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Wednesday, 12 October 2011 08:25

Poker for Beginners

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I’ve got a confession to make: I’m not great at poker.

Try as I might, I can never remember which hand beats another; I don’t have an instinct for which cards to hold and which to discard; and when I thought I was pulling the best poker face in the world a friend of mine asked me if I had been getting enough fibre in my diet. I am, in short, an utter poker disaster.

Poker is widely acknowledged as a game of skill and like any skill it takes training and practice to perfect. It’s not easy (or wise) to walk into a poker room and blithely admit you’re a newbie and don’t know any of the terminology or rules. You won’t find anyone who’ll play with you; or worse still, they’ll play with you so they can take you to the cleaners.

Still, I’m pretty enthusiastic about the game; with all the coverage it gets in the media, who wouldn’t be a little curious about what has to be the coolest card game in the world?

Thankfully, online poker sites have heard the cry for help and come up with a couple of solutions for us:
1)    Online poker schools, complete with how-to guides and video tutorials. Sky Poker is a good place to start, but Party Poker and Pokerstars are where the pros play – so you’re best to try them
2)    Video poker. Most casinos offer this as an alternative to multiplayer games where the stakes are inevitably higher and the games are harder because you’re playing against people who can strategise instead of a machine. But it’s a good way to learn what beats what since they have a table you can look at, and since it’s in a casino, you can just find one with a great bonus and play for free.
3)    Freerolls. A great way for you to play without risk and maybe even start boosting your bankroll; as a newbie you’re not likely to win but it’s a nice way to ease yourself into multiplayer games.
4)    Small stakes games. When you first start you don’t want to be risking huge amounts. Some players complain that small stakes poker doesn’t teach you real strategy since calling a bluff is much more frequent, but as a professional once said to me, ‘if you can’t win small, don’t try to win big’.

So with all these on offer for free or a very low cost, why wouldn’t you take full advantage of them so you can hone your skills? See you at WCOOP 2012! ;)