How to Win at Poker: Top 10 Strategy Tips for Beginners
Last Updated: January 19, 2024
Checked by: Ivan Potocki
You can find many poker tips saying what you should do or avoid, but in order to actually learn poker strategy and make this game profitable, you need to distinguish what you should be learning at the start of your journey.
If you are just starting with poker, these Texas Holdem strategy tips will show you how to win at poker and save you a lot of time and money.
I went from being a complete beginner to playing poker professionally for a living, and I am happy to share these best poker tips with you. If you prefer to watch a video with these tips, we made one just for you!
Poker Tip #1. Learn Hand Rankings, Rules, and Positions
Learning poker rules is the natural first step you want to take, but you should not forget to master poker hand ranking even though it looks really basic at first glance. You do not want to have to think if you are beating a straight with your flush in the middle of the hand and be wasting your valuable decision time.
This is how poker hand ranking looks:
Another secret of winning at poker is understanding positions. Even if you have not played before, you probably have heard that position is very important in poker. I would say, even more, it is one of the most important poker tips you need to learn when starting out. So do not overlook it.
Generally, if you have a position on other players it means you are acting after them and it enables to see what they do before making your decision.
This is a huge chunk of information that you can take into consideration. You will know if they bet or check, how long they take to make a decision, and what sizing they are using.
For example, seeing that your opponent checks quickly could be a good indication of him having a weak hand, and you can decide to bluff knowing that. There are many examples like this one, but one thing is clear – it is better to see that information than to give it to your opponent.
Just remember that having a position is crucial in poker games, and you should play much more hands while being in position.
On top of that, the hands you decide to play are largely affected by the position you are in. The later position you have, the more hands you can open and put much more pressure on your opponents.
One of the first things we cover in poker coaching sessions is preflop ranges, and you can take a look at my opening hands from different positions here. Get my preflop poker cheat sheet now and improve your strategy at once!
Poker Tip #2. Play Tight But Aggressive
Many amateur players make the huge mistake of playing too wide and opening too many hands.
So one of the best Texas Holdem tips is to start out playing only your strongest hands to keep your VPIP poker stat at a lower side and avoid many tough decisions post-flop. This will let you play less but more aggressively when you decide to take your hand into action.
Most of your opponents in low games going to be playing random hands a lot of the time, and taking this poker tip alone will let you start ahead of them.
Using this, you will be able to learn poker strategy without losing money and in a much more effective way.
So be raising and betting yourself when you play instead of just calling and put maximum pressure on your opponents. Knowing that you have the advantage of holding better hands pre-flop, you will be just winning against their range of cards in the long
Poker Tip #3. Start At Low Stakes To Understand Poker Strategy
Always take this poker tip into consideration before jumping into your games. Many players find no interest in playing low games, but you need to see that your goal is to learn poker strategy and not to waste money while doing that. Therefore, starting at low stakes can be one of the most valuable poker tips for beginners for a few reasons:
- Firstly, you will feel more comfortable knowing that you are not risking a lot of money, and even if you lose some at the beginning, it will not hurt you. You will be able to learn the game and will not be spending a lot of money on the process, so that is a good idea.
- Secondly, a player’s skill level increases every time when you move up the stakes. Starting at the lowest limits lets you play versus the weakest players and learn poker strategy instead of donating money to those who are much better right now.
- Lastly, it lets you see the whole picture and get a feel of the game. You will understand positions and what poker hands you should play and can take everything into practice.
Before moving up, you need to master poker strategy basics and make sure that you feel comfortable in any game that you play. Another factor that you need to take into consideration is bankroll management, this is a separate topic, and you can read more about it in our guide on Poker Bankroll Management!
Poker Tip #4. Find The Best Games
This is a bit related to the previous tip for starting at lower stakes, but finding the best games will help you even more and drastically increase your EV.
There is no place for ego in poker, and if you stick to playing better players, you will end up losing. As simple as that.
Even if you are the 10th best player in the world but keep battling against the nine who are better than you, you will go broke sooner or later.
Truth to be said, this is extremely important for every poker player, no matter how good they are, since it will determine your win rate.
On top of that, you will have smaller swings in better games and will be able to move up the stakes much quicker, which is a massive bonus on its own.
If you are not sure how to find the best games, here are the top tips for you:
- Look for the best games for your format (some rooms are better for cash games and others for MTTs)
- Research when you can find peak traffic and more recreational players
- Find the best option available in your country to be safe when playing and secure your money
If you are looking for a room to play in, take a look at our list of the best online poker sites.
