Here are ten fundamental poker tips and reminders for those just learning the game...

1. Study the game, its player's, and how it's played.


Read the trades, like CardPlayer and PokerNews. All the great players are students of the game they play. Take the time to study and learn the lingo and the different strategies of the game. Get a copy of the rules (available online), read and know them well. Get interested in the game you're playing and the players who play it. 


2. Display proper etiquette at the table and be respectful of the game, and the players.


Competitive poker can be a cruel and frustrating game at times. One of the great lessons to learn in poker is maturity. To be successful one must learn to manage their feelings and emotions. Pros don't blame the cards, dealer or opponent's when things don't go our way. 


3. Don't be shy, fearful or feel intimidated. 


Even if you got Phil Hellmuth at your table! He offers a pros perspective in the video at the bottom. Remember, all poker players were dealt their first hand at some point. We all have to learn. Give yourself permission to make mistakes and the time to learn the game. Those opponents who are impatient tend to forget that simple fact. There's no harm in reminding them or ignoring them altogether. Look for support from the dealer, floor staff, and the other helpful players. There are more friendly and helpful players than bad ones, but poker, like life, has a seat for everybody. Ignore the "bad" ones, and get involved with the "good" ones.  


4. Always Protect your Hand!

Learn the proper technique of looking at your cards so your opponent can't see them. Only look at them once and memorize them. Put a card protector or chip on top of them to prevent it accidentally being mucked. Never show your cards before the action is complete, and at showdown, don't show your cards until it's your turn. Never tell or let someone see your cards unless they've paid to see them. You can always say "you have to pay to see!"


5. Pay attention and act in turn.


Poker is a fast-paced game filled with many tough decisions. Wait until it's your turn to act, don't act out of turn, or give an indication to other players in the hand what you are likely to do before it is your turn to act. This gives an unfair advantage to players yet to act in front of you and unfairly penalizes those acting after you. A good habit to develop is to wait to look at your cards until it is your turn to act. You still have a reasonable time to act on your hand without the need to feel rushed or hurried to make a decision. 


6.  Have a purpose for playing the game and be ethical to that purpose.


This principle is about integrity. Your purpose should not only be the reason you're doing something but why you're doing it. It doesn't have to be complex either, just true to who you are and clear intention on what you're doing.


7.  Maintain high standards and be selective in your hand selection.


Poker is a competition of values and standards that are reflected in the hands you select to play. Most amateurs play too many hands and have too low of standards. Even though you want to mix up your play to keep your opponents off balance, your standard should be to start with a better hand and have a strategy to get them to hold up.  


8.  Don't Chase!


Chasing is playing or calling with improper odds, in short, making bad bets and calls. Going on tilt when you're losing and chasing your money. Calling big bets in an attempt to draw out and win the hand. The more you chase, the more the object your chasing tends to move away from you. 


9.  Develop a Poker Face

Emotions are a display of how you are thinking and feeling. A "poker face" doesn't reveal any true emotion with regard to the strength of your hand. It doesn't mean you have to be a robot either. Just natural, without deviating from your regular pattern of feelings, emotion or behavior. With a good poker face, whether you're bluffing or got the goods, your opponent's should never be able to tell the difference. 


10. Learn to manage the game

If you don't manage the game, it will manage you. Loss and losing are a part of any game, so you better know how to deal with it and manage it well. Play within established financial and time limits. Setting a good foundation and structure, and having a disciplined approach to the game are the keys to success. Always remember, you're playing a game, you're not the game. Meaning, don't 
take losses personally. When you get overly affected by a loss,  your technique becomes compromised and you'll unknowingly perpetuate the cycle. Learn from your losses and move on.  Don't hang onto them.


Kenna James 

Coaching