Tuesday, July 11, 2017

5 Pieces of Bad Poker Advice That Turned Out to be Completely WRONG

5 Pieces of Bad Poker Advice That Turned Out to be Completely WRONG
You know what they say about opinions and yes, everybody has one. This goes for poker perhaps more than anything. There is never any shortage of people who are willing to give you their "two cents" of poker advice.

And it doesn't matter how little success (or complete lack thereof) that they have had playing this game. Or how inexperienced they are either. They are going to tell you how to play "the right way" anyways.

The cold hard reality of poker though is that the majority of people who play it will lose in the long run. This means that the majority of the advice you will get comes from, yup you guessed it, losing poker players.

So in this article I am going to talk about 5 of the worst pieces of poker advice I have ever received or read about online. Hopefully this will help you not make some of these same mistakes!

1. The Best Players Are Just Lucky

You still see these kinds of statements all over the place, that the best players are just luckier than everyone else. As if they have some kind of supernatural power to fade that flush draw on the river a little bit more often than others.

Now there is actually a tiny bit of truth to opinions like this especially regarding tournaments. In big field MTT's you need an incredible amount of short term luck in order to win. And that is why you still regularly see complete amateurs taking them down.

I mean this entire poker boom that inspired a new generation to take up the game (including myself) was originally started when an amateur poker player shocked the world by winning the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event and millions in prize money.

But poker is still a game that is governed by mathematics, odds and statistics. You can't keep fighting it and expect to win over the long haul.

The cream will always eventually rise to the top and this is why you see a lot of the same faces and names at the final tables and in the high stakes cash games year in and year out.

Look, it doesn't hurt to get a little bit lucky in your poker career at key times. However skill, discipline and work ethic are the real keys to success over the long run in this game.

2. Impossible to Beat the Micros These Days

As the games have tightened up in recent years it has weeded out a lot of the small winners from the past who coasted by in easy games while beating up on the fish.

This has caused them to take to places like internet forums or reddit in large numbers to officially declare that all games at the micros are impossible to beat now.

Because you know, better to blame something else, anything else, than to address the real issue at hand which is their lack of willingness to put in the effort to get better and succeed.

I actually got so sick of listening to these ridiculous comments that I made a video series last year largely just to spite them. To prove once and for all with visual evidence that the games at the lower limits are still very easy to beat.

I played 4 random tables of NL2 on PokerStars (the toughest site by most estimations) at the worst time to play as well (Monday morning) and I had upwards of 3 huge fish on every table at all times.

I did almost no table selection at all. And I only encountered one reg who I would describe as "good" in over 6 hours of play. Yes, one.

Now yes, it is only NL2 but these games are still a complete and utter joke. Anybody can see that. And anyone with a basic understanding of the fundamentals and the smallest amount of tilt control could absolutely crush these games.

Don't listen to all the losing poker players who proclaim that poker is dead and the micros are unbeatable. Of course they aren't the complete gold mine that they were 5 or 10 years ago.

You would have to be pretty naive to think that people were just going to continue throwing away their money like that forever. Many of the very worst players either quit the game or learned how to play better.

But to claim that the micros are somehow impossible to beat now is just flat out wrong and frankly a ridiculous statement.

The bottom line is that people all over the world love to gamble and they love to play cards. There will always be bad players and good games available out there especially if you are willing to put in the effort to table select.

3. Online Poker Is Rigged OMG Jokerstars!!

Don't even get me started on the tin foil hat wearing "rigtards" as they are often lovingly referred to. One of the benefits of running a popular poker blog is that I get emails from really angry people all the time.

They want to tell me about how rigged PokerStars is [or insert any other site here] because they lost with their AA 3 times in a row. And they will go into exquisite detail about each and every one of their bad beats for me as well.

Look, there is a certain segment of people out there who will just never quite get this game. They expect instant results from poker. They think that 3 hands actually means something.

This is also a defence mechanism to shift the blame for their lack of success onto something else, anything else. No way that it could actually be due to their poor play, lack of discipline etc!

I have learned that you will never win with these people. You will only give yourself a headache. If you are one of those who truly believe that online poker is rigged, then my advice is always very, very simple.

Don't play it.

4. You Need to Know GTO to Beat the Micros

This is another piece of nonsense advice that is regularly posted online these days and many, many people believe it.

This is the idea that in order to beat the lower limit games on the internet in particular that you need to play a game theory optimal brand of poker. This essentially means balancing your ranges and perfecting your betting and bluffing frequencies in all situations.

Yet anybody who actually plays the micros on a regular basis and beats them knows that this is 100% false.

In fact the exploitative approach to the game that I have been talking about on this website for years now (and in my books and videos as well) is a far superior strategy to beat these games.

The reason why is because nearly all of your opponents at these stakes have huge leaks in their game, yes even the so called "good regs." The optimal counter to this is to exploit their weaknesses, not to learn how to play like some mathematically correct robot against them.

Look I don't want to bash all over GTO completely. It has clearly been a very popular theory in recent years. And I actually do think that a GTO approach is optimal in most mid and high stakes games against solid well balanced professionals.

But the idea that you need to play a game theory optimal version of poker in order to beat stakes like NL2, NL5 or NL10 is just silly at best and dangerous at worst.

5. Poker is the Ticket to the Easy Life

Another unrealistic assumption that I see all the time especially from newcomers to the game is that poker is going to be their ticket to the easy life.

