Defending the Blinds in Texas Hold’em

By fine-tuning these tactics you’ll have more tools to put to work at the poker table. You’ll be able to better understand your opponents and how to manipulate them, and that will translate directly to money in your pocket.

We already wrote the book on the 10 Essential Texas Hold’em Moves and now we’re back to bring you 10 more.

Today we’re going to teach you how to defend your blinds. You’re forced to put money into the pot twice per orbit and we’re going to show you how to minimize your losses and win more pots when you’re playing from the small and big blind.

The What: Defending your blinds refers to calling a preflop raise from either the small or big blind.

The Why: Because you’re forced to put money into the pot when you’re in the small and big blind it’s important to play optimally and recoup your share. Above all else you should not lose more than you would by simply folding.

The When: Understanding key concepts like pot-odds, and factors like your opponent’s raising frequency and post-flop aggression, will allow you to defend or surrender your blinds at the right times.

The Where: Defending the blinds applies to both cash games and tournaments.

Defending the Blinds the Right Way

First of all it’s important to understand that the small and big blinds are the two worst positions at the poker table.

If you’re in the small blind you’ll be forced to act first on every post-flop round of betting. If you’re in the big blind it’s not much better. In fact, even the best poker players in the world lose money from these two positions.

One of the most common beginner poker leaks is calling too much from the small and big blinds. You must divorce yourself from the idea that your blind represents an investment in the hand, automatically making you pot-committed to any raise.

While it’s true that having a blind in play will give you better pot-odds, it does not mean you can call every raise with whatever two cards you happen to pick up.

In order to defend your blinds effectively you must understand the situation and the opponent(s) you’re up against.
Players, Position and Defending the Blinds

Position is the most important concept in understanding when it’s appropriate to defend your blinds.

Players’ pre-flop raising ranges get wider the closer they are to the button, which means you have to know where that raise came from before deciding whether to call, raise or fold.

The earlier the position your opponent is raising from, the tighter your defending range has to be.

Conversely, if action folds all the way around to the button and he puts in a raise, it’s safe to put him on a wide range of hands and defend with weaker cards.

The type of player making the raise is also very important when deciding if you should defend.

A very tight player won’t be raising trash, even from the button, while a maniac will be opening weak hands even in early position.

Observe your opponents to understand what kinds of hands they’re raising from what positions and adjust your defending range accordingly.
How to Defend the Blinds for Beginners

One of the biggest problems with beginners who defend the blinds too much is that they’re put in tough spots later in the hand, causing them to lose more than just the preflop call.

For this reason we suggest a very tight range for playing out of the blinds, and a “fit or fold” approach to post-flop play, especially with your weaker hands.

As a general guideline we suggest defending your small blind with 77+, TJs+, AK, AQ and raising with QQ+.

If you’re in the big blind you can expand your calling range to include smaller pocket pairs and lower suited connectors.

The important thing for beginners to remember when calling with the weaker hands in that range is that you will need to flop more than one pair to play a big pot.

By using a “fit or fold” approach to post-flop play with marginal hands you’ll avoid putting more money into the pot with a losing hand.

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10 Tips for Winning Online Poker

Making the transition to playing online poker can be difficult, even for those who are winners in their local card game. However, there are many different tools and techniques that will help ease the transition for live players that are new to playing online. With that in mind, here are the top ten online poker tips to assist beginners that are new to online poker or want to improve their game to consistently win at poker.

1. Begin by playing at the low-stakes poker.

Even for a person used to playing high-stakes cash games, starting with lower-stakes online is advisable. The goal of these first sessions, other than playing solid poker, should be to familiarize one’s self with the nuances of playing online.

Starting out at lower stakes also enables the novice to begin playing online with a smaller smaller bankroll. This can alleviate undue stress about losing sessions, and allow the player to focus on the long-term goal of becoming a successful online player.

Generally speaking, when comparing the fields of the same stakes online and live, the online game will tend to contain more difficult opposition. A player that jumped into the same stakes online as he was playing live might start his foray into online poker feeling overwhelmed by the competition. Therefore, gradually progressing through the stakes should assist a novice in becoming acquainted with, and eventually fully understanding, these differences and thus learning how to win at online poker.

