I’ve worked with a lot of poker players over the years, and most of them have the same issues when they’re trying to learn how to win. Some of them are able to learn what they need and put it into action, and some never seem to get it.
It’s not enough to know what you need to do. You also need to actually do what you need to do and put your knowledge into practice.
1 – Master 100 Little Things
When you watch a good poker player in action, it seems like they know exactly the right time to bluff, when to call a bluff, and how to maximize a winning pot. All of these things are important, but winning poker players have learned how to do 100 or more things right most of the time.
Every poker player is going to make mistakes. But winners minimize their mistakes and learn every time they make a mistake.
You need to stop worrying about making fancy plays and looking like an expert. Instead, start learning how to master one small thing at a time. Once you master one small thing, master another small thing.
Keep stacking mastery of small things until you master 100 or more small things. This is how you can become a great poker player. Most players try to learn a few big things and still lose because they never learn the small things.
Here’s a list of small poker things to start mastering now. Once you master each of these small facts, find 10 more things to master. Then, find 10 more. Never stop finding and mastering new small things, and you’re going to be a winner in the long run at the poker table.
- Starting hand selection
- Adjust your starting hand requirements based on your opponents and the game
- Learn how to use position for profit
- Maximize your wins
- Minimize your losses
- Learn simple poker hand odds
- Learn what pot odds are
- Use pot odds to make profitable decisions
- Learn what expectation is
- Use expectation to make every decision at the poker table
- Focus on one game at a time
- Learn how to find good games
- Learn your opponent’s tendencies
2 – ABC Poker Strategy for Beginners
It seems like the best poker players always make fancy plays. They bluff or call bluffs at the right times, they use a perfect check raise, or they know exactly when to stay in a pot or fold.
ABC poker means playing straightforward solid poker. It means raising when you have good hands and folding when you don’t have a good hand. It means not bluffing when you don’t have anything. ABC poker is saving your bankroll to maximize your wins.
I see inexperienced poker players trying to bluff all of the time. Sometimes, they win. But in the long run, the smart players learn what they’re doing and take advantage of them. But the players who simply bet when they have a good hand and fold when they don’t are the ones that are quietly making a profit.
Fancy plays get all of the attention, but poker isn’t about looking smart or looking good. It’s about mastering the basics and using strategy instead of getting caught up in trying to look like a pro.
The next time you play poker, try something different. When you get a good starting hand, play the hand aggressively. And when you don’t have a good hand, don’t try to do anything fancy, and fold. Don’t try to bluff; just save your money so you have more money to put in the pot when you have the best hand.
3 – Stay Focused or Stop Playing
You can’t learn everything you need to know if you’re not paying attention. Let everyone else mess around and miss things.
Start watching what other players are doing. Remember that most poker players are losing, so you don’t want to do the same things that they’re doing. How many other players at the table are paying attention when they’re not in a hand?
If you’re not willing to stay focused 100% on the game, you shouldn’t play. As soon as you start letting your mind wander, you’re costing yourself money. If you’re not mentally in the game, you’re not doing everything that you can to win.
If your mind starts to wander, take a break and get your head clear. It’s okay if you have to take frequent breaks. You can train your mind to focus for long periods of time if you work on it.
4 – What Are the Odds?
You’re never going to beat poker games on a consistent basis if you don’t use odds. You need to know how simple odds work, like the odds of completing a draw on the turn or river. And you need to learn what pot odds are and how you can use them to make profitable decisions every time you play poker.
You also need to know how to use odds to determine what your expectation is in every hand. Is this situation a positive expectation or negative expectation situation?
It might take you a while to learn how to use the math you need. But the time is worth it because once you get it, you’re going to profit from it for a long time.
5 – You Have to Be a Student and Pick Your Opponents
Instead of taking a mental break because you think that you know everything you need to know to win, keep searching for an extra edge no matter how small it might be.
Every small edge you can add to your game is more profit over time.
The last secret you need to learn about is possibly the most profitable secret. You can learn how to find bad poker players and poker games filled with bad players. When you learn how to do this, it’s much easier to make money.
Of course, no matter how bad your competition is, you need to work on getting better. Focus on making the right plays no matter how they turn out in the short run. When you make the right play over and over again, you’re going to make a profit in the long run.
The mistake most losing poker players make is believing that they just need to master a few things to start winning. The truth is that you have to master 100 little things, and do them all well, to win.
This is good and bad. It’s easy to master a small thing, but it takes a lot of work to master 100 small things.