Poker Cheat Sheet | Betsquare

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Article by Simon Day
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Last Updated: Jul 1st, 2024 Share On Your Network:

Are you an Aussie looking to get a head start with poker? Using our comprehensive poker cheat sheet, you’ll get a leg up on other novices at your table. We’ll cover all you need to know about hand rankings, which will inform your decision-making at every betting round, and the general rules and dynamics of the most popular poker variants like Texas Hold’em and Omaha.

As well as covering the nuts and bolts of game rules and betting tactics, we’ll also illustrate the importance of poker table manners before finishing up with some advanced poker tips to help you level up your poker knowledge to intermediate status.

The Basics of Poker Hand Rankings

One of the most important aspects of poker to master is knowing which poker hands are strong and weak. In an ideal world, you’ll be dealt high-ranking poker hands consistently, allowing you to bet more aggressively and increase your potential winnings from the pot. 

Of course, it doesn’t always work like that, and you’ll need to know which poker hands are significantly weaker than others. Improving your awareness of the lowest poker hands should help to optimise your VPIP, which stands for “Voluntarily Put In Pot”.

This percentage measures how many hands you pay money into the pot pre-flop. Ideally, this percentage shouldn’t be too high. Otherwise, you’ll risk too much of your chip stack on marginal hands.

A decent VPIP percentage usually sits between 12%-24%, especially if you play traditional Texas Hold’em and Omaha games with nine-to-ten players. VPIPs are often much higher for heads-up or even 6-max tables.

If you’re looking for a handy visual aid to help you memorise the poker hand rankings, check out our table below:

Number Hand Hand Description
#1 Royal Flush The rarest hand in poker – the highest possible straight in the same suit – A, K, Q, J, 10
#2 Straight Flush Any straight, with all five cards of the same suit
#3 Four of a Kind Four cards of the same value, i.e. K, K, K, K
#4 Full House A five-card combination of one pair and a three-of-a-kind
#5 Flush Any five cards of the same suit
#6 Straight Five cards in numerical order – not necessarily in the same suit
#7 Three-of-a-Kind Three cards of the same value, i.e. J, J, J
#8 Two Pair Two pairs of matching cards, i.e. 10, 10, K, K
#9 One Pair One pair of matching cards, i.e. A, A
#10 High Card The highest-ranked card in your hand without having a pair or better

 

Key Poker Rules and Game Setups

If you’re still getting to grips with the fundamental rules of poker, we’ll explain the core dynamics of play in the two most popular poker variants – Texas Hold’em and Omaha.

The betting sequences in both variants cover four rounds of betting at the most – pre-flop, on the flop, on the turn, and on the river. 

The betting actions are the same during every round of betting. You can fold (muck your cards), check (aim to see the next community card for free), bet (place the first bet in the round), call (match another player’s wager in the round) or raise (raise another player’s bet in the round).

Let’s cover the rules and flow of both Texas Hold’em and Omaha poker games:

Texas Hold’em

  1. Start of a Hand: Each player is dealt two private cards (hole cards).
  2. Gameplay Flow:
    • Blinds: Two players post the small and big blind to initiate betting.
    • Pre-Flop: Players receive hole cards, and a betting round ensues, starting with the player to the left of the big blind.
    • Flop: Three community cards are dealt face-up, followed by a betting round.
    • Turn: A fourth community card is dealt, followed by another betting round.
    • River: A fifth community card is dealt, leading to the final betting round.
    • Showdown: The remaining players reveal their cards. The best five-card hand wins the pot.

Omaha

  1. Start of a Hand: Each player is dealt four private (hole) cards.
  2. Gameplay Flow:
    • Blinds: Two players post the small blind and big blind.
    • Pre-Flop: Players receive four hole cards, and a betting round starts.
    • Flop: Three community cards are dealt face-up, followed by a betting round.
    • Turn: A fourth community card is dealt, followed by a betting round.
    • River: A fifth community card is dealt, leading to the final betting round.
    • Showdown: Players must use precisely two hole cards and three community cards to make their best five-card hand. The best hand wins the pot.

Fundamental Poker Strategies

When you’re just starting in poker, it’s best to arm yourself with some basic poker strategies to provide structure to your gameplay. Below, we’ll offer betting tactics to elevate your game from complete novice to savvy amateur.

Betting Tactics

  • Value Betting
    We’ll talk more about over-betting shortly, but it’s essential to try and extract the maximum value from every strong hand you have.

    Let’s say you’re dealt pocket aces, and another ace lands on the flop. No one else can have a set (three-of-a-kind) of aces, so you’re in a dominant spot. Against inexperienced players, it can be a good move to show weakness at this stage to induce action from them. Alternatively, against solid players, you should try to size your bet sufficiently so that it builds the pot without forcing them immediately off their hands.
  • Bluffing
    Bet or raise with a weak hand to make your opponents fold with stronger hands. This should only be introduced against players who are inexperienced or susceptible to fold against signs of strength. A bluff is one of the most common poker terms in the trade.

    Use your bluffs sparingly, however. No one will respect your bets if you develop a reputation as a bluffer.
  • Continuation Betting (C-Bet)
    If you were the aggressor in the previous betting round, it’s often helpful to bet first again in the next betting round – regardless of whether you hit the board.

    This is a continuation bet and is handy even if you haven’t improved your hand. Think of it as getting information on your opponent’s hands.

Never Underestimate the Value of Table Position

Your table position should always influence your betting decisions. You’re ‘in position’ if you’re one of the last players to act in a betting round. This gives you maximum information on your opponents’ hands, which can inform your decisions.

You may wish to play tight in an early position, open up your hand range in the middle position against weaker players and play a wider hand range in a late position when the table appears weak.

