top best poker tips for beginners 2020

We can find many poker tips saying what is good and what is not, but in order to actually learn poker strategy and make this game profitable you need to distinguish what you should be learning at the start of your journey.

If you are an experienced player, this article is not going to help you much, and you should take a look ad advanced Texas Holdem strategy tips instead.

However, if you are just starting out, it will save you a lot of time and money on the way. I went through all the stages from being a complete beginner to playing poker professionally for a living and in this article, I will give you the best poker tips for beginners.

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Naturally, this is the first step you want to take and most players understand that. While learning general poker rules can be easy, you should really spend some time understanding what poker hand ranking is. You should not be in the spot where you are in the middle of the hand and have to think are you beating a straight with your flush or not and be wasting your valuable decision time on that. This is how poker hand ranking looks:

Poker Hands Rankings Chart

Learning positions is invaluable and you should not start playing before doing that. You probably have heard already, even if you did not play before, that position is very important in poker. I would say, even more, it is one of the most important poker tips you need to learn when starting out! So do not overlook it!

Generally, if you have a position on other players it means you are acting after them and it enables to see what they do before making your decision.

This is a huge chunk of information, which you can take into consideration. You will know if they bet or check, how long they take to make a decision and what sizing they are using.

For example, seeing that your opponent checks quickly could be a good indication of him having a weak hand and you can decide to bluff knowing that. There are many examples like this one, but one thing is clear – it is better to see that information than to give it to your opponent.

When you will be ready to learn poker strategy just remember that having a position is crucial in poker games and you should play much more hands while being in position.

The hands you decide to play are largely affected by the position you are in. The later position you have the more hands you can be opening and putting much more pressure on your opponents.

One of the first things we cover in poker coaching sessions is preflop ranges and you can take a look at my opening hands from different positions here. Get my preflop poker cheat sheet now and improve your strategy at once!

printable poker hands cheat sheet


Always take this poker tip into consideration before jumping into your games. Many players find no interest in playing low games, but you need to see that your goal is to learn poker strategy and not to waste money while doing that. Therefore, you have a few reasons for starting at low stakes:

  • Firstly, you will feel more comfortable knowing that you are not risking a lot of money and even if you lose some at the beginning it will not hurt you. You will be able to learn the game and will not be spending a lot of money on the process so that is a good idea.
  • Secondly, a player’s skill level increases every time when you move up stakes. Starting at the lowest limits lets you play versus weakest players and learn the game instead of donating money to ones who are much better right now.
  • Lastly, it enables you to see the whole picture and get a feel the whole game looks. You will understand positions, what poker hands you should play and can take everything in practice.

Before moving up you need to learn poker strategy and make sure that you feel comfortable in any game that you play. Another factor that you need to take in consideration is Bankroll Management, this is a separate topic and you can read more about it Poker Bankroll Management here!


This is a bit relater to the previous tip for starting at lower stakes, but finding the best games will help you even more and drastically increase your EV.

There is no place for ego in poker, and if you stick to playing better players, you will end up losing. As simple as that.

Even if you are the 10th best player in the world but keep battling against the nine who are better than you, you will go broke sooner or later.

Truth to be said, this is extremely important for every poker player, no matter how good they are since it will determine your win rate.

On top of that, you will have smaller swings in better games and will be able to move up the stakes much quicker, which is a massive bonus on its own.

If you are not sure how to find the best games, here are the top tips for you:

  • Look for best games for your format (some rooms are better for cash games and other for MTTs)
  • Research when you can find peak traffic and more recreational players
  • Find the best option available in your country to be safe when playing and secure your money


Many amateur players make a huge mistake of playing too wide and opening too many Texas Holdem hands.

The key when you are starting out is to play only your strongest hands to keep your VPIP poker stat at a lower side and avoid many tough decisions post-flop. This will let you play less, but more aggressively when you decide to take your hand into action.

Most of your opponents in low games going to be playing random hands a lot of the time and taking this poker tip alone will let you start ahead of them. Using this you will be able to learn poker strategy without losing money and in a much more effective way.

So be raising and betting yourself when you play instead of just calling and put maximum pressure on your opponents. Knowing that you have the advantage of holding better hands pre-flop you will be just winning against their range of cards in the long run.


When deciding which hands to play in Texas Holdem, your position going to be one of the most important factors to consider.  You win more money from later positions so try to play more hands from there. Since all my poker coaching goes around 6max poker strategy I will give you an example for this:

6max positions

Play very tight from early positions, widen up going closer to the BTN and try to steal more pots there. By far the most profitable position in poker is Button (BTN) and sitting there you can be playing much more hands than from any other position. It is going to take some time to get used to this, but always take your position into consideration when deciding which hands to play.


I cannot sweat it enough how important this poker tip is! Your goal is to learn poker strategy and concentrate on seeing all the information. So leave multi-tabling for the future, stick with one table, and try to absorb all the information you can get.

Look how your opponents are playing and what hands they have at showdown. As we said, concentrate on using your position and playing a tight-aggressive approach and it can take you quite far.


Emotions are your enemy at the poker table. Sure enough that you can start feeling angry or sad when you lose while playing and you need to deal with this as well, but don’t make it even worse by starting your games when you feel bad.

We are doing stupid things when we are tired, angry, or even drunk and it can cost us a lot of money. Avoid starting your games when you feel bad and it will be the first, but a very big step in becoming a better poker player.

When you will be able to deal with these emotions, you can take it one step further and take a few minutes to prepare for your sessions before starting playing. To get more info about self-management and mental game make sure to get my FREE poker book!


You need to know poker odds you have to hit the winning hand and what pot odds you are getting. All you have to do then is make your decisions based on it and not your emotions.

What are the pot odds? It is a concept that lets you understand are you getting the right price to continue with your hand and help you to make the right decision. This is a big concept and one that we will not be addressing deeply, but I am going to give you a quick list most common Texas Holdem hands and how many outs you have to improve a specific hand until next street:

  • Gut-shot – 4 outs
  • Two overcards – 6 outs
  • Open-ended straight draw – 8 outs
  • Flush draw – 9 outs
  • Flush draw & gut-shot – 12 outs
  • Straight flush draw – 15 outs

You can have a good indication how likely you are to improve your hand by simply multiplying your outs by 2 if want to know an approximate probability of hitting your hand on next street or multiplying by 4 if you are looking for the number how likely you are going to improve your hand from flop to the river.

