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Top 10 Tips for Beginner Poker Players

The world of online poker can seem strange and bizarre for new players.  Free Online Poker promotions here, poker forum thread advice there, aggressive players hitting back and raising you all of the time.  So to make things a little easier, I’ve we’ve put together an article for the top 10 tips for new players.

  1. Get Rid of Your Junkie Hands
    One of the biggest mistakes new players make is playing far too many hands out of position.  This can be very unprofitable, especially from the blinds and end up losing them a lot of chips and money.  In reality, new players should stick to playing only their top 10% of hands (i.e. 1010+, pocket pairs and high suited connectors) and seeing the flop only 30% or less to avoid getting caught in tough situations in later streets.
  2. Be More Willing to Release Hands
    Poker doesn’t reward stubbornness: it punishes it.  Just because you raised with A-K pre-flop and missed the flop doesn’t mean that you still hold the best hand (in reality, AK on a missed board is almost worthless).  Be prepared to let these hands go if you’ve missed completely and are facing half-pot raises from tight or honest players.
  3. Lead Out with Strong Hands
    Poker rewards players who can maximise value from their premium hands.  You should always look to extract the most value from passive players when you hit a strong hand like two-pair or full house on the flop, turn or river.  Be prepared to re-raise players pre-flop and punish players who continuation bet the flop with nothing.
  4. Take Command of Tables
    A common characteristic of micro-stakes tables and new players in general is that they are extremely passive and will fold off pots too easily.  Take advantage of these sorts of opponents by blind-stealing, raising and bluffing more with marginal hands like 67 suited or JQo.
  5. Don’t Call Draws with Negative Pot Odds
    Fold drawing hands like 4 cards to the flush and gut shot straight draws if you don’t get the right odds to call.
  6. Play Tight on Loose Tables and Loose on Tight Tables
    This is a really common principle that I abide by.  It’s more profitable to play tight on loose tables (limiting yourself to 15% of pre-flop hands) and loose on tight tables (play anything from 25% or more of hands dealt).
  7. Table Selection. Most people believe that all of your winnings come from how you play at the table.  However, good table selection is also extremely important.  Choose tables in the lobby with a high average flop percentage (e.g. 35%+), big average pots and average stack sizes below 70xBBs because these are all good indicators of bad players.
  8. Don’t Bluff for the Hell of It. There are a number of bluffs that can be employed in NL poker including the pure bluff, semi-bluff, post-oak bluff and continuation bet.  To pay off properly, players need to make sure that their opponents are capable of folding and the flop texture is right before bluffing (i.e. flops that are hard for opponents to hit).
  9. Pick the Right Games and Table Stakes
    Good bankroll management means you should only play games that you can afford.  However, just because you win 20 buy-ins at $1/$2 doesn’t mean you’re ready to jump into the $2/$4 waters.  From my experience there’s a massive gap in difficulty between each “level” and you should only move up the stakes when you’re ready.
  10. Don’t Play Tilted
    This has many bad consequences (including a broken computer monitor in the case of my friend) however the most critical is that it can negatively affect your game and make you do things you wouldn’t normally do (e.g. calling a pot-sized raise on the river with a weak flush draw).  Avoid playing at tilt at all costs and take full advantage of anyone who is!