There’s no way around it: If you want to become one of the best poker players in the world, you’re going to have to put in the work. Learning how to play poker at a high level is a lot like getting a college degree. It will take you a few years of dedicated study, then you’ll have to keep learning while you apply those newfound skills at the poker table. Not everyone has the time or discipline to make it happen – and there’s no one easy poker strategy to cover all the bases for you.

Fortunately, the great thing about online poker is that you don’t have to be Fedor Holz to make a profit – you just need to be better than the other players at your table. And that’s something you can come closer to achieving by picking up a few quick poker tips here and there. Check out the following seven poker tips for beginners and see how quickly your game improves the next time you log in at Bovada Poker.


1. Begin with Lower Poker Stakes

Game selection might be the most important thing when it comes to poker for beginners – and the most overlooked. Everyone enjoys the rush of playing for high stakes, but the higher you go, the tougher the competition gets. Even if you have money to burn, there’s no need to swim with the sharks when you’re just getting your feet wet. If this is your first time playing online poker, get started at the bottom, then move your way up from there.

For that matter, if you’re already playing at Bovada Poker and you feel like you’re in over your head, move down in stakes. In fact, try starting at the lowest stakes there are. That would be the 2c/5c cash tables, or the smallest buy-ins for Bovada online poker tournaments and Sit-and-Gos. Starting at this level will help you figure out how to play poker the right way. You won’t be afraid to make mistakes when it only costs you pennies instead of dollars, and at this stage, you should be willing to make all sorts of crazy plays on purpose, just to see what happens and what you can learn from them.

2. Play with a Consistent Strategy

While you’re out there splashing around in the microstakes, remember that the plays you make do have a purpose. You should always have a clear poker strategy in mind when you sit down at the table. As a newer player, start with a basic ABC strategy that will cover most of the situations you’ll find yourself in. Then you can deviate from that strategy when you find yourself in an interesting spot that might have something to teach you.

Since you’ll be playing at the microstakes level anyway, you’ll find that an ABC strategy will serve you better than something more complex, like a true Game-Theory Optimal (GTO) strategy. Most of the opponents you’ll run into at the lower levels will be playing pretty unbalanced poker, so you’ll be wasting your time and money if you try countering them with GTO stuff. You’ll also mis-apply those advanced strategies if you haven’t already built a solid ABC foundation.

3. Play at Full Capacity and Avoid Tilt

This goes hand-in-hand with the previous tip. Your goal in poker is to get better, so don’t fire up any tables unless you’re in the right frame of mind first. That means not playing just because you’re bored, or because you’re craving some action. You won’t be able to apply your poker strategy consistently if you come to the table with that mindset.

Once you do start playing, make sure you stay in that zone. Play in an environment that doesn’t throw a lot of distractions at you – no text messages or YouTube videos. Take regular breaks to keep your mind fresh, avoid drinking alcohol before and during play, and step away from the tables anytime you feel like you’re going on tilt. Setting a stop-loss of two or three buy-ins will help ensure you don’t go on a protracted losing streak during a cash session that’s dragged on just a little too long.

4. Bluff with Purpose

There aren’t too many things at the poker table that will tilt you harder than getting caught bluffing in a bad spot. Just like poker in general, you shouldn’t be running bluffs without a purpose in mind, and as a beginner, you have a dual purpose: one, get your opponent to fold, and two, learn what can happen after you make your move.

As part of your ABC strategy, keep your bluffing at a minimum for now, using straight draws (eight outs) and flush draws (nine outs) on the flop, and only double-barreling when the turn card is a blank. Expand your bluffs from there as you get more comfortable on the felt and you move up the stakes. Don’t worry too much about “leaving money on the table” by missing what could be a theoretically correct bluffing opportunity. Baby steps.

5. Practice, Study and Learn from the Best

The four poker tips we’ve given you thus far won’t be of much use if you ignore this one. Poker isn’t rocket science; pretty much all the experts agree on the basic tenets of poker strategy, so make sure you study their advice, and build on it through proper practice. All of the information you’ll find in the larger Bovada online poker strategy guide series has been handed down from the best poker minds in the business. And it gets reviewed and updated constantly to make sure it’s fresh and accurate.

Players often ask what the best ratio is for how to split your playing time and your study time. Once you’re a seasoned professional, you can maybe get away with spending about 10% of your poker time working away from the table, but in the beginning, you’ll need to put a lot more study time in. Don’t worry about your volume of hands until you have a good grasp of the fundamentals of poker. Study one concept at a time, play however much poker you need to get that concept ingrained, then move on to the next study session.

6. Know When to Push

There are a lot of decisions to be made when you play at Bovada Poker. But once your stack gets down to a certain size, your decision is relatively easy: Push or fold. That’s because you don’t have enough chips left to apply leverage if you attempt a standard open-raise. This situation usually happens in tournaments, although it can happen at the cash tables as well. Thanks to game theory and computing power, smart poker players have discovered that you can play “unexploitable” poker once you get in these push-fold situations. That means you can make your decisions almost robotically, knowing that the worst you can do in the long run is break even.

If you’re serious about winning No-Limit Hold’em tournaments, you can find push-fold strategies for heads-up play on the internet. These ranges cover stack sizes from 16 big blinds all the way down to 1.5BB; the shorter you get, the wider range you should be shoving. For example, with 15BB, you should be pushing King-Six offsuit or better, but once you get to 11BB, you should go ahead and push any hand with a King in it. At 7BB, that becomes any Queen.

7. Know When to Fold

If you’re not pushing in these short-stack situations, you should be folding, of course – but there are many, many other times when you should just muck your cards. Folding is one of the hardest things to do in poker; it feels like you’re giving up on a hand rather than making a smart decision with your cards. That’s a feeling you’re going to have to overcome while you’re at the tables.

Every play you make in poker boils down to expected value (EV). Whenever you fold, the EV for that play is zero, since you aren’t losing or gaining any more chips. Other plays will have positive or negative EV, depending on the circumstances. Calling on the turn with just a gutshot is almost certainly going to be a minus-EV play in the long run, and since that’s worse than having zero EV, the right thing to do is either raise or fold – usually the latter. When you do decide to fold, do it with confidence, knowing you’re making the smart choice.

Now that you have these seven valuable poker tips in mind, try them out at Bovada Poker and find out how much they improve your results. You can even play free online poker using Play Money chips while you work on some of the newer concepts you’ve learned here, then hit the real money tables and show everyone who’s boss.