Sharing the Love – Tips for Teaching an Absolute Beginner About Poker
Poker is more than just a card game. The profile of the WSOP has elevated it to the status of a sport, and someone like Daniel Negreanu is as much of an icon in poker circles as Cristiano Ronaldo, or Serena Williams are in their sports of choice.
Sports need heroes, for these are the people who inspire others to take up a football or a tennis racquet – or a deck of cards.
While there is (and perhaps always will be) a discussion of whether poker is a sport or not, for those who love the game, this is a moot point. Poker fans know what the game has to offer. Moreover, those who have been around for a while understand that skill triumphs over luck every single time in the long run.
All these elements come together to attract new players. Over the past decade and a half, there's been a constant influx of new blood in the poker circles. Some do it for the excitement; others see it as a viable way to make money. For some, it’s a fun hobby that allows them to meet new people.
Indeed, poker uptake among newbies has never been higher, and a wealth of websites and mobile poker USA – friendly apps make the game more accessible than it has ever been before.
If you've been playing for a while, you'll inevitably be asked from time to time to show a friend or family member the ropes. That's not necessarily as simple as taking someone to the park to kick a ball around. However, if you follow these tips, you will get them off to a good start.
Take it Slow
To return to the soccer analogy, you wouldn't jump straight in teaching an absolute beginner the offside rule. If you’ve been around poker for a while, all the nuances and terminology will be second nature to you, but try to keep it reined in.
If you leap headlong into a discussion on whether you can win a head-to-head with pocket ducks, your student will run for the door in terror.
Think about the time when you first took up poker and remember how confused you used to be about things. It would have been great if you had someone to teach you the basics and save you hours of searching for answers.
Be patient, start from the fundamentals, and slowly build up from there. If they have the talent, it won't be long before you have another poker buddy to discuss strategy with.
Establish the Hands
We all know there are plenty of different poker variations out there, but fundamentally, they are all about ending up with the best possible poker hand.
So the first thing any beginner needs to know are poker hands rankings and the relative merits of a pair, a full house, a flush, and so on.
Sure, you could sit someone down with a hand chart and get them to memorize it. However, an easier and more fun way to learn on the hoof is with a decent video poker app. Just playing hand after hand helps it all to sink in, and the constant on-screen presence of the paytable helps, too!
Focus on One Game
Your poker protégé will be eager to progress from playing against a machine to sitting around a table with other players. This is where things can start to get complicated, so the golden rule is to focus on one type of poker only.
Of course, Texas Holdem is a popular choice and is as good a place to start as any. This is by far the most played variation in live and online poker rooms, and it’s probably the easiest one to learn as well.
As they learn more about poker, they’ll probably run into other variations that will capture their fancy. You should be there to tell them to stay focused on mastering one variation before venturing to another one.
Run Through the Steps
Now, it is a case of running through how a hand is played. Talk about when you place a bet and the different choices you have in terms of folding, calling, raising, and so on. Keep it brief and simple. Stick to the what – you can discuss the why when you have cards in hand.
Make sure they’ve memorized all the basic poker rules before moving on to the next step. Even if they don’t fully understand every single rule, it’s important they know them. This will make the transition to the next stage much easier.
The best way to learn poker is to play poker. Play a couple of hands with both your and your student’s cards face-up. Now is the time to talk “why.” From here, your poker apprentice is ready to fly solo.
Of course, they will likely still come back to you for some tips and advice. Again, try to keep things in perspective, and don't get annoyed if they ask what you deem a “silly” question. Remember, they're just at the start of their poker journey!