Knowing when to hold ‘em may have been enough for Kenny Rogers, but if you want to win you need to learn how to play more than just your cards.
By Adam Corle
Everyone knows the best way to double your money is to sit down at a poker table and get lucky, right? Well, probably not, but if you want to make a hobby out of gambling there are some important tips you should know before you start playing poker.
In the last five years, Texas Hold ‘Em has exploded in popularity. You can hardly turn on ESPN anymore without seeing eight guys sitting around a table gambling away more in one hand than most people will make all year. The upside to this increase in exposure is that more people are playing poker now more than ever. The downside is that more people are playing poker now more than ever.
To save you from being the annoying jackass at the table, here’s 5 things to consider before you sit down to win.
- Not every hand is a winner.
- Poker is a game of skill rather than luck.
- All you need is a chip and a chair
- Keep your cool.
- Don’t be a dick.
Not Every Hand is a Winner
One of the most common mistakes beginner poker players make is that they play every hand. This will not only lead to you being out of the game but will also make your fellow players a little irritated. Assuming you have a basic understanding of what “good” cards are, you should stick to playing starting hands with at least a face card (A, K, Q, J) and a high second card (10 or up).
Doing this will minimize your losses because when you hit with these hands, you’ll be more likely to have a strong finish versus something mediocre. No matter how tempting bad hands may be to play, resist and lay them down.
Just because you get lucky with a bad hand every once in a while doesn’t mean you should always play them, which leads me to my next point.
Poker is a Game of Skill Rather than Luck
The people you see playing poker on TV week in and week out are there for a reason. That reason is not because they have incredible luck. Every once in a while you’ll get lucky and win a hand, but the key to having long-term winnings in poker is having a solid strategy.
There will always be beats so bad that you curse out the other person for being a complete moron and wish awful things on their children, but you’ve got to learn to play through that.
All You Need is a Chip and a Chair
As long as you play a tight, solid game, you just have to keep your cool and remember that no matter how bad the beat, as long as you have a chip stack you still have a chance to win. In poker, just as in life, you must have money to make money. If your gut instinct tells you that you’re beat, even if you’re just a beginner, you’re probably beat.
So in a big hand involving a lot of your money, if you get the feeling that you’re beat, fold your loser and live to play your way back in.
Keep Your Cool
A lot of what I’ve talked about so far has to do with bad beats and sticking to a solid strategy. The reason for that is simple, I’ve had a lot of bad beats. I’ve also played a lot of poker, so it’s expected.
When I first started out I didn’t understand that the good comes with the bad, so when the bad came I would go batshit insane and start berating whomever handed me the anal plundering. This ended up costing me a considerable amount of money but it did teach me a valuable lesson: Always keep your cool.
Don’t Be a Dick
This goes hand in hand with not flipping out every time you have a bad beat. The more of a dick you are at the table, the more people are gunning to knock you out. Simple odds will tell you that it’s easier to beat one person than seven, so it’s important to keep your popularity up at a table. Some people will probably disagree with this, but if someone likes you (and they aren’t a seasoned poker player) they’ll be more likely to go easier on you than if they hate you.
If you spend most of your time wishing horrible diseases on everyone at the table, you probably won’t last too long and, chances are, you’ll have some new friends waiting for you in the parking lot after the game. If this sounds a little extreme, it isn’t. I’ve seen it. I’ve done it, actually.
Poker is a very intricate game that relies heavily on being able to read peoples emotions and hide your own. For this reason, any introduction I write could easily be a full book (which there are plenty of, and I would recommend picking up) but these are just five easy to follow items that every player should keep in mind.
It will make playing much more enjoyable and, hopefully, profitable.