The Most Basic Poker Strategies You Should Learn

Poker is an easy game to learn but difficult to master, especially if your goal is to turn this into your profession. Hence, to help you get a headstart, we compiled a list of the most basic poker strategies that can help you amp up your game. 

Never be the first one to limp. 

Limping, or calling the big blind pre-flop, is a big no-no strategy when entering a pot because of two major drawbacks: 

  • The rest of the players are left with better pot odds, which could entice them; this means you face more opponents and are less likely to win the pot. 
  • It’s impossible to win the pot before the flop with this approach. 

Note: Limping is only acceptable if at least one player has already limped. By over-limping, you enjoy greater pot odds and increase the likelihood of being successful on the flop. 

 

Adopt a consistent winning strategy 

One of the most common mistakes committed not just by the newbies but also by some seasoned players is the sudden, unreasonable change in their strategies. Simply put, adopt a consistent winning approach, which means every move and decision should be backed by a valid reason rather than a whim. 

Aggression often pays

There is only one surefire way to win at poker–bet. Hence, this game favors those who know how to take a calculated risk but penalizes overly prudent players. 

If you have solid opening hands–e.g., hand-made A-Q and high pairs–always play more aggressively. 

By being aggressive, you can push out payers with weaker holdings. Remember, the more people are out of the pot, the higher the odds of winning. 

By contrast, being a passive player–i.e., rarely making a bet or raising–makes it easy for other players to push you around.

 

Know thy opponents 

Your success or lack thereof will primarily depend on the situation, meaning your hand is mainly good or bad in relation to your opponents’ holding. Hence, pay close attention to their nervous habits like fiddling with chips and “deviant” patterns like a guy who has been calling out throughout the game but suddenly makes a considerable raise. 

 

Think in terms of ranges

Seasoned players think in terms of ranges, not hands. With this type of thinking, they can assess the pot odds. 

In a nutshell, a range is the scope of poker hands in a specific situation. For instance, a player can have a middle pair, bottom pair, ace-high, flush, draw, etc. 

By thinking in terms of ranges rather than hands, you understand various frequencies and use them to make the soundest decision. 

 

Know when to fold your aces 

Even the best poker players know that sometimes you need to fold your aces. After all, starting with the best of all hands does not 100% guarantee a winning hand. 

What separates pros from “meh” players is that they don’t become attached to their hands, no matter how strong they appear. 

 

See poker as a long-term play 

Don’t let “bad beats,” or losses involving a high-ranking poker hand that is beaten by a higher-ranking one–discourage you. Remember, while the odds are not always in your favor, a pair of aces will win more than they lose. 

 

Don’t stop developing your skills

You can learn from your wins, losses, mentors, blogs, and tutorials. You can even hone your skills by playing online, although a good rule of thumb is to stick to lower stakes tournaments with buy-ins less than $5. 

 

Avoid tilting 

Tilt is a poker term for a state of frustration or confusion that prompts players to become unreasonably aggressive to the point that it destroys their strategies. 

Keep in mind that no amount of strategy, planning, and preparation is enough if you let your emotions control you. 

 

Choose your battle 

If you’re a newbie, the odds are not in your favor if you’re competing against the pros. Remember, there is no shame in playing free poker games if you want to hone your skills.