The best poker players in the world tread a calculated path to success, and work constantly to improve their game.
boya poker , Today we’ll discuss four steps you must take to follow their lead—steps toward becoming a winning player.
Doug Polk contributed to this article
How to Win at Poker
Step 1: Pick a game type and stick to it
Specialization is key to mastering any subject.
Consider these players who have made it to the top by specializing in one game type:
Phil Hellmuth: Focused on playing live MTTs; most WSOP bracelets of all-time; achieved long-term success despite playing an unconventional style.
Doug Polk: Focused exclusively on Heads-Up No Limit for a number of years; went from the micros to being regarded as the best high stakes HUNL player in the world.
OtB_RedBaron: Became the most feared player online by focusing on 6-max cash games; has been the most profitable player in that game type for a number of years.
Each of these players devoted time and effort to single game type over a long period of time. Sure, you may see them occasionally splashing around in different games, but it is important to remember that they earned the right to do so and that they never lost focus on their chosen format.
For the rest of us, playing games without a clear edge is something we simply can’t afford to do—we can’t afford to risk our bankroll, and we can’t afford to waste time on a game type we don’t intend to specialize in.
So, pick a game type and stick to it.
And don’t be afraid to move down in stakes and play your way up. Everyone who has found long-term success has made that journey.
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Step 2: Identify and isolate your problems Before you can solve a problem with your game you need to identify what it is, and an in-depth analysis will almost certainly reveal more than one.
In order to do an in-depth analysis of your game, you will need a good sized sample of your own hands to study.
You can start by putting in some hands online at any stakes with tracking software enabled (make sure your chosen site is compatible with tracking software).
After you’ve gathered a healthy sample, go through your database and identify spots where your win-rate is bad.
Study the situations you faced carefully, both pre- and post-flop. Find spots where you weren’t certain about what to do. Ask yourself questions like:
Should I have worked in a bluff, there?
Should I have folded?
Did I play that hand well despite the result?
When looking at your stats, is there an area that stands out as particularly bad? If so, look more closely at that area to find out what mistake(s) you are making, and why you’re making them.
Finally, be honest with yourself about why you might be losing. You’ll never move your poker career forward without the courage to face problems with your game.
Step 3: Improve your weaknesses
Once you’ve identified problems with your game it’s time to find ways to fix them. Here are some suggestions:
Get coaching Finding coaching is one of the best and most effective ways to improve. A competent coach will have seen the same problems in other players’ games, and will be able to show you the best ways solve them. Note that coaching can be very expensive, however, especially if it’s one-on-one from a well-known instructor.
Find a training site
Training sites are a great option, as they offer all sorts of resources to help you become a winning player—and usually at a price far cheaper than a one-on-one coach.
If you are a small- or mid-stakes player, one of the best resources out there is the Upswing Poker Lab. The Lab offers numerous hand charts for live, online, and tournament play, with pre-flop ranges included. Additionally, there are tons of videos and learning modules created by top players, covering specific formats.