Knowing how to play poker and actually being good enough to compete with the best and win money and tournaments are two very different things. Being able to work out your possible outs and the hands of other players is basic, you’ll need more in your arsenal than that to succeed.
If you want to know how to take your poker game to the next level, read on for our tips, collated from the opinions of professionals, experts and those in the know…
Ever dreamed of following in Chris Moneymaker’s footsteps and becoming a world-famous poker player? There are simple things you can do to get there
1.Play More Poker
If there is one thing that all of the world’s greatest poker players share in common, it is their absolute obsession with the card game.
Malcolm Gladwell, a world-renowned psychologist has claimed that it takes ten thousand hours of deliberate practice to become world-class in any field.
If you want to start winning at poker you need to invest your time and start making a dent on that ten thousand hours figure, which brings us onto…
2. Deliberate Practice
Malcolm Gladwell was very careful to add the phrase ‘deliberate practice’ into his hypothesis about becoming world-class. Simply doing something with no direction or a clear plan for ten thousand hours is not going to make you world-class at it.
You need to practice deliberately with the aim of improving. The best way to do this in poker is by reviewing your game. Play online? Record your hands.
Then you can go back over the footage at a later time to see what you did right, and most importantly, what you did wrong.
Poker is a game of multiple scenarios, most of which crop up time and time again. If you can identify the right move in a given scenario from reviewing your gameplay, then it will boost your chances of being successful in the future when a similar scenario occurs.
3. Get an understanding of the terminology
It is important that you feel comfortable at the table, there shouldn’t be any aspect of the game that takes you by surprise, especially not the poker terminology used by other players.
Before you settle down to a game, spend some time learning about some of the most common phrases you are likely to encounter, this will provide you with some much needed confidence and ensure nothing phases you.
4. Get Into Shape
Poker is a game played on felt, not on grass or a court, so why do you need to get into shape?
Well, we’re not talking about physical shape, we’re actually talking about mental shape. Knowing how to play poker will only get you so far, if there is one player that can concentrate and play well for eight hours and another that can do the same for twelve hours, then the latter is going to win and scoop the money every single time.
That’s why you need to develop a professional, competitive mindset. Concentration is key and you can improve yours by practising mindfulness daily. Mindfulness is a form of meditation that focuses your mind on pushing out unwanted distractions and focusing solely on your breathing.
Start off by doing as little as three minutes a day before working up to longer and more challenging sessions. As you do this, your ability to concentrate will improve which you can then transfer to your poker game.
5. Eat Right
Once again, you might think that this is a strange tip to include in a poker guide, but it’s vitally important. As alluded to in the previous point, poker is a long-haul game. There’s no way you can get through a twelve-hour session at the table without eating or drinking.
Choosing what to put into your body is a big decision. Go heavy on sugar and you’ll be likely to crash and burn. Instead pick foods high in carbohydrates that gradually release energy into your system so that your mood is regulated.
You never want to be making a decision on a pivotal hand when your stomach is rumbling or your brain is whirring from too much sugar. Treat a poker tournament the same way you would a long-distance run, fuel right, play right.
6. Study Poker
Back to the old adage of ‘deliberate practice’. Playing as much as possible is obviously a good thing, but you still need to take time out to study and learn from others.
Fortunately, the internet is an absolute gold mine of poker literature. Hundreds of current and former poker professionals have taken the time to write their own guides to the game and produce vlog tutorials for budding amateurs.
Read and watch as much of this content as humanly possible. There’s a reason that these pros got to the top of the game, try and find out what that reason was and learn from it.
7. Read Poker Manuals
Learning from professionals is fun. The people behind the content you’re ingesting are usually engaging and can often be your idols. However, something that’s probably more important is learning the boring parts of the game, like hands and probabilities.
Quite often, in the highest stakes games, winning and losing can come down to a players ability to remember simple hands or work out pot probabilities. Sure, you can get a basic grip of these things by repeatedly playing, but you won’t master them until you pick up a book and learn them off by heart.
The human brain is vastly more powerful than the best supercomputer ever created. Can you imagine the edge you’d have if you went into every hand with a supercomputer, well versed in poker at your side? Turn your brain into that edge by learning hands and probabilities inside out.
8. Hire a Coach
This is the nuclear option. When all else fails, or if you don’t have the time or willpower to do it on your own, call in an expert to help you out. There’s no shame in it. The top athletes in the world all need coaches to help them stay at the highest level, so why should poker be any different?
Although do your due diligence before hiring anyone. You don’t want to end up with a coach like Rusty from Ocean’s Eleven who goes on to abandon you so he can rob a casino…
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