Poker can be a fun and rewarding hobby. It’s a great way to socialize with friends, meet new people and give your brain a workout. Compared to some hobbies, it’s much easier to get started too. You don’t need to buy any fancy equipment or clothing. You just need a phone, computer, or a pack of cards.
It’s easy to learn the basics of poker, but it can take a lot longer to master it. To achieve a high level of proficiency, players must spend time practicing and developing their strategy. Thankfully, it’s easier for new players to perfect their poker craft today than it was in the days of the poker boom.
There are more resources, guides and tools for beginners today as many of the professionals and tournament winners have begun sharing tips.
So, if you’re a poker novice looking to take your poker strategy to the next level, here are some great options.
Start by Learning Poker Hands
Poker hands are one of the most basic elements of the game, but newbies can still struggle to understand the hierarchy. When you’re playing with others in person, you can be left a little red-faced if you mix them up, so make sure you’re up to scratch with these before doing anything else.
There are plenty of websites and books that will give you a list of poker hands. Most online poker rooms also have handy guides that can help you. Just remember that there are variations for different games, for example, in Razz, Aces are low and flushes and straights don’t count.
Read Poker Books
Many of the most famous and successful professional poker players have shared their stories, experiences and tips in books. Some great titles include Elements of Poker by Tommy Angelo and the Little Green Book by Phil Gordon, a prominent player during the 2000s and host of the TV show, Celebrity Poker.
The Psychology of Poker and Your Worst Poker Enemy: Mastering the Mental Game are books by Dr. Alan Schoonmaker that look at the less tangible elements of poker. This is an area where some players struggle a lot, both in reading other players and stopping other players from reading them.
One of the most widely praised poker books has been David Sklansky’s The Theory of Poker. This book, which was published in 1994, contains 25 chapters covers all of the basic areas of poker strategy, each broken down in an easy-to-understand manner. It’s a bit of a dry book, but one worth reading if you’re want to seriously develop your poker-playing prowess.
Practice in Play Money Poker Games
Before you start playing cash games, it’s advisable to practice first. You can, of course, do this in-person with friends and a deck of cards. The advantage of this is is that you’ll get to practice reading physical tells, which can be advantageous if you ever play in a live tournament.
If you don’t have anyone to play with, or you want to supplement this with more practice, PokerStars has a free-to-play site where you can take part in ring games and tournaments with play money chips.
Many free-to-play poker services are available on mobile devices too, which means you have the flexibility to practice your skills wherever you are, whenever you want.
Watch Other Poker Players
It’s much easier to watch others play poker today than it was just a few years ago. Online streaming sites like YouTube and Twitch both have an almost endless amount of content that covers live poker tournaments and online games.
Many of these broadcasts include commentary in which poker experts and pundits will critique the choices made by players based on the hands that they have. This creates a great opportunity for you to get free expert advice on different poker scenarios that you can take on board and apply to your own game.
Like the free-to-play poker platforms, these streaming platforms are available for mobile devices too, so you can watch games on the go.