If you’ve read our Poker: Rules of the Game guide, you should now be aware of the different rules of Poker and have a good idea of how to play. If you’ve never played Poker before and aren’t familiar with the rules, that guide is a great place for any new player. If you already know the rules of the game and would like to boost your chances of winning while playing Poker, read on for our full guide.
There are loads of different guides out there on how to improve your skills as a Poker player, but it’s hard to find one that’s really comprehensive and covers all aspects of the game. Here at Xfire, we make it our mission to help new players enjoy casino games. We’re always sharing tips and tricks to help all kinds of casino players improve their game.
Poker involves a lot of luck, like most casino games, but there’s also a fair amount of skill involved. Successful players know when to fold, call or raise and will be able to judge what kind of cards other players at the table have. All of these details will help you to become a better player, and we’ll be sharing some of them in this guide.
Read on to discover how you can get the most out of playing Poker online and what separates the casual players from the pros. If you want to learn more strategies on winning at Poker, you can also read out advanced guide to Poker.
Online Poker Tips
Winning at Poker relies on lots of different factors, some of which are based on chance and others which aren’t. Things like the cards you’re dealt, your betting behaviour, your opponents plus odds and probabilities will all influence your success.
With so many different factors in play, it can be hard to keep track of everything, but that’s part of what makes Poker so fun. It’s a simple to play yet complex game that has loads of different variations, rules and strategies.
While there isn’t anything you can do about the cards you’re dealt, there are plenty of ways to improve your odds when playing Poker online. This guide gives you some tips to help give you a better chance of winning consistently. Some are self-explanatory, while others are a little more complicated.
- Understand the rules – Of course, this one seems pretty obvious to most of us, but it is incredibly important. There are loads of different types of Poker out there, each with distinct rules that can make playing them a very different experience. Make sure you check the rules of the game before you play. You don’t want to get caught up by a rule you didn’t know about and end up at a disadvantage.
- Choose the best site for you – There are so many great Poker sites out there, some of which will be better suited to you than others. If you prefer to play a particular type of Poker, make sure the site you choose offers that game type and has regular tables. If you enjoy Poker tournaments, check to see what kind of tournaments are offered and the prizes that are up for grabs. If you want to find out the best online casinos for Poker, check out our top casinos page.
- Know your limits – Anytime you’re gambling online, you should always be aware of how much you’re spending. Gambling can be a lot of fun, but if you don’t keep track of your bankroll, you could easily end up losing more than you had intended. Never gamble with money that you can’t afford to lose and make sure to set limits on how much you lose. This prevents you from chasing losses after a bad session, which normally just leads to further losses.
- Choose your table wisely – In Poker, the amount of success you have can vary widely depending on what kind of table you’re playing at. If you’re at a table full of players more experienced than yourself, you’re going to be at a disadvantage. Different tables also have different rules on the ante and blinds. This means you can end up betting a lot more at certain tables. Finally, tables all have what’s known as rake. This is the commission which is paid to the casino. Normally rake will be between 2.5% and 10%, look for tables with a smaller rake as this means more of the winnings will go to you.
- Don’t be predictable – In Poker, you’ll be applying against other players who will all be watching you closely. Don’t fall into a trap of making the same actions over and over. If you’re too predictable, other players will be able to read you and guess what move you’re planning. They may be able to bait you into taking certain actions. Keep your playing style unpredictable and change up how much you bet often.
- Watch and learn from your opponents – In Poker, being able to read the behaviour of your opponents is half of the battle. Understanding what moves they’re making and why is a good way to predict what kind of hand they have. If you can guess what your opponents are holding with reasonable accuracy, you shouldn’t have any trouble beating them. Of course, this is a lot easier said than done and takes a lot of practice.
Online Poker Strategy
Poker is one of the most popular games simply because it combines a decent amount of skill with luck. That means that you can easily get better at the game if you follow the proper strategies and practice a lot.
The exact strategies you should use will depend a lot on what type of Poker you’re playing plus your natural playstyle. Below, we’ll cover some basic strategies that tell you which action you should be taking for certain scenarios. If you want more detail, we cover some advanced Poker strategies in our other Poker guide.
