Top 10 ways to become a better poker player
30 May 2017
By Tadas Peckaitis
By Tadas Peckaitis
If you want to be a successful poker player, you must keep learning. It is as simple as that. Fortunately, there are many ways to improve — and that being said, we can jump into a list of top 10 ways to become a better poker player.
10. Read a few good poker books
Ever since Doyle Brunson launched his "Super System" series, the world of poker changed forever. Many poker pros followed with their own contributions in the form of strategy books. They provide fundamentals for various types of poker, and it is a good idea to check them out if you are just starting playing.
However, some of the information could be outdated, so you have to pick what you read. Moreover, you should consider if it is the best available resource for you, or if maybe there are better options.
Editor's Note: Casino City's resident book reviewer Clare Fitzgerald has recommended two instructional poker books in recent months: The Myth of Poker Talent by Alexander Fitzgerald, and Patricia Cardner's Peak Poker Performance: How to Bring Your 'A' Game to Every Session.
9. Read poker strategy blogs
The poker strategy blogs are similar to the books, but they are more focused on breaking down specific situations. On top of that, you can expect to see up-to-date tips from the current metagame.
You can find many good strategy articles and poker tips that will help you improve. They could be general tips or analysis of a very particular situation. Probably you could find any topic analyzed if you just keep looking. Therefore, finding best poker blogs and following them is another way to improve your strategy.
8. Watch good poker players
Nowadays, it is very easy to watch and learn from the best players in the business. Many of them have Twitch and YouTube channels with free videos. Furthermore, they are not just playing poker, but are explaining their thought process to the viewers. This represents a unique opportunity to discover new angles and apply them to your poker strategy. Of course, you should always consider the difference in levels and not just blindly copy everything. What works at the nosebleeds might not always be a viable option for lower stakes.
However, having insights into how better players play will surely help to build a better strategy for yourself. Just find players who you enjoy watching and dive into this field.
7. Mark key hands and review
This one is obvious, but surprisingly many people underestimate it. When you feel uncomfortable at certain spots at the table, try to mark the hand. It is relatively easy if you are playing online and you can do it with any tracking software such as PT4 or HM2. Even if you are playing live, you should mark or write down tough spots and come back to it later on.
After the session, you can review it without the pressure of making a quick decision. A lot of the time, you will be able to see the hand in a different way, learn something from it and the next time when a similar situation occurs, you will know what to do.
6. Post your hands on forums
This is the natural continuation of the previous point. If you left a hand for later and still have doubts about the right play, just post in on one of the many poker forums online. People discuss specific hands all the time. They share different thoughts, and you will see angles you might have missed. The chances are that someone will contribute with a useful tip and help you find the best solution.
Moreover, you can share your thoughts on other people's hands as well. Helping out a fellow poker player will give you some insights on actual hands, and you can incorporate all of this information into your own game, improving even further. After all, that is how communities work.
5. Discuss strategy with friends
Seeking out poker buddies is one of the best ways to improve your game. The best-case scenario would be to interact with people who play similar levels and poker variations. Build a study group together and try to improve your game.
You can analyze various hands, exchange info about specific opponents and do similar stuff to raise the bar. Continuously learning and discussing poker strategy will help move your game to the next level. On top of that, you will always have someone who understands your pains and triumphs.
4. Manage your mental game
The psychological aspect of poker is often underestimated. You can be an exceptional player and still lose in the long run if you lack discipline in your mental game.
Even if you are crushing the game, variance will hit you eventually. You have to be prepared to face it without going on heavy tilt that might bust your bankroll. There are plenty of useful articles about the psychology of poker that can help. You can even go beyond the game and study techniques for self-discipline that are universally recognized as successful.
To prevent yourself from unnecessary tilt, never start playing when feeling sick, angry or bad in any way. In addition, if you start feeling any of these negative emotions while playing, you should quit if possible. This is a habit, which you have to develop to reach success in poker.
3. Analyze your stats
Almost any successful business relies on stats. Your poker game can greatly benefit from such an approach as well. By far the best way to build a clear picture of your play is to analyze stats in your tracking software. Invest some money to get one and learn to work with it.
Such software allows you to break down your game to very precise situations and find even the tiniest leaks. Start working on them one by one and you will notice an improvement in your overall results. To get more insights about it, you should read the article on how to analyze your poker stats!
2. Enroll in video courses
While there are many free materials that could help you improve, the best content out there usually requires you to pay a small fee. That is nothing wrong with that, and in fact, it has its advantages. It adds a certain exclusivity as not everyone is willing to pass this filter.
Moreover, most advanced strategies and techniques are not shared publicly, so getting poker training videos could be the best decision you will ever make. This will add extra value and help you be a step ahead of the competition. Of course, I highly recommend you to do the necessary research and pick the video courses carefully. Be aware who made it and is it fits what you need. You do not want to end up watching cash game courses if you are a tournament player, or learning from someone who is not beating the games.
1. Get some poker coaching
Hiring a professional is probably the best way to improve your game, at least after reaching a certain level. Those people are usually exceptional players and teachers themselves. They will literary open your eyes about so many things you somehow missed. Unlike most of the steps so far, you will receive help for your particular game and not just in the areas, you think that you need improving. A good coach could see things you have been missing for years. Once again, you will have to spend some money, so take your time to pick the most suitable coach.
As you can see, there are many ways to improve. A lot of them require only dedication and desire. If you are serious about poker, you should start working hard now and find the best approach to learn poker. After all, as the saying goes "Poker is a hard way to earn an easy living."