If you have an open-ended straight draw on the flop with 8 outs you can count that you will improve it approximately 8*2 = 16% on the turn and hit your straight or 8*4 = 32% of the time by the river. These are not exact numbers but are very close to accurate ones and by far it is the best and easiest way to learn poker strategy. Moreover, you can find much more information in my full article about poker odds so I highly recommend reading it. Think about it when making a decision with a draw and take this poker tip seriously.


When you know how likely, you are to improve your poker hand when you have a draw you have to learn to put your opponent on a range. This will let you understand how many outs you actually have and then make a more educated decision. Many factors can suggest what hands your opponent could be playing. It is quite tough and advanced topic, but you can start with a simple version of it.

  • Think about his position, what hands he could be opening and playing from there;
  • His post-flop action can suggest what he could have. Betting or checking can indicate his strength or weakness and you should be looking for that information;
  • Board texture is an important factor to take into consideration as well. People are less likely to have many strong hands on dry boards compared to connected ones;
  • A time he takes to make a decision and sizing he is using can give us additional information as well.

There are many things to consider and you need a lot of practice to be able to think about that. Do not blame yourself if you struggle with it at the beginning. As we said this is a complex topic, that has books written just about it so do not expect to master it in a day or a week. Keep playing and learn poker strategy in the right way!


Do not fall into a habit of making decisions automatically. It is a huge mistake that even advanced players are making a lot of the time and killing all their chances to win money. Take your time and think about all the stuff we already discussed.

Especially at the beginning, it could be overwhelming thinking about everything at once, like your positions, poker hand ranking, opponent’s cards and much more. That is why you should stick to that poker tip of playing just one table and take all the time you need to make your decisions.


A long time ago, I was explaining how to play poker to my friend who never played before and after discussing for a while, he said: “So basically I need to play when I have a hand and fold when I don’t”. I think this is one of the best advice you can get when just starting playing and learning.

Of course, when you move up stakes and start playing bigger games this will not be an option because many players tend to play much more aggressive there and bluff more, so you need to learn how to play against them. But in the beginning, sticking to this strategy is your best bet.

When you move up and start playing a bit more reasonable opponents I highly recommend you checking out Poker Training Videos! You can take your game to the next level by crushing your opponents in the way you did not think was possible!


You need to take this poker tip into serious consideration. When your passive opponents who are just calling all the time start raising out of nowhere you should be folding a lot and even some of your strong hands. Most of the time one pair hands even as good as a top pair or an overpair should go into a muck.

When just starting playing you will have some problems letting go of these hands, but it is one thing that you need to learn if you want to be successful. Players in the lowest games are not bluffing so much and in the long run, you will be doing yourself a huge favor by folding one pair hands to aggression in these spots.

Not all opponents are passive ones and if you are playing against a maniac or someone who is very aggressive and raising constantly you should not be folding these hands. You need to understand that there are different types of players and you really need to play differently against them. The last part of my poker tips list will help you to deal with this.


If you want to be able to compete with players even on lower stakes, you should get some help. I am not talking about advanced programs that can help you learn GTO poker strategy, but a simple one that every player should have. Tracking software is essential because you can see stats on your opponents and know how they are playing.

It lets you quickly spot the different types of opponents that you will be facing and to change your poker strategy and decisions based on that. In my opinion, by far the best program for this is Holdem Manager 2 and you can get a FREE trial of HM2 here!

holdem manager 2 banner

Moreover, to make it even easier I made a list of The Best Poker Tools available for you.


I think these are by far the most important poker tips that you should take seriously when starting out. It will help you to learn poker strategy faster and protect you from many common mistakes that players do. Moreover, if you want to read more, you can find some good advice on poker strategy articles.


Jonathan Little on Extracting Full Value from Strong Marginal Made Hands

Jonathan Little

When you are against a loose, splashy opponent, make sure you extract full value from your strong marginal made hands. That’s the topic of this week’s strategy column here on PokerNews.

The highlighted hand actually took place at a $1-$3 no-limit hold’em cash game that one of my students showed me. At a seven-handed table with effective stacks of $300, action folded around to a loose/splashy player in the hijack who opened for $10.

We looked down at the {a-Spades}{10-Spades} on the button and needed to decide what to do. I think both a call or three-bet is fine, you just have to ask yourself what you expect your opponent to do. If they’re going to four-bet often enough, then you probably just want to call with this hand, which flops decently well. This is one of those hands you don’t mind seeing a flop either multiway or in position heads-up.

I typically call in this spot, but in a smaller cash game like this where my splashy opponent will often call with {8-}{10-} or {9-}{10-}, then you want to three-bet for value. So in this situation, my student did three-bet to $32, both blinds folded, and the original raiser called to see the {a-Clubs}{5-Diamonds}{4-Diamonds} flop.

“Remember that even in small-stakes games people fold too often, not to flop bets, not to preflop bets, but they fold way too often to turn and river bets.”

The hijack checked and I think it was a nice spot to go for a value bet. I like a small size and my opponent did continue for $25. Even if we missed we could still bluff. Remember that even in small-stakes games people fold too often, not to flop bets, not to preflop bets, but they fold way too often to turn and river bets. So, don’t be afraid to blast them.

The hijack called and the {10-Clubs} turn gave us two pair, the effective nuts. We are now trying to get money in, maybe bet medium on the turn and jam the river, hopefully against a hand with an ace or flush draw. My student bet $70 and got called.

The {4-Clubs} both paired the board and completed the flush draw, but the player in the hijack checked nonetheless. The four is a pretty bad card, but if you think about my opponent’s range, they shouldn’t have too many fours, and now there are even fewer combos for him to have. It’s more likely they have an ace, and the question becomes how much will they call?

Will they call an all in for three-quarters pot with an ace-deuce suited, a hand a loose/splashy player could very well hold. I don’t know, maybe. If you think an opponent will always call say $125 with an ace but will sometimes fold to a jam, then you at least want to consider the former. However, if your opponent will always call with an ace, then just rip it all in.

Personally, I think I would go $125 here, but I don’t fault my student for going all in for $173. The hijack does call off with the {a-Diamonds}{7-Clubs} and my student won a $604 pot. Our hero nailed it, nailed the read. This is the type of thing you see a lot of people do, they make top pair and will just not let it go.

