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A Beginner’s Guide to Poker

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Without a doubt, poker is the most widely played card game in the world, and certainly one of the most lucrative. The popularity of the game has become cyclical, more players encourage bigger prize pots, which bring in more players, which create bigger prize pots, to such an extent that companies like Sky Poker who offer poker online at all levels, are posting record membership figures.

So, if you want to start off playing the world’s most popular game, where should you begin?

First of all, familiarise yourself with the rules. Texas Hold’Em is the most popular version and the rules are well known and simple to grasp. Still, make sure you’re clear on which hands are considered “better” than others.

Next up, start playing for free. Free playing isn’t always the best approach, because people often act inconsistently when they don’t stand to lose their own money, but it’ll let you start to get an idea how the game works, and how other players play. The key to good poker is not how well you play, you could be awful, but if everyone else is worse – you’ll still win, so start watching how other people play early on.

As you start to play a few hands, look up some of the odds. Poker is primarily a game of odds, what’s the likelihood of a heart being the last card drawn? What about a king? You don’t have to be able to calculate these odds instantly: you just need to know the general probabilities so you can pick your bets. Playing with a poker odds calculator will give you a good foundation.

Similarly, you need to know when to play and when to fold. In free games people almost always play the hand, this is their fault, occasionally they’ll get lucky on the last card, but it’s a bad habit to get into. If your hand is weak, fold, then watch the other players and try to work out what they’ve got, this is much easier when you’re not in, and it’s an important skill to develop.

Last of all, don’t advance too quickly, penny games aren’t that much harder than free ones, but ten penny games are a lot tougher and they get exponentially more difficult from there. Make sure you’re good enough to progress, and before you do, try and watch some hands at the next level so that you’re prepared when you take the step up.

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