10 guaranteed ways to improve your poker game

September 16, 2021inPoker

Poker is easy to learn and difficult to master. There’s no end to the improvements you can make to your poker strategy and mindset.

We’re assuming you already know poker hand rankings and the basic rules of the game. Here’s where to go from there:

Get to grips with poker theory

If you want to take your strategy to the next level, you’ll need to get to grips with concepts such as hand ranges and pot odds.

There are more resources out there than ever before. Classics like Harrington on Hold ‘em and Theory of Poker by David Slansky are still relevant today, titles such as Modern Poker Theory by Michael Acevedo will bring you up to speed with more recent trends, and niche titles like Bernard Lee’s Poker Satellite Success  are useful for specific games or concepts.

PokerStars School is also an excellent resource for getting to grips with poker concepts, reading articles and accessing more detailed courses.

Watch poker online

Once you understand the basic concepts, one of the best ways to improve your poker strategy is to watch poker online. On sites like Twitch, professional players talk you through every step of their decision making process. All you have to do is watch and learn.

Popular Twitch poker streamers include Lex Veldhuis, Spraggy, Fintan “easywithaces” Hand, and Felix “Xflixx” Schneiders. You can also check out PokerStars TV, who often live stream major events.

Choose the right games

Look out for regs!

Playing at stakes that you’re not comfortable with is never a good idea. Not only is it risky for your bankroll, it can also make you less effective with your poker strategy. You won’t be able to make the best possible moves if you’re scared of losing your buy-in.

Always aim to play within your skill range (and within your bankroll), moving up through the games as you improve so that always stand a chance against the field.

Observe and take notes

Just because you’ve folded a hand, doesn’t mean you should stop paying attention. Any time other players make a move they could be giving away valuable information about their style, betting patterns and hand ranges. Get into the habit of observing the action and other players and you’ll immediately be a better player.

Taking notes will help with this, and means the information you gather will be remembered and used next time around. Double-click the player’s avatar to bring up the box, and take note of any bet or action that stands out.

Identify your weaknesses

Every great poker professional analyses their sessions and identifies their own weaknesses. You can do this by looking back over your poker session and analyzing hands. Keep track of hands that you struggled with and replay them. Could you have played a tough spot differently? Could you have made a fold and saved chips?

It’s difficult to identify mistakes in the heat of the moment, but they stand out when you look back. You can use software or post troublesome spots to buddies, poker coaches, or to poker forums.

Analyzing your game and identifying mistakes will put you on the road to constant improvement.

The poker mindset

Poker is a mental game

If you’re aspiring to be a great poker player, don’t neglect the mental side of the game. It doesn’t matter how much you refine your poker strategy if you tend to go on tilt and spew your chips every time you get bad-beat.

Keeping a calm and relaxed mind is not easy, not when the player to your left keeps winning with a worse hand. It helps not to focus on outcomes, but rather to focus on making the best possible decisions. That’s what you have control over.

The poker mindset is not just about avoiding tilt. It’s about bringing your A-game to the table as often as possible so that you apply your poker strategy effectively.

Live a balanced life

It might seem irrelevant at first glance, or like filler content to make up the numbers. But living a balanced life outside of poker is important not only for happiness, but also for your poker strategy and mental game.

Online poker involves a lot of sitting down for long hours, locked into an intense battle that can go on all night. So it’s crucial for pros and aspiring players to keep up with life off the tables.

We recommend taking regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep (and not always at 4am after the MTTs finish), and maintaining an active social life and hobbies – whatever that means for you. Doing so will only improve your poker game.

Networking and community

Lex Veldhuis and Spraggy meet members of Lex’s Discord community at Lex Live

Poker is an inherently individual game, but it’s also a lot more fun if you connect with other players and share the glory (and the pain!). Networking and building community will also benefit your strategy, as you’ll be able to discuss strategy and difficult spots.

Check out social media groups, forums such as Pocketfives, or head to local live games and events to meet players near you.

Poker course and coaching

This tip isn’t really for total beginners. It’s more for players who are already profiting and want to reach the heights of the top ranks.

Poker coaching is one of the most effective ways to improve your poker game. You’ll be able to spend one-on-one time with professionals who can help you identify weakness, plug gaps in your game, and analyze those tough spots that keep catching you out. It’s expensive, but worth it for some.

Poker courses are more accessible. They usually comprise of material such as videos and content that has been put together by pros. There’s less (or no) one-on-one time, but you’ll still get expert guidance.

Practice!

PokerStars have online poker Play Money games running around the clock, which can be good for total beginners to familiarize themselves with the format and rhythm of the game. Freerolls are a great option too. Once you’re confident, you can check out micro and low stakes games, then move up from there as your ability and bankroll allow.

Like any activity, practice makes perfect. And if you’re practicing whilst using some of the tips in this article to learn as much about poker as possible, then you’ll continue to improve.

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