7 Tips to Take Your Poker Game From “Meh” to Amazing

7 Tips to Take Your Poker Game From “Meh” to Amazing

Are you struggling to make decent profits at the poker tables? Can your results best be described as “somewhere around break-even”?

First, don’t worry, because you’re not alone. That describes the performance of most poker players.

Often, though, it’s just a few small changes in poker strategy that can take your game from mediocre to amazing – from break-even to crushing.

In this article, I’m going to give you seven subtle but highly effective poker tips that will take your game to the next level.

While I can’t promise you’ll win a lot of money with these beginner tips, you should add everything in this guide to your poker strategy if you really want to improve your poker game.

1.Think about ranges, not hands

It doesn’t matter what type of casino poker you play: one of the easiest ways to identify average and novice poker players is to look at how they think about what their opponent has.

  • Beginner poker players try to set someone up for a particular hand.
  • Advanced poker players think in terms of ranges. This type of thinking can be extremely important when calculating pot odds.

A range is the entire spectrum of poker hands that someone might have in a given situation. For example, player X might have a flush, best pair, middle pair, lowest pair, draw, ace-high or a complete bluff.

Good players who have made their way through several articles on poker strategy understand that player X will show up with this entire range of hands with varying frequency. They don’t focus on identifying one winning hand, but try to learn these frequencies and then make the best play.

Average players try to put their opponent on exactly {a-Hearts}{j-Hearts} (or some other specific hand) because that is “what their gut tells them”.

If there’s one thing you need to know when you’re learning the game, it’s that poker strategy tips and “hunches” don’t go together. Basing your tournament or cash game strategy on what you “feel” is never a good idea.

In the first video of this guide to poker tips for beginners, pro Jason Wheeler explains how he uses every piece of information possible to understand his opponent’s cards and choose his play.

Poker Tip Key Takeaway: Be realistic

Don’t put your opponent on one hand, but think about ranges. No one has a specific hand in poker – they only have a range.

If you’re in the process of learning the game and need help, take a look at a complete ranking of poker hands.

2. Throw away your favorite hand

Many people have their favorite hand. I know that every time I get an old {9-}{7-}-suited hand, my eyes light up and I want to play it so badly!

However, in reality, I know that {9-}{7-}-suited is an average hand. It is definitely not one of the best starting hands you can have in a game of Texas Hold Em.

In some places it makes sense – for example, in a late position, in a pool with no opening. But it should almost always be folded in early position.

If you currently have some favorite starting hands, that’s fine – most people do. But don’t give them preferential treatment and don’t make bad plays with them.

Winning in poker is about math and hard logic, not superstition.

Key tips for poker players: be smart

Playing too many hands is a common mistake (see: Five most common mistakes made by new poker players).

One of the best ways to avoid it is to incorporate range-based thinking into your reads.

3. Adopt a consistent strategy

Another key to becoming a great poker player (and probably one of the most important poker tips in this guide) is to consistently apply a winning strategy.

It’s not okay to suddenly change things (such as opening with {9-}{7-}-suited from early position or turning into a calling station) just because you’re bored or abashed.

All your learning, experience and study over the years has given you the knowledge of how to play Texas Hold ‘Em.

However, your poker strategy only matters if you apply it at the poker tables all the time. Every hand and every session counts.

The best poker players, the ones who know how to win at poker, apply the same winning strategy over and over again, no matter how they feel or what their recent results were.

Poker Tip Key Takeaway: Be consistent.

Poker is a long-term game. You need time to build your bankroll and find the right cash or tournament strategy that works for you.

You shouldn’t change your strategy after a big win or a big loss (here’s why).

If you really feel that your approach needs to change, make sure you read this article on Handling the Ups and Downs of Low Stakes Poker first.

4. Always have a reason

Great, winning poker players sometimes break out of their standard, effective strategies, but always for obvious reasons.

An average player may start raising with a {9-}{7-}-suit hand in early position because he is bored or wants to accomplish something.

An elite poker player will raise with that hand in that position on occasion because he has noticed that the table is playing passively and there are several recreational players in the blinds.