My student actually extracted an additional $40 or $50 more in value than I would have.

For a more thorough breakdown of this hand, check out my thoughts in the following video:

Jonathan Little is a professional poker player and author with over $7,000,000 in live tournament earnings. He writes a weekly educational blog and hosts a podcast at Sign up to learn poker from Jonathan for free at You can follow him on Twitter @JonathanLittle.


Video Analysis: Understanding Poker Ranges

Gareth James Poker Triple Barrel

In this video, MTT Poker School head coach Gareth James walks you through why it’s important to connect the dots when it comes to working out what your range actually looks like for a particular line – in this case, a triple barrel!

James starts off the video by encouraging you to hide your hole cards when you review hands to force yourself to think in terms of range rather than what you would do with your exact hand.

In the hand example, Hero opens from the CO and the BB calls. They’re playing roughly 50bb effective. The flop is {7-Diamonds}{j-Clubs}{q-Diamonds}, Hero bets 1/4 pot and the BB calls. The turn is {5-Clubs} and Hero bets 1.25x pot and the BB calls. The river is the {k-Hearts} and Hero jams.


At this point James encourages you to actively think about what your range looks like and demonstrates how easy it is to believe your value range is wider than it actually is by rattling off all the strong hands you could have in this situation.

We could have Q7s, J7s, 75s, QJ, 77, 55, KK, QQ, AT, T9, AA, AK, KQ, KJ, K7s, K5s.

But actually, we don’t!

James explains that for this 1/4 pot flop, 1.25x pot turn and river overbet jam line, we don’t actually have all of those hands. We wouldn’t overbet the turn with {q-}{q-}, for example, when we block so much of the BB’s calling range. We also wouldn’t overbet {k-}{j-} on the turn.

So the key thing he goes through in this video is making sure you’re connecting the dots from preflop all the way to the river.

You can watch the video here:

Gareth James is the head coach and founder of MTT Poker School and the lead instructor for MTT Game Changer, an interactive group coaching program aimed at low and mid-stakes MTT players and bankrolls. For more information on group coaching and courses, click here.


How to Adjust (And CRUSH) Splashy Live Poker Games

Upswing Poker Splashy Cash Games


We get questions like this one all the time at Upswing Poker:

“My local $1/$2 game is crazy. People call raises with all sorts of garbage hands and they never seem to fold a pair postflop, but I can’t seem to win!

“How should I adjust my strategy in this game?”

It seems like many players struggle with winning in what most would consider “soft” games.

To be fair, such games can be frustrating when you catch a cold run of cards. Who likes watching players with weak hands drag big pots while the stack in front of you dwindles away?

Today we’ll go over valuable strategic adjustments you can use to take advantage of splashy live games. Here’s what’s covered:

  • What Makes a Game Splashy?
  • How to Adjust Your Preflop Strategy
  • C-Bet Strategy Adjustments

Let’s get started.

What Makes a Game Splashy?

There are three major signs that a game is splashy:

1. The biggest sign is that a lot of pots are multiway

Through the use of modern poker software, poker players have learned that pots should rarely be fought for by multiple players. Frequent multiway pots usually mean that there is at least one player (usually more) who is playing too many hands preflop.

2. Large open-raise sizes are also indicative of a splashy game

Preflop solvers have found out that the optimal preflop open-raise fluctuates between 2 and 3 big blinds (bb), generally hovering around 2.5 big blinds. In a splashy game, it is not uncommon to see an average open-raise size upwards of 5bb.

Upswing Poker Splashy Cash Games

In theory, large raise sizes can be fine as long as they’re accompanied by tighter ranges, as the players are risking more chips to win the same amount (the blinds). That is not the case in splashy games, however. What you will usually find is that the players are raising with the same or even wider ranges than you’re used to playing against.

When your opponents greatly increase their raise size but don’t tighten their range, that’s super exploitable!

3. The last major sign is a willingness by players to commit a lot of chips with marginal hands

This can appear in many forms, including:

  • Going all-in or calling huge raises preflop with very weak hands.
  • Calling multiple bets postflop with weak pairs or draws.
  • Raising with nonsensical hands.

Now, let’s get into some specific adjustments for these games.

Advanced Solver Range Upswing Lab training course
The Advanced Solver Ranges for cash games — one of five sets of preflop charts in the Upswing Lab training course.

How to Adjust Your Preflop Strategy

This section covers adjusting as the:

  • Preflop Raiser
  • Big Blind Defender
  • Preflop Caller In Position

Adjusting as the Preflop Raiser

As always, you should start by playing a solid preflop strategy, then adjust after gauging just how splashy the game is.

If you notice that most of the pots are going multiway, you should increase your raise size while keeping your ranges unchanged. If you normally raise to 3bb, jack it up to 4bb. Pots still going multiway? Add another blind.

As a general rule, you should keep adding one big blind to your raise size until you find that you are mostly playing heads-up pots.

That’s the easy adjustment that everyone should make. There is also an optional, more advanced move, but it can backfire if you don’t have deep knowledge of your opponents and/or the necessary postflop skills to pull it off…

This riskier approach is to also widen your raising range to include more good-but-marginal hands. The reason for this adjustment is pretty simple: your splashy opponent plays too many hands preflop and doesn’t have the knowledge or discipline to fold at the right times postflop.

Upswing Poker Splashy Cash Games

Raising with a slightly wider range allows you to play postflop with the splashy opponent more often, thus you become the benefactor of their mistakes more often. Again, be very careful with this adjustment, because it’s high variance and can easily backfire if you don’t know how to navigate with wider ranges postflop.

Adjusting Your Big Blind Defense

The first thing to consider is that you should not start defending a wide array of hands. This is a trap that many other players fall into, including most of your splashy opponents.

Regardless of the number of callers in front of you, you will be getting a very bad price to call because of the large raise size. This is one factor that should make you want to play tighter.

Furthermore, calling from the big blind (with most hands) actually becomes worse as more players join the pot for a couple of main reasons:

  • Your equity decreases. It’s tougher to beat three hands than two or one.
  • Your hands will realize less equity. You will see free/cheap turns less often when there are multiple players who can bet or raise behind you.

So even though your pot odds improve with more players in the pot, it is not enough to make up for the two points above.

With that in mind, let’s talk about the hands you should defend with.

The best hands to defend with are hands that dominate the other players’ ranges and/or hands that can potentially make the nuts. Examples of this include:

  • Suited Ax hands
  • Suited connectors
  • Pocket pairs.

