5 Simple Ways ANYONE Can Win at Poker (Just Do This!)

5 Simple Ways ANYONE Can Win at Poker

This article was written by blackrain79.com contributor Fran Ferlan.

While becoming a winning poker player can be difficult, it’s certainly not overly complicated. In fact, just about anyone can learn the basic winning poker strategy.

Implementing what you learn, however, is an entirely different story. Winning at poker is actually more about discipline than anything else.

This article will show you 5 easy ways anyone can win at poker, regardless of your previous poker knowledge. Let’s get right into it.

1. Play Less Hands

The easiest way anyone can improve their poker results immediately is to simply play less hands. Winning more by playing less may seem counterintuitive at first. How can you win if you don’t play?

This line of thinking is understandable, but it’s by far the biggest mistake most amateur poker players make.

There are a few reasons why playing less hands can improve your results, and they all have to do with basic math.

In no-limit Texas hold’em, most hands miss most flops. In fact, 2 out of every 3 hands you’re dealt will miss the flop completely.

In other words, you won’t connect with the board in any way, meaning you won’t get any pairs or any draws.

So the more hands you play, the more often you’ll miss the flop, and since you have to pay to see every flop, the more money you stand to lose.

What’s more, the more hands you play, the weaker your overall range becomes, which means you’ll miss the flop even more frequently than 2 out of three times.

For example:

A hand like J♠️6♥️ will miss the flop far more frequently than a hand like J♦️T♦️ 

The former has far less ways to potentially connect with the flop than the latter.

Another reason to play less hands is to reduce the risk of getting your hand dominated. A dominated hand is the one that is highly unlikely to win against another hand.

For example, if you hold a hand like King-Queen, and your opponent holds a hand like King-Nine, your hand dominates your opponent’s.

When playing poker, you always want your hand to dominate your opponent’s, instead of the other way around. If your hand is dominated, it can cause you to lose a huge pot.

When playing poker, you probably won’t lose a ton of money when you miss the flop completely. You’ll just fold your hand and be done with it.

But when you do connect with the board and keep putting the money into the pot, this is where you might run into trouble.

You might get a decent hand, but your opponent could end up having an even stronger hand. As they say, the worst hand in poker is the second strongest hand.

In the above example where you hold King-Nine and flop a top pair, you might have trouble letting go of the hand when your opponent keeps betting, only to find out your hand was dominated the whole time.

This brings us to the third reason why you should play less hands, especially as a poker beginner, and that is to avoid marginal situations like in the example above.

Poker is a game of incomplete information, and you won’t know where you stand in the hand most of the time. It’s very rarely the case that you get a hand that’s so strong you don’t have to worry about what your opponent is holding.

Most spots in no-limit hold’em are marginal, meaning your hand could be either ahead or behind.

As you get more experienced, you might want to get involved in more marginal spots to allow your skill edge to fully manifest, but when first starting out, it’s better to avoid marginal spots altogether.

Poker is complicated enough as it is, so it’s better to keep things simple as you learn the ropes.

By playing less hands, you will find yourself in fewer awkward situations where you don’t know what to do, and you’ll avoid a lot of costly mistakes as a result.

As for which hands to actually play, I won’t be getting too deep into the topic here. You can check out my other article where I show you exactly which hands to play in more detail.

2. Play More Hands in Position  

Playing less hands is the easiest way to improve your poker results immediately. Being selective with your preflop hand selection is the crucial part of a successful tight and aggressive (TAG) strategy.

Another important aspect of this strategy is to utilize the power of position to your advantage. Playing in position means being the last to act in a betting round.

This gives you a huge advantage over your opponents for multiple reasons:

A) You have an informational advantage over your opponents.

By being the last to act, you get to see what your opponents did, while they have no idea what you will do. You can have a better idea about your opponent’s hand strength, and adjust accordingly.

B) You can get more value out of your strong hands.

If you’re the last to act, you get the final say at the price of the pot, meaning you can inflate the pot further if you have a strong value hand.

Conversely, if you have a mediocre or a drawing hand, you can exercise pot control. So if your opponent bets, you can simply call to keep the pot size manageable.

If they check to you, you can check behind if you don’t want to create a bigger pot, or you can bet yourself to increase the pot size.