2. Become familiar with the new aspects of playing online.

Hurdles to overcome on the first few sessions include aspects unique to online poker, such as using the time-bank feature. For some online novices, having a set amount of time to act can be a significant adjustment from the live cash world where a player generally has a least a few minutes to act before being in danger of having the clock called. Additional aspects that the novice should take time familiarizing himself with include: the layout and lobby of the site, betting features, the cashier page, rake-back offers, and other bonuses.

Easing into online poker instead of diving in head-first will help acquaint the novice with many of the unique aspects of online poker. One such aspect that differs from live poker is the large number of hands one sees per hour. In general, this number will be over double the amount of hands that would be played in an hour at a brick-and-mortar casino, even if playing only at a single table. The speed can be overwhelming to novices, and may take a bit of getting used to.

3. Start out by playing a single table.

It can be tempting to jump right into multi-tabling, as one of the many benefits of playing online is the ability to play more than one table at a time (though recently, some players have been spotted multi-tabling in live tournaments too). However, a great understanding of the technical aspects of online poker will assist the player in the weeks to come. Learn to win online poker consistently on one table. Then, once the player feels confident maneuvering a single table, he can begin adding one table at a time as dictated by his comfort level.

4. Create a distraction-free zone for playing.

Without the constraints of sitting at a physical table in a casino, many online players fall into the trap of finding ways to fill the time in between hands. Typically, this involves diversions such as watching television, talking on the phone, or surfing the web. These distractions will often cause a player to make a mistake, either by playing a hand poorly or missing out on information that could assist them in future situations.

Developing an unprofessional attitude towards playing could translate into the person not taking poker seriously enough and thereby could keep him from becoming a great online player. Constructing and environment that is free from distractions is a crucial part of becoming a successful online poker player. If a player has reached the point that they can comfortably handle one table with time to spare, it is often a good time to consider adding another table to their normal routine.

5. Consider making key hardware updates.

Creating an ideal environment for playing online poker is also an issue of hardware. Playing on a laptop while sitting on the couch in the family room is a situation bound to create distractions. Playing at a desk , ideally in an office that can be closed off from the rest of the living space, sets one up to maintain a professional attitude while playing online poker. For those looking to play a lot online, investing in an ergonomic chair can reduce issues with back pain.

As the beginner further transitions to playing online poker, other upgrades can be of assistance towards to goal of maximizing one’s profits online. A large, high resolution monitor can reduce eye-strain and make multi-tabling a less arduous process. A high quality mouse can reduce wrist strain, as well as the time it takes to complete action. For tournament players that will likely have a short break every hour, having a bathroom close by can be very convenient.

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10 Tips for Winning Online Poker – Part Two

6. Make your work area a positive environment.

Small measures that help create an ideal playing environment also include: a small refrigerator for cold drinks and healthy snacks, a playlist of the player’s favorite songs, and personal mementos that will lend an uplifting vibe to the work station. Painting the room in a cheery color, and including flowers or plants can help achieve the goal of maintaining a positive environment.

Creating an ideal environment for playing online poker will have many positive effects, such as: the player maintaining a professional attitude that can translate to better in-game decisions, helping the player avoid tilt by being in a room full of positive energy, and better physical comfort for the player that results in the ability to play longer sessions.

7. Use software functionality to the utmost advantage.

While some players are against utilizing software while playing online poker, the author takes the stance that as long as it is allowed by the site’s terms of service then it is a tool available to all, and therefore is fair game. There are different types of software available to assist a player in becoming a better online player, and to neglect all types of poker software is to miss out on finding ways for the player to significantly improve his game.

The best place for a beginner to start with using software is through a feature already present on most poker sites: the note-taking function. Oftentimes, an opponent will do something at the tables that the live player would have taken a mental note of had it occurred at his local casino, such as, “That player tends to over-value the strength of holding top-pair.” One of the great things about playing online is that this mental note can often be directly recorded to stay with the player whenever you encounter him again, such as by adding the simple note, “Over-values top pair hands.”

Also available on many poker sites is the ability to color-code players. Developing a color coded system for identifying the relative strength of players can make table selection a nearly instantaneous process. For example, let’s say that a player decides to give every shark he plays with a red note. If the player is thinking about playing a sit ‘n go, but notices in the lobby that eight of the registered players have red tags, he would quickly see that table as not a profitable one.