Pro tip: If you are well-versed in 3-bet pots, I suggest widening your squeeze range to include hands such as AJo, ATs+, KTs+, QTs+, JTs and 99+.

Adjusting as the Preflop Caller In Position

When facing a raise in position, you should 3-bet with a linear range consisting of your best playable hands. For example, if you’re in the cutoff facing a middle position raiser, you should 3-bet with 99+, ATs+, KJs+, and QJs.

The hands you should call in position are those that perform well in multiway pots. I’m talking about suited connectors, suited aces, and 22-88.

Further reading: The Starting Hands That Make the Most Money in Multiway Pots

How to Adjust Your C-Betting Strategy

Given that most of the pots will be multiway, the focus of this section will be on c-betting in multiway pots.

The most important thing to remember about c-betting in multiway pots is that the “burden of defense” is shared between multiple players. In other words, a bluff needs to go through multiple opponents in order to profit.

Upswing Poker Splashy Cash Games

Let’s go over a bit of simple math to make this clearer.

Say you bet $50 into a $100 pot. In order for that bet to break even on its own (not including your hand’s equity), it needs to get through 33% of the time ($50 / ($100 + $50) = 0.33).

This means that the other players need to call cumulatively 67% of the time in order to stop you from profiting with your bluffs. Given that, on average, a preflop range will flop a made hand or a draw around 63% of the time, and that you are up against at least two players, it becomes very hard for a bluff to profit.

When you add the fact that the general tendency of weak players is to call too much, then trying to bluff multiple players becomes a very dicey proposition.

Betting with marginal value hands becomes dicier too. This is because the more players there are, the more likely it is one of them will have a two-pair or better. So, you may want to mix in some more checks on the flop with value hands as well.

Wrapping Up

You have to remember that the meta-strategy that you will be using in these games is very value-oriented and very tight postflop due to many pots being multiway.

With these things in mind, you will absolutely crush these games in the long-run, as long as you buckle your seat belt and prepare for some short term variance.

If you like this article or have any questions or feedback. feel free to leave a comment down below and I will do my best to answer.

Till’ next time, good luck, grinders!


How to Play Jack-Ten Suited in Cash Games (Preflop Advice & 6 Postflop Tips)

How to Play Jack-Ten Suited in Cash Games


Jack-Ten suited has to be one of the prettiest hands in poker.

It’s not just a looker. Jack-Ten suited is also a very strong hand because it has a ton of playability and solid blocker effects.

This article covers:

  • How to Play Jack-Ten Suited Preflop
  • 3 Tips for When You Miss the Flop (As the Preflop Raiser)
  • 3 Tips for When You Hit the Flop

Let’s get started.

Note: Want to test and improve your poker skills for free? Upswing Poker has dozens of free poker quizzes that will help you hone your strategy. Take a poker quiz now!

How to Play Jack-Ten Suited Preflop

Before jumping into postflop scenarios, we are going to take a look at how to play Jack-Ten suited in a variety of common preflop situations.

Unopened Pots

This hand is strong enough to be open-raised from any position. Limping this hand would only lead to smaller pots being won on average over the long-run.

Against a Raise

Your play when facing a raise should depend on your position and the position of the raiser. Let’s split this section into three groups:

1. When you’re in Middle Position through Button

There are two schools of thought, both of which can be good:

  1. 1. Playing a 3-bet only strategy.
  2. 2. Play a mixed strategy that has both 3-bets and cold-calls.

Both strategies have extremely similar expected value (EV) as long as you apply the appropriate postflop strategy.

If you want to choose a 3-bet or fold strategy, you will want to 3-bet with this hand. If you’re using a mixed strategy, then you will want to call with this hand as it’s not strong enough to 3-bet for value, nor is it weak enough to 3-bet as a semi-bluff.

2. From the Small Blind

If you play this hand from the Small Blind when facing a raise, you should always 3-bet. And you should do so almost every time. The exception is when you are against a very tight opening range in a 9-handed game.

3. From the Big Blind

When you’re in the Big Blind facing a raise, you should vary your play based on the position of the raiser.

If it was the Small Blind, Cutoff or Button who raised, you can either 3-bet or call (using a mixed frequency strategy is best according to preflop solver outputs). Against all other positions, just call and take a flop.

Against a 3-Bet

In highly raked games, which is most poker games, preflop solvers show that Jack-Ten suited should sometimes be called and sometimes be 4-bet when out of position against the 3-bettor.

There is a huge penalty for calling a 3-bet and seeing a flop when most games have a “No flop, no drop” rule in place. This is why such a powerful hand should still hit the muck against a 3-bet some of the time.

When you’re facing a 3-bet and have the advantage of position, you should almost always call with Jack-Ten suited. The exception here is when you raised from early or middle position and the player who 3-bet is a good player (with a well-built 3-betting range).

Against a 4-Bet

Not all 4-bet situations are the same, so let’s break this section down into two scenarios.

1. You 3-bet from Middle Position through Button and face a 4-bet from the open-raiser.

You should usually fold in this spot. The exception is if you are on the button facing a 4-bet from the cutoff, in which case you can call.

2. You 3-bet from Small Blind or Big Blind.

You should only call in this scenario when it is the player on the Button 4-betting. Otherwise, make the fold.

Keep in mind that it is important to consider your opponent’s 4-betting tendencies. Against a tight 4-bettor, for example, you can usually comfortably fold Jack-Ten suited to their 4-bet, regardless of your/their position.

Note: Want to know how to play every hand in every common preflop situation? Get instant access to extensive preflop charts and lessons (for cash games and tournaments) when you join the Upswing Lab training course. Lock your seat now!

The Advanced Solver Ranges for cash games — one of five sets of preflop charts in the Upswing Lab training course.

3 Tips for Playing When You Miss the Flop (As the Preflop Raiser)

Tip #1 – Always bet when you flop any real draw

Jack-Ten doesn’t have any showdown value, which makes it an ideal semi-bluffing hand when you have outs to improve to a straight or flush. That includes gutshot straight draws.


Tip #2 – Always bet when you have a backdoor flush draw

When you have some type of backdoor equity like a backdoor straight draw or backdoor flush draw, then it’s best to bet. This is because it will enable you to continue (semi-)bluffing when the turn gives you a real draw.

