You’ve seen the movies, watched the players and the money roll in. Poker is one of the world’s most-played gambling games, and it’s no surprise why. Not only is it a battle of wits, but it also brings in the dough as side income — if you play it right.
And unfortunately, getting it right is not as simple as it seems. It’s a gamble, yes, so luck definitely plays a part, but any experienced player will tell you that you still have to put in the hard work to practice and perfect. 80% hard work, 20% luck.
Not sure where to start? Fret not, as here we have eight tips for you to become a poker master in no time. Before we begin, note that while we want you to excel in this game, do beware of addiction and going overboard with investments! Now with the disclaimer out of the way, let’s dive straight in:
1. Subscribe to poker podcasts
You might raise your eyebrows at this, but it does exist! Alongside podcasts about books or current affairs are podcasts that specialize specifically in poker strategies. These are usually made by poker pros and include things like handy strategies and special guests.
A plus to listening to podcasts is that you can consume it on the go. Whether you’re hitting the gym, traveling to work, or cooking at a stove, you can just put a poker podcast on and glean lots of valuable tips as you go about your day. Some recommended podcast series include the Postflop Poker Podcast and the Smart Poker Study Podcast; all of which are free to listen to all day. After you’ve learned a couple of tips, feel free to hop on a poker site to test them out. For instance, Global Poker gets high ratings and comes highly recommended.
2. Carve out time for poker
As with learning any new skill or hobby, you have to put in the hours to become good at poker. There are no shortcuts, so it’s essential that you put poker as a priority in your calendar. It’s advisable to start off small with 10 to 20 minutes a day, then ramping up slowly to the ideal 30 minutes a day.
This technique helps build your mental stamina so you won’t be as tired even if you enter a high-stakes game in the future. Playing consistently also keeps the game and the tips and tricks at the forefront of your mind, so you won’t have to relearn anything again in the future!
3. Play in a designated space
If there’s one thing you must have when playing poker, it’s focus. After all, there are tons of things to look out for in a game. Between having hands to read, strategies to remember, and being arithmetic to keep on top of things — there really isn’t much space for multitasking.
So put the kids to bed, switch off the television, and turn off your phone notifications for the best and most productive playing time. A pro tip is to set aside a computer just for playing poker on the poker sites, or downloading poker software on it. This will prevent you from getting distracted and trailing off to scroll your Facebook News Feed or watch the next Netflix episode.
4. Keep things simple
Just google “poker strategies” and you’ll be bombarded with lots of content online. The content itself is great and the advice is useful, but frankly, it can be overwhelming to take in especially for beginner players.
If you’re just starting out, you might be tempted to purchase lots of poker books, sign up for courses, or even webinars to learn more about the game. However, our advice to you? Keep it simple. Limit yourself to the basics first and aim to truly understand the way the game works before going into more advanced training courses. This will build up a solid foundation, and help you to discern between conflicting information in the future.
5. Look to the pros
When in doubt, never be afraid to look to the established members in the poker community. Many of them like Dan Harrington has won many prestigious games and released training materials and books.
Now, these are usually way more helpful, compared to the advice given by random strangers on the Internet. You can also watch videos of them playing to pick up some tips and tricks to use and confuse your opponents in the next few rounds of the game. See what their expressions are or what strategies they prefer, and tweak your own gameplay from there.
6. Play poker online
If you’re not already playing on a poker site, you should get on one today. On top of getting to play at your own convenience in a safe and controlled virtual environment, many poker sites also have lots of great monetary incentives for first-time joiners.
For instance, on poker sites, you can get a rake back. In other words, after each round, a percentage of the rake you first paid to the site, or the “entrance fee”, is given back to you. As new players, many sites also offer amazing bonuses upwards of $500 per player! With these special perks, all you need to do is to play often on poker sites, and you can easily make hundreds of dollars with no sweat.
7. Start a poker blog
A blog dedicated to your own poker journey will enable you to track your progress over time. Think of it as a poker diary, recording your wins and losses, strategies that work, and those that didn’t. You can also join a community and get their feedback on your playing and improve as you go along.
With it, you can choose to take a hiatus whenever you want without fear of having to start all over from scratch. It’s not hard to create a poker blog, either. Simply create an account on any blogging website, such as WordPress or Blogger, and get blogging!
8. Have clear goals
Poker is a great game for entertainment, but above all, if you want to become a pro, you have to have clear goals to work towards. If not, falling into a poker routine can be discouraging, especially if you’re not tracking your progress. So after you get a feel of the game, set clear targets to achieve. How many games do you want to play for a week? What do you want to achieve before moving up?
It’s also good to set specific goals like bankroll targets to work towards. That way, you can establish your appetite for risk and determine the number of buy-ins you want to have before moving up. This will prevent you from making rash decisions in the long run.
These eight tips will certainly come in handy when you’re starting out as a poker pro, so keep them in mind. Also, remember that this is a game of patience — so bide your time and don’t be afraid of failure, especially when you’re just starting out!