It’s a great time to be a poker player. If you love Texas Hold’em, the sky’s really the limits in terms of how and where you can play. Unfortunately, that also means that your poker strategy has to be stronger than ever before. For many, that means embracing those beginner poker tips that make the difference between being a competent player and someone who frequently wins.
If you want to win poker tournaments, you need to know more than just the basic poker rules. You’ll have to learn how to hone your poker strategy and avoid those typical poker mistakes that cost rookies so much money.
Below are a handful of rookie poker mistakes, as well as the beginner poker tips that will help you to be a little more competent next time you decide to play in poker tournaments. These beginner poker tips are just the beginning, but they’ll get you started.
32 Beginner Poker Tips | Rookie Mistakes
1. Don’t Play Too Many Hands
It absolutely makes sense that you want to play whenever you sit down to the table. Nobody goes to play poker with the intent of folding every hand, but one of the most common poker mistakes is choosing to play too many hands. Yes, it gets boring to keep folding out and you might not feel like you’re getting a great experience, but it’s a bad idea to play if you don’t have a good hand.
Be smart when you play poker, and that means understanding that most starting hands are going to lead to a bad flop and lost money. You need to understand the basic poker rules and methods of play before you can strike out beyond the preferred hands. You might play a little less, but you’ll also lose a lot less.
2. Don’t Avoid Playing
If one of the best beginner poker tips is to avoid playing too many hands, it has to be followed by remembering not to avoid playing too often. Many players choose to play far too tight, and this is also a good way to avoid losing money. Not only does it keep you from actually enjoying the game, but this is one of those poker mistakes that makes you far too easy to read.
Don’t play too loose and don’t play too tight. Find a good middle ground and walk it carefully. This is one of the tougher poker tips to follow, but one of the most important.
3. Don’t Play from Fear
We all know the guy who we can bully out of every pot. He’s playing from a place of fear, and this is one of the biggest poker mistakes that you’ll ever make. If you’re looking for good beginner poker tips, keep this one in mind – you simply can’t win if you are too afraid to lose money.
You’re going to lose hands from time to time, and that’s fine. One of the best poker tips you’ll ever get, though, is that you’ve got to learn when it’s okay to lose. Try to be properly paranoid, but don’t let every bully take you off the board.
4. Don’t Be Too Reckless
If you’re noticing a theme so far in these beginner poker tips, it should be this – going to extremes is bad. While being too fearful is a poor choice, so too is being too reckless. We all know the guy who goes all-in with nothing just because he loves to bluff, and we all know the habitual re-raiser who never has anything better than a pair of twos.
The truth is that reckless play is a gift to everyone at the table. Once players get your number, you might as well just directly deposit your chips on their side of the table. Not only will it save everyone time, but it will help you to feel less embarrassed when all of your bluffs keep getting called.
5. Don’t Fall in Love with a Hand
Of all the beginner poker tips, this is probably the one that’s the hardest to follow. It’s really easy to get overly invested in your hand, especially when it is good. It’s a poor choice, though, to follow that hand all the way to the bitter end. When it’s time to get out, you need to focus on getting out.
Being competitive in poker means knowing when to fold. If you have a bad hand, throw it away! Even if there’s money involved, it’s better to get out before you lose it all than to be loyal to a hand that’s not going to make you money.
6. Don’t Bet the Wrong Way
Okay, so this is less one of the beginner poker tips and more one of those tips that matters when you’re ready to really play for money. One of the worst moves you’ll make is mis-sizing your bets. Yes, it’s very easy to get really big or to keep things very tight – but you have to understand that the way you bet is just as important as your cards.
Get out of the trap of going to extremes. Learn how to read hands and read the table so that you can make sizing bets that are the right. Only then will you be able to perfect your poker strategy.
7. Don’t Chase Draws
It can be very tempting to go after a better hand. If you’re looking for solid beginner poker tips, though, it’s this – don’t chase what’s not there. It is absolutely natural to want something better than what you’ve already got, but chasing things isn’t always the right way to go about getting a better hand.
In short, you can chase – but you can’t do it when the odds are against you. Don’t go in just to see that next card in hopes that it brings a miracle. Instead, try to play the odds to figure out your next move.
8. Don’t Overvalue Weak Hands
There are plenty of hands that look really good until you think about what you’ve actually got. A pair of low suited cards or a face card with a bad kicker might seem like they have potential, but they’ll actually cause you more trouble than they are worth. As such, one of the most valuable beginner poker tips is to avoid getting too attached to these kinds of hand.
