If you are relatively new to poker, there is a good chance you know all the rules and are regularly playing the game, but you don’t know how to win at poker just yet. Even if you had some winning sessions, you are going to need more than just the basics to keep your bankroll going in the right direction
On this page, we will go over some of the most useful tips on how to win at poker and get a bit deeper into important Texas Hold’em concepts.
For new players, some of the things we talk about here could be complete game changers, while the more experienced players can still benefit from the tips and a little reminder on what’s important in the game of poker.
Regardless of where you learned how to play Texas Hold’em, you are probably already aware that position plays a big role in how hands play down.
Yet, even many experienced players have a problem with maintaining positional awareness over long poker sessions.
Often, a player will go on a relatively long stretch of being dealt weak starting hands, which leads to some pretty bad hands looking playable.
For instance, you may look down at a hand like J8s in an early position and decide you want to play it because you haven't played a hand in a couple of orbits, but this should not be a part of your poker game.
Knowing exactly what hands you are opening from each position at different stack depths should always be part of your plan and not be deviated from.
After all, there is a very good reason to play tighter from earlier positions, and expanding on that range simply out of boredom is never a good idea.
Whenever you decide whether to raise a hand, make a call, or call a re-raise, you should think about your position compared to other players at the table and how it will affect your play on future streets.
Having a balanced poker strategy is a great starting point that allows you not to get exploited by other players, but if you want to optimize your results, you need to learn how to adapt to your table.
Exploiting other players’ tendencies is a big part of playing poker profitably, and you will need to get good at it to post great results at the tables.
This is especially true when you are playing against amateur players who will play a very unbalanced strategy that can be exploited in many ways.
For example, there are players out there who play very few hands, as well as those who play way too many. In both cases, adapting your range when such players open a pot with a raise will increase your overall win rate.
Whether you are playing live or online poker, you should keep a close eye on how different players play and make either mental or literal notes on their most common tendencies.
If you see a player folding a very strong hand, make sure to remember that and try bluffing him more often in the future. If you see a player often make light call downs, remember to value bet more lightly against him and avoid bluffing.
Exploitative play is about finding the right balance and realizing how far from optimal you can go in either direction against various players, which can be difficult to figure out.
But once you have reads on weaker opponents, you may be able to exploit them for a long time as their strategy is unlikely to adapt or change.
Keep in mind that trying to play very exploitatively against strong poker players can backfire as they may start playing back against your exploits, costing you money in the long run.
When learning how to play poker, you may have seen videos or read books with people claiming to be able to perfectly read their opponents and figure out their exact hand based on behavior or “live reads.”
While live reads have a place in poker, it is very important not to rely on them too much and to have a strong fundamental game to back up your decisions.
Making a call just because your opponent threw his chips in one way or another will not work out as often as people might want you to believe.
Occasionally, you may run into a player who does very particular things when they are bluffing or betting for value, but this will usually only happen against recreational players.
Using such live reads to further inform your decisions can be a great practice, but only in combination with other elements of the game of poker.
You should still try to dissect the player's range based on his actions on every street in the hand and your previous experience with that player.
If you are playing against a maniac known to bet a lot with weak draws and now find yourself facing a big river shove, having a live read to back up your decision can give you the confidence to make the call.
Yet, don't simply make big calls because a guy "looked weak" or throw away your second nuts because he "seemed strong."
Poker is about much more than just how people sit at the table, and reverse tells are a real thing, so putting too much trust into live reads can cost you more than it benefits you in some cases.
Learning how to play poker is a great first step, but if you don’t approach bankroll management from the right angle, none of it is going to matter.
Whether you like it or not, poker is a game with a lot of variance, and the swings can sometimes be brutal on your bankroll.
If you want to ensure you don’t go broke every time you run into a downswing, you need to have a big enough bankroll to sustain the losing stretches.
Just how deep of a bankroll you want is up to you, but the bigger it is, the less likely you are to bust it due to the volatile nature of the game.
As a general rule, you want to have at least 30 buyins for cash games and at least 100 buyins for tournaments, but these numbers are very relative.
If you are a huge winner in your local home game, playing with as little as ten buyins will probably give you a reasonable chance of spinning your bankroll up and never going broke.
On the other hand, if you are playing very tough online tournaments, even 100 buyin swings are not unheard of, as there is very little dead money in those games.
At the end of the day, the exact bankroll management you pick is your decision, but you will want to ensure you have money behind you whenever you play poker.
Bankroll management becomes increasingly important if you are trying to play poker for a living, in which case you will need both a playing bankroll and money for at least a few months of living expenses in case things don’t go right for a while.
Remember, even if you are the best player in the world, you are going to have losing days, weeks, and sometimes even months. Make sure your bankroll can take them, and you will be fine.
We are all emotional to some degree, and poker is a game that tends to make emotions surface in the most unexpected ways.
Whether you are the player to curse and yell when they are losing or one to brood and mumble under their breath, we all get a little angry when we are on a losing streak.
Learning how to control your emotions and avoid tilting your bankroll away is a big part of learning how to win at poker.
