Guide to Winning Poker

Guide To Winning Poker

  • Poker thinking starts even before you start playing
  • It's very important to focus on what's important right from the start
  • I will guide you through what you need to know

Starting With A Solid Foundation

There's Lots To Think About Even Before You Begin Your Poker Journey

When one is first learning the game of poker, the process is pretty much always a haphazard and disorganized one. Maybe you start out with some play money games or some freerolls, and perhaps read some articles or even books aimed at newer players, and then just pick up things here and there as you go along. As you improve, you do tend to at least cut down on the bigger mistakes, but even as you become fairly good at it, relative to your competition at least, you often don't really have a proper basic understanding of the game or what you need to be really thinking about at the table.

So while we'll be covering some pretty basic concepts in this series on poker foundations, and will be keeping things simple enough that even newer players can understand, at least to the degree that it is needed at their current level of development. This will be of interest to more experienced players as well, as you will see for yourself as you read along. Once you've been introduced to the concepts that we'll be covering with this, we'll be moving along to a little more advanced ideas as well as developing the current ones in a more advanced way. So it will be necessary to go through the introductory material first, even if you believe you're a good player now, as I'll be referring back to the material in subsequent series and it will be very helpful to know what we've gone over before.

This Applies To All Poker Players Playing All Forms Of Poker

Chips and a Pair of Aces

The material in this series will pertain to all types of games, whether they be cash, sit an go, or multi table tournaments. Later, we'll look at some of the differences in strategy that you'll need to use to be successful with these tournament variations, in addition to other factors that can differ by game type. For the most part though, concepts that apply to cash games generally apply to all forms other than these adjustments based upon the differing and changing chip values of tournament poker. There are also adjustments that will need to be made depending on the table size, for instance full ring versus shorthanded versus heads up play. Again, we'll go over those differences later on. The game I'll be focusing on here will be Texas Hold'em, the variant that is by far the most popular these days and the game that almost all strategy material that's out there is written on.

Before we get started though, I want to point out that what I'm really looking to do here is to show you how to best play the game while at the same time looking to improve the quality of your poker thinking. Successful poker involves using the arsenal of knowledge and concepts that you possess at any given time and then applying it all to specific situations at the table. There's no how to guide per se that works, for instance having a huge book and looking up situations in it to get advice, and players who think this way will have severely limited their development.

You Need To Develop Your Poker Thinking Right From The Outset

Some people think, well it's the top players that do a lot of thinking at the table and we new or intermediate players just go by standard lines that we learn along the way. This is a serious mistake though as even new players can be taught to think properly about what they are doing. Of course the more advanced you get the better the quality of this thinking, but only if you're taught to do it in the first place. Obviously, we aren't going to be jumping right into any sort of serious poker analysis at the beginning stages, but getting pointed in the right direction here is very important.

To provide a simple example of what I'm talking about here, most players start out making their decisions based upon their own hand strength, which ends up being their chances of winning against random hands. However, poker is a game of information management, and we've got at least some additional information here that we can and need to use. For instance, the amount of opponents you're up against, what their general tendencies are, their specific patterns in this hand, and so on. Now all this may seem daunting to newer players who are just starting to get good at evaluating their own hands, but it's never too soon to create good poker habits and just looking at your own hand, however good you may be at it, is just plain wrong and harmful. So what we need to do is to at least start you on the right track here by looking to at least take some of this information and give you a way to use it according to your current skill level and understanding of the game.

There's Much More To Consider Than You May Think

Another example is the concepts of value betting versus fold equity, better known as betting your good hands versus bluffing. People tend to start out betting their good cards and folding when they don't have much, and then when they improve they look to add some bluffing opportunities in there to win some extra hands. Once again, that's the wrong way to approach and think about these things, as both form essential elements of successful poker. They need to both be considered in every decision at the poker table, the situation very often isn't a black and white one, as there is fold equity considerations when value betting and value considerations in all but the purest bluffs.

So once again, the idea is to start out with not just some simple tidbits of advice but to get to the core of what makes a successful poker player, and then once we have that foundation in place, we can move on to more detailed and specific situations, while at the same time continuing to develop these core topics and grow both our poker knowledge and the quality of our poker thinking. In the years in which I've been teaching the game, I've found this approach to be the most effective and as we go along it will be obvious to you as to why. Rather than spoon feeding you some simple stuff as you go along, my perspective is using expert play as the starting point and then packaging it in a way that is easily digestible by less accomplished players, and then building things from there.

So let's start our journey by moving on to our first foundational topic, called "What Are We Looking To Accomplish At The Poker Table?"

Ken's Guide To Winning Poker - Index

Ken's Guide To Winning Poker

Starting With A Solid Foundation

Aggression Series

Position Series

Various Poker Strategies

Mistakes Series