One of the best tips we can give to any new player is to get as much practice in as you can. Pick a site that gives you a good welcome bonus and has low stakes tables. Play as many low stakes as you can, trying out different strategies and playstyles to find what works best for you.
Here are some basic Poker strategies that will work out well if you’re just starting out:
Knowing when to fold – The biggest difference between good players and casual players is their ability to know when they’re beaten and fold. It sometimes feels counterintuitive to surrender but getting into losing battles is a good way to quickly lose all of your bankroll. That said, folding too often can make you seem weak to the other players and set a target on your back.
The following are all examples of bad starting hands that you should consider folding:
- Any hand with a two except a pair of twos and an Ace two suited.
- Any hand with a three except a pair of threes or an Ace three suited.
- Any hand with a four except a pair of fours or an Ace four suited.
- Any hand with a five except a pair of fives or an Ace five suited.
- Any hand with a six except a pair of sixes or an Ace six suited.
- Any hand with a seven except a pair of sevens or an Ace seven suited.
- Any hand with an eight except a pair of eights, an Ace eight suited, a seven eight suited, an eight nine suited or an eight ten suited.
- Any hand with a nine except for a pair of nines, an Ace nine suited, an eight nine suited, a nine ten suited, a nine Jack suited, a nine Queen suited or a nine King suited.
Knowing when to raise – A raise means you’ll be increasing your bet. Whether you choose to fold or raise will depend on your starting cards, the community cards and the behaviour of your opponents. Some players swear by always raising on the preflop (that’s before the community cards are shown). This strategy will cause most opponents to fold earlier, thinning the pack and giving you more chance of success later on.
For newer players though, that strategy can be risky, so we recommend saving your preflop raise for the following hands:
- A hand that has a pair of Aces or pair of Kings.
- A hand that has a pair of Queens, a pair of Jacks or an Ace King suited.
- A hand that has a pair of tens, an Ace King, Ace Queen suited, Ace Jack suited, or a King Queen suited.
Knowing when to call – Calling in Poker is where you match the current bet. If a player has just raised or you need to match the current blind, you’ll call the bet and add your chips to the pot. In most cases, calling the blind is considered a weak move and is known as limping. It has some value if you’re trying to bluff but should be avoided in most cases.
A lot of players will say you shouldn’t call at all in Poker and only ever fold or raise. This type of aggressive play is effective but can also lead to some big losses if you’re a complete beginner. Our advice is to call when you’re not sure about your hand and give yourself some time to consider your action.
Avoiding passive play – In Poker, passive play means simply calling or checking. You’re inviting your opponents to make the first move, often signifying that you have a weak hand. Playing more aggressively, by always either folding or raising is the best way to play as it forces the other players to match your bet.
Bluffing in Poker
Bluffing is a specific strategy in Poker where you make it seem like you have a better hand than you actually do. Players with a weak hand will usually fold and give up their cards. If you’re bluffing, you might decide to instead raise, to make your opponents think you actually have a strong hand.
In Poker, you can actually win the pot just by forcing all other players at the table to fold. That means that just because you have a rubbish hand, it doesn’t mean you’re necessarily going to lose. The best players can use bluffing to make the most out of bad hands, spread confusion amongst their opponents and force them to fold, collecting all the winnings for themselves.
Of course, bluffing isn’t a magic strategy that will make you win every hand. Often, players will call you on your bluff, particularly if they have reason to suspect you might be bluffing. For this reason, you should be careful about betting too much for your bluffs. You should also be careful not to bluff too often, as players will start to grow wise to your strategy.
The best bluffing strategy is to bluff when you have a semi-strong hand. This can be if you have a high card or a pair. Normally these wouldn’t be strong enough to bet big on, but they’re still strong enough to potentially win. If you bluff, there’s a good chance your opponents will fold. Even if they don’t fold, you still have a good chance of winning, unless your opponent’s hand is stronger.
Bluffing works best if you already have a good read on your opponents and their betting behaviour. You can tell when players have weak hands and are more likely to fold. Use this to your advantage and bluff hard whenever you know they’re also weak. You can win the pot early on by forcing the other players to fold and get away with a weak hand.