C) You can bluff more effectively.

As mentioned, being the last to act gives you an informational advantage over your opponent. This makes it harder for them to play back at you when playing out of position.

You can use this to your advantage by trying to push your opponents out of the pot even without having a strong hand.

Since very strong hands don’t come around often in no-limit hold’em, sometimes you’ll have to take down the pot even without a strong hand. This is far easier to do when playing in position than out of position.

So how do you play more hands in position? You can do it by open-raising more hands in later positions, namely the cutoff and the button.

When playing on the button in particular, you will ALWAYS play in position postflop. You can abuse this fact by open-raising a lot more hands than you would in other positions.

If your hand has any sort of playability postflop, chances are that you can open-raise with it profitably from the button.

Even if you don’t flop anything good, you can still keep applying the pressure postflop, as your opponents will be less likely to play back at you.

Conversely, you should be more selective with hands that you play from earlier positions and from the blinds.

When you’re playing from the blinds, you will almost always play out of position. The only exception to this is when you’re playing in the big blind against the small blind.

Now, this doesn’t mean that you should just automatically fold all but the strongest hands dealt to you in the blinds, as this can leave you vulnerable to getting exploited.

If your opponents figure out you’re folding your blinds too often, they might start attacking your blinds with impunity.

When playing in the blinds, you will lose money over the long run, guaranteed. This is true even for world class poker professionals. That’s just how the structure of the game is set.

This shows how important the power of position is when playing poker. So your goal shouldn’t be to try to win when playing from the blinds, but to lose as little as possible.

Hopefully, you can offset these losses by winning more money when playing in position.

This is something that Nathan discusses in more detail in a recent video.


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3. Value Bet Your Strong Hands

Being selective with your starting hand selection and playing your hands in position are the two cornerstones of the tried and true winning TAG poker strategy.

The third cornerstone is playing these hands aggressively (i.e. betting and raising instead of just checking and calling).

For Example $1/$2 Cash Game:

You raise 9♦️8♦️ and a Tight Passive regular calls you in the Big Blind.

Flop comes: T♦️7♠️4♦️

Your opponent leads into you

What should you do??

You should RAISE

You have a huge monster combo draw hand on this board (flush and straight draws). This hand is a statistical favorite to win by the way, even vs a strong hand like Top Pair.

See my popular poker odds cheat sheet for much more on this.

This is a perfect example of a situation where it pays to get aggressive, instead of playing passively and just calling like most people do.  

When playing poker, the goal is to win as many chips as possible, plain and simple. And the best way to do so is to get paid with your strong value hands.

A lot of amateur poker players think the best way to win in poker is to outwit their opponents by making daring bluffs, trapping them with monster hands and so on.

But the reality is much simpler, and frankly, far less exciting. This is something that all professional poker players already know.

Most of the money you’ll win in poker will come from getting paid with your strong value hands when your opponents also have a strong, but weaker hand that they just can’t part with.

Also, most of your money will come not from your genius plays, soul reads, bluff catches and what have you, but from the mistakes of your opponents.

Your job as a poker player is to capitalize on these mistakes as often as possible. And since one of the most common mistakes amateur players make is not folding enough (i.e. holding onto their hands way longer than they should), your best bet is to make them pay a premium for these mistakes.

This means playing your strong value hands as straightforwardly as possible, i.e. betting and raising a lot when you expect your hand to be ahead of your opponent’s calling range.

Don’t worry about being too predictable. As mentioned, your job is not to outwit your opponents, but to capitalize on their mistakes.

Let them think you’re bluffing, let them overthink and arrive at wrong conclusions, and count your money.

A lot of amateur poker players make the mistake of slowplaying their strong hands in order to outplay and trap their opponents. But this strategy can end up backfiring more often than not.

Slowplaying is the act of playing your strong hands passively (checking and calling) instead of aggressively (betting and raising) in order to conceal your hand strength.

While there are certainly situations where slowplaying can be the most profitable play, you’re usually better off just playing your strong hands straightforwardly.

Slowplaying can be effective against overly aggressive players who like to bluff a lot, so you can rely on them to build up the pot for you.

But since most amateur poker players fall more on the passive side of the spectrum, they usually won’t build up the pot for you. You’re better off just doing it yourself.

