Friday, February 13, 2009

11 Steps From Poker Beginner to Poker Winner (Part 1)

These are the first 5 steps. Part 2 will have the final 6 steps.

Step 1: Learn the rules of poker, and how tournament poker is different.

You need to know the ranking of hands….from no pair to a royal flush. The basics (in ascending order): no pair, one pair, two pairs, three of a kind, a straight, flush, and full house. These are the most common hands.

A poker tournament is different than other forms of poker since everyone starts with the same number of chips, there are rounds that are timed, after each round the amount you bet increases, and you play until one player has all the chips.

Step 2: No limit hold’em poker is the game to learn since you can win millions--just like on TV.

This game is simple to play.
1. Each player gets dealt two cards down. Players call, raise or fold.
2. The dealer turns over three community cards, called the flop. Players still in the pot check, bet or fold.
3. The dealer turns over one community card, called the turn. Players still in the pot check, bet or fold.
4. The dealer turns over one last community card, called the river. Players still in the pot check, bet or fold.
5. The player with the best hand wins.

In a tournament, there are forced bets called the blinds (where you have to put money in the pot before seeing your cards). The blinds are important since everyone takes a turn in putting in those bets, and a poker tournament at it’s most basic level is a battle for these blinds.

Step 3: Know which are the best starting hands in a poker tournament.

After you get your first two down cards, you need to decide to play the hand or not. And if you play will you call or raise.

In general, the highest pairs are the best starting hands--pocket Queens, Kings, and Aces. Suited connectors are good starting hands--like 7-6, 8-7, 10-9, where both cards are the same suit (called suited)--since you can make flushes and straights. Ace-King is a strong hand since if you improve on the flop, you will often have top pair, top kicker (the highest ranking unpaired) card--like a pair of Kings with an Ace kicker.

Step 4: Practice, practice, practice

There is nothing more important than getting practice. Practice leads to experience. Experience will make it easier for you to improve.

The fastest way to get practice without it costing you a dime is to sign-up to play at an online poker site. The biggest is The .net is a free site--so they give you chips for free. The only downside to learning this way is that everyone is a big gambler--after all, it’s free!

Step 5: There are probabilities in poker you need to know; fortunately, there is a trick that makes this is easy.

First you need to know what an “out” is in poker. An out is the number of cards you need to complete your hand or to make a specific hand. Second, probabilities are the percentage of the time you will end up with a desired hand.

To figure out the probability of making a desired hand, you take the number of outs and multiply this number by 4 or 2. Multiply it by 4 if there are 2 cards left to see, and multiply it by 2 if there is one card to come.

Example: If you have two hearts as down cards, and the flop has 2 hearts, you have 9 cards to make a flush. 9 times 4 is equal to a 36% probability of making a flush if you see the next two cards.

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