Poker Tip #5. Use Position To Win At Poker
When deciding which hands to play in Texas Holdem, your position going to be one of the most important factors to consider. You win more money from later positions, so try to play more hands from there. Here is a poker guide for beginners about the 6-max poker strategy, so let's take an example:
- EP – this is the first position at the table, so you should play very tight and open only with strong hands.
- MP – this is a slightly better position, so you can add a few more hands in your opening range, but you still should be playing relatively tight.
- CO – this is where things start to get interesting since cut-off is considered a great position, and you can start stealing blinds even with some marginal holdings.
- BTN – button is the best position at the poker table since you will always know what your opponents do after the flop before making your decisions and only have two players behind you pre-flop. For this reason, you can raise very aggressively and open around 50% of your hands.
- SB – small blind poker strategy is much more complicated than one for previous positions, but you should be looking to play around 60% of hands if everyone folded to you.
- BB – big blind is the final position at the table, and you need to post it before even seeing your hand putting you at a severe disadvantage. If everyone folds, you automatically win the pot, but if you face a raise, you need to respond differently based on the raiser's position and other factors.
In short, play very tight from early positions, widen up going closer to the BTN, and try to steal more pots there.
If you are sitting at the full-ring table with 9 players, you can treat all other players not listed in this 6-max example as sitting in EP and play very tight from there. This poker tip will help you avoid many difficult situations.
It is going to take some time to get used to this, but always take your position into consideration when deciding which hands to play. If you want a more precise guide and to see which hands to play from where read our article about poker positions.
Poker Tip #6. Start Playing One Table
I cannot sweat enough how important this poker tip is! Your goal is to learn poker strategy and concentrate on seeing all the information. So leave multi-tabling for the future, stick with one table, and try to absorb all the information you can get. Look how your opponents are playing and what hands they have at the showdown.
Playing one table and observing the action is the best way to learn how to win at poker without changing your strategy.
If you observe all the actions, you will quickly see what good players are doing and will be able to learn from them as you play. At the same time, you will be able to identify the mistakes of your opponents and punish them by exploiting these errors.
You will see some players always bluffing and calling them down with mediocre hands to win massive pots. On the other hand, others only play when they have a strong hand, you can fold even the reasonably strong cards and save a lot of money in the long run. You can easily adjust your strategy and make the right plays that you would not be able to make without knowing this information.
As we said, concentrate on using your position and playing a tight-aggressive approach; it can take you quite far.
Poker Tip #7. Only Play When You Feel Good
Emotions are your enemy at the poker table. Sure enough, you can start feeling angry or sad when you lose while playing, but don’t make it even worse by starting your games when you feel bad.
At the end of the day, even the top players can't apply their best poker strategy when they are tilted or affected by a negative mood, so make sure to quit your game and take a break whenever you find yourself in such a situation.
We do stupid things when we are tired, angry, or even drunk, and it can cost us a lot of money.
Avoid starting your games when you don't feel ready, and it will be the first but very big step in becoming a winning poker player.
When you will be able to deal with these emotions, you can take it one step further and take a few minutes to prepare for your sessions before starting to play.
Poker Tip #8. Learn Poker Odds
You need to know the poker odds you have to hit the winning hand and what pot odds you are getting. All you have to do then is make your decisions based on it and not your emotions.
What are the pot odds? It is a concept that lets you understand if you are getting the right price to continue with your hand and helps you to make the mathematically right decision. This is a big concept and one that we will not be addressing deeply, but I am going to give you a quick list most common Texas Holdem hands and how many outs you have to improve a specific hand until next street:
- Gutshot – 4 outs
- Two overcards – 6 outs
- Open-ended straight draw – 8 outs
- Flush draw – 9 outs
- Flush draw & gut-shot – 12 outs
- Straight flush draw – 15 outs
There is a poker strategy called “the rule of two and four” to help you transition these numbers into an actual percentage.
You can have a good indication of how likely you are to improve your hand by simply multiplying your outs by 2 if you want to know an approximate probability of hitting your hand on the next street or multiplying by 4 if you are looking for the number how likely you are going to improve your hand from flop to the river.
If you have an open-ended straight draw on the flop with 8 outs, you can count that you will improve it approximately 8*2 = 16% on the turn and hit your straight or 8*4 = 32% of the time by the river.
