How to Start Teaching Poker

Experienced players often find themselves being approached by other friends who are interested in learning poker. However, being good at something does not necessarily mean that you will be great at teaching it, particularly if the student in question has almost no background knowledge of the subject. Here are some basic guidelines to remember for introducing “newbies” to the game.

The most important information is probably the different poker hands and their rankings. These rankings are shared by many of the poker variants. If possible, give your friend an illustrated diagram, perhaps with some short explanations, of all the different poker hands, and ask him/her to learn it first before you get down to the nitty-gritty of poker game rules. Your friend may reject this option at first, and try to push you to start teaching him/her “real” game play right away. However, if the person does not already have basic knowledge of hand rankings (particularly for hands of five cards), poker lessons are likely to be tedious and frustrating for the both of you. You can find diagrams online and print them out. Otherwise, be prepared to devote the very first part of your lessons to making absolutely sure your friend has learnt the hands.

Next, try teaching your friend one of the simplest poker variants, which is Five Card Draw. This game will be particularly useful if your friend is interested in video poker, since practically all types of video poker are basically Five Card Draw with lots of trimmings (bonuses, special “gimmick” rules, etc.).

After your friend has learned this most basic type of poker, you might then want to try moving on to more complex games, such as Texas Hold ‘Em and Omaha Hi Lo. Texas Hold ‘Em is quite important to learn because of the betting style. Be sure to explain this thoroughly. Unless you already know your friend possesses the knowledge, do not assume, for instance, that he or she knows what the term “big blind” or “small blind” means. Many online poker guides fail on this point, liberally sprinkling technical terms in supposedly basic guides. A poker beginner can read through such basic guides but, because the texts presume a knowledge he or she does not possess, will not really learn anything.

In addition, make sure that you do not leave your friend with only technical skills. Unless your friend is only going to play poker online, he or she should also have “people skills,” in the sense of being able to hide his/her own poker tells while being able to deduce and read those of others. If you like, watch a televised poker game with your friend, and try to analyze the players’ behavior together.

Finally, try to warn your friend about any poker cheating techniques you might be aware of, so that he or she does not get tricked out of well-deserved rewards or victories. Of course, do your best to ensure that your friend uses this knowledge for good, not evil.

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