Improving your poker skills might be easier than you think.
Serious poker study can very closely resemble studying for a PhD. The theory surrounding the game has gotten much more complicated in recent years, and it would be easy for a recreational player to simply take a look at some of the advanced study tools out there and decide that it’s all just too complex and time consuming, and simply not worth it for someone who doesn’t have aspirations of turning pro. The average ‘fun’ player has a life and a job, and certainly doesn’t have time to spend hours pouring over CardrunnersEV calculations, reading about game theory or paying for professional coaching. I get it. But even if poker is just a hobby for you, wouldn’t it be nice if it was a profitable hobby? Or simply a less expensive one? Sure, maybe you’ll never fully understand some of the more sophisticated concepts and tactics that the elite professionals use, but it doesn’t mean you can’t get better. I’ve come up with a list of 5 ways that recreational players can improve their game, without spending a lot of time or energy.
Watch Poker Streamers On Twitch
Back when I used to teach people how to speak English, I would always recommend watching films in English as a casual and entertaining form of study. Consider this the poker equivelant of that idea. Watching professionals stream their poker sessions and talk strategy can be an extremely valuable and entertaining way to study poker. I specifically recommend Tonkaaaa and Jason Somerville for those hoping to learn. Both of these guys stream high stakes online poker almost every night and talk openly about their strategy as they play. They’re both thoroughly entertaining and the fact that they’re highly successful high stakes professionals means that their strategy advice and ramblings are something to take seriously.
Talk To Yourself While You Play
Or develop an inner monologue if you’re playing live. Basically, the point is to articulate a logical reason for every move you make at the poker table. It’s very easy to lose focus and go on ‘auto-pilot’, so when I’m playing online I often talk to myself as I play. Instead of just folding or raising, I say something like ‘I’m folding 45 off suit here because it’s not a very strong hand’. Even in situations as completely simple as that one, it’s important to develop a habit of applying logic to your actions. Eventually, you’ll be able to do this in more complex situations.
Avoid Distractions While Playing
Every hour you spend playing poker is an hour closer to being a profitable player. But it doesn’t count if you’re doing ten other things at the same time. That’s not real practice. You need to be 100% focused on the game in order to make that experience count.
Follow A Pre-Flop Hand Chart
There are tons of free charts online, if you simply know how to use google. I prefer the charts here. For beginners, I recommend following a chart like this without exception. It will limit the amount of confusing situations you encounter post-flop and give you time to build a foundation of sound fundamentals before trying to get too creative.
Be Honest With Yourself
It’s easy to get caught up in short term results and allow yourself to become delusional about your poker skills, good or bad. You can run good or bad in a few tournaments and convince yourself that you’re much better or worse than you actually are. It’s important to keep a critical eye on every decision you make and to not judge the value of that decision by the outcome. Sometimes you make great bluffs that don’t work out because your opponent just so happens to have the top 1% of their range. Sometimes you’ll make terrible calls that work out in that single moment because your opponent has the bottom 1% of their range. You can’t judge yourself on your results, you have to stay critical and continue to analyze if the moves you’re making are correct overall.
Psssst! We’re on YouTube – see, what we do there.