Give Me a Crash Course in Poker

Hey there mods- this was my best guess for a forum.

So here’s the deal- I’m playing some poker tonight and I’ve never played before. I get the general rules and the relative value of the hands.

I’m not playing with sharks, but these people know more than I do.

Basically, I’m looking for some little tips or advice to keep from completely losing my ass. I know nothing about betting, bluffing, etc.

Any suggestions?

“You wipe that look right off your face, Mister!”

Pay attention to how many cards a person takes, what they do when a bluff is called, deviations from a betting style, etc. Plus, some players tend to favor certain pat hands… they’ll try and build a flush instead of a straight and so forth. You might play conservative until you begin to assess their traits. Good luck.

Good idea, because you are just starting, don’t try anything too risky. Do NOT be afraid to fold. However…

You don’t know their traits, but they don’t know yours either. If you are too conservative and always bet your hand, you will never be able to cash in when you get that aces over kings full house. Everyone at the table will realize your higher than average bet means a good hand, they will fold, and you won’t win jack. Sometimes bet higher on two pair, sometimes lower on a straight. Don’t deviate too badly from betting what the hand is worth - just enough so the other players think “what the hell?” Since you’re new, bet small - but try to be as unpredictable as possible with those small bets.

Also, if you find yourself in the position where you win a pot because everyone folded but you, do NOT show your cards, no matter how much they beg. This helps to keep you unpredictable. A lot of beginers want to show off that nifty four of a kind their so proud of - don’t. Let 'em wonder if you bluffed them. (likewise, if you did bluff them into folding - don’t tell them afterwards). Don’t show your cards when you fold either. The key is unpredictability and unreadability.

And of course, never draw for the inside straight (but you already knew that, didn’t you)

Good Luck

Play while reasonably sober (a drink or two and/or a couple of a hits off a joint). DO NOT PLAY DRUNK.

I recommend folding after three or four cards if you have shit.

Thanks crew- just the kind of stuff I need to know.

Have you read much about variants? Most poker groups I’ve played with have a dealer’s chice rule, where the deal passes around, and the current dealer names the game.

There are infinite variations, but here are the major categories:

Draw Start with a number of cards (usually five), and bet on them. Then you can discard (sometimes any number, sometimes up to four is you are keeping a ace, etc.) cards and receive new ones from the deck. Bet again, and have a show down.

Stud Start with a card face down, and a card face up. Bet, starting with the highest showing value. You will get another face-up card each round, with betting in between. End with a face-down (or ‘hole’) card. Bet again, and showdown. This is often a seven card game, but can be five. With seven cards, you choose the five you want as the final hand.

Lowball This variant can be played as any style, but you are trying for the lowest hand possible. Wilds are not often used, for obvious reasons. The “best” hand in Lowball is 23457, with at least one a different suit.

High-Low split Similar to the above, but the highest hand and lowest hand split the pot. Wilds are good here, as sometimes the same peson can take both highest and lowest.

Shared cards Since there’s only 52 cards, larger groups can’t play some variants. What you can do is have some cards in middle of the table that used by all players. For instance, the classic Texas Hold’em uses two hole cards for each player, and five face-up cards shared by everyone. This is the game that is used for the World Championships.

Have a great time!


Hmmmmm… “playing the cards” is definitely good advice, but so is “playing the people”. Play up the fact that you are a moron, staying to the end with, like, 4 cards to a straight. Let them think you are a putz, then smoke them with a big hand when every has written you off as a loser.

There’s a saying in poker that the two most dangerous players at the table are the guy who knows everything and the guy who knows nothing.

I was once told that, when playing with a new group, you should bluff big and early (once) and get called on it. After that, they’ll always tend to figure that you’re bluffing. First impressions are important.

If you are just starting to play poker try not to bluff till you know more about what you are doing… If they don’t know much you will know when they are. Watch for “tells” this is when somebody has a good had they do the same thing every time like take two drinks or shuffle there cards around or play with there chips. When you are playing don’t “up” your bets or they will know you have a good hand just play along as you always do and above all DON’T BET YOUR CAR OR YOUR HOUSE :wink:

Well, speaking as an ex-professional poker player…

The biggest mistake new players make is that they play too many hands. Excellent players only play excellent starting hands.