Tip #3 – Check on super connected boards when you don’t have a real draw

I’m talking about boards such as {8-Hearts}{6-Hearts}{5-Clubs} or {7-Spades}{6-Spades}{5-Clubs}.

On boards like these, Jack-Ten does have a backdoor straight draw. But because the board is so connected and better for the caller’s range, your overall strategy should be very passive in these situations.

3 Tips for Playing When You Hit the Flop

Tip #1 – When you flop top pair in a single-raised pot, lean towards betting on the flop and checking on the turn

On most boards, the top pair that you’ll hit will not be not strong enough to value bet for three streets.

Jack-Ten’s top pairs are usually worth betting two streets for value, and it’s usually better extract this value by betting flop-checking turn-betting river (rather than bet-bet-checking). This way you can pick off some bluffs from your opponent or find yourself in a clear value-bet spot on the river after the opponent checks again.

Tip #2 – Never slow-play your super-strong made hands

This tip really applies to every hand.

When you have a strong hand in poker, you should almost always lean towards building the pot ASAP. When you flop two pair, trips, a straight or a flush, you should basically always fast-play your hand.

Tip #3 – If you have top pair plus a flush draw, double barrel more often on the turn.

As previously mentioned, normally the top pairs you hit with Jack-Ten will not be not strong enough to value bet with for three streets, so you should often check the turn.

But when you have a flush draw to go with your top pair, this pushes the value of the hand just above the threshold that makes it worth betting. This happens because the hand has incentive to keep building the pot in case it hits a flush on the river.

Final Thoughts

I think this article should really clear up most of the questions you had about playing this hand.

Do you approach playing Jack-Ten suited any differently? Let me know in the comments below. Also, if you have a particular hand you’d like to see covered on this blog, feel free to let me know.

Until next time, good luck, grinders!


What Did I Do Facing a 3x-Pot River Bet in a $25/$50 NLH Cash Game?

Jonathan Little

In a tough $25/$50 no-limit hold’em cash game, I had a solid middle pair but faced a 3x-pot river bet for $2,700. What was the play? That’s the subject of this week’s strategy article here on PokerNews.

The hand took place a while back before COVID at Borgata, which actually reopened their poker room just recently. The opponent I’m up against in this hand is a good, strong professional player, well respected, and he likes to battle. He raised to $150 from the cutoff out of our effective $10,000 stacks.

I looked down at the {a-Spades}{j-Spades} on the button, and because the two players in the blinds were the sort of players I definitely wanted to keep in the hand, I opted to just call. Unfortunately, both those players folded and it was heads-up to the flop, which came down {q-Spades}{j-Diamonds}{3-Clubs}.

My opponent continued for $300, and I think this is a very easy call with middle pair and a backdoor spade draw. If you study at all at my training site,, you will know that when you have a very clear marginal made hand, one that if you raise and your opponent continues you’re not especially happy, but you’re in fine shape against all your opponent’s garbage, you usually just want to call.

A lot of people think that the goal is always to extract maximum value, which may be true against weak players, but against a world-class player like this, it’s sometimes about pot control.

The turn was the {2-Clubs} and our opponent checked. I think we can go either way between checking or value betting, but usually, you want to be pretty cautious about building a pot with a marginal hand, especially when the stacks are deep.

A lot of people think that the goal is always to extract maximum value, which may be true against weak players, but against a world-class player like this, it’s sometimes about pot control.

I did check and the {6-Hearts} completed the board on the river. Now, if my opponent makes a normal bet like $600, or even $1,000, we have an easy call, but here he bets $2,700, which was three times the pot and certainly not what we expected. However, it is what you’ll often get out of good, strong, battling loose-aggressive players, who often bluff way too much using a big size.

When they know you have a marginal hand, they like to try to blow you off your entire range with an overbet. If I’m folding top pair or worse, there are a load of hands that will fold to this big bet, so in order to stay protected you can’t fold the top pair, or worse, you actually have to extend lower and lower.

So, against a player like this, it’s an easy call. Am I good here 45 percent of the time? Yes, I’m probably good 60 percent of the time or more against a player like this. Again, against tighter players at smaller stakes, this might not be the case.

I called and won the pot after my opponent showed the {10-Spades}{8-Spades} for a missed gutshot. He elected not to bluff the turn and instead go for the big bluff on the river. If you want to move up, you need to learn to defend appropriately. If your opponent doesn’t have a bluff range in this scenario, what should you do with your jack? Easy fold. Poker is easy when you know exactly what your opponents are doing.

For a more thorough breakdown of this hand, check out my thoughts in the following video:

Jonathan Little is a professional poker player and author with over $7,000,000 in live tournament earnings. He writes a weekly educational blog and hosts a podcast at Sign up to learn poker from Jonathan for free at You can follow him on Twitter @JonathanLittle.


Did Jamie Nixon Lose His Mind?

Jamie Nixon Unibet Poker

Jamie Nixon has been on a heater in 2020. In February he final tabled the Unibet Open in Dublin. Then, in May, he final tabled the Unibet Open once again, this time the Online version, where he came 2nd for €55,000.

Then, just a few short weeks ago, he hopped into a $75 lottery SNG, smashed the jackpot and took down the 3-handed game to win a $25,000 EPT Online High Roller seat, which he parlayed into an 8th place finish and $71,387.

So when the popular Twitch-streamer and Grosvenor ambassador joined Dara O’Kearney and David Lappin for a strategy segment on ‘The Chip Race’, they expected him to choose a hand from one of his many triumphs. Instead, modest as ever, Jamie picked ‘the worst hand (he) ever played’.

Related: Jamie Nixon’s EPT Online $25K SHR Experience: ‘I Literally Can’t Ever Moan About Running Bad Again’

The hand comes from the WPT Deepstacks and the action starts with Örpen Kısacıkoğlu raising to 1K at BB400 from the cut-off, Jamie raising to 3900 with {a-Diamonds}{q-Clubs} from the big blind and Örpen calling. Both players are super-deep and the effective stack in this hand is 120K.


The Flop comes {6-Diamonds}{2-Diamonds}{2-Spades}, Jamie c-bets 3.2k and Örpen calls. There follows some discussion on bet-sizing on this board.

The Turn comes the {k-Diamonds}, Jamie bets 12k and again Örpen calls. We discuss whether or not this is a must-bet spot and Dara makes some excellent arguments for a check on this street.