8. Consider purchasing software.

Programs like Hold Em Manager and Poker Tracker have many benefits. First and foremost, they contain a customizable head’s up display feature (HUD) that gives information about one’s opponents by tracking all of the hands they have played together. There are numerous options for which data to display, which is an important feature, as a player specializing in head’s up cash games will want to have different stats displayed than a hyper-turbo sit’n go player.

Another great aspect for beginning online players in programs like Hold’em Manager is their hand history replayer. While a lot of poker sites have a hand history tool, they lack much of the functionality available in other programs. The ability to replay a cash session or entire tournament away from the tables is an invaluable study tool for any poker player.

Sit ‘n Go Wizard is an important learning tool for tournament players. It allows one to analyze hands both from the perspective of Chip EV and ICM (independent chip model). It’s a great tool for improving one’s calling and shoving ranges. This tool is a must for those learning how to win online poker tournaments.

9. Explore free software.

Some of the best internet poker software (for use while studying) is actually free. PokerStove, and other such programs, allow a user to calculate their equity versus a range. Universal Replayer is a great tool for replaying a tournament hand history, especially for those not yet willing to pay for a program that includes a HUD. HoldemResources.net has many features useful for tournament players, including a Nash Equilibrium calculator, and head’s up Nash Equilibrium push/fold charts.

10. Explore efficiency software.

While software that enables an online novice to improve their poker playing abilities is very important, other poker software aims to assist the grinder with multi-tabling. As the novice makes the gradual transition to intermediate player and beyond, this type of software can be very useful.

Programs such as Table Ninja, Auto Hot Keys, and Place Mint help a player act in ways to maximize efficiency. Down the road, the player can also look into table mods, which modify the appearance of the online poker tables and cards to the user’s preference.

For a live player, transitioning to playing online poker can pose many challenges, but remembering to begin gradually, create an ideal environment, and utilize software are all keys that will aid in the player having a successful journey towards becoming a winning online poker player. The above tips will help you to win at online poker games easier.

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How to Beat Beginners at Poker Hand Example

  • No Limit Hold’em Tournament Play
  • Blinds: 25/50
  • You and your opponent both have 3,000 in chips.

Reads

Your opponent has been involved in a lot of pots, limping into most and raising with his big hands. He’s already been going up and down in chips in the early stages of the tournament. Based on how many pots he’s limped into and the types of hands he’s shown down on the river after calling every street (i.e. top pair/low kicker, bottom pair, missed draws) you can tell he’s a beginner. The pots he has won were because his opponents were misplaying their hands by trying to bluff him or because he’s hit a draw to a flush or straight. When he did catch a card to make a draw, he immediately pushed all-in.

Pre-Flop

Your opponent is under the gun and, as usual, limps into the pot. Based on how many hands he’s played, this could be a wide range. One other player with 1,500 chips limps in middle position, and in the cut-off you look down to see ad ks:

How should you play this hand?

Well, based on past behaviours you know the UTG opponent wants to see the flop and will call most raises. At the same time, while AK is strong it will often times miss the flop and you will have a hard time pushing your opponent off if he catches any piece. Because of that, limping is an option as it will disguise the strength of your hand and control the pot size. So should you limp? In some cases, this might be an okay way to mix up your play, but “disguising” and “mixing things up” only have value against someone who is paying attention to how you are playing. In this case, the UTG player is a beginner and is only playing his cards. Another reason not to limp is the presence of other people in the pot. Your limp will encourage others behind you to limp and they can easily catch a hand. Ace-King is also too good of a hand to not raise for value.

So the decision is to raise, but how much? In this case, we know the beginner will likely come along for the ride but we also want the other players to fold. We would much rather play this hand against one person if we can. We also want to exercise some element of pot control because AK could easily miss and a continuation bet on the flop may not be as effective against the beginner. With the blinds at 25/50 and with another limper already in, I would raise to around 250. The button and blinds fold, the UTG beginner player calls and the middle position player folds. Perfect.

