Poker Study Guide
With so much to learn, beginners to poker often feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. It’s difficult to grasp the concepts of poker in one fell swoop and learning takes time. This is why we’ve developed this study guide – to plan a course of study for beginners and to provide the structure that’s so important when learning new skills.
We have a wide variety of poker lessons here at Pokerology.com and they don’t all feature in this study guide. Instead, we’ve carefully selected the most appropriate lessons to help build your poker skills step-by-step and to provide a solid foundation upon which to build.
This study guide is split into various skill levels and each major section is followed by a quiz. If you’re new to poker then we recommend you start by studying the lessons within our entry level.
We hope you enjoy learning how to play poker with Pokerlogy.com.
The following group of poker lessons provide an introduction to the game. You’ll learn the basic rules, how the betting works, the different variations of poker, along with a few basic poker terms.
Please note: All links within this study guide will open in a new window by default.
- An Introduction to Poker
- Poker Hand Rankings
- The Basic Rules of Poker (Texas Hold’em)
- The Betting Variations; FL vs. PL vs. NL
- Cash Games vs. Tournament Poker
- Poker Terms Explained
Finished? If so, take the entry level quiz.
The beginner level of this study guide will provide a solid foundation on which to build your poker skills.
If you studied our entry level lessons then you’ll understand that there are many ways in which poker can be played. This means there isn’t a poker course that will suit everyone. So, before we continue with more lessons let’s discuss your options at this early stage of your development.
The first decision point is whether to play cash games or tournaments. As a beginner we believe cash games are your best bet. This is because the variance – what we call fluctuations in luck – is much higher in tournaments, so much so that it can take a very long time to determine if your tournament results are due to a lack of skill or simply a run of bad luck. Because the variance inherent in cash games is less, you should be able to assess whether it’s your ability or simply a run of bad luck in a shorter time frame.
Once you’ve played cash games and seem to be making an improvement in them because you’re studying, learning, and growing as a poker player, you should be able to move to tournaments with the assurance that your basic game is good. Once you know you play well, you can begin the make the adjustments that are required to play tournaments well.
It comes down to personal preference and it’s entirely your choice. You may wish to supplement your learning as and when you’re ready, but the poker lessons that are referenced in this study guide remain applicable to either format. Although we argue in favour of cash games for beginners, a combination of both would also work at this stage – giving you time to decide which challenge you’d prefer.
The next decision point is the variety of hold’em that you learn to play; either limit or no-limit. Many of our poker lessons focus on general concepts that will help you in either variation, but these games play very differently. Limit hold’em is well suited to beginners because it’s a more mechanical and structured game. However, because no-limit hold’em is currently the most popular variation of poker, it will be the focus of this study guide.
With all this out of the way, let’s move on and get back to the lessons. We’ll start this section of the study guide with a look at the basics, including some simple betting concepts:
Knowing that you’re eager to play, let’s focus your efforts on the importance of choosing the right hands and introduce you to the concept of positional play with these two very important lessons:
The following resources should also help guide your understanding of these topics:
- No-Limit Hold’em Starting Hands Chart (PDF – print out or bookmark for easy reference)
- Video: No-Limit Starting Hands with Lou Krieger
You should now have an understanding of what starting hands to play in no-limit hold’em based on hand strength and your position. This next selection of poker lessons will provide further guidance on how and why you should play your starting hands.
Math is a key concept in poker. You don’t have to be a math genius to succeed at poker, but knowing the math is essential. In the next group of lessons we’ll cover basic poker concepts that will help you tell the difference between good bets and bad bets and put you on the road to playing profitable winning poker:
- Poker Math & Probability
- Poker Drawing Odds & Outs
- An Introduction to Pot Odds
- Understanding Expected Value
There’s more to poker than math, so now it’s time to introduce you to the psychology of poker:
- Psychology and Poker
- Poker Playing Styles
- Poker and the Art of Bluffing
- The Levels of Thinking in Poker
As we approach the end of this section of the study guide, it’s time we suggest you start playing poker for real money. Maybe you are already, if so, then great. It’s important to reiterate that poker is a game of money played with cards and there needs to be something at stake, even if it’s only pennies. If you’ve yet to make the transition to real money poker, we suggest you start now – but only at stakes you can afford. This is also an appropriate time to introduce you to the fundamental poker concept of bankroll management:
And here’s our final lesson of this section:
Finished? If so, take the beginner level poker quiz.
This section of our study guide will introduce you to various poker concepts and strategies that will take your game to the next level.
The following lessons are those we consider to be the most important at this stage of your development. Remember, there are many more poker lessons on Pokerology.com, which you can also study – but these are the ones that we believe will help get you to the next level in the fastest possible time.
The first group of poker lessons are important concepts in no-limit hold’em:
Here is a selection of poker lessons that focus on post-flop betting strategies:
- Betting the Flop
- The Continuation Bet
- Flop Texture
- Slow Playing
- The Float Play
- Playing the Turn
- Playing the River
The following two lessons cover two very important concepts that will get you thinking about maximizing your profits, which is the key to successful poker:
This next group of poker lessons are all about ‘playing the player’ and provide effective strategies for playing against different types of poker players:
- Reading Betting Patterns
- Playing Aggressive Players
- Playing Tight Players
- How to Beat Beginners
- The Art of Representing
If you have followed this study guide from the beginning you should now have amassed a wealth of knowledge on the subject of poker. There’s still much more to learn, but the next step is to make sure you plug any leaks that reside in your game. Therefore our final group of lessons all focus on the winning poker skills:
Finished? If so, take the intermediate level poker quiz
Minnesota Fats, the legendary American pool hustler, was once asked about the technical aspects of billiards in order to improve one’s play. His response was, “Ya’ just gotta hit balls and balls and balls – and you’ll learn”. In that regard poker is much the same. The concepts we’ve presented throughout this poker course should help you think about how to play poker, but you need to play and play and play to truly understand and excel at the game.
The learning never stops at Pokerology.com!
The intention of this study guide has been to teach the fundamentals of winning poker. We deliberately streamlined this guide and excluded many of the poker lessons on Pokerology.com. This means there is still lots to learn, but at this stage of your development it’s less important for us to provide you with structure and guidance. The best advice we can give is to continue playing poker and browse our poker lessons at your leisure, picking out the topics that you think will benefit your game the most.
Don’t forget that there is more than one game in town and no-limit hold’em is just one of them. Many players stick to the game they initially learned, but a true poker player feels right at home with other poker variations. We therefore recommend you learn how to play limit hold’em, along with variations such as stud, Omaha, and razz. You’ll find lessons on all these variations of poker right here at Pokerology.com!