The river is where things get really interesting. It comes the {9-Diamonds}, making Jamie the nut flush. The pot is 39K and Jamie bets 37K of Örpen’s remaining 100K stack. Örpen shoves and Jamie us faced with a 63K bet to win approximately 240K. We discuss how ‘chip for chip’, he needs to be good roughly 26% of the time to break even but factoring in it being a tournament in which he has a good edge, he probably needs to be good over 30% to consider the call.

Jamie explains how he bet big on the river so that if Örpen was to come over the top he felt like he could get away. However, when faced the actual bet, Jamie started getting suspicious thoughts, in particular that Örpen would turn his AKs with no diamond combinations into a bluff.

Jamie makes the call and gets the bad news that Örpen had KK. He says that he “lost his mind” but on deeper analysis, it is fair to say though that his call has some merit. Dara examines the solver line, revealing that Jamie’s call is pretty much breakeven so versus a capable and tricky opponent like Örpen who may find more bluffs than most players, it is far from horrible to be a station in this spot.

To watch all the action and analysis, click the video link above. The Chip Race is a fortnightly podcast sponsored by Unibet Poker (@UnibetPoker). The last show featured Chance Kornuth, Marty Mathis, Bertie Bayley and Unibet IPO champion Ciaran Cooney and the next one will star Olivier Busquet, Zach Elwood, Gillian Epp and reigning Unibet Champion Padraig O’Neill. All episodes are available on Apple Music, SoundCloud and Stitcher.


What’s Your Strategy For Betfair’s Hold’em Exchange Games?

Betfair Exchange Games Hold'em

Did you know that signing up to Betfair Poker gives you access to Betfair’s entire suite of gaming products? Your poker account details can be used for the sportsbook, the famous betting exchange, casino, and the awesome exchange games.

The Betfair Exchange Games combine poker and the site’s betting exchange. You can bet on a hand winning the pot, or bet against a hand winning. It’s even possible to make specific bets that results in you winning regardless of the outcome of the hand. These games are a great way to have a flutter when you fancy taking a break from playing actual poker.

We recently wrote about the Omaha Hi edition of Exchange Games, now it’s time for the Cadillac of Poker, Texas Hold’em.

How Do Hold’em Exchange Games Work?

The concept for Hold’em Exchange Games is simple, especially if you’ve ever played a hand of hold’em at the online poker tables.

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Each game features four random hold’em hands. You can make a wager before the hole cards are revealed, then preflop, on the flop, and finally on the turn. They play like a typical hand of hold’em except there are four active players in the hand.

It’s possible to Back a hand or Lay a hand. Backing is betting that something will happen. Laying is the opposite; it’s betting on something not happening.

For example, you may Back pocket aces preflop with them being the best starting hand in hold’em. Conversely, you may wish to Lay seven-deuce offsuit because it’s the weakest. Laying a bet essentially makes you the bookmaker.

All winning bets have a 2.5% commission charged, losing bets do not command a commission.

Let’s take a look at a real-life example of a recent Hold’em Exchange Game so you can see a game in action.


Hold’em Exchange Games: The Deal

The Deal
The Deal

Every Hold’em Exchange Game starts with the deal. As you can see from the image, the four players’ hole cards are hidden and all the back and lay odds are exactly the same.

Some players like to place a wager at this stage, although doing so is pure gambling as you have a 25% chance of guessing correctly.

Hold’em Exchange Games: Preflop


The game progresses to the preflop stage where the hole cards are revealed. Betfair’s software changes both the back and lay odds to reflect the equity each holding has. Here’s a tip for you, fire up the PokerNews Odds Calculator, input all the hands and see how much of a favorite or underdog each hand is!

You can see here that Hand 1 is the favorite. Ace-high is the best hand right now but it is still quite vulnerable. Backing Hand 1 for £10 would result in a £25.20 win if Hand 1 remains best.

Laying the underdog, Hand 4, has odds of 6.1. Laying £10 would see you win £10 if Hand 4 doesn’t win, but you’d be on the hook for £61.00 if it did come from behind and win. This is called your liability. It’s usually a good idea to Lay lesser amounts to keep your liability low when the odds are relatively high.


Hold’em Exchange: The Flop

The Flop
The Flop

The flop is now dealt and you have the opportunity to place more back or lay bets. You can see that Hand 4 is now the clear favorite thanks to pairing its six. In fact, it’s a slightly better than an odds on favorite. Hand 3 has slipped to the underdog and the previous favorite, Hand 1, is now very second best.

Get More Chips

You don’t have to place a bet here but you can if you wish. Use the available time to look at the odds calculator and to consider what may happen next. Hand 4 is best but it is still vulnerable. Any seven, eight, king or ace puts it way behind. Likewise, the odds will change if a draw becomes possible on the turn.

The flop is the defining street in any hold’em game and it’s no different here. If you laid Hand 4 preflop, consider backing it here to reduce your potential losses. Likewise, if you backed Hand 1 preflop, consider laying it to win that bet.

Hold’em Exchange Games: The Turn

The Turn
The Turn

Things have dramatically altered on the turn because Hand 1 has improved to top pair and it is now a huge favorite with one hand to come.

Hand 3 can no longer win regardless of the river card so is, therefore, eliminated. Let’s hope you placed a lay bet on earlier streets! Hand 2 and Hand 4 have the exact same odds because they need a minor miracle to win. Hand 2 needs a queen and only a queen while Hand 4 needs one of the remaining two sixes or the two fours still in the deck.

Hold’em Exchange Games: The River

The River
The River

The deuce on the river means Hand 1 is the victor.


Decimal Odds and Implied Probability

As a poker player, you’ve learned all about odds and probability. We know pocket aces are approximately 82% to beat a random hand, for example. The decimal odds give you an insight into the implied probability that a hand will win. The table below has some common decimal odds and what that equates to in chances of winning, it will come in handy!


Examining Three-Way All-In Situations in Hold’em

Examining Three-Way All-In Situations in Hold'em

We spend a lot of time looking at heads-up races in Texas hold’em, learning the relative percentages of each side of the race in a preflop all-in situation.

Let’s talk about poker hands.

  • Who among us doesn’t know that pocket queens are a slight favorite versus ace-king suited?
  • Or that a larger pocket pair is about 80 percent to win over a smaller one?

