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How to start playing poker?

What is poker all about, how to start playing it, and is it worth it anymore? Thaipokerleak and ArsenalFCNews bring you answers to these questions. Read a quickstart guide if you want to get involved in poker.

First things first – online Texas Hold’em poker is still a very popular game, but not as popular as during the 2000s boom, and these days the game is a lot tougher (so they say) though you can still find plenty of tables with amateurs and you can make money off them.

Poker 101: Starting hands

Everyone will start by looking at a chart of possible starting hands (the two cards you’re dealt) and will be taught that AA is the strongest starting hand while 72 is the weakest.

Not so fast. This is just a general advice on the starting quality of hands, and the game is actually decided during post-flop play when players start betting against each other. Even 72 can be a winning hand, while AA can easily be a losing one.

However, looking at a starting hand chart is a good way to come to grip with the basics of poker.

Now let’s take a look at three keys of poker, without talking to you as if you’re a noob and need to be taught Ace Ace is the best pair. Let’s get straight to the point.

Key 3: Big blinds

While poker is a game of statistics and strategy, many will say it’s simply a game of theft. If you manage to steal other players’ Big Blinds (BBs) and at the same time manage to protect your own BBs from theft, you’ll be a successful poker player.

Key 2: Second-best hand syndrome

The vast majority of dreadful losses in poker come when you have a very good hand, but your opponent has a better one. Recognizing these situations and avoiding catastrophical defeats – as well as exploiting the same situation when you’re the one with the better hand – is the key to poker.

Key 1: Position

Position is power in poker. Many players will say it’s the single most important thing in poker, and that the advantage coming from a favorable position is immense.

It indeed is. The last player to go (the only one “in position”) has all the information about the previous players’ bets and can therefore assume what their hands are, and then decide if he wants to play or not.

On the other hand, the player to go first doesn’t know what will happen after he places a bet. He may be re-raised by several players, in which case it will become blatantly obvious other players have strong(er) hands and the bet will go down the drain as you inevitably fold.

There are tricks you can use to play well out-of-position, but in general, being in position is a tangible advantage in almost all cases, particularly when two players are in a duel.

Remember that position is a fluid thing in poker and it will depend on the number of players on the table. Even if you go 2nd in a table of 9 players, if everyone behind you folds (at some point), you’ll be the one in position as you’ll go last.

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