Strategy for Beginners

Advice for beginners to play online poker profitable

If you are new to online poker and are still a little unsure how to behave at the virtual tables, this article will surely give you a little help

Position, Position, Position

Positions at the poker table can be categorised simply as Early, Middle and Late, with individual positions within those sections having specific properties that afford us more or less flexibility. Note that the crucial implications of position come to the fore in play after the Flop…

Early Position (EP)

As the name suggests, when we’re in Early Position we’ll be among the first to act after the Flop, and it is this simple fact that makes EP the worst position to be in in relation to our opponents and when they act. Whatever we do, our action will give the remaining players in the hand information in some form or other, as well as greater pot control, and this disadvantage continues for the Turn and River!

Consequently, we don’t want to compound the problem by getting involved with weak(er) starting hands.

Avoid getting involved with weak/random starting hands

With the possibility of our being able to outplay opponents by virtue of our always having to ‘commit’ first while not receiving the same free information from other players, the strength of our hand assumes more importance. Consequently our range of starting hands with which we can enter into a pot is going to be considerably narrower than in MP and LP. Much more care is required in EP (of course we need to be careful regardless!) because we’re going to be more vulnerable to the action that follows. For example, we might open with a reasonably good hand but when faced with a sizeable raise we’re already in a potentially troublesome spot. Throw another a couple of players into the mix who are still yet to act – and therefore could well re-raise etc – and our hand no longer looks so good. This is a typical EP negative scenario which tends to find us (usually correctly) having to fold due to the likelihood of being up against much stronger hands.

Be willing to fold

There is a tendency for inexperienced players in this situation to persevere, refusing to say goodbye to the chips they’ve invested. The problem with this approach is that we could be digging ourselves deeper into the hole we initially created for ourselves when we got involved in the hand in the first place by not properly respecting our position. Calling that raise (or, worse – a subsequent reraise) on the Flop is one thing, but we can expect to see more action when the Turn comes and, assuming we haven’t hit big and are still in the dark as to where we stand, then we’re simply paying too big a price to remain in contention and are simply throwing away our chips. Rewinding back to the point at which our bet was raised, we should instead face facts and fold, and have no regrets in doing so. These realistic, practical decisions should anyway become increasingly natural as we improve our game, but especially so when we find ourselves at such a positional disadvantage.

Middle Position (MP)

It follows that playing in Middle Position is an improvement over Early Position. No longer the first to act, we can expand our starting hand range a little compared with when in EP because there are fewer opponents to act after us post-flop.

Note that it isn’t necessarily always the case that we’re not the first to act – if everyone in EP and anyone else before us were to fold, then we’d essentially assume the role of being in EP, and with it the same potential handicap when play resumes post-flop.

Essentially, in MP we have an advantage over those who act before us, but the proverbial spanner in the works is that we are at a disadvantage to those who act after us.

And this brings us to Late Position, which will be discussed in Part 3…

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About the Author


AngusD switched from pro chess to poker two decades ago and has been professionally involved in the game on numerous levels since the very beginning of online poker, including playing as a poker ambassador both online and at major festivals around the globe. He has written much about the game over the years, and brings to YPD a wealth of experience in all aspects of the poker industry. Meanwhile, his many years on the pro chess circuit (he’s an International Master and prolific author) afford him an interesting perspective on the psychology of poker.

Latest changes

The last changes of the page “Strategy for Beginners” was made by AngusD on November 07, 2020

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