9. Don’t Get Too Emotional
Emotions run high in poker, but one of the best beginner poker tips is to keep them under control. It’s very easy to let both good and bad emotions control all of your decisions, but this is how you end up losing big when you should be winning. Desperation and elation can be two sides of the same coin, so don’t let either one control you.
There are some practical ways to deal with this. Some poker players need to take breaks between games. Others use breathing exercises. Whatever calms you down can help, so look for ways to get back in control of what’s going on in your mind.
10. Don’t Play Out of Position
Poker position is one of those factors that new poker players don’t take into account nearly as often as they should. Where you are at the table and how the betting order goes is going to have a huge impact on how you should play, and forgetting that is going to end up costing you big.
You can’t play the same hand the same way in two different positions. Your poker strategy should always be shifting to account for where you are when you bet. One of the more useful beginner poker tips is to start looking at the value of your hand not just based on what you have, but where you are.
11. Don’t Play Small Pairs if You are in an Early Position
Pocket pairs are good. As a matter of fact, one of the common beginner poker tips is that you should feel a little more comfortable whenever you have a pair. It’s a good idea, though, to keep your position in mind before you get too excited. If you have a small pair, things aren’t quite as good as they might seem.
The issue with a small pair isn’t that the hand is bad, it’s just that there are too many hands that can beat the pair. If you’re in an early position and you start raising, you’re not facing great odds when it comes to actually winning. You’ll need a minor miracle to stay alive at the showdown, so it’s better to play it safe in this case.
12. Don’t Over-Call Small Pairs Before the Flop
This is another big poker mistake that new players make fairly often. Again, pocket pairs are great! The problem is that there are so many bigger hands out there that they can cost you when you get a little too confident.
Another one of those solid but ignored beginner poker tips has to do with how you bet or call before the flop when you have one of these smaller pairs. You both can and should bet or call, but you should definitely avoid going too big. You are still hoping to get something on the draw, which means your position isn’t quite as good as you should like.
13. Don’t Bluff too Often
Poker is not a game about lying. Yes, bluffing is incredibly cool and it’s very nice to be able to bluff a good player out of a big stack, the truth of the matter is that bluffing too often is a great way to lose everything. What you might fail to realize is that players will eventually catch on to your habits, and bluffing too often is just a gift to players who want to take a great deal of money all at once.
14. Don’t Hold on to Your Bluffs
Yes, you do need to learn how to bluff and semi-bluff. If one of the best beginner poker tips is to avoid falling in love with a hand, it only makes sense that you need to do the same when it comes to your bluffs. It can hurt and it can cost you money, but it will help you to bring down your overall losses.
At some point, you have to look at the long game. If you are willing to give up on a bluff now, you might be able to save your game later. You made a bad investment, but you can still come back and get what you’ve lost later.
15. Don’t Paint All Players with the Same Brush
Another one of the cardinal sins of poker is paying too much attention to your ideal strategy. If you’re doing this, you’re making the fatal mistake of treating every player like he or she is the same platonic ideal of an opponent. This is a fantastic way to have all of your strategies fall apart because you’re not actually going to be dealing with the reality of your table.
It takes some time to get used to the poker rules and how to deal with poker hands, but eventually, you’re going to have to grow up and start learning how to deal with players. One of the most useful beginner poker tips is to get out of your own head and start getting into the heads of everyone else who is at your table.
16. Don’t Be Precious About Strategy
How much time have you already spent trying to hone your strategy? What poker books have you read? How many arguments have you gotten into on the internet? At some point, your strategy becomes less about winning and more about your ego. One of the best beginner poker tips you’ll ever get is to stop being precious about your strategy when it starts to hurt your wallet.
Your strategy should be constantly shifting and evolving. Not only do new players require new strategies, but the type of game you are playing is always going to make a difference in how you play. You should absolutely be willing to grow and change if you hope to make any money playing poker.
17. Don’t Play Outside Your Bank Range
Poker can and should be a fun game. It can also be a fantastic way to make money. One of the most important things you need to keep in mind, though, is how much you can really afford to spend on the game. You should absolutely never play poker if it’s going to stop you from paying the bills.
beginner poker tips – bankroll
Even great players get on cold streaks, and that means that everyone loses money from time to time. If you can’t afford to be in the game, that’s fine – you can work on your skills elsewhere. This is one of those beginner poker tips that won’t improve your game, but it will improve your life.