The Flop

The pot now has 625 and the flop comes ah jc 4h. Then our opponent bets out 200:

This should be a good flop for us. He’d probably have raised pre-flop with AA or JJ and may have raised with AJ, so if he has us beat now it’s only with 44 or AJ. Based on the size of the bet, it’s most likely that he has a small piece of it. It’s enough to confidently proceed as if we have the best hand. Because of the flush draw, he would more likely have bet around the size of the pot with a set of 4’s or AJ. He could be betting on a flush draw, but most beginners with his tendencies would more likely check/call with a draw after facing a raise pre-flop. We can safely narrow his range to any Ace or a pair of Jacks (J8-KJ is most likely unless it’s suited).

Now, how do we extract the most from this situation? Pushing all-in at this point might scare him off so let’s eliminate that. Slow playing might be best against some players, but not against a beginner. Again, he’s not thinking about what we have. If he’s only thinking about the fact that he has a pair, he will likely call a raise. He’ll call thinking two things: 1. this guy is trying to push me around, 2. even if I’m beat now, I could catch another card to win.

So let’s raise. Based on the range we are putting him on, we know he’s likely drawing to anywhere between 3 and 5 outs (3 outs if he has an Ace with a smaller kicker and 5 outs if he has a pair of Jacks). In poker, we win if we can cause our opponents to make an incorrect decision. In this case, if he calls any raise it would be incorrect because he needs at least 8.17 – 1 odds. In this situation, I would raise to around 800. After his 200 bet and our raise, there will be 1,625 in the pot and it will cost him 600 to call giving him about 2.7-1 odds. Remember though, he is not thinking about odds; he’s thinking about how reasonable the bet size is to call and we want him to call the maximum.

The Turn

The turn is a 9c and the pot has 2,225. Our opponent immediately pushes all-in for his remaining 1,950:
Wow! How can we get away from this hand? Well, it’s not as hard as it seems. First, we are experienced enough that we aren’t getting attached to our hand, right? Okay, so forget the fact that we have top pair, top kicker. Let’s keep narrowing down our opponent’s range of hands. We know he most likely has A-rag or a pair of Jacks. In previous hands, our opponent has not shown aggression unless he has a big hand or hit a draw and he has just called with his marginal hands. Also, because he’s a beginner there is no reason that we should think he is running some sort of advanced bluff.

Taking that all into consideration, there is a high likelihood that he has sucked out and we are now beaten. His most likely holdings are A9, J9 and 99. We still have outs vs. A9 and J9 and we are drawing dead to 99. There is now 4,175 in the pot and it costs us 1,950 to call, giving us 2.15-1 odds. Clearly, we aren’t getting the right price to re-suck and we should fold. We fold, confident in our read and our opponent shows us js9h for two-pair.

Conclusion

Next time you’re playing against a beginner; make the effort to observe their actions. It shouldn’t be difficult to get a read on them, because as we’ve shown in this lesson beginners have easy to recognize tendencies in their play. They won’t be making advanced plays on you, and what you see is what you get.

It’s very important to realize that they are not playing you; they are only playing their cards. Therefore you should play “ABC” poker against these players because they in turn won’t realize that you are running some advanced play on them. Be careful not to get caught up in fancy play syndrome. Beginners don’t think about what you are thinking or what hand you are representing – they just know that they have a pair and that could be good, so they will call any bet.

If you remember this then you will make money against beginners in the long run.

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How to Beat Beginners at Poker

“I don’t need a lesson on how to beat beginners at poker. They don’t know what they are doing!” Unfortunately, in poker that same inexperience can be to the new players’ advantage because in a single session of poker, luck can work against you.

It’s important to remember that just like in any session of poker, you should be making decisions based on expected value. You can sometimes get unlucky against a beginner because they are not playing poker “correctly”, and this can be frustrating at times. However, when you’re playing against inexperienced players, who make many mistakes, in the long run you will make major profits.

Typical Beginners Tendencies

New poker players have easy to recognize tendencies in their play that you can captialize on. For this lesson, we will identify those tendencies using information from other lessons on Pokerology, such as our list of typical beginner mistakes. Then we’ll provide some effective poker strategies that you can use against these players, which should yield major profits.
The beginner who plays too many hands

This type of beginner is very easy to spot. They will often show down easily dominated hands like Ace-rag, K-8, Q-5, or any suited cards. They will limp into lots of pots and call a raise “just to see the flop”. Calling a re-raise out of position with a hand like K-J or A-rag is commonplace. Depending on if they are capable of folding or are a calling station, there are different ways to play them pre-flop:

  • Capable of folding – if you have position, raise with a wide range of hands and bet the flop if they call pre-flop and check to you. If they call, they usually have a piece or a draw and you can slow down depending on your hand
  • Calling station – consider limping behind pre-flop with hands you might raise other people in order to keep the pot small since you shouldn’t be bluffing them much pre-flop.
  • Open up the range of hands that you would normally put someone on. Because they are new, you can’t assume they are always playing a standard hand for the situation.

