Recently, I had the chance to teach a ‘beginners poker’ session for a few people. Teaching poker isn’t a regular thing for me but I jumped at the chance to help them learn this game that I love, from the foundations up.
When I was preparing for the session, I spent a fair amount of time going back through the basics myself to try to distill the huge topic of “how to play poker” down into bite sized, easily digestible pieces. I wanted to create a teaching session that was the equivalent of those teeny tiny hamburgers you sometimes get as an appetiser at posh events; small, satisfying and let’s face it, down right amusing.
So here it is – 5 mistakes that rookie poker players often make.1) Not recognising the importance of position.
Every seat at a poker table was NOT created equal. Poker is a game of incomplete information. We know what our cards are but everything else is a mystery that we’re trying to unravel. If you play hands when there are still lots of people left to act behind you (early position) then you’re at a disadvantage. You have no idea what they might do. If you play your cards when most of the other players at the table have already acted (late position), you get the benefit of more information. Information is power. Whenever possible, try to play in late position unless you’re holding the best starting hands.2) Playing every hand.
When you first start to play poker, all of the cards look exciting. The temptation is there to play every hand, from any position just because you might hit something. This might be fun but it will ultimately lead to you losing your chips. Fold all of the J7, A4, K9 type hands, especially in early position. Remember, information is power. You can play a lot more hands in late position but tighten up (play fewer hands) in early position.3) Bluffing too much
If you learned poker by watching the pros play on TV, you might think that bluffing happens every other hand. It doesn’t! When poker shows are edited for broadcast, only the most exciting or interesting hands are chosen and often that includes big, bold bluffs. This makes it seem like they happen much more often than they really do.4) Limping too much
Especially when you’re first starting out in poker, try to remove limping from your options. Remember what I said about information? I’m going to keep saying it because it is so important in poker – information is power. Your goal is to use all the evidence to figure out what kind of hands your opponents have. Limping doesn’t give you the chance to do that. If you limp, others could easily limp behind you and you’ll be up against a lot of hands that could be ANYTHING. If you raise, you make it more expensive to play and you force your opponents to make a real decision. You’ll likely end up playing the hand against fewer opponents, plus you can assume that they’ve got a better hand than they would have limped with. Information.5) Playing too big.
Poker, especially when you’re first starting out, is about having fun. You’re probably playing for entertainment or because you enjoy the sense of competition. Keep that feeling safe by not playing in games that are more expensive than you afford! Figure out how much money you’re willing to spend on poker for whatever time period you choose (6 months, a year) and then set that money aside the same way you would if you were figuring out your budget for dining out or going to the movies. Make sure you only play with 5% of the total amount at any one time and that way, you’ll be able to make it last. Plus, if you get really unlucky and your AA get cracked by KK, all in preflop, you haven’t lost it all!
Have fun! - Kara ScottThe all new partypoker Sunday tournament schedule
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