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5 Tips to Take Your Poker Skills to the Next Level

Looking to up your poker game? You’ve come to the right place!

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Sure, there are hundreds of pages online that claim to have the best tips to help you win a game of poker, but usually they come at a cost. To make poker profitable, you need to understand how the game works and better still – how to win and you’ll find all the info you need to take your poker skills to the next level here, especially if you’re a poker newbie. If you’re an experienced poker player, you’ll already know the system inside out, so this guide won’t necessarily benefit you, but it will help those who are looking to boost their knowledge on the game.

#1 Understanding the Rules

Believe it or not, poker is an easy game to learn but extremely difficult to master. Despite being labelled a ‘card’ game, poker is also a game of strategy and knowing how to read your opponents is key. The first card on the deck will always be placed out of play (burned) by the dealer and then two cards will be handed to each player in a clockwise position at the table (face down). Check your cards to see which you are holding. Each time the dealer hands out new cards, everyone will need to make a bet (in a clockwise position) based on the two cards in your hand. Your options are:

  • “Check”: This is in place of you betting
  • “Call”: Say this to match the bet someone else has made
  • “Raise”: Add more money to the prize pool. If this option is called, the other players will debate whether to “call” your new bet or fold
  • “Fold”: Don’t want to match someone else’s bet? You can fold and this eliminates you from the game. Always place your cards face down when folding so as not to give the other players any advantage.

#2 Basic Card Hands and Rankings

Whether you’re playing Texas Hold’em Poker or Seven Card Stud, the hands will always be the same. It’s recommended you familiarise yourself with the hands before playing, or you’ll be playing blind. Why not print out a hand guide to study? This will go a long way to helping you nail that win. The winning poker hands in order are:

  • Royal Flush: A hand of 10, J, Q, K and A of the same suit. A royal flush can never be beaten, only tied.
  • Straight Flush: Five consecutive cards of the same suit, example; 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 of hearts.
  • Four-of-a-Kind: A hand consisting of four cards of the same rank (best would be four aces) with any other fifth card. Remember, if you have four aces in your hand, there is no ay a royal flush is available to the other players which puts you at an advantage.
  • Full House: This may be a term you hear with online bingo, but it’s also a term widely used in poker. A hand of 3 matching cards of 1 rank and 2 matching cards or another rank makes up a full house.
  • Flush: Five cards of the same suit.
  • Straight: five cards of consecutive rank but could be made up from more than one suit.
  • Three-of-a-Kind: A trio of cards from the same rank with two additional unmatched cards.
  • Two Pair: A pai or cards from two different ranks plus an unmatched card.
  • Pair: Two cards from the same rank with a further three unmatched cards.
  • High Card: No matching cards which is also known as “nothing”.

#3 Study the Flop

After each round, the dealer will burn the top deck and proceed to place three cards on the table face-up; this is known as the ‘flop’. Basically, these are community cards that all players at the table can use to effectively build up their hand. Judge the ‘flop’ and decide whether to bet, call a bet or fold. All in all, you will have seven cards to make your best hand of five from, so this is where that ‘cheat sheet’ of winning hands would come in handy to remind yourself of the basics. Naturally, you can’t rock up to a table with a sheet of paper, but you can study it prior to playing to give yourself the best possible chance of winning!

#4 Know When to Raise

Poker is a game of skill with an element of guess work. You should always study your hand and look for a pair, 2 consecutive numbers or have cards that are from the same suit before deciding whether to raise. A strong hand is one of a pair, face cards, aces or even an ace and a king or ace and a queen. If the dealer doesn’t pull out cards you need in the ‘flop’. You could always bluff your way into round two where you could still win. You don’t always have to have a good hand to win – bad hands with good bluffing skills often win the game.

#5 Know Your Limits

Play only with money you can afford to lose! This one is the most important rule of all. When learning how to play poker, you can either play via free poker software or you can watch free videos on how to play. The internet will even supply videos of real-life (past) tournaments with tips on how the winner’s rode to victory. You should never practice poker with real money. When you’ve the skills and confidence to take on real opponents, you should decide on an amount that you’re comfortable with playing and never go over. A general rule of thumb is unless you can easily afford to lose 200 bets at the highest limit of $5 bets ($1K bankroll), you shouldn’t be playing. Always track your wins and losses to establish if the game is profitable to you in the long run.



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