That’s because poker amateurs love to call when they catch any piece of the board. They will often call you down with mediocre hands like second or third pair, they’ll chase all sorts of ludicrous draws, and make all sorts of crazy “hero calls” on the off chance that you might be bluffing.

If they want to chase their draws, charge them a premium for doing so. If they think you’re bluffing, don’t prove them right.

Trying to outwit your opponents is often a futile endeavour. You can’t control how other players will act, so trying to induce them to take a certain line will just end up backfiring more often than not.

Strong value hands don’t come around often in no-limit hold’em, so it’s absolutely crucial to extract as much value out of them as possible.

Learning how to properly value bet your hands will be more conducive to improving your poker results than any other tricks or gimmicks.

If you want to learn more about how to extract max value out of your hands, the difference between thick and thin value betting, and other advanced poker strategies, just read Crushing the Microstakes.

4. Play in Profitable Games

Poker is a game of skill, so the only way to be a consistent long term winner is to play against players you have a significant skill edge over.

Even if you’re the sixth best poker player in the world and you go against top five players, you will lose money over the long run.

Conversely, even if you’re not a great poker player, you can still make money if you play against weaker competition.

So good game selection will influence your results just as much as your technical game skills.

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When deciding which poker game to play, you need to choose the appropriate game format that suits you, as well as the appropriate stakes.

Let’s talk about the game format first.

There are a variety of poker formats to choose from, and which format you choose will depend on your individual preferences and what you want out of the experience.

The main two formats to choose from are poker tournaments and cash games. In poker tournaments, all the players buy in for a certain amount, then compete to win the prize pool.

Tournaments are a ton of fun to play, and potentially offer the biggest payout of all poker formats. The payout structures are very top heavy, meaning the first three places usually award the most money.

One advantage of poker tournaments is the fact they usually attract a lot of beginner poker players because of the hefty payout structure.

This makes the overall player pool slightly worse than other formats. And since the only way to win money playing poker over the long run is to play against inferior competition, poker tournaments could be a good choice.

The downside of the tournaments is the fact that the payout structure is very hit-or-miss. In other words, you have a chance to take down a huge prize, but due to the huge player pool, you’re going to lose a lot too, and it might take some time to offset these losses.

Poker tournaments inherently have a lot more variance built into the structure than other poker formats, so if your goal is to make money at least somewhat consistently, you might opt for the cash game format instead.

In poker cash games, you buy in for a select amount, play for as long as you want, and leave whenever you want. If you cash out more than you bought in for, you’ve had a winning session and vice versa.

Cash games offer a lot more flexibility than tournaments. If you’re playing poker online, you can play any time you want, as games are practically running 24/7.

You can also play for as long as you want and leave whenever you want. Poker tournaments don’t offer this much flexibility.

There are a lot of other poker formats to choose from, but cash games and tournaments are the most popular ones.

See my recent article about the most profitable poker game formats for beginners if you want to know more.

Next up, you need to choose the appropriate stakes to play. This is where a lot of players make a costly mistake, where they play the stakes they have no reasonable chance of winning over the long run.

The higher the stakes you play, the more skilled the general player pool, so the harder it gets to make money.

There’s no place for ego here. You might think you’re good enough to play certain stakes, but as a general rule, it’s better to err on the side of caution.

You obviously only want to play with money you’re comfortable with losing. If you’re worried about losing your buy-in when sitting down at a certain table, you’re playing out of your depth.

When playing poker, you need to be able to make tough, but rational decisions throughout your session. If you’re fretting about losing money while doing so, it’s going to negatively impact your decision making process.

Poker can be stressful enough as it is. Don’t add to the stress by playing with money you’re not comfortable with losing.

One last thing to keep in mind when choosing the stakes to play is the relative skill difference between live and online poker players. Online players are generally more skilled overall.

So if you’re playing, say a $1/2 cash game live, this doesn’t correlate with the $1/2 cash game online. While in a live game you’ll likely encounter a bunch of amateurs, in a $1/2 online game you’ll likely go toe-to-toe against full time poker professionals.

In fact, if you’re playing the $1/2 live, the corresponding skill level will likely be ¢1/2 or ¢2/5 online.

