Poker is an extraordinarily complex game. To help you succeed, we’ve created a list of “cheat sheets” to reference during study or gameplay. These tips are specifically geared toward beginner players.
These guides will help you across multiple facets of poker. You’ll get advice about the basics of poker terminology, from position names to basic strategy.
So, without delay, here are the SIX most crucial poker cheat sheets to improve your game:
#1: Hand Ranking Charts
Primarily, you can’t play poker well if you don’t know what hands to make. As outlined with helpful graphics in this article, there are ten different hand rankings.
From best to worst, they are as follows:
- Royal Flush
- Straight Flush
- Full House
- Two Pair
- One Pair
- High Card
Note that in most games, you aim to make the BEST 5-card hand. But some poker variants require you to make the lowest hand. In these games, straights and flushes don’t count against you.
Also, note that, in unique games like Short Deck, with the 2’s through 5’s removed, the hand rankings slightly change.
There are only 9 outs in the 36 cards left to complete a flush. So, flushes are now rated better than full houses!
#2: Poker Lingo
When you first started playing poker, you may have felt like you listening to a foreign language!
- Double Barrel
- Pot Odds
With that in mind, it can often be difficult to know where to start.
Here’s a guide with all the common poker phrases and meanings you should know when jumping headfirst into the great game:
#3: Poker Table Position Names
Not every hand of poker is created equal. Depending on where you’re seated - your win rate and which hands you should play will vary dramatically.
All position names are relative to where the DEALER BUTTON is in a hand. (Note that the button moves one space clockwise after each hand.)
Starting to the left of the button, here are the table position names for a typical short-handed/6-max table:
- Small Blind (SB)
- Big Blind (BB)
- Under-The-Gun (UTG) / Lojack (LJ)
- Hijack (HJ)
- Cutoff (CO)
- Button (BTN)
If you’re playing at a full-ring table with either 9 or 10 players, it’s slightly different. There will be more seats in “early position” (immediately to the left of the big blind). But these typically don’t carry any fancy names with them.
Poker Table Position Names
The first position after the blinds will always be considered Under-The-Gun. But beyond this, you can either refer to the next couple positions as follows. (Again, it depends on the total number of seats/players):
- UTG+1 (Under-the-Gun plus 1)
- EP1, EP2, etc. (“Early position” – synonymous for UTG and the next few positions)
- MP1, MP2 etc. (“Middle position” – comes after early position and usually concludes with the Lojack
For all the details on table positions, check out our position article here:
#4: Poker Starting Hands
Many players are unprofitable at first because they play far too many starting hands. They may have a VPIP (short for voluntarily-put-money-in-pot) of around 40% in 6max.
They play ANY Ace from ANY position. Yes, that means if they had A2o UTG, they would play it! That said, learning from one’s mistakes is all part of the game!
Knowing what hands to play is a necessary requirement to play well. Being on the button (or close to the right of it) will give you a positional advantage post-flop.
You’ll get to see how all your opponents act before you.
So, you can afford to play more hands on the button.
When further out of position (Under-The-Gun), you must play fewer hands. This strategy will compensate for the increased likelihood of being out-of-position, post-flop.
Here is a one-chart-fits-all graphic that we’ve created. It will help you know which hands you should play by position in a typical 6-max game:
6-Max Starting Hand Chart
This graph shows by position (if no player has entered the pot before you) which hands to play. You should “open up” for a raise for 2.5bb!
UTG has the tightest range because it is furthest from the button.
From the HJ, you’ll open up the same range as UTG in addition to the hands in pink!
Be aware that this chart is simply the tip of the iceberg. You can study other charts by position, including those showing:
- Raise-First In (RFI) for different amounts (i.e., 2bb, 2.25bb, 3bb, etc.)
- Vs. RFI: Which hands to call, fold, and 3bet after another player has already raised.
#5: The Simple Way to Play Post-Flop
Great – so you can use charts to know what hands to play from the various positions.
But now, what do you do after the flop comes out?
In general, you should break your hands down into four categories after the flop:
- Strong monsters
- Medium-strength hands
The specifics of each scenario will be situation dependent.
But, in general, you should do the following in those scenarios–
- 1 and 3: Bet/raise your strong hands/monsters (usually top pair,/top kicker (TPTK) or better) and draws.
- 2 and 4: Play more passively with category 2 and 4 hands. Check/call your medium-strength hands. Check/fold your trash hands that whiffed the flop.
This strategy is a VERY simplified way of approaching post-flop play. There will be a multitude of considerations to make. But this guide will help you as a beginner get the “gist” of how to proceed post-flop.
#6: The Ultimate Cheat: Bonus Charts
There are two ways you can go about approaching poker:
- Game-Theory Optimal (GTO): You play an unexploitable style of poker and only profit from your opponents’ mistakes.
- Exploitable: You deviate from GTO and aim to maximise your profits even further. You target your opponents’ exploitable tendencies when making decisions.
In general, you should study GTO poker away from the table.
Look to implement these strategies vs good players. Play in an exploitable manner to counteract and maximise your winnings vs weaker opponents.
GTO vs Exploitive Strategy
Here is an ULTIMATE article we put together highlighting 20 different charts you need to know.
To help you succeed in mastering your poker play and start winning big at the tables!
From maths-related calculations to bankroll management system, to value-to-bluff, it’s all here:
Poker Cheat Sheet Summary
Poker is a tricky game because there are no two hands that are the same.
Small nuances from one hand to the next can change things dramatically –
- How things should be played and approached
- Hole cards
- Community cards
- Player tendencies, based on where certain opponents are seated relative to you
- Stack sizes – the list goes on and on!
So be sure to develop a solid baseline for YOUR gameplay. Study and use the charts and cheat sheets in this article to help assist your poker play.
Doing so could take your gameplay to remarkable, new heights!