Poker is one of those games that is both entertaining and challenging to play. Unlike many games in a modern casino that are mainly chance based, poker requires a great deal of knowledge, skill and emotional intelligence if wanting to be highly successful. In fact, many people across the globe have successfully made a living from playing poker.
You only have to look at the likes of Daniel Negreanu, Phil Ivey, and Tom Dwan to see the success that can be made from playing poker professionally. However, while it may seem like a luxurious career with all of the global travel involved, large cash prizes and high level of media coverage, being a professional poker player is far from easy.
Those wanting to pursue poker professionally will need to devote many grueling hours to perfecting their craft, often competing in tournaments with lower cash prizes to gain experience. On the other hand, if poker is just a hobby, it can still be beneficial to level up your skills for the satisfaction of beating your friends at a game or being able to compete in an amateur tournament.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can improve your poker skills.
1. Find a Poker Coach
Poker coaching is an effective way to rapidly improve your poker skills and is a great option for if you prefer working with a mentor over self-study. There are a few different ways you can seek out poker coaching either virtually or live.
While live coaching is preferable for some people, online coaching can often be more advantageous as the coach is able to acquire your playing history and analyze the statistics of your performance. The coach will then be able to see exactly where your strengths are and where you need help.
2. Establish a consistent strategy
It does not matter how much studying and research you do, unless you are going to apply what you have learnt consistently to every single game, it just won’t make an effective impact. This means sticking to your strategy, even if you identify a risky opportunity, you get bored of doing the same thing, or you are in a jam and are willing to try anything to save your game.
All of the greatest poker players out there are successful because they have acquired years’ worth of poker playing experience, knowledge, and best practice and then they live by this. By taking chances or switching up your strategy at the last minute, it hands things over to chance rather than skill.
To be successful in the long term, you need to establish a strategy and stick to it. Try watching some YouTube videos or read a book on a professional poker player to see what their strategy is in order to inform your own.
3. Practice, Practice, Practice!
Practice makes perfect. It’s a time old cliched saying but it’s true. When you’re in the moment during a tense poker game, it can be difficult to remain calm and collected and stick to your strategy. Yet practice will enable you to build that strategy into your muscle memory so that it becomes instinct for each game.
One of the best ways to improve at poker is to keep learning from your mistakes. To do this, you will need to play a lot of poker, with a lot of different players. Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and challenge yourself.
The best learning happens when we’re outside of our comfort zone after all.
4. Use a Poker Tracking Program
A poker tracking program is a highly effective way of tracking your progress. With a tracking program, you are able to record statistics on each game you play and then look back to identify where your strengths and weaknesses are.
You are also able to filter specific scenarios in order to tackle some of your weaknesses. Once identified, you can keep working on these problem areas and find out what exactly you are doing wrong.
If you do decide to get a poker coach, this data will be incredibly useful in helping you to select the right coach for your skill level and will give that coach a clear insight into where they need to help you.
5. Don’t Play Games with Bad Odds
While learning to play poker, it’s important to set yourself up for success and keep your morale high. It’s also important to challenge yourself but not to take this too far. If you are consistently playing in games with people above your skill level, you are quickly going to lose morale from the constant losses.
When playing with a less experienced group, it’s also going to be easier to pick up on the mistakes that others are making, internalize those mistakes and then make sure that you never make them.
Try to play a mix of skill levels in order to make sure you’re stimulated and challenged enough but still get to put your skills to the test every so often.
6. Read a Lot of Poker Books
Studying is your best friend when it comes to improving your poker strategy. While YouTube videos are great, reading a whole book will allow you to conduct a much more in-depth review of how to become a more successful poker player.
Anything from strategy books to autobiographies written by professional poker players are effective and will give you an exclusive insight into the world of a successful player and how they got to where they are today.
Overall, learning to play poker well takes a lot of time and resources and requires a great amount of dedication, commitment, and perseverance. It’s not an easy game to play, although by setting yourself up with the right tools, resources, and mindset, you’re sure to improve in no time.