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Poker is a game of skill with an element of chance. The information on this page will help you put the odds SIGNIFICANTLY in your favour. This page assumes a rudimentary knowledge of the game. Revisit if you are having a bad run.


Thou shalt be patient.

Poker tournament play is a marathon, not a sprint!

Most poker players involve themselves in less than 30% of the hands presented to them. Some play more than this and are generally considered ‘loose’ players. To be a successful loose player takes considerable skill and beyond the bounds of this page. For a beginner, it is easier to adopt a tight style, playing perhaps 10-15% of hands. One of the biggest mistakes that beginners make is to play too many hands and  unnecessarily run into trouble.


Thou shalt covet thy starting hands wisely.

The ‘Hands to Play’ chart here isn't a bad guide to what to do when presented with a range of starting hands, but so is the rest of this text, so read on...


Thou shalt think 'survival' (1).

Survival should be your primary instinct before going for the kill.


Thou shalt think 'survival'  (2).

Let others get involved in any violence first.


Thou shalt ‘call’ only rarely.

Check, Fold, Bet, Raise, Re-raise and Call.

These are your six only options and should be used in that order.

Your first consideration should be to check (ie a free bet if available).

Your second consideration should be to fold, (it won't cost you any more).

Your third consideration is to bet.

Your fourth consideration is to raise, (but only if you're confident).

Your fifth consideration should be to re-raise, (but you need to have the mutt's nuts or be a confident blagger against a weak opponent).

Your last consideration should be to call.

ONLY CALL if you're sitting with the doggy's bollocks or what you're drawing with has value compared to what you're putting in the pot with what you could possibly win.

The only exception to this is when you want to keep a player honest and you can afford to call and embarrass them playing that raggy ace! Too many beginners call too often.


Thou shalt think ‘value’.

Think how much you are going to pay in chips in return for the likely win. Space is insufficient here to discuss in detail, but each card has a roughly 2% chance of appearing. If you need say a ten to make your straight, there are four tens in the pack, therefore 8% chance. If your call represents less than 8% of the pot, in terms of the number of chips you have to add to continue play, it is value. If over, it is an expensive bet. Use value sparingly, especially when chasing flushes. There is not a 25% chance of the suit you require hitting, as some of the cards are already in your hand or exposed in the community cards.


Thou shalt know when to ‘discount value’.

If a flop has three hearts and you have not got that suit and you could have a possible straight with a fourth card, one of your ‘outs’ should be discounted as it may give a player a flush (if they haven’t already got one).


Thou shalt appreciate that ‘value’ is a difficult concept for a beginner to assess.

If the last two sections are confusing, do not let that put you off, just play tight and do not chase value. It can be a winning strategy for the patient.

Conversely, if you understand the value concept, understand that others will not have the same percentage attitude to risk. You will need to bet varying amounts depending on the style and risk attitude of your opponent.


Thou shalt be wary of paired boards.

If two cards are the same in the five community cards, smell danger. An opponent could have three of a kind, a full house or even quads.


Thou shalt not be greedy.

Slow playing a monster starting hand like AA can lead to all sorts of trouble. Your pair can quickly be beaten if the community cards fall wrong for you. Raise at least three times the Big Blind amount  in this situation, so if the blinds are 10/20, raise by 60 to a bet of 80. Note that if very loose players are still in play, your raise will need to be a substantially larger multiplier of the blinds to put them off calling your bet.


Thou shalt think position.

If you have to act early you're weak. Go back to the poker Jesus table and what it says about position in relation to the dealer button. If you can act late (ie last) you're strong.


Thou shalt pick one's enemies wisely.

What's their chip stack?

Are they erratic?

What's their strengths?

What's their weaknesses? EVERY PLAYER HAS WEAKNESSES.


Thou shalt not be a small blind ass hole.

If it's crap, fold it! Unless it's 'value' to call .... ie no raisers and lots of donkey callers.


Thou shalt remember that this is NOT a game of cards.

It's about chips!

Chips can be used as weapons of defence, attack, mass destruction (self destruction in some cases) and spies for information.


Thou shalt be wary of tilt.

Recognise over confidence and frustration that will tilt you away from your normal game.


Thou shalt only try to steal when you are unlikely to be caught.

Self explanatory.


Thou shalt only bluff when it's believable.

There's got to be something on the board to make them feel uncomfortable with your bet.


Thou shalt realise that the beasts of the field are not equal.

Aspire to be a fox! Be cunning.


Thou shalt continually be thinking what your opponents around the table are holding.

The most successful players are thinking about this as much as their own cards.


Thou shalt think image.

What do you want to tell the table you are? Do you want to portray a loose or tight image? Tight players are easier to read but there is more chance of being believed with the odd bluff. There's strengths and weaknesses in all styles of play.


Thou shalt use that 'boring' folded time wisely.

Just because you're not in the action does not mean that you should be bored! Use it to watch for player's tells. Particularly watch their hands and hear their breath.


Thou shalt accept that the world has some lesser beasts of the field who rarely follow (or understand) these recommendations.

They occasionally get lucky, but normally fill the prize pot up nicely for those who do.


Finally, the best way to learn poker is to come and play. Why not join use at one of the venues listed here?


Contestants at Phoenix Pub Poker play for the joy of the game rather than the financial rewards (and risk) of playing at a casino. Nobody will be trying to take the shirt off your back.