Here at Sky Poker we have a selection of poker freerolls and free play poker tables which are the easiest ways to learn to play poker without risking any money. Once you are comfortable playing in freerolls and are up to speed with the poker hand rankings, you can then move onto our low stakes tables where you can play against new players to poker, such as yourself, for real money.
The Poker Tips discussed here are a general approach to help you to learn to play Texas Hold'em. It is a game where you as a player will have to make playing decisions based on your hole cards. As the community cards are shown throughout the hand, you will need to determine your chances of winning and the size of bet you wish to place if you choose not to check or fold. These decisions will be different for each hand as your hole cards and the flop change and you must adapt your play accordingly.
As a new player you must learn to play solid poker first and then learn to deviate from this as your poker knowledge and skills grow. Poker is not only about the cards but also about the people you are playing and your position on the table, which are skills you will develop the more you play.
You can gather a lot of information about the players at your table as soon as you sit down. Some players are constantly placing bets in the pot, who are termed loose players and other players who rarely get involved are called tight players. Loose players are easier to beat as they play too many bad hands, whereas tight players only tend to play when they have strong hole cards and also get a flop that helps them. So while you are learning to play poker, just observe the players on your table to see which category they fall into.
Top Ten Hands
There is one overriding principle for winning at Hold'em - you only bet your money when it might be profitable based on your hole cards and the flop. In all other circumstances fold your hand. The one golden rule in poker is that it is very easy to give away your chips but very hard to win your opponent's.
It is recommended to play a solid poker strategy to start with, playing only the top ten hands and folding all the others. In poker, these starting hands give you the best chance to win more pots whilst also giving you the opportunity to learn the other aspects of the game. These hands coupled with careful analysis of your opponent's play will help you to make your critical decisions as to whether to check, fold or raise.
The 'Top Ten Poker Hands' are:
The position after the dealer is everything in Texas Hold'em. It is definitely one of the most important aspects of the game. If you are in early position, being one of the first players to play, you must play very tight poker. The closer you are to the dealer button the more loosely you can play as you will have already seen the actions taken by most of the players on the table. If you play loose from an early position you open yourself up to getting raised and remember you will have the same bad position for all betting rounds.
Your opponent(s) will have to act first in hands you play from a later position and this will give you the advantage to react to their plays and make it easier for you to read their potential hands. As you learn this new skill you will start to see that you win more and lose less on the hands that you play from better position. The advantages of position will allow you to play increasingly weaker starting hands more profitably from a later position.
The most important decision you will make in playing a hand is whether or not to play it at all. The following table lists the recommended required hands to consider playing a pot according to your playing position. You should never consider playing a hand that is weaker than what is listed for each position.
Recommended Poker Hand Requirements based on Position
Early Position - playable from any position
Pairs AA, KK, QQ, JJ, TT, 99, 88
Suited AK, AQ, AJ, AT, KQ,
Unsuited: AK, AQ
Middle Position - playable from middle or late position
Pairs 77, 66, 55
Suited A9, KT, QT, JT, T9, 98
Unsuited AJ, AT, KQ, KJ
Late position - only playable from late position
Pairs 44, 33, 22
Suited A8, A7, A6, A5, A4, A3, A2, K9, K8, Q8, J9, T8, 87, 76, 65, 54
Unsuited A9, KT, QJ, QT, JT, T9
Blinds - additional hands that might be played from the blinds if the pot sizes grows accordingly
Any pair, any suited + Ax, Kx, Q9, J9, J8, T8, 98, 87, 76, 65, 54
For more information on the poker hand ranking please visit the 'Poker Hands' section for more information.
Playing the Top Ten Poker Hands
Top Ten Hands - Pre-flop
You must consider your hole cards and position strength in how you play your hand in Texas Hold'em. You must know what kind of action you want based on the strength of your hand and play accordingly after taking into account your position. You have very little control over how the hand will develop at this stage as the flop has not yet been dealt.
You should raise an opened pot whenever you think you have a good chance of winning it. You will aim to force opponents to put more money into the pot when you judge you are likely to have the best hand. Most players raise with their best hands, so you will almost always fold to a tight player's raise and avoid getting involved in a hand where your hand could easily be beaten.
If you have a premium hand like AA, KK, QQ, JJ, or AK, you would always re-raise rather than just call. You re-raise to both protect your hand by eliminating players who may be looking for a straight or a flush hand, for example, and to hopefully get into a two or three player situation where you will have more chance of winning and increasing the pot size, as these players feel they also have strong hands.
The more players that see the flop, the less money you will win with hands like this, even though there is more money into the pot. If you do win in this instance, you will win a larger pot, but it is well known and supported by statistics, that the more players that see the flop, the less profitable the top ten hands become, as your opponents chances of catching a big hand such as a flush increases.
Top Ten Hands - Pre-flop Raise
Never just call a pre-flop raise as this is in most cases could be bad play. If you feel the raiser has a less than premium hand, you should re-raise to get more money in the pot.
Top Ten Hands - The Flop
On the flop you need to reassess the strength of your hand based on the three cards dealt and what your potential best hand now is and as importantly, what your opponent's best hand could be. Be careful to notice potential flush draws where three cards of the same suit have been dealt as well as potential straights. If you have the lower pair, say 7-7 for example and there is a larger couple of cards on the flop, such as A or K, take this into account as another player may have flopped a higher pair. This is where position and observation as to what the other players bet comes in and you can make your playing decisions accordingly.
Top Ten Hands - The Turn and River
When playing these or any other hands on The Turn or The River, you will need to review the strength or potential strength of both your hand and your opponent's hand as above. Again you will need to use the strength or weakness of your position to further gauge what your opponents haveand whether to check, fold or raise?
You should never bluff when you are new to poker. You should begin as stated above - start by playing the Top Ten Hands whilst you learn the game and its many nuances. Once you have gained some experience you can watch our Sky Poker TV channel and get even more hints and tips!
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