How To Get Better At Poker

Want To Get Better At Poker Fast? This Guide To Improving Your Texas Holdem Game Will Show You How!

improve at pokerOnline poker games are still beatable, though not as easily as they were back in the day. Nowadays you are going to have to work on finding the easiest opponents, plugging some leaks and making sure you are getting the max value from your good hands.

Natural skill / ability is a great start – and once you start to add some specific strategy knowledge to this, you can move up the levels and become very profitable very quickly.

Without that extra study, meh, you are destined to beat the micro-games and break-even everywhere else. Key is identifying and plugging your own ‘leaks’, these can be ingrained plays or just situational, specific to certain opponent types or types of flop, they can be subtle (draining a couple of % here and a couple there) or they can be huge. Once you become aware of your own leaks, you will find those profits can skyrocket.

Below is a list of the different resources and aids available to help you improve your Texas Holdem Poker skills. First some free resources from around the web are covered, followed by books written by poker pros. Next I’ll cover video training sites, then poker tools and finally one-on-one coaching.

Remember to see the time and money you spend improving your game as an investment, rather than an expense. Doing this the right way will repay itself many times over!

How To Get Better At Poker – Free Resources Online

There are 3 types of resource to cover within this category – Strategy articles / advice, calculators and tools + forums / communities.

Strategy articles: These range from trash to gems, and it is not too difficult to tell the difference. One thing I like to advise newer players is not to get too advanced too soon. Really, that article on cold-4 bet ranges on paired flops in games with $1000+ buy-in sounds fascinating… but it will just muddle your mind if you are struggling with running into monster hands in the $25 buy-in games. Stick with the level you need, and build gradually. Stick with the bigger and better known websites, and articles with named authors, you can even find eBooks / courses which take you through specific games. For example SNG Planet’s ‘SNG Blueprint’ (check it out here)

Calculators And Tools: There are free tools like hand match-ups (cardplayer.com), equity vs different ranges (Slice EQ) and even basic ICM calculators (for Sit N Goes) available online which can help you get the math down. These require more work than the semi-automated paid poker tools. If you want to learn for cheap, then they are ideal. Another category of free tools are the tracking services such as ‘SharkScope’ which give you win/ loss stats on your opponents. If you play against the same faces regularly then these are a great way of finding out who are the fish and who are the sharks!

Forums And Communities: The biggest and best poker forum is called 2+2, there is some amazing advice and help given there, though it does tend to be a little rough on those who do not behave and communicate using the forum norms. Posting hands or situations you have issues with is a great way of plugging your leaks. You’ll need to be prepared for some brutally honest answers though.

How To Get Better At Poker – Books By Poker Pros

This used to be the key way to improve, and still has some benefits even with the rise of online and video-based resources.

The generic books by big star names (for example Phil Helmuth’s strategy) are not going to be any use for today’s online games (well, maybe the smallest buy-in tournaments). What you will need to look for are books on specific games by online pros or ‘solid basics’ books which can give you the foundation of general strategy knowledge to learn from.

2+2 publishing is regarded as the best for gambling books. I recommend newer Texas Holdem fans start with Dan Harringtons ‘Cash Games’ series and then look for more advanced material after that.

How To Get Better At Poker – Video Training Sites

There is now a wide choice of subscripton training sites where online pros take you through their play and thought process in video format. These are typically around $20 per month, and give you access to large libraries of material.

What is good about this way of improving your game is that many videos are specifically tailored to the smaller stakes games and today’s ‘better educated’ opponents. You can use these to get new ideas which you then work on yourself, or try and recognize leaks by looking at spots in which the experts approach things differently.

Some training sites are aimed at specific games, while others have big ‘name’ pros running them. Popular choices include Cardrunners, Bluefire Poker, Tournament Poker Edge and ‘Drag The Bar’.

If you do not want to shell out upfront, you can get a free month at Drag The Bar from Carbon Poker for just 1 ‘carbon point’ which you collect from the real money games. Check out www.carbonpoker.ag for details on this offer.

How To Get Better At Poker – Software Tools

It is possible to make a profit without using a ‘HUD’ or other poker software tools – it is just a lot more difficult.

If you are playing anywhere above the micro-limits, then the majority of your opponents are displaying statistics onto the screen for all of their opponents, including you!

These show the amount of hands you play from each position, likelihood of folding to a re-raise, continuation bet rate, percent of hands you take to showdown, aggression rating and so on… in other words, your opponents can work out your play as if they have been playing with you for a long time.

I am sure you can imagine how much more profit you could make with a HUD tool like Holdem Manager or Poker Tracker.

In addition to keeping stats on your opponents, these programs keep a database of your own hands. This means you are able to go through and find some of your own leaks. Hands you thought were playable might be losing you money from certain positions (for example).

HUDs have evolved in recent years and are now a must-have for serious players. They cost around $100 to buy, though you can get a free one from Carbon Poker (only works with their site though still a fantastic deal) or a free copy of Holdem Manager 2 Pro from Red Kings (see the left hand side menu under the ‘promotions’ tab at www.redkings.com for more info).

If you are more of a beginning player who is learning the ropes, then there are specialist tools to give you advice while you play. These are the ‘Indicator’ suite of tools and there is one for tournaments, another for Holdem and a special one for Omaha.

What these do is monitor your opponents and cards, giving you odds, outs and player tendencies to work with. They offer advice on the best moves, though do not ‘play for you’. I wish these had been around when I was first learning – they would have saved me a lot of money and even given me a steady profit while I got to grips with the ins and outs of the game.

There are other specialist tools, including some which are somewhat ‘grey hat’, you can find out more about these on this page.

How To Get Better At Poker – One-to-One Coaching

Once you reach a certain level, spending money on 1-to-1 coaching can make great sense. Rates range from $40 per hour and can reach $100’s for the top coaches. For this money an online pro will review your hand histories, point out areas to work on and help you change your mindset / approach.

For winning players coaching sessions can make a big difference. Just a few hundred dollars a month could see you improve your hourly rate enough to bring you $1000’s in profit!

If you can’t yet afford coaching, why not try a peer review instead. You can find someone at a similar level to yourself via one of the many forums, and review each other’s hand histories.

Summing Up:

The best thing about Poker is that you never stop learning, even the best known names in the game take time to study and improve.

A combination of deep strategy knowledge, tools and constant search for leaks in your own game can see you making $1000’s from the game today. It is no longer an option to go with ‘natural talent’ alone, so take the time to find the improvement method which suits you the best!

Remember, the single biggest win for most players is just to spend a little more time on finding the softest poker sites and games - more on that subject in this article.