Are you starting to discover that your online poker play isn’t all you thought it might be? Are you struggling to keep in the green in your game? These 7 top tips will teach you what to do when you’re down, so that you can improve your game and climb back to top of the tables.
#1 Review Your Game Stats
The first thing you should do, and it’s something that most pro players always do, is to review your game stats. This is the first step to understanding how you really play poker.
When looking at your stats try not to focus too much on how much you are winning or losing but more so on your poker habits. Are there any obvious patterns? Consider of the movie “Groundhog Day”. Once Bill Murray came to the realisation that he was living the same day over and again he could begin to take action to change those patterns. It’s the same concept, so a good question to ask yourself is: Am I reliving the same scenes over and over again?
#2 Change Your Patterned Play
Once you have identified any patterns in your play, it’s time to decide if you need to change them. Do losing streaks make you play “on tilt”, desperately trying to recuperate your losses? Similarly if you hit a winning streak, does your play become more careless? How many chips are you giving away in hands that you should never have, in hindsight, gotten involved in? These are all patterns of play that should be avoided, so if you find these patterns in your game, it’s time to break them.
#3 Learn from Your Mistakes
It’s also worth thinking about why you were making such obvious mistakes in your gameplay. By highlighting your mistakes in play you may find further patterns such as a particular time of day during which you appear to lose significantly. If a large chunk of your losing streaks come at a certain time of the day you might be best to avoid playing at that time, or at the very least, try to understand why this is happening. The obvious answer is; if a large portion of your losing streaks are happening at 4am then you are probably too tired to play. When playing online at 4am you are probably playing against other players that are in a completely different time-zone, so they may not be suffering the same lethargy as you. This will enable a skilled poker player to outplay you easily.
#4 Watch Your Opponents
Failing to watch and learn from your opponents is a rookie mistake in poker. You should never stop watching other players at your table, as you can guarantee that you are being watched by at least one or two of them. You are watching for the same types of patterned play we discussed earlier, within your opponents game. A truly skillful poker player, like Daniel Negreanu, will have mastered the art of reading their opponent, whilst making their play as unpredictable as possible, in an effort to out-smart your game. By learning how to do this too, you will perform better than a player who just goes by the cards they are holding or the odds of their opponents having better cards.
#5 Know When to Gamble
Your stats may have also revealed to you times at which you are playing far too conservatively. Most poker players fall into this habit at times because nobody wants to lose what they have already gained. Patience is the most important skill in poker, and playing conservatively will get you far, however sometimes you will find that the cards just don’t come, your stack begins to dwindle, and if you’re playing in a tourney you might even be forced to take a gamble that you wouldn’t usually force with a larger chip stack.
Whilst conservative play is recommended, It’s important to become more willing to take risks in poker. If your hands are strong then makes sure your bets reflect that. If your hands are weak, mix it up, have you been watching your opponents? Consider what they may be holding, but try not to talk yourself into or out of a situation that you are not comfortable with participating in. Overall, don’t let your opponents get a read on you.
#6 Understand the Art of Bluffing
Once you’ve mastered how to read your opponents and gotten a better idea of when and when not to gamble, you might want to learn a bit more about the art of bluffing your opponents. Typically bluffing is reserved for higher limit tables and situations where there are many tight players at your table, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be other instances that occur when bluffing is the perfect opportunity to take the hand down. Always practice caution when attempting a bluff in poker, don’t give your opponents a reason to call. Above all, don’t bluff too often.
#7 Control Your Emotions
One of the most common reasons that I have observed, when watching people bust out of a poker game, is that they failed to control or conceal their emotions from other players. One of the best ways to win a poker game is to make no noise at all. If you’re giving nothing away, its harder for skilled players to read you.
Some players may try to distract you by making small talk, be polite, but don’t allow them to make you lose focus. Concentrate on playing the game to the best of your abilities, don’t forget your main aim is to win, not to make new friends.
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