Any sort of behavior that impacts your play can be considered tilt, whether it’s playing too many hands, playing too aggressively or passively, or trying to fold every hand until you get pocket aces.
At the end of the day, regardless of how much you lose, you should be confident in your poker game and play it the best way you know.
Just losing one hand should not change your entire strategy. In fact, you should only change your general approach to the game after extensive studying of the way your play impacts your results, and never in the middle of a session.
Remember that learning how to play poker is a process that can take a long time and that every game is unique and constantly changing.
You will have losing sessions regardless of how good you are, so go into every session prepared to take some bad beats and suffer through a downswing.
This can take a lot of time to get accustomed to, but working on tilt control can be equally as important as working on your actual game.
If you are following our earlier tip and exercising proper bankroll management, the variance of poker should not bother you at all.
The impact of luck in poker over the long run is nearly negligible, and the best players in the game will always walk away with the money. It just takes a lot of repetitions to get there.
If you are good enough to beat the games you are playing in, the variance will not stop you. You should not worry about it and accept downswings as a normal part of the process.
Even if you become the best poker player in the world, there will be times when you are losing many hands in a night or losing many nights in a row. Don’t worry about it at all!
All you can do is analyze your game, make sure you are not making big mistakes, and keep playing until variance evens out and you are on the winning side again.
Just concentrate on making the best possible decisions in every hand you play, and you will be good.
Many poker players focus on the variance too much and claim it to be the reason they are not succeeding in poker, but this is never true as the variance always evens out in the long run.
You should keep in mind that live poker is subject to much more variance than online poker, and both your winning and losing streaks will be longer and could be seriously deviating from your actual long-term win rate.
Poker is a game that takes a day to learn and a lifetime to master, and this is not just a saying. Even the best players in the world are constantly learning and improving their game, and so should you.
If you think you can learn how to win at poker and then crush it for the rest of your life, you have another thing coming.
The game of Texas Hold’em is constantly evolving, and without adapting to the games you are playing in, you will never be a big winner.
Even if you are crushing your games, there is always something you could be doing, and studying the game regularly will help you improve your win rate and play with even more confidence.
Eventually, you will want to join an advanced poker coaching program and invest in more efficient growth, which can be an invaluable resource for those looking to move up to higher stakes. Luckily we have you covered with this one, so make sure to check what we offer at Pokercode.
Learning what typical mistakes to avoid and how to adapt to certain game types and levels can take a lot of time if you are doing it on your own, so it’s highly advisable to get some help once you have mastered the basics.
There are many ways to learn how to play poker, but talking to other people who play poker regularly is one of the best and most reliable ways to consistently improve your game.
You can find poker friends in many different ways, whether through online poker forums, social media, or meeting new poker players at a poker room or casino.
In either case, you want to surround yourself with poker players, preferably those who are better than you, as they will have things to teach you.
Some poker players can be shy about sharing their knowledge, but once you become friends, most will be happy to share what they know and discuss hands.
What's even more, you can get into plenty of poker study groups through various channels over the internet, and while these people may not be your real-life friends at first, they will have a lot of poker wisdom to share.
Being friends with people who share the same interests can lead to some great real-world friendships that can last for a lifetime.
Poker is a game with many different variants, and while learning how to play poker in every format is a good thing, you should probably focus on just one of them.
Whether cash games, tournaments, or heads-up games pique your interest, you will advance through the ranks much faster if you focus on one single game type.
Both live and online poker worlds offer many different routes to success, and you don't even have to limit yourself to Texas Hold’em, with games like Pot Limit Omaha and Short Deck Hold’em quickly emerging.
The decision as to which type of poker games you want to focus on is ultimately yours, but you should look for game formats that are most interesting for you.
Beyond simply finding a profitable game, you want to play a poker format that you can enjoy, and different players enjoy different things about poker.
We recommend starting at lower stakes and trying out different variations to see if tournaments or cash games fit you the most.
A big step in learning to win at poker is being honest with yourself and understanding your strengths and weaknesses. Poker is a game you can study for years and still not understand entirely, which is why it is important to be humble at all times.
No matter how good you are at the game, you will sometimes make mistakes.
If you admit those mistakes and find ways to do better next time, you will become a better player overall.
On the other hand, if you constantly attribute every loss to bad luck and variance, you are unlikely to keep improving as a poker player.
When analyzing your hands, don’t think about the fact you were the one playing, but rather simply try to analyze what happened in the hand and how it could have been played better.
That way, you will find new and better ways to play certain spots, and over time your game will evolve to levels you never thought possible.
If you’re not quite sure whether to take the plunge and join pokercode, why not sign up for a free account?
By signing up for a free account you will benefit from:
Check out our other articles, interviews, and stories. You'll love it!
Study together with Pokercode and join 9 live coaching sessions in August.
We followed Fedor Holz around with a camera at Triton Poker Super High Roller Series Madrid to see what it’s like to play Super High Roller tournaments.
There are plenty of live coaching sessions scheduled for August so make sure you don't miss out!