So, you want to learn how to play poker fast. You probably started by looking up YouTube videos, quick tips on Google, and poker books on Amazon (maybe you even found this one!)

But everything seemed complicated, boring. Like it would take way too long, right?

You don’t want to learn poker slow… you want to learn poker FAST!

We’re going to teach you how to learn poker fast and profitably.

Here’s what you need to know:

1). DO NOT Learn Poker from Family Members or Friends.

Firstly, “live poker” is 3x slower than online poker. Even at a casino with a professional dealer, live poker players see an average of 30 hands per hour. Online poker players see an average of 90 hands per hour… per table. So, there’s no need for a poker cheat sheet!

(Online casinos allow you to play multiple tables at once. You can see hundreds and hundreds of hands every hour! You learn how poker hands fast and get the general gist of it incredibly quickly).

 How to learn poker fast - online poker
 How to learn poker fast - online poker

Online poker players can easily see as many hands in ONE MONTH as regular live poker players over several YEARS. Three times slower isn’t even accurate—when you multiply by more tables and fast-fold features like SNAP Poker on 888poker - the speed increases exponentially.

We are talking about the advantages of experience mitigated in mere minutes. It is no longer an edge.

This is why 22-year-old whiz kids can consistently beat veteran poker players who’ve played cards for decades.

Here’s another reason you may not want to start with your family and friends: Quite frankly, they may not be as good at the game as they think they are. Everyone thinks they’re an excellent poker player. Not everyone in reality is – unless you play strip poker rules!.

As a beginner who wants to learn how to play poker fast, you can't discern good vs bad coaching. They may not be providing the best advice.

Even if you’re lucky enough to have found a genuinely talented friend or family member, they may not be an effective teacher.

Playing poker and teaching poker are two different skills.

Long story short: If how to learn poker fast is your goal, tell your friends you’re busy.

Take a seat at your computer.

2). DO NOT Worry About a Poker Face

We’ll let you in on a big secret: YOU DON’T NEED A “POKER FACE”! Old cowboy movies glamorise the mystical ideal of an unshakeable poker face striking fear into any man’s heart. Honestly, let it go. Real life is not like the movies. At entry-level stakes, poker faces are nearly irrelevant, if not entirely outdated.

 How to learn poker fast - poker face
How to learn poker fast - poker face

In truth, most people lack the discipline to listen to their reads anyway. You could be jumping up and down and screaming, “I HAVE AN AMAZING HAND!” and they will probably still call your bet for the following two reasons:

  1. They want to outdraw you or
  2. They don’t have the self-control to fold.

When someone likes their poker hand, they don’t want to let go—even if you’re grinning from ear to ear with excitement over yours. Not enough people listen to their instincts. They didn’t travel to the casino to toss their hand into the garbage.

They may also realise you have a very good hand… but still wonder if theirs is better. The newer the player, the less likely they can determine relative hand strength. Most people don’t recognise nuances.

Recognising tells comes with experience.

What if you’re bluffing? People can only call your bluff if they have a decent hand. Even if they sense you may not have very good cards, they can do nothing about it if they have a bad hand, too.

Don’t worry about maintaining a steely poker face if you want to learn poker fast.

Hollywood is not reality.

Unless you’re playing mid-to-high stakes, it doesn’t even matter.

3). DO Study Which Cards to Play

What should you spend your time on if how to learn poker hands fast is your endgame?

Learn which cards to play.

How to learn poker fast - card selection
How to learn poker fast - card selection

I went from barely knowing how to hold my cards right to winning my first poker tournament three months later by mastering this precise point.

You can find “preflop charts” online telling you which cards to play from every seat at the table. The book A GIRL’S GUIDE TO POKER also has an abbreviated list.

But if this is too advanced at the start, try these poker terms for beginners to get you going:

LEVEL #1: 

Fold if either of your cards is lower than 10. Only play hands like AA, AQ, KJ, QT, JT, etc. DO NOT play hands where one card is 10+ and the other is lower—like A9. That’s a fold.

It’s a painfully tight range of cards, but “only cards 10 and higher” is a beginner’s trick from professional poker legend Daniel Negreanu. It is the most straightforward guide for beginners.

It may feel boring constantly folding, but it will prevent you from developing bad habits by playing junky cards. Also, you can load up multiple poker tables online, making you more likely to be dealt a playable hand.

It’s better to play more tables rigidly than one table sloppily.

LEVEL #2: 

The next level is ONLY to play cards in one of these three categories. Otherwise, fold.

  • BOTH cards 10+: Same as Level #1. Play your hand if both cards are 10 or higher.
  • Pairs: Play your hand if the cards match - like a pair of tens or a pair of threes.
  • Suited Connectors: You can play number cards only if they are the same suit AND consecutive. Examples would be hands like a five and a six of diamonds of an eight and a nine of spades. What about an eight and a nine of different suits? Absolutely not. Chuck that into the trash. Fold unless they meet both

LEVEL #3: 

The most advanced level is by studying a poker preflop, specifying which cards to play at different seats in the table (“positions”). That’s a lesson for another time!

Note: You may find that your friends and other players think you’re crazy for being so strict with which hands to play. Let them think that with their 3 card poker strategy game!

The easiest way to win money at poker is by playing better hands than your opponents. These categories are a shortcut to being profitable in the long run.

You don’t just want to learn how to play poker fast.

You want to learn how to play winning poker fast!

4). Think of Poker as Storytelling

How to learn poker fast - storytelling
How to learn poker fast - storytelling

Avoid getting stuck on the technical terms and confusing details (e.g. What’s a big blind?). If you want to learn poker fast, zoom out and consider the big picture. This concept is “storytelling.”

Always ask yourself: What story am I telling?

  • If you bet a lot of chips in a poker board game, what story are you telling? Probably that you have a good hand. You like your cards.
  • If you only bet a few chips, what story are you telling? That you don’t feel very confident in your hand. You don’t like your cards very much.
  • Instead of focusing on “What percentage of the pot is a good bet?” and exact sizings, try to get inside your opponent’s head. How much should I bet to convince them I have an incredible hand?

The last thing you want to do is bet erratically and illogically.

Poker is a game of cause and effect. If I bet X, then my opponent will think Y.

This knowledge will especially come in handy when you incorporate bluffs into your game. We are laying the foundation now to get fancy later.

Concentrate on what story you’re telling at all times. Sizings will come later—-right now, you want to curb the randomness.

Bet with a purpose, and the finesse in poker will come naturally.

Amanda is the author of the book A Girl's Guide to Poker, dedicated to making poker friendly and accessible to everyone. In 2021, she was a World Series of Poker final-tablist where she and her father took third place in the WSOP tag team event.