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Mastering the Basics: Essential Tips for Poker Newbies in 2024

The classic card game of poker has never been more popular. Thanks to smartphones, faster broadband speeds, and a cultural shift in attitudes towards gaming, this age-old casino game continues to find an ever-growing audience.

Instead of dressing up and travelling to distant casinos, players can now access their favourite poker games anywhere and anytime they choose. However, for many people, learning a new game can be a little confusing at first, which is why we’ve put together this essential guide for all you poker newbies.

Learn the Rules

Who would play a game without knowing the rues? It turns out that quite a few people would play a game even if they didn’t know the rules. Unsurprisingly, this is not a great idea when you’re playing with your own money. There are lots of tutorials and information about poker rules online, so there’s no excuse for not knowing the basics.

Learn Poker Hands

Once the rules are mastered, it’s time to learn the value of the cards in your hand and what the different poker hands mean. Having this information will allow you to make more informed decisions and better understand when to fold and when to push home your advantage.

There are various forms of poker game to choose from, including Omaha, Seven Card Stud, Texas Hold’em, and Five Card Draw. However, a poker hand will usually consist of five cards, with the best hand being five of a kind, all the way down to no pair, or more simply, the highest-ranking card in your hand.

Best Poker Hands

  1. Royal Flush: This is the best hand when there are no wild cards. It consists of the 10, Jack, Queen, King and Ace of a single suit. The odds on being dealt this hand are approximately 1 in 650,000.
  2. Straight Flush: This consists of five cards of the same suit in sequence, such as 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 of diamonds. 
  3. Four of a Kind: The higher the value of your 4 matching cards, the better the hand is. The odds of receiving this hand are 4,164 to 1.
  4. Full House: This is made up of three cards of one value, plus two cards of another, such as three 10s and two aces.
  5. Flush: Five cards of the same suit, but not all in sequence.
  6. Straight: A hand with five cards in sequence, but they are not all of the same suit.
  7. Three of a Kind: Three cards of the same rank.
  8. Two Pairs: This hand contains a pair of one rank and a pair of a different rank.
  9. One Pair: This common combination contains just one pair.

Betting Basics

For many players new to poker, betting can seem bewildering, but with a little practice it will soon become clear. Essentially, check, bet, raise, and fold are the key strategic decisions that need to be made in every game. Understanding these basic principles and the distinctions between them is vitally important.

Check: This means passing the betting decision on to the next player without adding any chips to the pot. It is considered a neutral move by players, and is often used to assess other players actions or to see free cards. 

Bet: This involves placing chips into the pot and betting on your hand. It is a way of starting the action and indicating that you have confidence in the cards in your hand.

Raise: This involves adding to the bet size after the initial bet. This ups the pressure on other players and suggests a growing confidence in a player’s hand.

Fold: Folding is a way of bowing out gracefully by giving up your cards and your initial stake. Not every hand will be a winning one, so folding is a common play and a vital tool for managing your budget.

Stay Calm

Poker is an exciting game full of ups and downs, and players must learn to manage those emotional highs and lows. Whether it’s the excitement of being dealt a great hand or the disappointment of having to fold, players must learn to maintain a calm exterior and not give any “tells” to their opponents.  

The best poker players will work on their body language and try not to divulge any information to their opponents about the contents of their hand. They will also learn to read the various ticks and in game behaviour of other players in order to gain an advantage.

Bankroll Management

Poker is an exciting game of luck and skill, which allows players to possibly win some money along the way. However, nobody wins all the time which is why it’s important to maintain good bankroll management.

The key is to set aside a budget that you’re comfortable with potentially losing. That way you will enjoy the experience more and not go chasing losses. Managing your poker bankroll is vital skill for long-term poker success and enjoyment, so learn to set limits and stick to them.

Take a break

Playing poker is a fun, engrossing game, but it can be a mentally taxing game. That’s why it’s important to take a break every now and again to relax and refocus. Whenever you play, be sure to set regular breaks into your game time to avoid losing focus and making poor decisions.