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Poker Tips

There are probably as many poker systems as there are people claiming to be experts but remember in any complex subject the best definition of an expert is a liar or a fool.

On this page you will find many hints, tips and strategies that if applied, may with luck, keep you out of trouble and who knows if its your day could help you win a fortune.

This information comes from several sources (listed when known) but as with all gambling activity garentees can not be made.

Mike Caro, "The Mad Genius of Poker"

  • If you've ever played seven-card stud, you know that medium pairs, such as eights and nines, can be a profitable way to start. But these small pairs are much less profitable in Hold'em and can actually lose money. That's because, if ANY higher card hits the board, it's likely that an opponent has made a pair of that rank by using just one card!
  • In Hold'em it's harder to catch up to an opponent than it is in seven-card stud. In seven-card stud, you might start with a pair of sevens against your opponents pair of nines. Then you might catch a pair of kings to win. But in Hold'em, if you catch a pair of kings to go with your pair, it's on the communal board and you BOTH improved to kings up. So, don't get excited by what you see on the board, unless it helps you SPECIFICALLY.
  • You need to be very selective about the cards you start with in the early positions in Hold'em. The powerful advantage for your opponents of being able to act after you (what we call "positional advantage") remains through all rounds of betting after the first. This means that beginners should only play their premium hands when they're first to act after the blinds -- hands like ace-ace, king-king, and ace-king. And you won't get those very often. So, usually, you'll simply fold early.

Jan Fisher, Poker 101 columnist, Card Player Magazine

  1. Money management. Don't play above your comfort zone.
  2. Fit or fold! If the flop doesn't hit your hand or have some sort of way to use it or hinders it, FOLD! Two black aces into a heart flop of 8-9-10 with lots of betting and raising must be mucked! A-K has to generally be folded if
    the flop contains neither an ace or a king.
  3. Play happy, not when you are tired, sad, pissed off, bored, etc. If you can't be fun to play with, don't play!
  • When you have a crap hand, fold faster than Superman on laundry day.
  • Don't pretend that your some big time poker player unless you have the bankroll to back it up. The experts agree that you should start with at least 50 times the table limit.
  • When the time arrives that you're holding the unbeatable hand, remember Nicholas Cage in Honeymoon in Vegas and make sure you make the players pay dearly to see it.
  • The first 5/7 cards you receive will be the foundation of your hand. Build your strategy around these. You're not likely to better your opening hand. I believe that the odds of improving your hand on the draw are about even.
  • You'll soon discover whom the strong players are at the table. As tempting as it is, try to resist the temptation of trying to beat them at risk of losing sight of the other aspects of your game. You'll lose big time if you're not lucky. If you're lucky enough to win, it'll hardly be worth the effort.
  • We're talking real poker here, not video poker, so remember you're not trying to impress the change lady by getting the highest hand. Your goal is to be holding a better hand than your opponents. When everyone else is frightened off by your superior play, the pot is yours.
  • Commit this to memory: If you can't beat the other hands, don't join them, fold and live to play another day. The table will always be ready when you are.
  • Above all else, try to have fun.

Video Poker Strategy

Played optimally on a good paying game, Video Poker is one of the best returning games you can play. Given the enormous number of possible first deal combinations, it is not practical to suggest every optimal hold determination for each first dealt hand.

Play Carefully - Take your time and make wise decisions. It's you against the machine and there is no need to rush things.
Know the Payout Schedule - This is one of the, if not the most important, keys to success in video poker. You need to understand the payout schedule for each machine so that you can maximize your winnings.
Play each hand like a new game - Since you are playing against a machine, try to forget about the last hand played. The random number generator assures that the machine has no memory of the last hand dealt and played. Focus on the next hand!
Practice makes perfect - The more you play the better you will be. Learning which cards to keep and which cards to discard is very important if you are to take full advantage of the payout tables. If you use your knowledge consistently i.e. utilize a strategy, it will help assure that you will meet the payout percentages of a particular machine.
The rules below serve as a good general guide to playing Jacks or Better Video Poker.

  • Never keep a kicker with any pair. Holding a kicker to any pair reduces your return by 5%.
  • Never draw four cards if you can draw three to a royal flush.
  • Always keep five-card winning pat hands without exception: if you can, draw one card to a royal.
  • Don't break a flush even if you can draw one to a straight flush, but always break a flush to draw to a royal.
  • Never break a straight to draw to a straight flush.
  • Never draw five if you have a jack or better.
  • Don't keep a ten for a four card draw.
  • Hold any four cards to a straight flush.
  • Hold any three cards to a royal flush.
  • Hold any four cards to a flush.
  • Hold any low pair (tens or lower).
  • Hold any four-card consecutive straight.
  • Hold any two high cards of the same suit.
  • Hold any three cards to a straight flush.
  • Hold J, Q, and K of different suites.
  • Hold any two high cards of different suites.
  • Hold J, Q or K with a Ten of the same suit.
  • Hold any single high card.
  • If you didn’t get dealt any of the above, draw five new cards.

And remember - you are playing against a machine, so take your time considering which cards you wish to hold before you call the second deal.

Visit our Poker Rules page and Poker Versions for some of the many variants of the game whilst our Poker Hands pages for advice that should help you improve your game and our Poker History page provides some insights into the games origin.

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