The beginner who gets committed to a hand

Beginners tend to be calling stations and table sheriffs so look for them to call bets on all streets with easily beaten hands. For example, calling all the way with a hand like 7-7 on an A-K-T flop or calling large bets with middle pair.

  • NEVER bluff a calling station – they will pay you off enough when you have a hand.
  • If you have a strong hand, don’t slow play. Bet as much as you think they will call.
  • If they ever do raise, beware, they usually have a strong hand so play cautiously. Often times, this occurs when they have sucked out to hit two pair.

The beginner who chases

The beginner who likes to chase can be easily identified. They will consistently call bets on draws without getting the proper odds (even gut-shot draws). They will chase over-cards and Ace high and will call quickly on a draw.

  • Charge them to draw – as much as you think they will call. Don’t bet just to “protect your hand”. They will miss their draw more than they will make it, so make them pay for it.
  • Tread cautiously if a flush or straight draw hits.
  • If they seem to be chasing and make a big river bet when a draw misses, consider making the call if you have a decent hand.

The beginner who bluffs too much

Keep an eye out for the beginner who makes large bets or raises that don’t make sense. This type of beginner will continuously make plays at pots without regard to his table image. This player will typically try to appear aggressive and show strength with physical poker tells (if playing live).

  • If you see a pattern, be prepared to go with your instinct and make calls of oversized bets that don’t make sense. While advanced players can often make a large bet representing a bluff, but this is not typical with beginners.
  • Also note that beginners will often make large bets when they have a big hand as well, but the important thing here is observing a pattern of bluffing.

The beginner who plays passively

Be aware of the passive beginner who doesn’t play many pots and will often just call pre-flop. If they do raise pre-flop, they often check it down if they missed with over cards (i.e. Ace-King). They will often raise the minimum with marginal hands for fear of losing chips if they get beat – and will often fold to scare cards. Due to a lack of experience they play with a fear of losing and will only stay in a pot if they have a strong hand.

  • If they have not shown aggression, bluff them at will.
  • If they limp pre-flop or bet small, raise with a wide variety of hands.
  • Stay out of the pot if they are betting strong or raising unless you have a very strong hand yourself.
  • Bet scare cards (i.e. Ace on board or made flush).
  • Use scary bet sizes that represent monsters (this could be overly small or big bets).
  • If you are in the blinds, you can call a raise if they are in late position and bet any flop. You will know immediately where you stand and can often bluff them out of the pot.

The beginner who bets based on hand strength

Beginners often bet larger with stronger hands and smaller with their weaker hands, especially on the flop. They will often limp or raise small with Aces, Kings and Queens because they think it’s smart to build the pot with a lot of people.

  • Watch for predictable patterns and simply play poker based on the value of your hand vs. the hand you put them on.
  • If they are betting weakly, they are likely weak and you can decide if you want to bluff or bet for value based on their psychological tendencies.
  • Watch for a small raise pre-flop followed by very large bets on the flop. This is often a sign of a big pocket pair.
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Playing Tight

One of the benefits of playing Texas Hold’Em, or any style of poker for that matter, is that when betting at a Casino, you have the advantage of playing against other players instead of the house, which means that if you have a decent strategy, your odds of winning are much higher than they are in any other game of chance.

Of course the challenging part of this is the “decent strategy” bit, but hopefully we’ll take care of that today and start you off on your road to Texas Hold’Em riches with what is known as the “playing tight” strategy.

The Ups and Downs of Playing Tight

The benefit of playing tight is that you can hold on to your money for much longer, which gives you a chance to play more hands. The downside is that this strategy is difficult to stick with, because a single instance of going on tilt or getting antsy can cost you the entire stack of chips at your side, and since playing tight requires you to play a long game, it’s very difficult to catch up. It’s also easy to know when another player is using a tight strategy, because they only bet when they have a decent hand. This is why you’ll need to work on bluffing and keeping your composure.