So there is clear reason to believe that a raise with a {9-}{7-}-suit hand in early position (under normal circumstances, this is usually a fold) can be a profitable play in this situation.

If you can make a well-reasoned argument as to why deviating from your normal strategy might be more profitable, that’s fine. It’s the “because I feel like it” or “I’m bored” type of reasoning that needs to go away.

Poker Tip Key Takeaway: Be sensible.

Think. Use your experience to analyze situations and then understand “why” you would choose this way and not another.

If you don’t yet have enough experience to evaluate different situations, you’d better go back to the free games and grind.

5. Know when to fold your aces

Another distinct difference between average poker players and great players is the ability to fold overpair.

You know that sick feeling when you have {a-}{a-} and your opponent raises all-in on the turn? You make the so-called “crying call” and he once again reveals the set.

You need to start paying attention to this feeling a little more often.

Certain patterns are easy to recognize at lower stakes – especially if you play online poker – where the 100% correct play is to fold overpair.

Good players can get rid of the emotional attachment to their nice-looking hands. Average players get attached to their aces or kings and can’t get rid of them even when they know they are beaten.

Key takeaway from the poker tip: Aces lose too

Starting the game with the best of all poker hands is not enough to guarantee you a win.

Ask anyone for good poker pro advice and they’ll all tell you the same thing: sometimes you’ll have to fold those aces.

For more information on this topic, take a look at the article on how to play pocket aces.

6. Realize that Tilt only harms you

Tilt is a destroyer of bankrolls, dreams and poker careers.

I can’t tell you how often I receive emails or comments from people describing to me how they have set aside huge amounts of their bankroll when things at the poker tables went wrong.

The reality of poker is that sometimes things will go wrong for you and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.

This is what you sign up for every time you sit down to play cards.

There is always the possibility that something terrible could happen to you. You can also run the lights, however.

When you allow yourself to lose control of your emotions and throw your strategy out the window, the only person you hurt is yourself.

All those hours you spent trying to learn and improve your game were basically wasted because you decided to choose emotion over reason when it mattered.

Respect the work you’ve done. You owe it to yourself to maintain more composure and stop throwing money away when the cards go south.

Key tip for poker players: Relax.

The psychological side of poker can be overwhelming and you need to be ready to deal with it.

Swings happen, and bad beats will happen. If you don’t know how to deal with it, see the tips Italian pro Rocco Palumbo shared with PokerNews at the PokerStars Championship in Prague.

If these poker tips work for Palumbo, they might as well work for you!

7. Don’t play bad games

One more way novice poker players can sabotage their poker performance is by stubbornly playing in games that are full of decent to good players.

If you can’t find someone at the table who is playing very poorly, then you need to ask yourself why you are even there.

If you play poker just for the mental challenge, recreation or enjoyment, that’s fine. This poker tip doesn’t necessarily apply to you.

But if winning real money or chips is a priority for you, it’s important to remember that you won’t make a significant profit in poker by pushing the small edge against good players.

You win a lot by playing against players who make significant fundamental mistakes and give their money away over the long term.

As the classic movie Rounders reminds us, “If you can’t spot a sucker in the first half hour at the table, you’re a sucker.”

Poker Tip Key Takeaway: Pick the Right Games

Don’t sit down with the pros if you can’t beat them. Choosing the right games is the key to your success in poker – one wrong move and you’re out.

Again, there’s no shame in playing free poker games or finding the best freeroll tournaments in online poker if that’s what you need.

Final thoughts

The gap between break-even beginners and big-time winners is not as wide as many people think.

Often it’s just a few simple little tweaks you can learn over time that can move you along and enable you to start winning at a higher level.

A lot of this has to do with starting to see the game in a more cold, detached, mathematical and logical way than you currently do.

Emotional and/or superstitious poker players almost always lose or struggle to maintain their level.

Elite poker players, in contrast, know they are in it for the long haul and don’t worry too much about every hand or moment. They continue to make the most profitable plays again and again, no matter what.

Leave a Reply