Top 10 Poker Tips Part 2

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This is the second part of our two part article “Top Ten Poker Tips“. If you have not read part one, please take a moment to do so:

6) Do not cash out all your profit on a good night and spend it.
If you desperately want instant gratification (and poker players often do), then cash out half your winnings and spend that. I have seen so many players have a good run, spend the money, and then have nothing in reserve when they hit a bad run. Playing poker requires an almost dissociative attitude to cash when you are at the table. Think of your stack of chips as troops, not as cash. Top players divide money into “real money” and “bankroll”. Physically turning the bankroll money into real money is a conscious process (often involving the money moving into a different account). My main currency in life is sterling, so I choose to play online in dollars. It allows me to think of my bankroll as something more abstract than real hard cash.
7) If you start to think that the world is against you, stop playing.
We all have nights when it looks as if the poker gods have deliberately singled you out for an exceptionally horrible mauling. When you have a good starting hand, you miss the flop. When you hit the flop, someone else outdraws you with a straight. And if you ever do by some miracle win a hand, it will be $10 on quad aces because no-one else has anything. Soon you start making calls at the end with top-pair-top-kicker when you know that you are beaten, just to show the world how unlucky you are. Misery might love company, but if you start bemoaning your luck at the poker table, half the players won’t care, and the other half will think that it’s funny.
8) Don’t let failure get you down.
Easily said, I know. Added to this might be the rider “learn to accept that the short-term is longer than you think”. At times I have gone two months of playing an average of three hours a day and everything I have touched has turned to gold, followed by three hours a day for three months when nothing has gone right at all. Building something like that into your system of play is difficult. Even the best of us will start asking “am I doing something wrong”? Being able to differentiate “noise” from “fundamental change” is harder in poker than in most games.
9) Don’t assume that you aren’t doing anything wrong.
Even when you are winning, some reassessment of your play is useful. Note the plays where you have won and lost pots and ask yourself “could I have won more or lost less?” Watch hands where you have folded marginal hands and see whether you would have won the hand had you stayed in. This point should be used in conjunction with the point above. Always question your own play. If you do so and come to the conclusion that you are being genuinely unlucky, then “keep the faith”. More likely, you will find weaknesses. Poker should be a game of continuous improvement. Watch how the winners win and why the losers lose. Imitate the winners.

10) Don’t be afraid to raise.
I know that I have mentioned it elsewhere, but it is far and away the most common error that novices make. If you have a good hand, raise with it! Stop worrying about the worst that could happen. And stop just putting in one bet to call “because it’s cheap”. Your aim should be to win every pot that you enter, but to be willing to pull back when it looks like things are going wrong. Poker is very much a game where “fortune favours the brave”.

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