If you can tell us which game you’re playing, I can give you some pointers. But each game is very different, and has a very different strategy for success.

Start by telling us the game type, how much money you play for, what the betting limits are (i.e. pot limit, fixed bets per round, etc), and what you’re trying to accomplish.

If you are playing nickel or penny poker with friends, then the ultimate goal of the game is to have a good time. You can’t win or lose much, so don’t worry so much about strategy and just enjoy yourself.

If you’re playing serious poker, or playing for reasonably high stakes (i.e. any money that will make you uncomfortable to lose), then get out of the game until you’ve learned more. If you’re at the point right now where you aren’t even sure how to bet, then you are going to lose a lot of money and you won’t enjoy yourself.

If you are near a large bookstore, you might look for a good beginner’s book on poker. But be aware that for every good one there are probably five bad ones that will give you advice that will cost you money. Writers to look for: David Sklansky, Mason Malmuth, Bob Ciaffone. If you are playing Hold-em, a good book for beginners is “Winning Low Limit Poker” By Lee Jones, although his advice will cost you if you move up to the pro levels.

Relax and enjoy yourself.

Ask if they will let you have a list that tells you what hands beat what. We always have one near our least-experienced players so they can look at it without asking (nothing tips good players off like a question like “Um, what do they call it when all your cards are the same suit? And what does that beat?” Heh heh).

I’m not a great poker player, but I find it great fun. You’ll catch on fast.

Of course, you’re already playing by now. Sigh.

Yeah. Sklansky and Malmuth are good. Zee, Brier (though I haven’t read his book), and a few others have sound advice. There are others whose books I’ve thrown across the room thinking “what the hell are you trying to teach me? I know better than that.”

What game was it? What limits were they?

The ultimate goal of a home game is (for the most part) have a good time. You play at the casinos to win, you play at home for laundry money for next week.

  1. Fold early and often, unless you can kick their asses.

  2. Know when you can kick their asses. (A full house is a miracle in 5 card stud, it’s practically guaranteed in some shared card games.)

  3. Remember: Fold freely.

Pokerhound since 1976
Giving advice she sucks at following

Hey there mentors.

Man it was a good time. Very low-pressure, low stakes, but still serious enough to get a little nervous. I actually made a little money. There was one guy who clearly outclassed us all but was very conservative.

I can’t really answer some of the questions here because we played different games depending on who was dealing. Most popular game was Texas Hold-em. Ante was between 50 cents and a dollar, max bet five dollars.

We plan to do this more often. I think I’ll check out one of those books.

Thanks all!

Here in the UK, we have a TV program called ‘Late Night Poker’.
The game is Texas Hold’em No Limit*.

There are 7 starting players, each with £1,500.
Winner goes through to main final, runner-up to consolation final.

Under the table cameras show us the down cards, and there are two knowledgable commentators.

Great fun - and instructive!

*To make sure I’ve got that right:
2 down cards each, bet;
3 communal cards (the flop), bet;
1 more communal card, bet;
1 final communal card, bet;

Stoly: If you’re playing a lot of Hold’Em, there’s a very good beginner’s book called “Winning Low Limit Hold’Em Poker” by Lee Jones. He’s wrong in a couple of small areas, but in ways that won’t hurt beginner/intermediate players. It’s probably the fastest way to get your game to the point where you should be winning consistently.

“Hold-Em Poker” by David Sklansky and “Holdem Poker for Advanced Players” are two of the ‘must-have’ books for holdem players.

If you’re mathematically inclined and want to learn about poker in general, “The Theory of Poker” by David Sklansky is one of the best books ever written on the subject.

Finally, may I suggest ? That’s their website, and it has an absolutely excellent discussion board. Go to the low-limit holdem board, and ask questions. You’ll get tons of great answers. You can also post hands that you played, and people will tell you if they would have played them differently or what you did right and wrong. It’s a very fast way to learn to be a better player, and it’s a fun place to hang out.