That said, this is a great beginner’s strategy because it’s simple, and gives you a chance to watch and learn while you wait for your chance to win. Here’s how it works:

Top 10 Hands

The foundation of a tight strategy is to only join the hand when you have pairs of 7’s or higher, and/or AQ/AK. These are the best starting hands you can have in Texas Hold’Em, and when playing them, give you a great chance of making a score or two.

Play the Flop Smart

If you have a pair of 7’s and the flop gives you anything but a 7, then you should fold or check, but never bet. Your best chance of winning is when the flop deals you a card you can play with, so don’t get tricked into thinking you’re just a card away from making magic happen. This is how bad players go broke.

Play the Pot

If you think you’re a card away from a big hand, such as a flush or straight, then you should evaluate the pot before deciding to bet or call a bet. For example, if you can bet ten bucks to get a chance at a $100 pot, then the odds match up. However, if you have to bet $10 to win $10, then that’s a raw deal, and you should avoid the bet. Go with high odds, and choose your battles.

Play and Learn

Once you get the hand of playing tight, you’ll learn how to keep your opponents guessing by using a few misdirection plays and/or mixing your strategy. In the meantime, work on avoiding tilt, and keeping your composure. This will go a long way towards keeping that bankroll growing.

Strategy by Aubrey Maturin – visit blog.

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Rules of Texas Hold Em

If you’ve ever played poker, whether stud, draw, or Omaha, then you probably know most of the rules of Texas Hold Em. Like most games, it scores hands based on several factors:

  • Number/Royalty
  • Suit
  • Any combination of the above

So for example, a pair of 2’s is better than any single card, but a pair of A’s is better than that. Furthermore, three of any card is better than any two, as is with four and three.

For example, even though three A’s is a great hand, four 2’s will beat it. Beyond that though, Texas Hold Em rules get a bit more complex.

Two pair beats a single pair, but is defeated by three of a kind. A straight, which is five cards in a row, beats three of a kind and below, but is beaten by a flush, which is five cards of the same suit. The next highest in the order is full house (three of a kind and two of a kind), four of a kind, straight flush (a straight with same suit), and a royal flush (A, K, Q, J, 10 of the same suit).

As for the playing rules of Texas Hold Em, the round works like this:

  1. Pre-Flop: players bet after being dealt two cards, face down
  2. Post-Flop: players bet after dealer receives three cards, face up
  3. Turn: players bet after dealer deals fourth card, face up
  4. River: players bet after dealer’s fifth card
  5. Showdown: players remaining show cards and winner takes the pot.

There are also different stakes in playing Texas Hold Em, such as limit and no limit, as well as big blind and small blind, which are paid on a rotation basis. For example, player A pays big blind, and player B pays small blind. Next hand, player B pays the big blind, and player C pays the small blind, etc.

In some tournaments, the blinds increase on a timer until the game or tournament is over.

The rules of Texas Hold Em are mostly similar to other forms of poker, save the way the cards are dealt, and the way the blinds are rotated through the table. Other than that, it’s fairly straight forward. The best way to learn though is by playing a few hands with someone that can show you the ropes, or by playing for free online.

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Poker Cards

The game of poker has evolved to the point where there’s actually no such thing as a standard game, or standard set of poker cards. When playing with your friends, you might use poker cards to play something like Texas Hold Em or Stud Poker, while at a casino you’ll have the option to play everything from Omaha to Razz. Go online and you’ll find even more games, with different types of stakes and different types of limits.

One thing that doesn’t really change among poker games and poker cards is the that in order to play, you need two things – a standard deck of cards and a stack of chips, the rest is arbitrary.

In casino games you’ll see dealers use several decks, but they do this in order to alter the stakes and make it easy to keep the games going without interruption. In online poker games, you never really get to see the deck, as it’s computer generated, but it exists all the same.

The great thing about playing poker is that buying poker cards and chips is inexpensive and you can find them at almost any retailer that sells games of any type. To make the game more authentic, you can buy some green felt to place on your table, or buy a poker table from a local supplier. You can usually find them in the same places that you buy pool tables.

