Top 10 Ways to Become a Better Poker Player
Improving Your Poker Game
There is quite a bit of poker material out there that covers advanced concepts or the most basic poker theory like hand strength. The purpose of this article is to give all of you out there some valuable real life advice on how to become the most effective poker player you can be. Though there are most likely other items, here is an easy to read top 10 list. These are certain things you must keep in mind before sitting at a table and throwing your hard earned money into the mix.
Without further ado, here are the top 10 Online Poker Strategies that will help you on your way to becoming a winning online poker player.
#1: Play Within Your Bankroll
One of the most common mistakes for poker players just starting out is to play beyond their bankroll. For example, if you are planning to play a $5-$10 limit game, don’t expect to deposit $100 and last very long at the table as many hands cost as much as $50-$100 to get to the showdown. You need to choose a smaller limit game, and deposit enough chips so that you are comfortable having a few losing sessions in a row, and not lose most of your bankroll. To calculate your poker bankroll, you will need at least 100 times the big bet for your bankroll. For example, if you want to play $1/$2 dollar hold’em at a minimum, you should bring $200. If you are thinking of playing professionally (as a job), you will need at least 400 times the big bet. Swings in your bankroll are normal, and you need to be able to have a few losing sessions and still be able to keep playing. Choosing your game, and figuring out your bankroll is the first thing to keep in mind when sitting down for a game.
Read our Tips of Building a Bankroll
#2: Become a Master of One Poker Game First
Another important decision to make is what game you will specialize in. Find a game that you enjoy playing, and learn that game inside and out. Read poker books, online strategy guides, and practice and perfect your game. For beginners, I recommend Limit Texas Holdem poker, as the games are fast, popular, easy to understand, and there are plenty of weak players to be found. In addition, at these lower limits you won’t lose all of your money in one ill-fated hand. Many players like to dabble in Stud or Omaha as well. These are great games of course, but I recommend that you master one game before branching out so as to avoid spreading yourself too thin.
#3: Patience, Patience, Patience…
When playing online poker, you must remember that you will play many more hands per hour then when playing in real life. Shuffling, dealing, and betting is done much quicker, with quick “auto buttons” speeding up play considerably. If you struggle with boredom playing in only a small number of pots, try playing at 2 tables at once. Many sites allow for this, but be sure to keep track of them, as it is easy to become confused. Remember not to go into hands with marginal cards simply because you are bored. What’s more boring, not playing in a few hands for an hour or not playing until your next payday because you got bored and lost all your money making questionable plays?
#4: Know When to Take a Break
When you are playing poker on the internet, it is much easier to “go on tilt”, as there is no one watching you. Going on tilt simply means losing a big pot when you were the favorite, and playing poorly for several hands after because you are mad. When this happens the losses will pile up and it can cripple your bankroll. When you take a bad beat, or lose several hands in a row to people who should not have been in the hand, it is easy to lose your cool. Set specific guidelines for what limit tables you will play at, and do not go against them. When you are mad, you should not be playing poker. Take a break, go to another table, or stop playing all together. Most poker players would agree that their bottom line would be much more favorable had they had the discipline to just walk away when things go wrong.
#5: Take Advantage of Online Chat
Be nice to your opponents. Tell them nice hand (nh) when they have one. When someone makes a big draw against you, tell them it was a good idea. Never, never, never correct an opponents mistakes. When your opponent calls you all the way, and loses, don’t try to correct his strategy. It is a good thing when you are being out drawn. You want your opponents to have worse hands then you, and have to improve them to beat you. Don’t correct their poor play, and don’t insult them when you beat them. Treat them with respect, and make them feel like your friend. A friend they will be easy on when they do have the ‘nuts’ (the best possible hand). Conversely, by not correcting their poor play, you will be able to cash in on them more often than not because their luck won’t last forever. Because of online chat, I have seen countless players mouth off after winning a hand or taking a bad beat. Keep in mind if you would say these things at a live table. Some things people say to each other would earn them a class A beating if they were sitting at a brick and mortar poker room.
#6: Stay Within Your Limits
If you are playing at a specific limit, and doing well, you may feel inclined to start playing at higher levels. This is fine, but you must be aware that the higher the limits, the better, and typically more aggressive the opponents. Sitting in a 1 and 2 dollar game is much different from a 5 and 10 dollar game. Never go to a new table because you have won a few extra dollars, and want to try to ‘hit it big’ at the big tables. You can lose your whole bankroll very quickly. Remember Strategy #1. If you want to play 5-10 holdem, for example, you need at least $1000.00 in your bankroll.
#7: Keep Track of Your Poker Play
The vast majority of players do not know if they are winning poker players. They simply do not keep a detailed report of the poker they play. They just guess that they may be up or down a few hundred for the month, without actually having an accurate calculation. I recommend the Hold’em Analyzer, which is a software program that will allow you to keep track of every internet poker session you play, and will show you your average profit per hour. If you do not want to spend money on software, create a simple spreadsheet to keep track of your poker sessions. Here are the most important things to keep track of:
1. Game Played
3. Number of hours played
5. Total profit or loss
Using simple division, you can figure out exactly how much money you are making (or losing) per hour of poker played, overall, at various limits, and at various poker rooms. You can then use this information to determine which game and table stakes are best for you.
Also see our article on: Poker Variance and Calculating Variance in Poker
#8: Learn to Play Aggressive Poker
As a famous poker player once said: “I’ve never seen a top poker player who called a lot”. The rule of thumb is this: If your hand is worth a call, then bet. If you never bet, you take away a critical aspect of poker: Winning a pot because everyone else has folded. If you think you have the best hand, bet it. You should be betting AT LEAST as much as you are calling.
#9: Pay Attention
Paying attention when you are in a real life game is much easier then when playing online. There are many distractions when you are at your computer that simply don’t exist when in a brick and mortor poker room. Watch your opponents, and get a feel for how they play different hands. Do they often check raise? Do they chase a lot of hands? Do they bluff frequently? Do they bet and raise with weak hands? These things may not be important at the time, but when you are against them in a big pot, information you picked up while watching them play other people will help you out a great deal.
#10: Take Advantage of Bonuses
There is intense competition among online poker rooms. They all want your business, and online poker sites are always offering special promotions and deposit bonuses. Periodically you will have access to some great deals as a result of reading this site. Don’t just stick with one poker room forever. Try to find the one that you like best.
Read our Poker Bonuses section regarding the top poker bonuses available at popular poker sites.
Read these tips, re-read them and digest them. Remember, the goal here is to make money, not just pass the time. What tips have you found most useful in becoming a better poker player?