Read Your Opponents

Observe your opponents and take the time to learn their betting tendencies. Tight players will fold more often and only play strong hands, making them easier to bluff. Loose players will play more but usually get creative with marginal hands, making them more susceptible to value bets when you’re strong.

Practical Poker Tips on When to Fold, Call or Raise

  • Fold
    If your starting hand is weak, fold unless you genuinely think you can bluff a weaker player off their hand.
  • Call
    Call if you have a solid hand but are unsure if it’s the best hand. For instance, you could have a middle pair, and an opponent is only betting modestly. Calling allows you to see the next card without committing too many chips.
  • Raise
    When you’re confident you have the best hand, e.g. top pair or top kicker, you could raise to extract value and potentially narrow the field of active players in the hand.

Mistakes to Avoid in Poker

Any beginner poker guide worth its salt should cover the most common leaks in the poker games of Aussie novices. So, without further ado, let’s run through the most typical poker mistakes a beginner will make at the tables.

  • Prepared to play any starting hand
    As most poker novices will attest, it’s tempting to get involved with the action too often. This means calling and raising with starting hands that really should be folded in the muck. The more marginal hands you play, the more likely it is that variance will affect your results over the long term.

    Be selective over your starting hands, especially in an early position, to counteract this. You may be able to loosen up in a late position when none of your opponents in an early position have shown strength.
  • Allowing emotions to influence your betting decisions
    Poker is an emotional game, there’s no two ways about it. However, those who let their emotions spill over into their decision-making are likelier to make more losing moves than winning.

    The key to overcoming irrational behaviour at the poker table – known as ‘tilt’ – is to accept that unexpected things can happen occasionally. Your opponent may hit their two-outer when you had them in bad shape on the flop. Try to approach every hand objectively, regardless of previous outcomes.
  • Over-aggressive betting
    Another common trait among poker beginners is betting too aggressively on hands that don’t merit it. This is known as ‘over-betting’. Some novices are often giddy when they have the best hand that no one can beat on the turn or river. Over-betting can usually deter others from committing chips to the pot in this scenario, reducing the hand’s potential value.

    To counteract over-betting, you should take the time to master pot odds and implied odds. It will help you to size your bets by the probability of making a drawing hand or winning with a made hand.

Poker Etiquette

If you play live in a land-based poker room, good poker etiquette is invaluable to create a fun and enjoyable atmosphere for everyone at your table. There are several unspoken rules to remember and give your full respect to every opponent you face:

  • Pace of play
    Rule number one is always to maintain the game’s flow. There’s no doubt that the hands of poker can be slow at times, depending on how quickly betting decisions are made by players. Not leaving it unnecessarily long to make your betting decisions is essential. Take your time, and don’t leave any stone unturned, but don’t be slow for the sake of it. Poker is a game that’s best when it flows smoothly and everyone has a fair chance to play.
  • No trash talk
    It’s equally important to show respect to every opponent at the table. It doesn’t matter whether they’re experienced or a novice; you should show everyone the same poker table manners. Be polite to everyone, even if someone hits their two-outer against you. Avoid being overly critical of your opponents’ play. Just remember, everyone has to start somewhere on the poker ladder!

    Live poker rooms are there for everyone to play and have fun. Even in those high-intensity hands, it’s best to maintain a friendly demeanour, which can also help to prevent you from tilting after losing big pots.
  • Manage your chip stack
    Controlling and organising your chip stack is just as important. Ensure your stack is arranged neatly and all chips not in play are kept well back from the betting area. It’s a similar story to handling your cards. Do your best to protect your cards and avoid exposing them accidentally, maintaining the integrity of the game.
  • Stay present in the game.
    Rule number four ties into rule number one. Pay attention and remain engaged with the action at the table. Even if you’ve folded your hand, it’s essential to avoid excessive phone use or loud chat with other players who are inactive in the hand. Being present clearly shows respect for both your opponents and the game itself.

Advancing Your Poker Skills

If you discover a passion for playing poker and develop a thirst for poker knowledge, here are a few advanced poker tips to get you thinking more like an intermediate-level player than a novice:

Master Pot Odds

Become accustomed to not giving your chips away lightly. This means only committing the right amount of chips to the pot, commensurate with your winning potential. Pot odds are the best skill to master for this. It helps you determine whether a call has a positive expected value (+EV). 

If the pot already contains $75 and you need $25 to call, your pot odds are 3:1. You shouldn’t call if you have less than a 33.33% chance of winning the hand.

Exploit Player Tendencies

Intermediate poker players focus more on their opponents’ tendencies to mould their poker strategy. If you want to do the same, pay close attention to how often players bet, call and fold. Get into the habit of mentally categorising players as either tight-aggressive, tight-passive, loose-passive, or loose-aggressive.

Embrace Bluffs and Semi-Bluffs

To become an effective bluffer at poker, your bluffing strategies shouldn’t revolve around weak starting hands. Semi-bluffing adds another string to your bow, such as betting with a drawing hand, which has the potential to improve with the following community card.

You should also familiarise yourself with the concept of ‘bluff equity’. This is the likelihood of a player folding, combined with your hand’s equity, if they do call.

Conclusion

Hopefully, this poker cheat sheet will give you a great starting point in memorising the poker hand rankings, the bet dynamics of the most popular poker variants, and the techniques and concepts needed to elevate your poker skill set over time. As with anything, poker practice makes perfect.

Ultimately, you don’t want to become a jack of all trades and a master of no poker game types. Decide whether you prefer cash games or tournaments, then hone in on the best versions that suit your game. Spend time improving your rudimental poker skills before moving up the levels.

Don’t be afraid to engage with the online poker community, either. Plenty of sharp minds are willing to offer advice and guidance online – including the team at Betsquare!

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