How To Play Live and Online Poker Professionally: Strategy and Psychology
Texas Hold ’em, either played in person or online, is one of the most popular poker games we have in today’s betting world. Indeed, the card game is highly addictive and provides some of the most impressive earnings per hand to make a player very profitable. But what separates the average poker player to the next? How does one go about improving their game? In reality, poker is not for everyone. Some people cannot handle the stress of the event, or they develop the wrong strategy. Michael Jordan did not just put shoes on one day and instantly was a better basketball player. You do not have to be “born” for this, either. To be a good poker player, it comes down to a set of guidelines.
How Do Professional Poker Players Make It Look Easy?
One thing to consider when it comes to a professional sport is that they are a professional player for a reason. No average joe is walking into the casino and walking back out with millions. With that being said, you do not have to be a genius to succeed. Being determined and having a practical sense of things is the way to go. You could even call this “street smart.” These types of people that succeed are ones that have a strategy down pat. They have been through the ups and downs of money, stress, and the hardships that come with it. Some situations are not even easy to explain, but needless to say, these people have been through it all.
The point is, these professionals had to go through the worst of it to make it to the top. By learning from their mistakes, you can have a better picture of success and what that entails. There is not an easy road to success, but there is a silver lining. If you can follow a strategy, then you, too, can be successful.
Top Five Ways To Succeed At Poker
When breaking down the overall picture of a good poker player, you are going to have different views on what a player needs to focus on. There are other factors that will benefit your game down the road, so keep in mind that there will be changes later on to your strategy.
One must simply break it down into categories. There is not just one path or an easy road to take to be better at poker. The key is to find a strategy that works for you and your situation.
However, the most successful poker players all have something in common for a reason. This winning strategy is proven by the best poker players around. By studying the competition, you can get a feel for how these professionals turn gambling into a profit.
The top five ways in succeeding at poker are:
- Know your opponents’ ranges
- Having mental clarity
- Start small then branch out
- Stay consistent and remove emotion
- Be reasonable
Know Your Opponent’s Hand Ranges
To get past a stage of being a novice poker player, you need to adjust your math to the game. No, you do not have to use geometry, but it is crucial to remember the odds for the types of hands available to you and your opponent. Let us imagine that a tight player raises from the first position. You should not just assume to put him on A-A, A-K, or any other hand. Instead, you should be putting him on a range of hands, for example, A-A, K-K, Q-Q, J-J, and A-K.
You can see how those ranges will change things, and you can start to break down what they have. As the hand plays out, you can assess as needed to make sure you have put yourself in the right situation. This also means that you are going to have to remove your “favorite” hand. Just because you get a couple of cards you enjoy to see, does not mean you should change your strategy. The math and logic will guide you where you need to go.
Having Mental Clarity
There is no doubt about it; you have to have mental toughness and a clear mind. Why do you think poker players like to verbally bully another opponent? They are trying to get inside their head to make them go off of their strategy.
Having mental toughness will help you stay the course and in the zone. You should be analyzing the table and players for any weaknesses and opportunities. If you crack under pressure, then you might as well fold in the towel because someone else will sniff you out, and you will fall to their bullying.
Having mental clarification will ease the process of this too. You need to approach each game without any distractions coming in. Blocking out the noise and having a clear mind go hand in hand for the right mindset.
There are ways to have a clear mind by preparing at home. Whether you enjoy listening to music, eating a fancy dinner, or doing something that can help you relax will be beneficial to creating a clear mind. Removing unnecessary stress is another key to this, so be sure to distance yourself from whatever stresses you.
Start Small, Then Branch Out
When developing your strategy, you need to practice. Whether it is in person or online, your skills have to be tested to know what you are doing right and wrong. Free online poker games are fantastic for getting a routine down and to practice your skills. Find your local casino or use a free version of the game. Taking into account that you already have a strategy, test the waters to see how you compare against your opponents. This is the time to make sure your strategy works and find out what does not.
You are only going to get better if practice and make adjustments. Once you outplay your competition, it is time to branch out and start looking for more advanced players. By competing against the best, you are making your game stronger as well. Remember, it is better to test the waters with a weaker competition first than to jump right in with the sharks. Think about it; if you go headfirst into a more advanced table, then you will be the new guy instead of the other way around.
Stay Consistent and Remove Emotion
One of the worst things you can do is to have a sound strategy at play, and you decide to go against it because of a poor reason. Always make sure the reason is justified. Consistency is key to staying ahead and making your bank account happy. There are times, however, when it is necessary to go against your strategy. If you realize the table is weak, and your opponent is playing passively, you can afford to raise on weaker starting hands than in previous cases.
Removing emotional decisions will benefit you greatly. Remember when players try to get into your head? Staying calm and making sound decisions is what matters most, not you trying to make a point to show off to your opponent. To practice consistency, you can adopt a routine at home, such as eating the same breakfast, waking up at the same time, following a workout regime. This will help you follow a mental outline to your winning success.
A few more important features fall under this category. You are going to have to be honest with yourself in the entire process. Is this something you can handle? Do you have self-control? Some of the best minds in the world all have one thing in common: positivity. Staying positive when you do not succeed at first is critical. You need to continue when times get tough, but there are some exceptions. Know when to call it quits. You have to understand your financial situation here and evaluate the whole process. Setting up a budget and sticking to it will help tremendously in preventing you from betting too much of your money.
Poker Body Language
One thing you need to ask yourself is: Are you a good liar? Whether or not you believe the morals behind lying, it is actually a good trait to have when being a professional poker player. If your opponent bets too early or takes too long to bet, this is a sign that shows a weakness or strength. Do not let online poker fool you. Your opponents will play you too if you are not careful. Keep a mental note of how these players are betting. Betting too much or too little is a sign of their hand strength and it goes both ways.
Being able to read your opponents’ demeanor, and at the same time hiding your own, is something you have to do to be successful. Showing a weakness usually means strength, and pretending to be a strong player usually means you are weak. If you can master the art of convincing your opponents that you either have a strong hand or to make them fold, that is where the magic lays. In addition, you need to be able to pick up your opponents’ signs and body language to determine if they are playing you, or if you have them right where you want them.
The gap between being an average poker player and an experienced one is not as big as people would think. The deciding factors are entirely up to you. How bad do you want it? These simple adjustments outlined above will help guide you in taking your game to the next level. One keyword to take away from this is patience. You are going to have to stay patient in all of this process. Remember to use your math to your advantage. Superstition and emotion is a leading cause of failure in poker. You are in it for the long haul, so let the cards play and use your strategy to the fullest.