendencies, but being aware of them is the first step in this process.
When you play poker, be mindful of your surroundings, keep watching your opponents and try to figure them out, and never let yourself go on autopilot and cruise through a game.
#5 – Don’t Play Too High
Perhaps the biggest mistake you can make as a new poker player is to play in games you can’t afford, leading to huge losses and a massive blow to your confidence.
Not only are the lower stakes games more appropriate for your skillset and your bankroll size, but they are also a great way for you to learn bankroll management and gradually advance through the stakes.
Start at the very bottom and only move up once you can clearly see that you are beating your current games, not every time you have a winning session.
Poker is all about the long run, and keeping a proper bankroll for the games you are in is the only way to ensure that you can keep playing despite any downswings that may come along.