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I’m not going to sugarcoat it for you. Poker is hard.
If you are like 90% of casual poker players, you probably win a little sometimes and then find a way to give it all back.
And the one thing that all of these types of players have in common, they all think they are unlucky.
Before you can win, you have to start thinking and acting like a winner. No, this is going to be some stupid mind set article about thinking positivly. This is going to give you an outline of what you need to do to stop losing so much at poker.
Everyone knows that guy at the casino or online who always seems to win. They never seem to have the worst of it, and they always seem to find a way to leave you broke by the end of a session. You might even fold a big hand to this player just because he always seems to win. This guy is not just the luckiest guy in the room, this guy has probably worked a lot both on and off the poker table to get where he/she is at. The good news is, if he can do it so can you.
I am going to go over the things to get you started on the right track to becoming a successful online or live poker player. Implementing these 5 simple things will 100% improve your poker results.
1. Bankroll Management
It doesn’t matter how good at poker you are if you have poor bankroll management. Over the years, many of the best players in the world went broke simply because of their mismanagement of money. There is no one size fits all approach to bankroll management, but in general you want to have at least 100-300 buyins for any tournament you enter and 15-40 buyins for cash games.
The reason why these numbers are so wide is because everyone’s situation is different and individual factors play a huge role in the games you can enter. If you can easily replenish your bankroll and the stakes are a nominal amount to the amount of money you have, you can obviously take higher risks than the person who has $500 to their name and is relying on the money to pay the bills.
I take a deeper dive into bankroll management in my Poker Bankroll Management 101 article. I highly suggest everyone review it if you want to be a successful poker player.
Again, if your bankroll management sucks there is no amount of skill that will save you.
2. Game Selection
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen players play a bad game for ego, in fact I am guilty of this myself. Leave your ego at the door and stop trying to play the best players in the world. One of the skills of being a good poker player is being able to pick the right game to play in. If the games are bad (meaning there are a bunch of talented players playing), find a new table or take a break and wait for the games to get better later. The good thing about poker is there will always be a game and there’s no rush to make money. Just wait for the right moment and play when it is optimal.
Usually the biggest game in any online or live poker room is going to be the hardest game. This is the game you want to avoid. Playing in a smaller game will often lead to a better return on your investment in the long run.
The debate on how much study vs. playing has been going on for years. There is really no set formula that anyone has figured out for guaranteed success. But it is really important that you are doing some sort of formal studying when you are not playing. This does not mean you watch PokerGo or Live At the Bike and convince yourself you are studying. THAT IS NOT STUDYING!
Studying involves reviewing your hands and finding your mistakes, watching training videos(while taking notes), or reviewing poker hands with a winning player who is as good as you or better.
There is a lot of free material out there but we suggest you invest in yourself and join a training site. Not only are the coaches and material better than the free content you will find online, but you will also be invited into the sites community where you can ask questions. The relatively small investment you will make to join a poker training site will pay for itself within a few months or even weeks.
There is no one size fits all when it comes to training sites. Picking the best training site for you will depend on the stakes you play, the money you’re willing to invest, and the type of games you play.
To find out what poker training site is best for you, check out our article What Is the Best Poker Training Site For Me?
4. Session Length
If you are a newish player, we don’t suggest playing any one poker session longer than 2 hours. The reason for this is that a lot of time your mind will be wearing down by then and you will be making less optimal decisions. If you are a seasoned veteran, your poker sessions can last anywhere from 2-8 hours. This will depend on your skill level and how your decision making deteriorates over time.
If you are using proper bankroll management the amount won or loss should not affect your decision to continue or stop a session. What should affect your decision is how profitable the game is that you are playing in. If you are playing with 4 drunk guys that are giving money away, you obviously don’t want to leave that game. However, if you are playing at a tight, tough, pro heavy table, it might be time to take a break, move tables, or quit for the day all together.
In general if you are a cash game or sit-n-go player, try to keep your sessions short, take breaks, and change tables to find the best game (if you aren’t already in it).
If you are a tournament player, you will have to play long sessions. Because of this it’s important to stay engaged. Don’t overeat because this can make you tired (we prefer fasting or small healthy snacks while playing). During your tournament breaks try to do some quick stretching or mild exercise. Avoid sugar as much as possible as this can affect your decision making. DRINK PLENTY OF WATER!
Finally, this is up to you. You need to treat your poker like a business. You need to make smart business decisions. This means staying away from any games that you don’t have an edge in. This includes table games, slots, and/or sports betting.
You’d be shocked at the number of talented poker players who can’t seem to avoid the craps table after a winning poker session. This is a recipe for disaster. Stay away from the losing games and focus on what you are good at. Your poker business is counting on you. In the long run, success at poker will be far more rewarding than any short term satisfaction you get from gambling on roulette, craps, blackjack, slot machine, or whatever else is your crutch.
Becoming a long term winning poker player has a lot more to do with how you conduct yourself than your actual skill. If you have average skill but can stay healthy and disciplined, you will have more success than the player that has above average skill but doesn’t manage poker like a business. If you put in the time and enjoy the process of a slow and steady build, you will see the success that you imagine for yourself.