But what if I asked you what were the relative percentages of victory in a three-way all-in — say, ace-king suited vs. pocket queens vs. pocket deuces?

What about then?

Let’s Find Out

Take a look at the three-way all-in situations below. Would you be able to fill in the win percentages for each hand correctly, or nearly so?

Hand 1Win %Hand 2Win %Hand 3Win %

Few of us learn or memorize these statistics. We can look them up or use a poker odds calculator, of course. And some of us may have a good intuitive sense of how the percentages might break down.

But few have them memorized with the same specificity as we have heads-up match-ups.

Take a quick quiz.

See how you do in filling in those blanks above, then read on. I have the answers below, along with some added thoughts about how having some idea of how these hands perform in these spots might affect your strategy.

Answers and Analysis

Hand 1: The first three-way contest has {a-Spades}{k-Spades} winning about 39 percent of the showdowns against the other two hands.

{q-Clubs}{j-Clubs} wins about 32 percent of the time, and {2-Diamonds}{2-Spades} wins just a little more than 28 percent of them.

The {2-Diamonds}{2-Spades} clearly wants to get to a heads-up contest against either of the other hands if he can, as that would improve his chances of winning from less than 30 percent to close to 50 percent.

Depending on his position, the pocket deuces might do this either by making a large bet or by raising.

When you combine his improved chances of getting into a heads-up contest with the fold equity that a large raise would create, it is almost a certainty that a large raise would make sense here if it were deemed likely to knock out the middle hand.

Hand 2: In the second match-up, with two suited overcards against a big pocket pair and a small one, {a-Diamonds}{k-Diamonds} has just under a 38 percent chance of winning at showdown.

This compares unfavourably with {q-Clubs}{q-Hearts} which has a 44.5 percent chance of victory.


Here ace-king has a strong incentive to try and knock out the third runner, while the queens don’t as their chance of winning goes up only slightly.

Meanwhile {2-Diamonds}{2-Spades} fares equally badly either in a three-way fight or heads-up against the queens, being around 18 percent to win in either case.

(The deuces would like if possible to get heads-up against ace-king suited — a virtual coin flip — but of course can’t know which opponent is holding that hand.)

Hand 3: The third match-up is also interesting to analyze.

In a three-way contest, {k-Spades}{k-Diamonds} is nearly a 66 percent favorite, while {q-Clubs}{q-Hearts} is only about 19 percent to win and {2-Diamonds}{2-Spades} about 14.5 percent.

But if pocket kings can get heads-up against either of his opponents, the kings will be better than 81 percent versus queens and 82 percent against deuces.

That’s going from roughly a 2-to-1 favorite over the field to more than a 4-to-1 favorite — quite an improvement in his chances of winning.

On the other hand, the queens really don’t want to spend any money pushing for a heads-up contest against the kings, as his chances of victory would actually be just slightly worse in a heads-up match-up. (Of course, queens would love to get heads-up against deuces, but the kings obviously aren’t going anywhere here.)


Here’s the important takeaway from looking at three-way races.

Your poker strategy may sometimes call for trying to narrow down the race to just two of you.

This might be the case even if you’re behind in a three-way contest and remain an underdog heads-up.

In other situations, you’ll want to keep the race three-way, as your chances of victory either don’t diminish or even improve slightly with a third person in the pot, and of course the pot will be larger with a third player involved.

Again, I’m not sure exactly when and how this data or other data related to three-way all-ins might be useful.

I found it interesting to see what some typical match-ups are, even though in practice I generally focus on my opponents’ ranges more than on specific hands.

Even so, I know that looking at these contests — and many others — has helped my thinking about whether and how to push to get heads-up with different hands.

I’m interested in your thoughts as well — weigh in and let me know your views on how best to approach these three-way situations.

Ashley Adams has been playing poker for 50 years and writing about it since 2000. He is the author of hundreds of articles and two books, Winning 7-Card Stud (Kensington 2003) and Winning No-Limit Hold’em (Lighthouse 2012). He is also the host of poker radio show House of Cards. for broadcast times, stations, and podcasts.


How to Win at Texas Hold’em Poker: Beginner Tips to Win More

How to Win at Texas Hold’em Poker - Every Time

Looking for a poker strategy to improve your chances of winning and begin to play like a professional poker player? You are not alone.

This article doesn’t list all the poker tips and tricks under the sun. Instead, it focuses on specific Texas hold’em strategy elements that are proven to help you identify the best hands to play and improve your chances of winning at poker.

Continue reading to learn:

We have also put together a collection of online poker bonuses up for grabs at the best online poker sites. This way you can try all these poker strategy tips in this article when you play with other players.

In other words, if you are looking for a poker strategy guide with clear and easy-to-understand poker tips for beginners, you’ll love this one.

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Poker is one of the greatest games on earth. The combination of skill and luck, the psychological element, and the fact you can make money from it all help with its popularity.

Whether you play on the world’s most prestigious poker tours or you just love to play poker with friends, in order for you to increase your poker winningsyou need to learn how to win at poker. To do this, you need to learn the basics, become familiar with concepts like poker odds and outs, and a few other strategy tips that will help you with every single poker hand you play.

AN INTRODUCTION TO ‘POKER MATH’: How to Calculate Pot Odds in Poker. is a simple guide to understand how to calculate pot odds in poker.

The process of learning how to win at Texas hold’em can be broken down into several categories. The main ones are:

  • Basic Poker Tips: These include elements like the hands ranking, poker glossary, basic strategy articles, and other poker tips for beginners that can help you improve your hand.
  • Advanced Poker Tips: These can include the correct use of poker tools like an odds calculator and more sophisticated strategies that will help you win at Texas hold’em poker with a variety of players.
  • Long-Term Poker Training: The key to learning how to win at poker is to continue to develop different ways to approach the game and never sit on what you already know. The most effective way to succeed in this mission is to practice as much as you can and rely on resources like good poker books and poker training sites.

Basic Winning Poker Tips

If you want to discover how to play Texas Hold ‘Em you need to know the rules first.

When I first started playing poker, I didn’t know anything about the game. That includes what starting hands I should play or what beats what in poker.

You’d be surprised at how many people sit in a real money poker game and expect to win at Texas Hold’em poker without even a clear understanding of the poker rules and other basics.

Those basics not only include knowing the poker hand rankings so you know what beats what, but also the various positions at the poker table and how they affect your strategy.

