Worldwide, poker is one of the most popular card games. Since the 1960s, the rise of televised poker has helped to globalize the game. Since the early 2000s, the rise of online poker has made it accessible to people around the world. Today, the Twitch streaming platform also includes poker hosts who play live for subscribers.
Still, just because most people are at least aware of what poker is, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to play. In fact, poker is a deceptively complex game. In addition to memorizing hand rankings and rule variations for each type of poker, players must also learn strategies, the basics of mathematical probabilities, and how to contend with unknown variables like bluffing.
Those looking to learn the basics should first select an online platform, as it’s a more convenient method than in-person tables. For example, those who play PokerStars online have access to large tournaments, a range of poker variations, and plenty of loyalty rewards. But, most importantly for newcomers, they also have access to a poker school for beginners. Keep a lookout for similar guides, as they’re the first step to learning poker the easy way.
The easiest way to learn poker is to take your time with a mindful and incremental approach. Keep a guide with you as you play your first games. Don’t be afraid to stick to beginner tables, as the game unfolds at a slower pace. Some players also take notes during this time, marking down what works and doesn’t work for them.
Keep in mind that there’s no simple way to learn the basics— even seasoned pros like Daniel Negreanu and Phil Ivey confirm that the best method for learning is experience. Once again, keep a look out for free games. By sticking to free games, you won’t have to worry about managing bankroll right away.
Memorizing Hand Rankings
One of the toughest parts of learning poker is understanding hand rankings. Learning the top rankings like a royal flush and a straight flush is just the beginning of prepping for the showdown. As mentioned above, top poker platforms offer multiple versions of poker—and hand rankings shift slightly with each.
To make learning poker easier, stick to one type of game, whether Texas Hold’em or Omaha. Learn the ins and outs of one style of poker before moving on to the next. And consider listening to a poker podcast, especially to glean more about hand rankings. Thinking Poker podcast, for example, often reviews poker hands to help break-down strategies in certain situations.
Study the Pros
Once you’ve nailed down the rules of your preferred poker variation and have memorized the basics of hand rankings, along with a few extra tactical tips, the easiest way to learn poker is to follow a pro—especially those who closely mirror your preferred playing style.
Each poker legend has their own unique approach to the game; Negreanu is analytical and conservative, while Ivey is focused on minimizing risk-taking. On the other hand, a pro like Phil Hellmuth relies on a more rigid tight-aggressive approach—which he also advocates for beginner Texas Hold’em players.
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