How can I get better at poker?
Like anything, improving at poker, and hopefully becoming a winning player, depends on studious behavior, fiscal responsibility, practice, and honesty — with yourself as well as others.
Studying comes in many forms, whether it be reading, subscribing to coaching sites, watching poker vlogs, studying poker charts, or reviewing hand histories. You may not like some of these methods or even consider them at all, but it’s unlikely that you can forgo all of these and still turn a profit in the game.
Being fiscally responsible in poker means practicing proper bankroll management. Don’t play above your means, don’t spend what you can’t afford to lose, and if you’re ultimately trying to make poker be your primary source of income, you’ll need to include some structure in terms of what stakes you play relative to how many buy-ins you can afford. It’s okay to take shots at bigger stakes as long as it won’t be devastating to your bankroll, but you also need to be willing to move down in stakes when things don’t work out.
Practicing is exactly that: spending time playing the game in order to encounter new situations that you haven’t experienced before. If you’re not reflecting on your play or trying to make changes to your game, then you’re not learning — you’re just playing.
More than anything, be honest with yourself. It’s easy to blame losses on suck-outs, bad luck, and even players. Sometimes that’s true, but it’s not always the case. And even those times that it is true, there’s something to be learned, whether it’s that you should have checked the flop instead of betting, or folding the river instead of calling. I always tell my wife about both my wins and my losses, and she can see how much money is my poker bankroll at any time.
I’m still a small-stakes player who is working on improving his game as well, so take this advice for what it’s worth!
Any recommended reading?
I’ve read quite a number of poker books, but if you’re looking for some initial strategy advice to get you going in the right direction, these are a few I would suggest looking into.
- Harrington on Cash Games, Vol. 1
- Harrington on Cash Games, Vol. 2
- The Theory of Poker Applied to No-Limit