When buying poker cards, it’s a good idea to have several denominations or colors of chips, so that you can play more realistic games, and have a better working bank. For example, a great start would be $1, $5, $10, $20, $25, $50, and $100 chips. If you want to break the $1 chips into $.50 and $.25 denominations, that would work too, but it could get aggravating trying to calculate payouts.

Nonetheless, poker is a great game to play with friends (as long as you’re the one winning) over a few beers, or with the family on game night, and because it’s so easy and cheap to get started. Since you can get by with any type of poker cards, it’s quickly becoming an American staple. Also, as poker continues to gain legitimacy on TV outlets, like ESPN, one can only expect the game of poker to keep growing in popularity.

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Poker Tips

Playing poker can be fun, when you’re winning, but if you aren’t winning, then it becomes a game that can suck the life out of you if you aren’t careful. To help you avoid this drama, I’ve assembled a list of my top 10 poker tips to help you avoid the headache of losing your money day in and day out. These work whether with friends, or at the casino. Good Luck!

  1. Don’t let others dictate your strategy

    Your strategy is your strategy, and you can’t let a few bad hands change the way you play. If you are losing, keep playing the way you’ve been taught, and the cards will eventually even out.

  2. Avoid tilt

    Going on tilt is a surefire way to lose your cool and your bankroll. Try to avoid the players that get under your skin, and remember that with proper bankroll management, a few bad hands shouldn’t be the end of the world.

  3. Never put more than 5% of your bankroll on the table

    This is bankroll management 101. Don’t blow your entire load on a single game. You must live to play on.

  4. Don’t quit until you’ve won

    If you’re winning, why leave the table early? Play until there are no players left or until your judgment becomes impaired.

  5. Quit when you’ve lost

    When the money runs out, don’t go back to the ATM. Calm down, cool off, and come back tomorrow.

  6. Don’t drink alcohol

    This should be obvious, but drinking alcohol impairs decision making, and it’s a great way to lose a lot of money.

  7. Learn to recognize good bait

    Keep an eye out for people that think they know what they are doing, but really don’t. These people are easy to win against, and can become a staple in your bankroll building process.

  8. Play your strong cards

    Don’t let a big bet force you to back down if you have something worthy of playing. Learn to have “the nuts.”

  9. Fold often

    You have to play to win, but that doesn’t mean you need to play every bad hand you have. Playing aggressively is for the pro’s, and until you get there, don’t be afraid to play tight from time to time.

  10. Know the rules!

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to argue hands over people that played the game with an improper assumption of the rules. Always, always, always know the rules for the game you are playing.

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Poker Strategies

Playing poker, both for fun and professionally, requires certain poker strategies in order to be successful. Though playing for free can be fun, today we’ll mostly discuss poker strategies for those of you that want to make real money playing poker.

Strategy 1 – Build a Bankroll

Any pro will tell you – you’re nothing without a bankroll. Building a bankroll is the most important part of the poker strategy, because without money, you can’t risk any, and without a lot of money, you can’t win a lot.

Typically, most experts recommend that you never put more than 5% of your bankroll on a table, and that you have enough money to play 300 big bets (BB) at each table. This means if you’re playing $10 big blind games, you need $3,000 on the table, which means you need a $60,000 bankroll.

If you only have $1,000 in the bank, then you take 5% of that, which is $50, to the table. Divide this by 300 and you need to play games at no more than 10cent big blinds. Obviously, as your bankroll increases, so should the stakes.

Strategy 2 – Avoiding Tilt

Tilt is the phrase used when people start playing out of their normal strategy, either do to frustration, or another player getting under their skin. The key to winning poker strategies is to play the same, each and every time you go out. Going on tilt strongly reduces your ability to do that.

Strategy 3 – Know when to Fold

The best players know when to hold, and when to fold, as the song goes. Don’t try to bluff your way into millions until you’ve been playing long enough to know how to recognize player patterns. When you’re new, you need to focus on only playing those hands that have a likelihood of winning, such as an Ace Ace or Ace King.

Strategy 4 – Study other Players

Don’t just watch your own cards, but try to see what other players are doing. When do they fold? When do they bet? Try to monitor all other players the best you can so that you can learn when to bluff, when to bet, and when to call.

These are just a few of the basic poker strategies you’ll need to understand before you start making money, but they are the foundation of any solid poker training. Learn to master these basic, and the rest is gravy.

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