18. Don’t Miss the Value Bet
Value bets are incredibly important in the world of poker. As you can imagine, then, missing this kind of bet is a good way to mess up. You have some real chances out there to take home serious money, so don’t lure yourself into the trap of checking around because you are afraid that your good hand isn’t great.
If you miss a value bet, you will become less profitable. In tournament play, missing one of these bets can legitimately be the difference between getting paid and wasting a day at the table. It’s scary to go after big numbers, but it’s foolish to let that fear rule you.
19. Don’t Call with a Weak Ace
AA is great. Aces with a great kicker are better. Aces with a weak kicker, though, might as well be garbage because they fool you into thinking that you actually have a good hand. If you call with an ace and a bad kicker, be prepared to hand over your chips.
This is perhaps the most basic of the poker tips – poker hands stronger than an ace with a low kicker are plentiful, and the odds of one coming out on the river are high. Don’t pretend like this is a hand that’s going to save the day – just let it go.
20. Don’t Bluff Newbies
There’s a couple of really good reasons not to bluff a new player. Perhaps the best, though, is that a new player really has no clue what you are doing. You’re not making a clever play here – you’re just making a bet without the cards to back it up. Outside of the best-case scenarios, you’re just going to waste money.
If the other player doesn’t require complex play, don’t engage in complex play. Match your play to the player, not to your own ego.
21. Don’t Let Your Opponents Psych You Out
Please don’t let other players get in your head. Poker is a game of psychology and it’s just embarrassing to watch a player get absolutely schooled by someone else’s head games. You need to keep your head about your and play the game that’s in front of you.
22. Don’t Pay Off Aces
There are few feelings better than getting an ace. The ace is, after all, the foundation of a really good hand. By itself, though, it’s just another good card – and even a pair can fall into the same basic spot.
If you have a pair of aces, you’re not a guaranteed winner. If the cards on the board point towards anything that can beat a pair, you’re going to need to look at how your opponents bet in order to decide if you need to stay in the hand.
23. Don’t Call a Small Flush Draw with Multiple Players
If you want to see one of the bigger poker mistakes, just look at a multi-way pot and wait for someone to call with a small flush draw. Can it work? Maybe, but it’s not exactly the kind of thing you’re going to win with most of the time. Given that so many players will in advisably stay in just to see the flop, the player who makes this choice is usually a long-term loser.
Small flushes aren’t useful. Throw them away unless you absolutely know you can put out everyone else who’s in the pot. Your bankroll will appreciate the move and you won’t look like the local idiot at the table.
24. Don’t Show Your Cards
Showing your cards is an intimidation tactic, pure and simple. One of the common poker mistakes is showing your cards so that you can build a certain reputation, but not actually knowing how to profit from that reputation at the same time.
If you show off your cards, you’re giving free information about your play style to the rest of the table. If they want information, they need to pay for it the same way you have to pay to learn about them. Don’t show your cards unless you are absolutely forced to do so.
25. Don’t Obsess Over Blinds
You are going to have the blinds from time to time. It’s part of the basic poker rules. What’s not part of the rules, though, is the idea that you actually have to play because you’ve got the blinds. It’s fine to fold from this position – and failing to do so is one of those basic poker mistakes that take out plenty of players.
For most, this mistake comes down to sheer ego. You’ve put in the money, and you want it back. This is the sunk cost fallacy in action, something of which you need to be aware. If you’ve got a bad hand, you don’t need to play. It’s better to lose a little than to lose a lot, after all.
26. Don’t Cold Call Raises
Don’t call a bunch of raises all at once. When you see a raise followed by a re-raise and you choose to call, you’re engaging in the incredibly poor practice that has become known as cold calling. This shows the rest of the table that you’re a weak player who is either too dumb to know what he’s doing or too scared to commit. Neither of these things is great for you.
Take a second to look at your hand. Is it worth raising again? If so, raise. If not, fold. That’s all you need to do. The only reason you’ll ever want to call from this position is if you’re trying to trick another player into handing you over even more money – but that’s a professional-level play, and not something you should try to do without a good foundation in the basics.
27. Don’t Over-Call
Weakness gets punished at the poker table. When you over-call, you’re calling after the players to your right have both called a bet. Again, you’re making the decision to play some bad poker if you’re willing to throw in money just to see the flop. You need to be confident or you need to be out – there’s no middle ground.