These are not exact numbers but are very close to accurate ones, and it is the best and easiest way to learn math-based poker strategy by far. Think about it when making a decision with a draw, and take this poker tip seriously.
You can find much more information in my full article about poker odds, so I highly recommend reading it.
Poker Tip #9. Think About Your Opponent's Cards
When you know how likely, you are to improve your poker hand when you have a draw, you have to learn to put your opponent on a range of cards. This will let you understand how many outs you actually have and then make a more educated decision.
Many factors can suggest what hands your opponent could be holding, but it is quite an advanced topic, so you can start with a simple version of it.
- Think about his position, what hands he could be opening and playing from there;
- His post-flop action can suggest what he could hold. Betting or checking can indicate his strength or weakness, and you should be looking for that information;
- Board texture is an important factor to take into consideration as well. People are less likely to have many strong hands-on dry boards compared to connected ones;
- The time he takes to make a decision and the sizing he is using can also give us additional information.
This Texas Holdem strategy concept is one of the most advanced ones in the entire game, so do not blame yourself if you struggle with it at the beginning. That said, these tips can significantly increase your chance to understand how to win at poker, so make sure to check our detailed guide on poker ranges.
Poker Tip #10. Take Your Time
Do not fall into a habit of making decisions automatically. It is a costly mistake that even advanced players are making a lot of time and killing all their chances to win money.
Take your time and think about what is happening at the table before making your final decision.
Especially at the beginning, it could be overwhelming thinking about everything at once, like your positions, poker hand ranking, opponent’s cards, and all other actions. That is why you should stick to that poker tip of playing just one table and take all the time you need to make your decisions.
Bonus Poker Strategy Tip #1. Your Texas Holdem Strategy Should Not Include Many Bluffs
A long time ago, I was explaining how to play poker to my friend who never played before, and after discussing it for a while, he said: “So basically, I need to play when I have a hand and fold when I don’t”.
I think this is one of the best pieces of poker advice you can get when starting playing and learning.
The reason why your Texas Holdem strategy should not include many bluffs is simple. If you follow previous tips and play only strong hands, you already have a big range advantage and, on average, a much better hand than your opponents, so you do not need to force the action.
On top of that, recreational players do not want to fold even marginal hands and will be calling down lightly, so it is much better to bet big with value hands and mostly fold when you miss rather than bluff.
Of course, when you move up the stakes and start playing bigger games, this will not be an option. Many players tend to play much more aggressively and bluff more often, so you need to learn how to play against them. But in the beginning, sticking to this strategy is your best bet.
When you move up and start playing a bit more reasonable opponents, I highly recommend you check out poker training videos. You can take your game to the next level and significantly shorten the learning curve by joining one of the best poker training sites.
Bonus Poker Strategy Tip #2. How To Win At Poker? Learn To Fold!
You need to take this poker tip into serious consideration. When your passive opponents who are just calling all the time start raising out of nowhere, you should be folding a lot and even some of your strong hands. Most of the time, one pair hands, even as good as a top pair or an overpair, should go into a muck.
When just starting playing, you will have some problems letting go of strong hands, but it is one thing that you need to learn if you want to be successful.
Players in the lowest games are not bluffing so much, so you will be doing yourself a huge favor by folding one pair hands to aggression in these spots.
Not all opponents are passive, and if you are playing against a maniac or someone who is very aggressive and raising constantly, you should be adjusting and not folding these hands. You need to understand that there are different types of players, and you really need to play differently against them. The last Texas Holdem tip in our list will help you to deal with this.
Bonus Poker Strategy Tip #13. Use Software To Understand Basic Poker Strategy
If you want to be able to compete with players even on lower stakes, you should get some help. I am not talking about advanced programs that can help you learn GTO poker strategy, but a simple one that every player should have.
Tracking software is essential because you can see stats on your opponents and know how they are playing.
It lets you quickly spot the different types of opponents that you will be facing and change your poker strategy and decisions based on that. In my opinion, the best program for this is Holdem Manager 3, and you can get a free trial to test it.
Moreover, to make it even easier, I made a list of The Best Poker Tools available for you.
Summing The Best Texas Holdem Tips & Strategy For Beginners
I think these are by far the most important poker tips when starting out if you are looking to learn how to win at poker in the most efficient way.
It will help you to learn poker strategy faster and protect you from many common mistakes that players make at the tables. While this is clearly just a basic poker strategy that you can use at the beginning, it will help you beat your opponents at the low stakes and build solid foundations for the future.