NEED HELP WITH THE BASICS? Poker Positions Explained: The Importance of Position in Poker is the most comprehensive guide to positions in poker. Read it to know how to adjust your play according to your position in the hand.

Basic tips help you learn key poker concepts like pot odds and implied pot odds, as well as the importance of following solid bankroll management rules.

Once armed with this information, you’re ready to add a few more strings to your bow and move one step closer to discovering how to be a winning poker player.

Advanced Winning Poker Tips

The next stage in your quest to win at poker every time is to learn some of the more advanced concepts.

Fill your mind by studying such aspects of the game as:

You should also learn how to play against the various different poker player types — e.g., tight-aggressive, loose-aggressive, and loose-passive — because each opponent type needs to be approached with a different strategy.

Some of these advanced concepts became public knowledge in the mid-1990s when David Sklansky penned The Theory of Poker.

It is in this book that you will find Sklansky’s thoughts on what he calls “The Fundamental Theorem of Poker,” which reads:

“Every time you play a hand differently from the way you would have played it if you could see all your opponents’ cards, they gain; and every time you play your hand the same way you would have played it if you could see all their cards, they lose.

Conversely, every time opponents play their hands differently from the way they would have if they could see all your cards, you gain; and every time they play their hands the same way they would have played if they could see all your cards, you lose.”

This text may seem long-winded, but the idea being expressed is quite simple.

The correct decision (i.e. the one that will bring you poker winnings) to make in any given poker situation is one that has the largest expected value, or ‘EV‘ as it is commonly abbreviated.

If you were able to see your opponents’ cards, you would be able to calculate the mathematically correct decision and would win at poker every time! 

Obviously, it is not possible to calculate the correct decision to mathematical certainty as poker is a game played with incomplete information.

But you can use all of the available information presented to you to make a decision that would yield long-term positive results — decisions that are +EV.

WANT TO WIN SOME FAST POKER GAMES? The 2020 Spin and Go Strategy Guide is regarded as the ultimate resource to improve your results on the hottest jackpot sit-and-go games on the planet!

Apply Your Skills

While it is practically impossible to learn how to win at poker every time in a monetary sense, due to the luck factor, by making decisions that are +EV you actually are winning every time you play poker, at least in the long term.

  • As a simplified example, imagine you are heads-up with an opponent in a hand where the board reads {k-Spades}{q-Spades}{8-Diamonds}{3-Hearts}.
  • You hold {a-Spades}{2-Spades} and your opponent has accidentally revealed {k-Hearts}{q-Hearts}, so you know that you need to complete your flush to win the hand.
  • There is $100 in the pot and for some reason, your opponent decides to only bet $20.

In this situation you should snap-call, because even if the river is not a spade you actually gain in the long run.

Why is this the case?

Because the pot odds you’re receiving are 5-to-1 (calling $20 to win $100) yet your chance of hitting your flush with one card to come is about 4.1-to-1.

As the pot odds are greater than the odds of hitting the hand, you actually make money in the long run even if your flush misses!

That is to say, if you faced the same choice many, many times and always chose correctly, you do stand to come out ahead thanks to your consistently ‘+EV’ decisions. And that folks, is how to win at poker every time!


Of course, the game is more complex than that overly simple example suggests. But in essence, the idea still holds.

The key to how to win at poker is to make more +EV decisions that –EV ones, and then play enough for the math to make the results run true.

Use a Poker Odds Calculator

One way to improve your own game vastly and increase your chances of learning to win at Texas Hold’em is to play around with different scenarios to see what the mathematically correct decision would be.

Since we know that the relationship between mathematics and poker isn’t one that everyone loves, we developed a free poker tool that helps you with all your poker calculations.

How to Win at Poker Every Time with a poker odds calculator

The next time you play Texas hold em poker and you want to know whether you hold a strong hand or not, load up the PokerNews Odds Calculator and look at how much equity your hand has on different boards and against different possible hands for your opponents.

There are other tools and poker cheat sheets out there that allow you to see how your exact hand fares against a possible range of hands, too. 

Knowing this information and being able to draw upon it while in the heat of a hand could be the difference between winning at poker or losing.

Always look to extract as much value as mathematically possible, if you want always to win at poker.

Continue the Learning Process

It may seem to an outsider that the best poker players have discovered the secret of how to win at poker every time, yet this simply isn’t true.

What is true is those at the top of the pile are extremely skilled poker players, but they are also some of the hardest working people in the industry, constantly working on their game and trying to improve.

The true secret to winning at poker is to be like them and continue to work on your game.

Poker Books

Whether you like to keep your collection on an e-reader like the Kindle or you prefer the old ink-and-paper combo, poker books are an essential element of any winning poker strategy.

The right poker books give you the unique opportunity to learn how to win at poker using the experience of the best players in the history of the game.

If you don’t know where to start with your collection, have a look at Nolan Dalla’s list of the best poker books ever written.

The ten poker guides in the list will help you win at poker more than any poker cheat sheets or quick tips ever will.

The best part? These poker books won’t help you only with Texas hold’em but will give you the opportunity to improve your play also if you prefer other games like Omaha poker, five-card draw, stud poker, and many other card games.

Poker Videos

Youtube is another great resource to find good strategy guides to improve your poker games.

While some of the best videos are kept behind a paywall by a number of advanced poker training sites (more on that later), videos are another great resource to get better results when you play cash games and poker tournaments.

A great starting point with a lot of useful poker tips for beginners is the official PokerNews YouTube Channel.

Over the past 15 years, the PokerNews team traveled the world and all the major poker tours to interview professional poker players and have them share the strategy secrets that made them as successful as they are.

The Poker News strategy videos are your best option to learn poker winning strategies if you are on a budget.

Click here to access the channel and browse through hundreds of free poker videos.

Poker Training Sites

If you really want to learn poker and you don’t want to be stuck playing low stakes games forever, you need to consider joining one of the best poker training sites.

While the best ones are not for free, the level of coaching and help you get from them is essential to progress in real money poker and compete with other players at the highest levels.

If you are new to the world of online poker training and you don’t know the difference between resources like Upswing PokerRun it Once, and Daniel Negreanu’s Masterclass, here’s an overview of the best poker training sites.

What’s Next?

Learning how to win at poker requires a lot of work – and a lot of reading. Now that you know what to expect and what tools can help you reach your goals, it’s time to move onto other in-depth poker guides like: