posted on March 28, 2013 00:47
Article By: Michael Monroe
Poker is a game that takes minutes to learn and a lifetime to master. The majority of players never make money at any limit.
Here are 101 Poker Tips the pros use to win: and how you can too. These easy 101 poker tips helps you to make sure you're one of the few players that make money at the world's greatest game.
These 101 Poker Tips the pro use to win: and how you can toowon't make you a professional player overnight, but they will help you make more money playing poker. Where you go from there depends on your dedication and your love for the game.
- Be Selective With Your Starting Hands
Profitable poker begins with selecting profitable hands. A player who only plays the top 10% to 20% of the possible starting hands will generally make more money than a player who plays the top 30% to 40% of starting hands. Loose players can still be profitable players, but it requires considerably more skill to play a loose style profitably. Tighten up and watch your profits soar.
- Practice Effective Bankroll Management
Everyone goes broke at one point or another and it's usually because of poor bankroll management. Generally speaking, you should have 30 to 50 buy-ins for whatever game you're playing. So if you buy into a $1/$2 No-Limit Hold'em game for $200, you should have a bankroll of $6k to $10k. The looser you play, the more buy-ins you should have to make sure your bankroll can withstand the swings.
- Take A Study Day Each Week
Become a student of the game. Read all the poker books you can get your hands on. In fact, read these books multiple times. I have some poker books that I've read 5 times over and I find something new every time I read them. A few good books to have are The Theory of Poker, Sit 'N Go Strategy, Super System and the Harrington on Hold'em series. There are several other good books as well. Take some time and browse your local bookstore to see which authors you like to read.
- Be Prepared For Downswings
If you practice effective bankroll management you'll be financially prepared for downswings, but you need to be mentally prepared as well. Poker may be a game of skill, but there is a dash of luck involved too. You need to stay focused when the poker gods see fit to squash you like a bug. Even the best players will face downswings. The trick is to work your way through it as best you can. You can analyze your game to make sure your downswing isn't due to your play or take a break. Just make sure you don't go on tilt and make the downswing worse.
- Vary Your Play
After a while, even good players fall into a rhythm. They raise with one hand and limp with another. They only play a certain range from late position and a tighter range from early position. If their opponent checks for a second time on the turn, they always bet 2/3 pot. After a while, your opponents will pick up on these patterns and they'll start outplaying you. Change up your play every once in a while to keep your opponents guessing.
- Pay Attention To Your Bets
Do your betting patterns betray your hand? Do you only re-raise with aces or kings? Do you raise 5 times the big blind to protect small pairs? Do you make a continuation bet every time you show aggression before the flop and check the turn if your opponent floats you when you have air? Some players have betting patterns so consistent that they might as well announce their hand. What are your betting patterns telling your opponents?
- Control The Pot
There's an old poker saying that says "Small hand, small pot. Big hand, big pot." You need to control the pot to match your hand. It's tricky controlling the pot without alerting your opponents to your hand, but it's a necessary skill if you want to win more money.
- Keep An Eye On The Nuts
Always know what the best possible hand is on every street and determine how likely it is that your opponent holds the cards necessary to make that hand. For example, if you're playing a re-raised pot and have JJ on a board of Q-J-10, there's a decent chance that your trips are up against a straight if your opponent is raising and re-raising. However if you're playing a re-raised pot and have 99 on a board of 9-7-5, it's much less likely your opponent is holding the 68 necessary for the straight.
- Be Aware Of Your Position
Too many new players are oblivious to the advantages of playing in position. It's easier to trap your opponents and it's easier to make moves on your opponent when you're in position.
- Watch Out For Diminished Returns
There are two major ways to increase your poker profits when you're playing online. You can either play at higher limits or play more tables. However your win rate will generally go down when you do either one of these things. For example, let's say you play $10 Sit 'N Goes and have a 30% return on investment (ROI) when you play one table, a 20% ROI when you play two tables and a 10% ROI when you play three tables. That means you'll make roughly $3/hr. when play one table, $4/hr. when you two-table, and $3/hr. when you three-table. Obviously you should be two-tabling.
- Double Barrel More Often
Too many players fire a shot on the flop and universally give up on the turn. Try firing another barrel occasionally. Players will call a flop bet with draws, overcards, or just because they think they can take the play away from you on the turn. Sometimes you need to fire another barrel to take them down.
- Become A Well-Rounded Player
Learn games besides Texas Hold'em. Texas Hold'em is a popular game and most players have at least a basic understanding of profitable play. The same can't be said for Omaha and 7-Card. In fact, many online Omaha players are Hold'em players that are trying something new and will call your bets while they're drawing dead. The more poker variants you can play the more opportunities you have to profit.
- Classify Your Opponents
Practice classifying your opponents. Notice whether they play loose or tight and put it in their player notes. Then figure out if they're aggressive or passive and write that in their player notes. Knowing whether your opponent is tight-aggressive or loose-passive will help you figure out what kind of hand they have and help you outplay them on the flop.
- Keep Records
Do you know what your average ROI is for tournaments? What about Sit 'N Goes? How many big blinds per hour do you win when you play $1/$2 No-Limit? What about $3/$6 No-Limit? How does your win rate change when you multi-table? By keeping records you'll be able to make informed decisions about what game you should play to maximize your profits.
- Learn From Better Players
Is there a player that always wipes the felt with you? Buddy list them and watch them play. You might learn some new tricks. At the very least you'll learn about their game so you can beat them the next time the two of you cross swords.
- Use Tracking Software
Tracking software is a vital tool for improving your game. These programs are great for exposing leaks. A good program will show you how much you win or lose with each hand and in which position. Many will also show you how much you win or lose to each opponent. There's no better way to get you to stop raising KJ off suit from under the gun in a full ring game than seeing how much money you lose making that move.
- Analyze Your Game Regularly
There's no point in spending the money on tracking software if you're not going to analyze your game. Look for positional leaks and leaks that are due to poor hand selection. You should review key hands to see if you misplayed the hand and replay some of your winning hands to see if you could have extracted more money.
- Overpairs Aren't The Nuts
There's exactly one time that AA is the nuts - preflop. Once the flop comes down, your aces are no longer the best possible hand. It seems like most players, especially at the lower limits, forget this fact. Let's say you're facing two limpers and have AA. You raise 5 times the big blind to thin the field, but both limpers call. The flop comes down 9-8-7 rainbow. The first limper thinks for a second and bets 2/3 pot, then the second limper raises pot instantly. There's a good chance your aces are no good here.
- Watch Out For The Raise On The Turn
Pay close attention the next time you play poker. Players don't raise that often after the flop so when they do you have to wonder why. In my experience, the raise on the turn is the most dangerous raise in the game. Players with a made hand will often smooth call bets on the flop then raise a bet on the turn hoping that you have something. If you get raised on the turn you should think long and hard before calling. Top pair is almost always beat in this situation.
- Learn Pot Odds
If you read this tip and thought, "What are pot odds?" you should stop playing poker right now and start reading some poker books. It is impossible to play profitable poker if you don't understand pot odds. This tip may look obvious to some people, but you wouldn't believe how many times I've seen a Sit 'N Go player post a t200 big blind and fold to a raise when they only had t150 left. That should have been a call with any two cards.
- Estimate Implied Odds
Pot odds aren't the only odds you need to consider. A good player has to be able to estimate how much more they'll win if they hit their hand. Different draws have different levels of profitability. For example, flush draws are easy to spot and tend to slow players down but if you're holding 8-10 and the board is J-9-2, your draw will well disguised and your implied odds will be better.
- Don't Pay Too Much To Draw
If someone prices you out of a draw, curse your luck and let the hand go unless you think your opponent will pay you off if you hit.
- Consider The Turn And The River When You Draw
How much is your opponent betting on the flop? Do you think you'll see one card or do you think you'll get a free card on the turn? Remember that someone who bets heavy on the flop is likely to bet heavy on the turn if it's a blank. Your odds of making a draw on one card are significantly less than on two cards and chances are you're only going to see one card if your opponent is making serious bets.
- Hidden Draws Are Better Than Obvious Ones
I alluded to this tip earlier. I'll pay more for a draw when I have 8-10 on a board of J-9-2 than I will with Ax of spades when there are two spades on the flop. The reason is that my opponents will notice the spade draw and shut down if it hits, but they're less likely to notice the straight draw when I have a single gapper - especially if I raised preflop.
- Don't Defend A Second Best Hand
I see this happen all the time. Most of the time it's because someone entered the pot with ace-rag and an ace hit the flop. They continue to bet and raise the hand never considering that they're probably out kicked. Have the good sense to fold if you think your hand may be second best.
- Stop Completing The Small Blind With Trash
"But I'm getting a discount" is the cry of the poker loser. Playing too loose in the small blind is a huge leak in most players' games. The problem with completing the small blind is that you'll either win a small pot or lose a big one. It's hard to get paid off when your trash hits but it's easy to donk off your stack when your hand is second best.
- Raise From The Small Blind When You Have A Big Hand Verses The Big Blind
Many players just complete the small blind when it's folded to them when they have a big hand. Not me. One of my favorite moves is to raise from the small blind when it's folded to me and I have a big hand. The big blind thinks you're stealing and calls to defend. Then they proceed to play their Q7 to the felt when they hit top pair. Every time you raise they think you're trying to steal. They never consider that you might have kings or aces.
- Don't Defend Your Big Blind With Trash
If you need a reason, see tip 27. I'm not saying that you should never defend your big blind, I'm just saying that you need to consider the possibility that your assailant has a real hand. You need a hand with showdown value when you defend your big blind in most cases.
- Don't Fight For Small Pots
Some people will make pot sized bets to try to steal small pots. The problem is that you either win a small pot or create a large one if you're called. Then you're forced to either give up your steal attempt or commit a lot of chips to try to win a pot you shouldn't have been betting in the first place. It's okay if you want to play small pot poker; just make sure that you bet small into small pots so you don't bloat them.
- Practice Reading Cards
Stay focused when you're out of a hand. Try to put your opponents on a range of hands and narrow it down as the hand progesses. Being able to put your opponents on a hand is the key to making big moves in Hold'em.
- Take A Break
Poker is a mental game and you need to be sharp when you play. Take a break if you feel tired or restless. Both fatigue and impatience will lead to costly mistakes.
- Distract Yourself When Needed
Sometimes I get too fancy when I'm playing lower limits. Moves that work on more advanced players will backfire big time when you're playing newer players. If you find yourself getting too creative or just getting bored in a tournament, you can listen to music or fire up a movie to distract yourself. Multi-tabling is also a good way to help you return to ABC tight poker.
- Be A Bonus Hunter
If you're not working off a bonus when you play, you're not maximizing your profits. There are too many card rooms with too many sign-up bonuses and reload bonuses for you not to be earning extra money working off a bonus. I have accounts at six different card rooms and there's always a bonus available on one of them.
- Watch The Rake
The rake is the house's take. Different card rooms will have different rakes. If all other things are equal, you want to play at the room that rakes the least. Why pay $1 to play a $5 Sit 'N Go if you can pay $0.25 in a different card room? Over time the savings will make a big difference.
- Don't Show Cards
Players show cards all the time because they're proud of some bluff they made or some big hand they had. All you're doing when you show your cards is giving your opponents free information. You're telling them that they made a good lay down or that you're capable of bluffing big with air. The more your opponents know about your play the better they can play against you. If your opponents want to see your cards, make them pay to see a showdown.
- Use A 4-Color Deck
All poker rooms give you the option to use a 4-color deck. Instead of half the deck being red and the other half black; diamonds will be blue, clubs will be green, hearts will be red, and spades will be black. This feature makes it easier to spot flush draws - especially if you're multi-tabling.
- Multi-Table To The Point Of Diminished Returns
Find your multi-tabling "sweet spot." Generally speaking, players will win less when they have more tables open because they can't focus as much on each table. It's always better to win $1.50 on two tables than it is to win $2 on one. However if you're only winning $0.25 on four tables, you're stressing yourself out for nothing. Keep adding tables until reach the point of diminished returns.
- Have A Plan For Moving Up In Limits
How big of a bankroll do you want to have before you move up in limits? What kind of ROI or win rate do you want to have? Moving up arbitrarily is hazardous to your wealth. Have a set plan for when you'll move up and when you'll move back down if needed.
- Measure Success By ROI Or Win Rate
Sure it sounds good to say, "I've won $1,000 playing $2 Sit 'N Goes." And it is good unless you had to play 10,000 Sit 'N Goes to do it. Instead, measure your success by your return on investment (ROI) for tournaments and number of big blinds won per hour in cash games. These figures are much better gauges of your poker prowess.
- Tournament Chips and Cash Chips Are Not The Same
Tournament Chips represent you equity in the tournament prize pool whereas cash chips represent actual cash. This small fact means that the two games play very differently. For example, there are times in a tournament where it's right to fold pocket aces preflop but it's never right to fold aces preflop in a cash game. In addition, there are times in a tournament where it's right to shove with 72 off suit. That move is never right in a cash game. It takes a different set of skills to play each game.
- Test The Waters Before You Dive In
The best way to break into new limits is to take an occasional shot at the higher limit. When I plan on moving up in Sit 'N Goes, I'll open one game at the new limit and several at my current limit. That way I can gain confidence and get a feel for the new players before I dive in and put my bankroll at risk.
- Take Notes On Your Opponents
I don't mean writing "donkey" in their notes. I mean write down any move your opponent makes that's unusual like "raised with 10-8 suited from middle position in an unopened pot" or "re-raised with pocket tens from the small blind." These notes will help you put your opponents on a hand when you're playing against them.
- Buddy List The Fish
I have dozens of buddies in each of my poker accounts but none of them are actually friends of mine. All of them, however, are very poor poker players. This practice is often called "fish stalking" and it can be very profitable. If you find a couple of your fish buddies at a table, sit down and clean up.
- Use Proper Table Selection
Poker is a predatory game. You make money when you play against players worse than you and you lose money when you play against players better than you so it only makes sense to seek out worse players. Don't just sit down at the first table with an open chair. Do a little research to see which table has the loosest and most passive players. Loose-passive players are ATM machines. They'll feed you cash all day long.
- Use The Right Statistics When Selecting Tables
The two most important statistics to use when selecting a table are the "% to the flop" and the "average pot size." A high percentage of players seeing the flop means the table is loose and a higher than average pot size means that the players give a lot of action. You need both of these statistics to be favorable for the game to be good. Just be careful when players leave and new ones join. Fish splashing around tend to attract sharks.
- Don't Drink And Play
I know it's fun. I've done it more times than I care to admit and I almost always end up losing money. Your judgment will be impaired after a couple of drinks and you'll start making the wrong moves and missing out on opportunities. If you're playing to win, play sober.
- Know Your Game
Are you playing a freezeout, a shootout, a rebuy or a bounty? Different tournaments require different strategies. For example, freezeouts reward tight play and giving up a hand in marginal situations early on, however if you're in a bounty tournament it might be advantageous to try to take out the player if you think you have a reasonable chance of winning.
- Drop Down In Limits To Test A New Strategy
It's good to learn new strategies and incorporate them into your game, but it's a fundamental law of psychology that any new strategy will perform worse than your current strategy at first even if the new strategy is superior. That's because it takes time to integrate the new strategy into your personal style. Drop down in limits until you master your new strategy to minimize the impact on your bankroll.
- Value Bet On The River
If you're not sure where you are in a hand but think that there's a reasonable chance you're ahead, make a smallish value bet on the river if you think your opponent will call with a second best hand. Those little calls will start to add up to big bucks.
- Don't Value Bet Weak Hands
Don't value bet if the only hands that will call are hands that beat you. If the only thing you beat is a pure bluff, either check the river or bet an amount you don't think your opponent can call. It doesn't make any sense to bet an amount that your opponent would call with second pair if second pair beats you.
- Don't Fall In Love With Paint
This is a common mistake new players make. They think that KJ, QJ, and K10 are big hands and play them like they're AK. Those hands are stealing hands and they can get you into big trouble if you play them fast when you make top pair. Raising from the button with KJ in an unopened pot is a good idea. Raising KJ from under the gun in a full ring game is not.
- Check/Raise More Often
I think check/raises are one of the most underused moves in poker. It's hard to chase out draws when you're in early position when there are several players to act behind you. If you bet 2/3 pot and get one caller, the rest will call with great odds. Check instead and let your opponents bet then drop the hammer. Not only will you chase out more players, but you'll also make your opponents think twice about trying to steal the pot when you check to them.
- Use All-In Bluffs Sparingly
I blame TV for this one. When tournaments are cut for TV, it looks like someone bluffs all-in every 10th hand when in reality 3 or 4 hours might have passed before someone made this move. It's generally a bad idea to go all-in on a bluff when a call would have you drawing dead. It's much better to go all-in to double up rather than get your opponent to fold.
- Beware Moves You See On TV
As I said, TV producers cut tournaments down to the interesting hands so you don't see that Allen Cunningham folded for 3 hours to establish a tight image. All you see is that he re-raised from the small blind with 56 suited when three other people where in the pot. TV shows pros making moves out of context. Keep that in mind before you think that it's a good idea to raise from the small blind every time you have suited connectors.
- Learn How To Play Tournaments
There's a reason that the top poker pros are on the tournament circuit - that's where the money is. You can build your bankroll a lot faster playing single and multi-table tournaments than you can grinding away for a couple big blinds per hour at the cash tables.
- Play At Limits That Matter To You
If you consider $10 to be pocket change, then don't play $0.05/$0.10 No-Limit unless you have the discipline to play conservatively. It's generally better to play at a limit that will get you thinking rather than a limit where you'll call big bets because "it's only a couple of dollars."
- Beware Uncharacteristic Moves
If a player has been raising four times the big blind every time for two hours solid and then min raises all of the sudden, you need to stop and think. A highly uncharacteristic move could mean a monster. I would fold most decent hands in this situation. If I decided I wanted to play the hand, I'd probably re-raise to see if my suspicions were valid.
- Make Your Own Step Tournaments
Here's something I like to do for fun to test my skills at higher limits without risking a ton of money. I'll buy-in to a low limit Sit 'N Go and roll up until I lose. Let's say I buy into a $2 SNG and win. I'll take the $10 and buy into a $5 SNG. Now let's say that I got second in the $5 SNG, I'll take the $15 and buy into a $10 SNG. I'll repeat this process until I fail to make the money and then I'll start over again. It's a fun way to try higher stakes.
- Know When You're Pot Committed
Can you tell when you have to call even if you know you're beat? If not you're losing a lot of money by folding when you should call. I' ve seen players fold on the turn when there's $20 in the pot and they only have $2 left in their stack. I don't care what I have in that situation; I'm calling and praying for a miracle card. At worst you'll win $22 five percent of the time, but if you fold you'll lose $20 one hundred percent of the time.
- Understand That Expected Value (EV) Changes
EV is how much a given move will make or lose over the long haul. "That move was EV+" is a favorite defense of intermediate players. It might have been true that shoving with Q10 suited on a big blind who only calls with the top 10% of their playing range was EV+…at first. But the big blind is likely to change their calling range if they see you shoving every other hand with some mediocre holdings. If the big blind decides to open up against you, your EV will change and you might not know it until it's too late.
- Leave Your Ego At Home
You know what I'm talking about. You've felt that tinge of anger when someone raises your bluff. You start thinking things like "That donkey isn't going to push me out of the pot" and you start to make stupid moves (the donkey raised you because he's trying to let you know has trips). Make moves based on logic, not ego.
- They're Not Playing Back At You
I used to have that sentence on a post-it on the corner of my computer screen. Whenever someone raised me my first thought was, "they're playing back at me." I should have thought that they have a hand and then tried to figure out what that hand was. If I couldn't put them on a hand, then I should start to wonder if they are playing back at me. My post-it always reminded me of that fact and I started to make better lay downs and well-timed moves.
- Play In Medium Sized Card Rooms
Medium sized card rooms are my preferred stalking grounds. These rooms are usually too small to attract the online pros and these rooms advertise like crazy and offer great bonuses to attract new players. It's a highly profitable situation.
- Stop Saying You're Sorry
I can't stand it when I see a player apologize for drawing out on someone. First of all, you're not sorry. You're glad you won the hand. You probably even had a mini celebration in front of your computer before typing your apology. Second, everyone deserves to draw out occasionally. We've all had our fair share of bad beats so don't be sorry when the poker gods balance the scales.
- Avoid Names Like JacknJill27
When I see a handle like that, I know I'm dealing with someone who plays for fun. Jack and Jill are a young couple in their mid/late twenties that thought it would be fun to open a poker account together so they could play. Cute. Serious players don't do this. Serious players don't let anyone else play under their name so their stats aren't tainted. JacknJill27 might as well use the handle iSpew4u.
- Establish An Image And Act To The Contrary
Are you a loose player? Spend some time folding to establish a tight image before loosening up. Your speculative hands will get paid because no one will suspect your hand and your bluffs will get more respect. Are you a tight player? Do all the things that loose players do when you first sit at a table. Post your blind out of turn and raise your first three hands regardless of what they are. Get caught with trash once or twice and then tighten up. Players will start playing top pair/weak kicker to the felt against you.
- Change Gears When Needed
Acting contrary to your image shouldn't be a one-time thing. Change gears frequently. Start playing loose when it's obvious that you have a tight image and vice-versa. After a couple of gear shifts your opponents won't know what to think. And keeping your opponents off balanced is a very good thing.
- Play In A Poker Room With A VIP Store
Lots of poker rooms give you points for playing that can be redeemed for books, clothes, poker chips, and even cars and tournament tickets. It's just another way to maximize your poker profits.
- Play Within Your Skill Level
Tight playing styles are easier to play than loose playing styles. If you're new, you should only play the best possible hands (AA-99, AK, AQ). It's pretty boring, but you'll win in full ring games at the lower limits. As your game improves you can add other pocket pairs and AJ, A10. Soon you'll be playing suited connectors and suited single gappers. Then one day you'll realize that you're calling with trash in position because you know you can outplay the preflop raiser. Start out playing tight and loosen up until you find your happy place.
- Analyze Your Win Rate By The Time Of Day
One of the first things you should do when you join a new poker room is start to analyze how much you win at different times of the day. After several hundred hours of play, you'll notice a pattern start to develop. There will be one time period when you'll win considerably more than others. That's the time the fish log-on. Make sure you're on too.
- Set Limits And Trail Stops
Here's a tip from the financial markets. In poker, like in financial markets, people tend to cut their profits and let their losses ride. That's the opposite of what you should be doing. Set a loss limit when you start playing and stop when you hit it. If you start to win, raise your loss limit. Repeat this process until you hit your loss limit (your stop) and then stop playing.
- Don't Listen To Your Friends
I'm sure your poker friends have given you advice on how to play, but you shouldn't listen to them unless your friends are at the skill level you're striving for. Everyone wants to be considered an expert, but few people are. You won't get to the final table of a WPT tournament by listening to the advice of someone who can't beat a $10 Sit 'N Go.
- Start A Study Group
Instead of blindly taking advice from friends, start a study group where you all bring interesting hands or read poker books and discuss them. Five players may be mediocre by themselves, but their collective experience can equal that of a great player. Each person will improve as they absorb the strengths of the others.
- Record Your Games
There are plenty of free screen recording programs on the web. Find one and start recording your games. You can buy an external hard drive to store them. Review your play regularly so you can spot leaks. You can also use the videos for discussion at your poker study groups.
- Test Your Knowledge
Do you have an objective way to determine your level of poker knowledge? Find websites that offer "hand of the day" puzzles and buy poker workbooks like Harrington on Hold'em: Volume III. These exercises will help you make the right decision when it really matters.
- Join Poker Forums
Poker forums are a great way to learn from top pros both online and offline. The 2+2 forums specifically are frequented by some of the top names in poker. It's not enough to get poker advice. You need good poker advice to improve.
- Take Calculated Risks
Remember that Full Tilt commercial that shows Phil Ivey facing a raise and thinking about all the hands his opponent could have? He finally thinks, "I like my chances" and goes all in. Sometimes you have to take calculated risks like that. If you've never called with a losing hand then you're not calling enough. Every once in a while you'll make the wrong move, but eventually you'll be right more often than you're wrong.
- Show Donkey Moves Occasionally
This works well at the low and middle limits where other players think they're poker gods. All it takes is one really bad call and the other players will take you off their radar. When you wake up with a big hand, you drag them over the coals and they won't know it until you showdown. This is a trick move that shouldn't be used against experienced players. They'll see right through it.
- Teach A Friend
Obviously you have to be a decent player to do this. If you know someone with less experience than you that wants to learn the game, take him under your wing and try to teach him. You'll learn a lot about your own poker knowledge when you try to explain complex concepts and you'll often find that you know the right plays even though you might not make them in the heat of a game. The best way to learn a subject is to teach it.
- Know When Your Draw Is A Favorite
Have you ever had a really great draw? Something like K(h)Q(h) on a board like J(h)-10(h)-8(s)? In this hand you have a straight flush draw and two over cards. Your draw is a monster! There are 21 cards in the deck that will improve your hand. You might not have the best hand now, but the odds are good that you'll have a monster by the river. I'm getting all my money in the center on a draw like this. If you' re trying to see the river cheap here, you're playing this draw too slow. You're a favorite over top pair, all over pairs except AA (slight dog there), two pair and even a made straight. You can't play a hand this big weak.
- Don't Be Afraid Of Monsters In The Closet
I know I said to be careful of playing overpairs too fast, but you can't be afraid of monsters in the closet either. When someone goes all- in on a flop like 8-7-2, it doesn't always mean they have a set. They might have JJ, QQ or KK and your aces could be good. You have to weigh the situation carefully to make the right decision.
- Don't Bluff Calling Stations
Calling stations call. That's their defining characteristic. There's no sense trying to get someone to fold if it's not in them to lay anything down. When you face a calling station, stop all forms of bluffing and bet all hands for value. Let the calling station feed you their stack when you have a hand.
- Get A Mentor
There's no substitute for a skilled player by your side helping you improve. Some people may be fortunate enough to know someone who will mentor them, others might meet someone in forums or in poker leagues; but even people who don't have any poker contacts can hire a mentor. It won't be cheap, but a good mentor will be worth many times their price.
- Know The Difference Between A Value Raise And A Stealing Raise
This knowledge is especially important in tournament play where stealing and re-stealing blinds drives the final stages. Raises from early position are usually value raises. It's hard to steal from an early position. Late position raises are more likely to be a steal. However beware of small raises from late position. The raiser might be trying to price you in the hand.
- Let The Money Come Naturally
You can't force profits. If you try, you'll hemorrhage money. Accept the fact that you're not going to earn $30 an hour playing $0.50/$1 No-Limit. You'll have to grind it out and roll up in limits until you can play a game big enough to make the money you want. Poker is a game of skill and patience. Disciplined players profit and impulsive players go broke.
- Use Your Betting Patterns To Disguise Your Hand
Astute players will pick up on how you play certain hands. If you want to get paid, you have to change your usual betting pattern. I once got a player to give me 30% of their stack with air when I had trips because I played them the exact same way I played a pure bluff five hands earlier. My opponent recognized the line and thought I was on a bluff when I had a powerful hand.
- Don't Berate Donkeys
Don't insult bad players at your table even if they draw out on you. If anything you should go out of your way to praise their poor play and make them feel comfortable. You want bad players to stay at your table for as long as possible and they won't do that if you keep telling them what a moron they are.
- Watch Out For The Squeeze Play
Let's say there are three limpers in early position. You're in middle position with 66, so you call hoping to see a cheap flop. Someone behind you raises and everyone folds to the big blind who re-raises. Now you're caught in a squeeze play. You can't call because you don't know if the original raiser is going re-raise the big blind and you don't want to commit too many chips with a pair of sixes. Fold and make a mental note of the situation. If this play is common at your table it might be a good opportunity to trap with a big hand.
