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Basic Beginner Strategy

Basic Poker Beginner’s Strategy

In this article, we'll cover some basic beginner strategy of poker to get you started in one of the world's most popular games.

Let's start at the very beginning

There are many different forms of poker that are played around the world. You get kinds that you play against the dealer, such as Caribbean Stud, War or Pai Gow poker. Then you get the exciting kinds, which are multi player and combative. Of these, the most popular form of poker is called Texas Hold'em.

So, when we speak about basic beginner strategy for poker, we'll be talking about Texas Hold'em Poker, because 99% of the time, this is the game you're going to be coming up against.

Learn the hands

The first thing you need to do is memorise all of the possible poker hands. Know them off by heart. They are, in ascending order of value, a single high card, a pair, two pairs and three of a kind. From there it gets more interesting.

Next up is a straight – five cards of any suit in sequence. Then the Flush, which is five cards of any number, but all of the same suit. Then the Full House, which is three of a kind plus a pair.

Then four of a kind, which speaks for itself. The most powerful hands you can have are the natural straight – five cards, all of the same suit, in sequence. Of which the ultimate and most kickass hand is the Royal Flush: 10, Jack, Queen, King and Ace of the same suit.

Study the flop

Knowing the poker hands is critical not only to recognising something in your hand, but also for recognising what hands could be made from the flop. You need to be able to see how your two hole cards can turn into something bigger using just the cards on the table – or what might be possible if the right turn or river card came along.

This ability is critical to judging whether it's a good idea to raise up and stay in or fold out before you hurt yourself.

But even more importantly, you need to be able to assess, by looking at the flop, what other hands could possibly be made that don't necessarily benefit you. For example, are the three flop cards in sequence? Could be someone just landed themselves a straight. Is your hand better than a straight?

Are there any pairs on the table? Any cards that are the same suit? You need to be thinking in this way if you're going to last terribly long at this game, because this is the core of how poker works – seeing what could be possible. You don't necessarily have to play it as it lies, which is the beauty of poker, and is a style that we'll cover in our Intermediate Strategy article, but you absolutely have to be aware of what could be.

If you can't look at the flop and know instantly what could get made out of it, you shouldn't be playing anywhere where real money is involved. Because trust us, the opponents you'll be facing think like that.