There are dozens of popular poker video games today, and among them there’s a style for everyone. If you want a basic poker arcade game that’s all about the cards, you can find one. If you’d prefer a livelier simulation with player avatars and tournaments, there are options for you as well. Most of all, there are also lots of different poker games catering to players who want to engage in online competition against live opponents.
As active and engaging as this category is though, a lot of newcomers can find it frustrating. Most often when we try out new games on mobile devices or online, they’re self-explanatory. We learn the ropes, improve as we go, and gradually master the games we’re interested in. But with poker, if you don’t have a sound grasp of what you’re doing at the outset, you might find the experience less than enjoyable — and ultimately not worth your time.
This is a shame when there’s so much fun to be had in the category, so we decided to write up some helpful tips. The following are reasonable ways to improve your knowledge of and skill with the basics of poker, so that when you find an intriguing game you can enjoy it more fully.
Watch a Documentary
The best way to improve your ability might just be to watch a film about the game’s history or heyday. All In: The Poker Movie is a particularly relevant poker documentary to U.S. gamers, because it delves into both deep history and the “poker boom” that helped to expand the game online and among amateurs. Watching a film like this won’t do a whole lot to improve your understanding of rules and strategies, mind you. But it might just give you the itch. There’s something special about the game that you might pick up on by diving into its history, and this in turn can motivate you to learn more and improve your ability.
Learn the Basics
It goes without saying that in order to make your poker gaming more enjoyable you should understand the basic rules and procedures of the game. But it’s also wise to dive into some of the core strategies and probabilities that experienced players use to get more out of their experiences. This begins with learning poker hand rankings, as well as the probability of landing each given hand in a game. Beyond this, you similarly educate yourself on the likelihood of completing different hands at different points as the game progresses. You won’t master it all overnight, but even a few memorized probabilities can get you started in a way that will help your game. You’ll begin to feel more like you’re playing your chosen poker game with understanding and intent.
Study with Experts
We don’t mean in person, of course. But today there are actually multiple avenues through which pro poker players and coaches are able to instruct curious, aspiring players. Some of these are in-depth courses for paying customers; others are simple tutorials on YouTube; and in some cases poker experts will even share tips via Twitter or other social platforms. No one option is best, but any one of them might help you to unlock a better understanding of the game, and thereby approach your poker gaming with more confidence and enthusiasm.
Train with No Stakes
Even if you aren’t picking out a poker game that challenges you to put real money on the line, there’s a certain level of competition in most poker video games. You’ll often play with “play money” for instance, and if you run out you may have to wait a day for more (or make an in-app purchase to boost your wallet). This alone can be a bit stressful when you’re learning the ropes, so we’d recommend honing your skill a bit in an environment with even lower stakes. This might mean an app or online game that supplies you with limitless play money, or it may even mean one of the poker mini-games embedded in popular video games like GTA 5 or Far Cry 3. Whatever the case, if you can get this sort of casual practice, you’ll feel more prepared to dive into a more robust poker game.
All in all this is a very fun category, and we don’t mean to make it sound too daunting. But a lot of people wind up missing out on poker games because there’s a little bit of a barrier to entry. Learn a bit about the game and get in some practice though, and you can break through this barrier and give yourself a chance to enjoy some really fun gaming experiences.