Over-calling is worse than cold calling because you’re doing an even worse job of reading the table. You have two timid or weak players to your right – why would you just call? Your hand is either good enough for a raise or it’s not, so make your decision and stick to it.
28. Don’t Get Fancy
Almost all of the poker mistakes you can make fail next to the horror that is FPS. Fancy Play Syndrome happens when players fall in love with their own strategies and decide that they’re going to show off at the table instead of playing solid poker. You can see these players coming from a mile away, and the only reasonable reaction is to take all of their money.
FPS is fully an ego move, which is something that we’ve already talked about a little bit. Yes, you’re definitely going to up your game and your number of acceptable strategies as you get better at poker, but being overly complex just for the sake of complexity is plain stupid. If you can win through simplicity, save yourself some time and just go ahead and win that pot!
29. Don’t Ignore the Game
This is a two-parter, but it’s still pretty simple. The first part seems like a no-brainer but it’s actually one of the more common poker mistakes. Put simply, you need to know the game that you’re playing. Check to see if there are limits, learn the basic poker rules, and know how the house treats the grey areas. This isn’t just a good way to stay confident, it’s also good etiquette.
The second step is to know the level of play at the table. If you can’t spot the fish at the table, congratulations – it’s you. If everyone at the table is significantly better than you are, you need to leave that game. Can you learn there? Maybe, but you’re also going to go broke. Find a table at which you stand a chance.
If you’re playing in a cash game and notice that everyone else there is a big-spending pro, tip your dealer and bow out as soon as you can. You’ve got to know when to walk away from a table if you ever want to improve your game.
30. Don’t Ignore Opportunities
Opportunity knocks in the game of poker, but it doesn’t always do so loudly. It’s very important that you pay attention to what’s going on at your table so that you can grab opportunities every time they show up. As much as following all the advice you’ve given is a good move, you also have to be willing to get out there and take some chances if you want to make money.
All of the smartest poker players are going to tell you to play the monsters when you can, but the truth is that you can win some hands that aren’t that great. After all, even a small pocket pair can be the best hand at the table in some circumstances. Learn about the people who are playing and take smart chances when you can. If you ignore the opportunities, you’re going to end up losing even when you do everything else correctly.
31. Don’t Fold Winners
While we’ve talked a lot about not being precious with your hands and not playing obvious losers, it’s also important to make sure that you don’t fold those obvious winners. From time to time you’re going to get pocket kings or an ace-king, and you don’t need to fold just because there could be a better set of cards on the table. If you actually want to win a hand of poker, you’re going to have to be brave enough to actually play.
32. Don’t Avoid the Math
Poker Math is scary and hard. This much is true, and nothing’s going to change that. As a poker player, though, one of the worst poker mistakes you’ll ever make is choosing to ignore the numbers and go with your gut. Any player who has had any level of success has at least a passing knowledge of the basic odds and understands what the math says about most plays.
Do you need to be a human calculator? Of course not! You do, however, need to embrace the basics. The numbers never lie, and you need to learn their language.
One of the best beginner poker tips you’ll ever get is to embrace your mistakes. You’re going to make plenty and they’re going to cost you money, but they can be great teachers. As you’re looking through all the poker tips out there, realize that you’re going to mess up and find yourself violating these rules all the time – and in the end, your experience will teach you more than any lesson.
Everyone makes mistakes, so don’t get too flustered when it happens to you. If you didn’t, you’d be a machine and you certainly wouldn’t have nearly as much fun playing poker. Take some time to look over the beginner poker tips and apply them to your game. Figure out where you mess up, then fix those problems – you’ll start getting better in no time. See you at the WSOP!
Beginner Poker Tips – FAQ
How many poker hands should I play?
If you're a beginner, the fewer the better. You can stay in the game simply by playing tight and playing your cards, especially in low limit games. Definitely see fewer than 25% of flops, and that's still being ambitious.
How do you play "in position" in poker?
This refers to acting after an opponent. If you have position on someone, it means they have to act first, which means you get to see what they do before acting yourself. Advantage: You.
What happens if I bluff and lose?
You lose the chips you put in the pot, but don't worry about it, this is normal.
How often should I bluff in poker?
Not very often, but there is no specific amount of times you should bluff because a lot depends on your opponents in that game. If it's a passive game, fire at will. If it's a strong game, use extreme caution.