Now, you might scoff at the notion of playing for pennies, but live and online poker are an entirely different beast.

As mentioned, it’s better to err on the side of caution. If you can beat your current limit over a significant sample size, and you’re sufficiently bankrolled, you can try jumping up the stakes.

Just know that there’s no rush, and it’s important to play the stakes you’re comfortable with.

5. Just Have Fun!

This last point doesn’t have anything to do with the poker strategy, but it’s important nonetheless.

The truth is, most people lose money over the long run when playing poker. Some people break even, and only a select few achieve extraordinary results.

At the end of the day, your poker skills are not the only thing that will determine your success or failure in this game. Poker has a short term luck element involved, meaning that sometimes you will lose, even when seemingly doing everything right.

This is something a lot of players simply can’t wrap their head around.

When they’re running well, poker seems like an easy game, and they think it’s just a matter of time before they take down a huge tournament prize or start playing the high stakes.

But when things turn south (as they inevitably do), their confidence gets shattered along with their game.

They let their emotions get the best of them, and they completely abandon the tried and true winning strategy that allowed them to win in the first place.

They start chasing their losses, jumping stakes, playing outside their bankroll and so on, which causes them to lose even more, which makes them play even worse and down the rabbit hole we go.

This state of compromised decision making due to negative emotions (most often anger or frustration) is called poker tilt, and it’s the bane of every poker player on earth.

These days, anyone can learn the fundamental winning poker strategy. There’s plenty of materials readily available to anyone interested.

But staying the course when this strategy doesn’t produce the results you’re hoping for is something else entirely.

You can read up on how to deal with poker variance, but at the end of the day, how you manage your emotions is entirely up to you.

One thing you can do, however, is to remember why you started playing poker in the first place.

Chances are, you weren’t in it for the money. You probably liked the game because it was fun and exciting.

Maybe you liked the social aspect of it, maybe you liked it because it was intellectually challenging.

Either way, you had fun playing it.

If you can’t have fun playing poker, even when you’re losing (especially when you’re losing), you might consider taking a break.

Poker can be incredibly stressful at times, but it gets even more stressful when you’re constantly worried about how you’re running day to day or session to session.

Most people play poker as a hobby, and all hobbies cost money. Why should poker be any different? So you shouldn’t feel bad if you’re not making bank yet.

As long as you’re playing responsibly and you’re enjoying the experience, that’s a win in and of itself in my book. 

The prospect of making a buck here and there is just a cherry on top.

If you want to start winning consistently in small stakes games much faster by the way, just follow the simple strategies in The Micro Stakes Playbook.  

5 Simple Ways Anyone Can Win at Poker - Summary

Becoming a winning poker player isn’t overly difficult, but there’s still a learning curve to overcome.

But if you follow the right strategy, you can make the process a lot simpler, regardless of your previous knowledge (or lack thereof).

Here are 5 easy ways anyone can improve their poker results:

1. Play less hands.

Most hands miss most flops in no-limit hold’em, so you should only play hands that can connect with the board in some meaningful way.

Also, if you play less hands, you’re less likely to find yourself in marginal situations where you could potentially make costly mistakes.

2. Play in position.

Being the last to act in a betting round gives you a huge advantage over your opponents. It gives you more information, more options, it allows you to extract more value out of your strong hands, as well as to bluff more effectively.

3. Value bet your strong hands.

The goal of poker is to win as many chips as possible, and the best way to do that is by getting paid with your strong hands.

This means betting and raising a lot. Don’t worry about becoming too predictable. Let your opponents think you’re bluffing and count your money.

4. Play in profitable games.

Poker is a game of skill, and the only way to win consistently over the long run is to play against players that you have a significant skill edge over.

You should pick the appropriate limits, as well as the game format that suits you the best.

There’s no place for ego here. If you’re nervous about losing your buy-in, you’re doing it wrong.

5. Have fun.

If you can’t have fun playing poker, especially when you’re losing, take a break.

Poker should be a fun experience, not a nerve-wracking one. If you’re only in it for the money, there are better options out there than playing cards.

Lastly, if you want to know my complete strategy for small stakes poker games, make sure you grab a copy of my free poker cheat sheet.

5 Simple Ways ANYONE Can Win at Poker