There are over 100 million regular poker players on the planet, but 99% are not playing smart enough or regularly enough to make any significant gains. Which is surprising when you consider just how easy it is to improve at poker.
It’s not like soccer or basketball where genetics and natural ability determine who will be playing professionally and who will be playing every other weekend with their friends in a sports centre. No, poker is a game that can be studied and learned and one that can definitely be mastered.
If you’re interested in changing your fortunes at the poker table and leaving the 99% of players in the dust, read on to find out 5 simple tips that can turn from a fish into a seasoned card-shark.
#1 The 3 E’s: Education, Education, Education…
It’s probably not the glamorous tip that you were looking for, but the most valuable thing you can do for yourself is to start treating poker like a school subject you’re failing at.
For the next month, save up the money that you would be spending on poker and instead invest it into some poker strategy books and read them cover to cover.
Some great books to get started with are:
- The Mental Game of Poker by Barry Carter
- Super System 2 by Mike Caro
- Applications of No-Limit Hold ‘Em: A guide to understanding theoretically sound poker by Matthew Janda
If you pick any of these books up and find yourself feeling a little bit over faced with all of the information on offer, don’t be afraid to humble yourself and start from the beginning. Go on Wikipedia and read up on the various rules of different variants of poker.
Essentially if you want to improve at poker in the long-run you need to identify your areas of weakness and study as much as possible to turn them into strengths. The resources are out there, all you’ve got to do is find them and utilise them.
#2 Immerse Yourself in Statistics
After you have read and read about poker until your eyes are sore and you can’t stomach another word, it’s time to move on to statistics.
As alluded to earlier in the article poker is a game that can essentially be boiled down into mathematics at its base level. Unsurprisingly then, poker statistics are an incredibly important resource that you should be utilising.
Research the percentage probabilities of certain hands, look into the statistics behind certain moves at the table and use the readily available figures online to analyse how strong your opponents are.
If you’re super smart you can use online software tools to compile statistics on yourself, which brings us on to our next tip…
#3 Record Your Moves
If you want to take a proactive role in your poker development then you will need to start recording your hands. This is easier if you’re playing online as you won’t get any funny looks from other players.
Start by recording on a piece of paper every hand that you are dealt, the community cards and what your fellow competitors do. At the end of your session, open up a Poker Calculator app and input all the information that you have written down.
This will give you the odds of every single possibility and show you what you could have done better when you were playing. It’s a great technique to employ because when you’re playing, you can easily get carried away in the emotion of a game and miss something obvious.
When you use a poker calculator those missed opportunities will become glaringly obvious and you’ll significantly reduce your chances of making the same mistakes in the future. It’s also a good opportunity to learn about psychology and see how many of your fellow players were bluffing.
#4 Don’t Drink
There’s nothing better than sitting down on a Friday night, opening a nice cold beer, and playing a laid-back game of poker with your friends.
If you’re playing seriously though and for real cash, you absolutely need to put down the beer and replace it with a soft-drink or something caffeinated.
Poker is a game that tests your powers of recall, your understanding of mathematical principles and your ability to read people’s body language…all at the same time.
Alcohol will cloud your judgement and make it much harder to make the correct decisions, so put the beer back in the fridge and only drink it after you’ve finished playing.
#5 Watch Videos
What if I were to tell you that you could have a private tutorial with one of the best poker players to have ever lived? Well, you can, all you need to do is go to YouTube and head over to Daniel Negreanu’s page.
There you’ll find hundreds of videos detailing the strategies that Negreanu uses at WSOP tables and interviews with some of poker’s other top names. It’s not just Negreanu that has his own page on YouTube either, plenty of other pros have their own channels.
Find a player that you really connect with then open up their YouTube tutorials and get your pen and paper out, you might learn something.
If you do all of these things, will you become a guaranteed top tier player? Maybe not, but these tips will give you as good a chance as you’re going to get. The most important of all the tips covered is #1, if you treat poker like a school subject and seriously study up on it, the sky is the limit.