- Look For Opportunities To Squeeze
The big blind made a great play in the last tip. He noticed that the limpers were weak and that the original raiser probably opened up his raising range to capture the dead money. With that knowledge, the big blind re-raised big to represent aces or kings and take down a large pot. Even if the original raiser called it would be difficult for them to play unless they caught a great flop. Remember that the next time you're the big blind and you see a hand like this develop.
- Munch On Dead Money
Let's not forget about the original raiser in the past two tips. His play was pretty good too. He noticed that there were a lot of limpers in the pot that were unlikely to call a raise. He was trying to munch on the dead money in the pot. It didn't work because the big blind decided to put the squeeze play on, but that doesn't mean it was a bad move.
- Show Some Respect Once In A While
Even the most passive players can only take a certain amount of punishment before they wake up and start playing back at a bully. Check down a hand or two against someone you've been pounding when you have a decent hand. It will make them think that you aren't bullying them with junk and they'll be less likely to stand up to you.
- Get Crazy In A Rock Garden
If you find yourself at a table full of nits, start raising and re-raising like crazy. You'll most likely take down quite a few pots because of your aggression and you'll start to push the rocks out of their comfort zone. Eventually they'll start to loosen up against you to stop you from bullying the table. When the table loosens up you can start playing tighter and get more action on your big hands.
- Know What Kind Of Pot Your Hand Likes
Pocket aces like a pot with one or two other opponents, but pocket twos and 67 suited like a pot with five or more opponents. That information should tell you that you should raise to thin the field with aces, but call to allow more people in the pot with twos.
- Mind The Barriers
Certain limits have players of similar skills. For example, there's not much difference in the skill level of a $0.25/$0.50 No-Limit player and a $0.50/$1 player, but there is a difference between a $0.50/$1 player and a $1/$2 player. There are many barriers like this in poker and they can be different in different poker rooms. Mind the barriers and don't cross them until you're ready.
- Become A Prop Player
Did you know that some poker rooms will pay you to play poker? These rooms want players to play at certain limits at certain times to help fill their games and attract more players. The compensation varies buy you could easily earn 135% of your rake plus bonuses. That's not a bad way to pad your bankroll.
- Play For Prizes
Some sites will offer you freebies in addition to the poker room's bonus to sign-up. These freebies range from books and poker chip sets to free training and rake back. You're going to play anyway, so you might as well get as much as you can for it.
- Try A New Style
Are you a tight player? Try playing loose for a while. Are you a LAGtard? Tighten up and see how it affects your bankroll. There are pros and cons to both styles of play. Mix it up and see what style suits you best. Just make sure you drop down in limits before testing out the new you in case it doesn't work out well.
- Learn When To Bluff
I'm convinced that most players have no clue when they should bluff. There's no magic pill that will teach you when you should bluff. It depends on a lot of factors like the texture of the flop; your opponent's playing style and your image. The only universal truth I have for you is this: most players bluff too much.
- Make Moves With Speculative Hands
If you're planning on making a big move like a squeeze play or a re-raise on an ultra-loose player, it's best to do it with a hand like 89 suited rather than A6 suited. The reason is that it's hard to get into trouble with 89 suited. You'll always know exactly where you stand in the hand and your opponent will never see it coming when it hits. Ace-6 suited is different. You can get into a lot of trouble with a hand like that. In addition, your opponent will expect you to have an ace, so you'll either win a small pot or lose a big one. Not good.
- Be Aggressive B-E Aggressive - Whoo!
There are winning tight players and there are winning loose players, but there are no winning passive players. Aggressive poker is winning poker. However you need to know how to time your aggression. Blind aggression will cause you to spew chips all over the felt. Knowing when to be aggressive is the key to winning big in poker.
- Play To Win
Believe it or not, some people don't play to win. Some people play to make friends with people who have similar interests and some people play because they like the "rush" of betting with their money. There are many reasons why people play poker, but winning players play because they enjoy winning. Winning players study the game and they study the players. They play for the challenge and the strategy. They play because they love to win. The money is just a way to keep score.
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