If my aim were to guide a novice player to reach a professional level in online poker, teaching them how to play no-limit hold'em, how would I go about it? What would my lessons look like?

Let's say you only had three months to do it. I must admit, with most people, it would be quite a challenging task. Nowadays, learning doesn't come easily, and I don't think just anyone can go from a beginner level to a professional level in a short amount of time.

Making compromises would be necessary. It wouldn't be feasible to attempt to cover every possible situation. The key would be to identify the most important topics and leave out the rest.

To effectively cater to a specific kind of game, one would have to tailor the lessons accordingly. Different games prioritize certain skills over others, and acknowledging this fact is crucial. With this perspective in mind, here are my top 5 classes for a novice player looking to succeed in $2 to $5 hold'em games in Las Vegas.

Lesson #1 - Never jump into the pots and don't cover triple bets before the flop unless you have a powerhouse hand.

Jumping into pots, covering pre-flop raises, and then checking or folding when you finally miss leads to a significant loss. Take heed and avoid this detrimental strategy.

All successful players had to acquire this paramount rule to become triumphant players.

In my view, the majority of players witness an immediate surge in their winning percentage by simply abstaining from playing with any hand, particularly if they choose to fold in most instances.

For most players, declining to play with any hand is to be a more cautious and restrained player, and it is a particularly advantageous approach when the player is in an unfavorable position. Until one becomes a more skilled and seasoned player, adopting this strategy is the wisest tactic.

Lesson No. 2 - Avoid making substantial bets during the turn and the river.

The significance of this lesson may vary across different game types, but in the $2-5 games in Las Vegas, it holds particular importance. Refrain from calling bets when someone raises during the turn and river. Regardless of your hand, always bear in mind that the vast majority of players do not make substantial bets unless they have a strong hand. If you dare to make the call, you either get defeated or your opponent was bluffing. Additionally, keep in mind that players in these games do not bluff as frequently or convincingly enough to justify making the call.

Therefore, refrain from paying. I understand that it can be somewhat disheartening to know that you're missing out on a big pot, but the reality is that in most games, if you take too much risk, you'll end up losing. Players strive to make good hands and then bet according to the hands they have. A large bet usually signifies a strong hand. You don't need to make a call to find out if it is or not, as you run the risk of losing.

Lesson No. 3 - Your opponent will enter pots, cover raises, and check or fold after the flop. Exploit this weakness by increasing your number of hands when you are in a favorable position to do so. Place bets during the flop and continue betting on the turn as well.

It is an exceedingly straightforward game to play, but it is also a sort of game that, if played well, can yield a consistent profit. Those players who excessively engage in pre-flop actions, that is, betting excessively and making numerous calls. The players who raise pre-flop and then check or fold during the turn when they realize they made a mistake. With a multitude of players, you can disregard your own cards and raise, bet on nearly every flop, and bet on the turn cards.

Let's suppose two regular players join a $2-$3 game. You decide to raise $25 from the button. Both players opt to call your raise.

The flop is revealed, displaying the cards 10, 8, and 2. Both players choose to check, and then you decide to raise the bet by $50. One of your opponents decides to call your raise.

The turn comes and unveils a five, showcasing the unpredictable nature of the game. In an unexpected twist, your opponent decides to check, leaving the outcome of the hand hanging in the balance. Seizing this opportunity, you seize control of the situation by placing a bold bet of $120, forcing your opponent to make a difficult decision. Surprisingly, they choose to fold, surrendering the hand to your strategic prowess.

In this scenario, and in many other similar situations, the content of your hand doesn't hold much significance. Your adversaries are taking risks by consistently employing the call/call/fold strategy. All you need to do is place your bets and let your opponents continue with their usual actions, leading them to their inevitable defeat.

Yes, there are certain intricacies associated with this style of play, and some scenarios are more favorable for betting than others. However, when facing many opponents at the $2-5 level, the majority of flops, turns, and even rivers present good betting opportunities. Persist with your bets until your opponents demonstrate that they won't be easily defeated by folding too often.

Lesson No. 4 - Instead of trying to push your opponents out of the pots with strong hands, opt to play most of your valuable hands intending to keep your opponents engaged until the river. Don't make aggressive moves to force them out; rather, focus on strategic play that prolongs the duration of the game and increases your chances of winning. It's important to understand the value of patience and adapt your approach accordingly. Remember, the goal is not just to win individual hands but to maximize your overall winnings in the long run.

Hands of value - hands like the top pair, two pairs, or any other hand that you consider valuable - lose their worth when all opponents fold. Winning without a showdown would also be achievable with a 7-2. With your valuable hands, you aim to keep your opponents in the game until the river.

Most players enjoy witnessing the showdowns, believing they can do so without losing a significant amount of money. Nobody relishes folding and pondering the possibility of having the best hand, especially if their opponents reach the river; it is common to entice them into making a final call if the bet is not excessively large.

Allowing your opponents to make the mistake of calling during high-stakes bets is one of the biggest errors that players at the $2-$5 level make (refer back to lesson 2). Let your adversaries commit this blunder.

Most players strive to conclude hands early if they believe they have the best hand, fearing being surpassed later on. However, this mindset is flawed. Concluding hands prematurely with hefty bets when all they possess is a weak hand. Allow your hands to reach the showdown when you have something to showcase! (Doesn't it make sense when things are put this way?)

If I hold a strong pair, I would rather opt for calling a bet of $30, $50, or $80 during the flop, turn, and river, instead of calling a $30 bet and trying to bluff my opponent with a $100 bet. The potential to win $160 with the hand as opposed to just $30 is significant when trying to keep the opponent in until the end.

Lesson No. 5 - Consider the tactics employed by your adversaries and contemplate their thought processes, while (almost) disregarding the two cards you hold in your hand. Reflect upon the strategies your opponents employ and delve into their thinking, paying minimal attention to the pair of cards you possess. Ponder over the approaches adopted by your adversaries and delve into their mindset, effectively disregarding the significance of the two cards you currently hold. Analyze the tactics employed by your opponents and delve into their thought process, giving little regard to the two cards you have in your possession.

Let me be blunt about this: the majority of players in $2-5 games defeat themselves. They often employ overly transparent and rigid strategies. You can exploit these types of players by consistently betting when it's your turn (refer back to lesson number 3). You can outsmart other players by patiently waiting for hands that beat top pairs and making value bets (refer back to lesson number 4).

Your role as a poker player is to identify the strategy each opponent is utilizing and employ a counter-strategy. Often, the two cards in your hand become inconsequential. From my experience, players who overthink their hands fail to grasp this concept. Those who can comprehend all of this are the ones thinking on the next level.

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