Just like chess, poker is easy to learn and hard to master. Because of the many poker variants and the many poker event types, you'll find vast amounts of poker strategy resources. This guide to poker strategy provides a basic overview of poker, plus strategy tips for each of the major versions of poker.
Basic Poker Strategy
Basic poker strategy begins with an understanding of poker's basic odds, the math underpinning strategy, table position and poker bankroll management.
Poker Odds Chart
"Outs" is a term for how many cards remain in the deck that would complete your hand. For instance, a gut-shot straight draw is a straight draw where only one card rank can help: 6-7-9-10 means only the four 8-cards would help. An open-ended straight draw – for instance, 6-7-8-9 – gives you 8 outs (four 5s, four 10s). Knowing how many outs you have lets you calculate your odds in a general way.
Poker Strategy Tips
Some poker tips transcend the many variants. The strategy advice below applies to most of the major variants of poker. Whether you're playing Texas Hold'em, Omaha Hold'em, Seven-Card Stud or a less popular game, these tips and techniques should improve your game.
Texas Hold'em Strategy & Rules
Texas Hold'em is the most popular version of poker these days. The World Series of Poker Main Event uses Texas Hold'em rules, while most of the poker on TV features the game. Use these Texas Hold'em strategy tips for a solid start to your poker career.
Omaha Strategy Tips
Omaha Hold'em – usually just called Omaha – is a popular variant that looks a lot like Texas Hold'em. Instead of receiving two hole cards, though, each player receives four hole cards. The object is to build the best five-card hand using two hole cards and three community cards. This creates all kinds of new possibilities, thus making Omaha strategy even more complicated than Texas Hold'em strategy.
Seven-Card Stud Strategy Tips
Seven-Card Stud requires many different strategies than Hold'em and Omaha, though some strategy concepts remain constant. Like Texas Hold'em, getting involved in weak starting hands is a bad idea in Seven-Card Stud. Since there's an extra round of betting, you can get into the deep waters quickly.
Basic Poker Strategy Tips
The three main types of real money online poker games are tournaments, sit 'n go events, and cash games. Whichever of the three is your first focus, here are a few tips that can get you started. Read our poker strategy pages for more in-depth analysis.
Poker Tournament Strategy
Because of televised events, the popular image of competitive poker is the huge poker tournament. These have many entrants, which swells the prize pools and offers life-changing first-place prizes. Many tournament types exist, from freezeouts to re-buys and add-on events. In any of these events against a big field of entries, certain tournament strategies apply.
Sit & Go Strategies
Sit 'n Go events are one-table tournaments that are over in an hour or two. These online poker events are popular for players who don't have time for huge tournaments but like the feel of a final table. SNGs are fast and furious, though sit & go strategy requires a bit of patience (at first).
Poker Cash Game Strategy
Online poker sites also have cash games, sometimes called ring games. Whether you play poker online or in live cash games, the same principles apply. Here are cash game strategies to remember the next time you join an ongoing game.
Advanced Poker Strategy
Once you master the basic strategies and start to build your bankroll, you'll want to begin a serious study of poker. It helps to play a lot of hands, but intermediate and advanced players should always look to build their theoretical knowledge and technical skills through research. Here are some of the tools that emerging players should consider.
Poker Strategy FAQ
Is poker a luck or strategy?
Poker is a game of skill that has elements of luck. Thus, it's a game of chance combined with a game of skill. Poker players calculate the odds, disguise their intentions, make educated guesses about their opponents' hands based on clues, and learn to read their opponents through body language and a working knowledge of human psychology. Professional poker players make a living using these skills, so poker has many strategies and skill elements.
What are the 10 ways to win in poker?
Poker has 10 hand ranks, so the poker hand ranks are the 10 ways to win at poker. Someone probably has written on 10 ways people can win at poker, while many online sites have 10 poker strategy tips. No famous poker book or formal poker strategy is called "the 10 ways", though. Look at our poker hands chart above for the 10 ways to win at poker.
Is there a basic strategy for poker?
Not in a formal sense, but certain basic strategies can help a beginner become competent quickly. For newcomers, playing a tight/aggressive strategy works best. When Richard Nixon was in the US Navy during the Second World War, he built up a bankroll that he used to pay for college. Asking a friend if there were strategies to win at poker, the friend said, "Yes, but it's boring. Basically, fold until you have a strong hand and then make big bets." That's basically the tight/aggressive strategy in a nutshell.
What is the best strategy for poker?
Again, playing tight/aggressive is the best poker strategy for anyone who isn't an expert. Someone with expert knowledge might develop their own style but that's a bad idea for beginners. Good players get a firm grounding in the fundamental strategies, then develop their game based on experience and personal quirks.