No 1 : A Beginner’s Guide

When we tell someone we play poker, often the first reaction is ‘show us your poker face!’. To the outsider, the perception is that poker is everything to do with body language. We know the truth is that the starting hands we play, position, bet sizing, and knowing how our opponents play, are at the core of playing poker well. However, there is a lot of information that players give away, both verbally, & non-verbally, that can help us to make good decisions.

The first advice I would give a beginning poker player, with regards to how they act at the table, is to not try too hard. When we try to mislead our opponents, we often give them helpful information. I remember once, in a decent sized cash game, a third card of one suit coming down on the turn. The other player in the pot immediately shakes his head from side to side, & pulls a disgusted face….. then after a pause moves all in. I couldn’t stop myself laughing out loud. When I had composed myself, I made the easy fold, & sure enough, the other player showed his flush.

Rarely do players make it that easy, but more often than not, if we try to mislead, we help the opponent.

When you are in a pot, making the same actions when you are strong, or bluffing is a good start. If your usual method is to lift & place your chips over the line, then do that all of the time. If you suddenly decide to throw them over the betting line in a pot, you are giving information away.

Then in between bets, sit still but relaxed. The shot clock that is in play for a lot of the tournaments at Dusk Till Dawn (great introduction in my opinion), means you don’t have to sit too long, & if your opponent wants to use their time bank chip, that’s good news for you, as it means they are in a tough spot.

And finally, unless you are a super confident person who can talk freely whether you are weak or strong, don’t let your opponent goad you into talking when they are facing a decision. A player who talks can give away a ton of information, both with the words they say, & how they say it. Best just to stay silent – until you are thanking the dealer when they are pushing you the pot.

Next week, No. 2 You want to look for tells, but you don’t know where to start.


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