I get emails all the time from people who are just starting out at NL2, haven't even beaten it yet, and they want me to help them calculate what their hourly is going to be when they make it to NL25 and turn pro.

This is just the completely wrong way to approach this game.

Poker is not like some other job such as a doctor or a teacher where you can pretty much predict what your salary will be. Poker doesn't work that way. It can be way, way up or way, way down for long periods of time.

There are no "average winnings" like they always want me to tell them. There is also no way to guarantee how to make X amount of dollars per day like they want to know as well.

I don't think many of these people honestly even have the slightest clue about what it actually takes to succeed in this game, let alone make it as a pro. They just want to daydream.

I recently interviewed a well known online poker pro and friend of mine who is approaching 1 million dollars profit online now. He also regularly travels the world and lives in exotic locations like Mexico and Thailand.

Easy life right? Must be nice!

But what most people don't know is that he is an absolute machine grinder. Rarely takes days off, has some of the sickest work ethic I have ever seen. I have also never heard him complain even once during absolutely brutal downswings that would bury the vast majority of people.

If you think that you are gonna sit on some beach in Thailand and casually play NL25 and live the good life, you aren't seeing reality very clearly.

Yes life is good out here but we work damn hard for it. Think way, way more than a regular job. And think way, way more stress at times as well.

If it were so easy, then everybody would be doing it.

Final Thoughts

Well that is all I have for now. I could probably go on for days. But those are 5 of the worst pieces of poker advice that I can think of at the moment.

Look guys, you will get exactly what you put into this game. If you just want to play poker for fun or to unwind, then go right ahead. This is why we all started playing in the first place.

If you want to play poker as a profitable side hobby or even a full time profession though, then it is going to require some real discipline and work ethic. There are no short cuts in this game and you can't half-ass it.

But at the same time don't listen to all the doomsday pessimists who will tell you that poker is impossible to beat now because they personally can't win anymore. Or that you need to know some PHD level math in order to beat $5 games online.

The bottom line is that everyone has an opinion in this game and some free advice to offer you as well. Some of it will be good, some of it will be bad.

You can't talk your way into success in poker though. Take action instead and let your results speak for themselves.

Pick up a copy of my free poker ebook below to learn how I took this game from hobby to career, world travel, coach, author and beyond.

Lastly, if you found this article helpful do me a quick favor and "like" or "tweet" it below. Thanks!

Bad poker advice

Monday, July 3, 2017

How to Avoid Being Results Orientated in Poker

How to Avoid Being Results Orientated in Poker
Something that a lot of poker players struggle with is being too results orientated. By this I mean focusing too much on short term results.

And the reason why this is bad is because sometimes in poker you can get extremely lucky or unlucky over short periods of time like a week or a month.

This can then lead you to start believing that you really are that good (or that bad) when neither is true in reality. And this ultimately prevents you from having a realistic outlook on your poker abilities and what you might need to work on.

So in this article I am going to discuss a few ways to stop being so results orientated in poker.

1. Don't Look At Your Results

I am just going to state the most obvious way to stop being results orientated in poker first. Just don't look at your results.

Now this is something that is much easier said than done. And of course at a certain point you do need to look at your results in order to know if you are making progress or not and when to move up as well.

But day to day results or even week to week really aren't that important when you really think about it. During these time periods literally anything can happen (good or bad) and obsessively following it is like reading the trashy tabloids about celebrity scandals.

You just don't need to know it!

In fact I actually know plenty of online pros who only check their results once a month. I have never managed to attain this level of discipline. But I typically only check my results once per week.

The hidden benefit of shielding yourself from the knowledge of this useless information (day to day results) is that you are far less likely to go on tilt due to poor results or start playing too cautiously due to really good results.

It allows you to just focus on the only thing that you actually control in poker which is making the best decision in each hand that you are dealt.

If you have never done this before, I would recommend starting small. The next session you play, just don't check your results this one time. It won't kill you.

And believe me, the knowledge of how much you were up or down is totally meaningless. It has absolutely zero impact on your true longterm profitability in this game.

This kind of thing isn't for everybody. And it does take a lot of discipline. It is completely natural to want to know how you did.

But this is truly the best way that there is to stop being so results orientated in poker. Ignorance sometimes really is bliss.

2. Focus on Your Longterm Results Instead

Another good way to stop worrying about your short term results in poker is to focus on the results that actually matter, which are your longterm results.

By longterm I am talking about hundreds of thousands of hands or months and months of play. This is when variance begins to start sorting itself out and your true profitability (or lack thereof) shows itself.

So, often what I will do is just grab a screenshot of my longterm graph in Pokertracker and make it my desktop wallpaper on my computer.

Any time things are going poorly for me at the poker tables I will then go have look this and remind myself of reality, that I am a winning player over the long term.

Now of course this method presupposes that you have indeed played hundreds of thousands of hands and of course that you are a winning poker player.

If this isn't the case yet then I would suggest starting at the very lowest limits available at the poker site that you play on and employing a very simple TAG strategy. TAG stands for tight and aggressive.

You should also be practicing table selection and working on any tilt problems that you might have that could be holding you back.

I wrote a free little ebook called Massive Profit at the Micros which shows you how to do all this and more. I would recommend picking that up if you haven't yet.

But if you do have any kind of longterm profitable results, then this is what you need to constantly be reminding yourself of when you have a bad session.

Remember that one bad session (or even 3 or 5 of them) do not define you as a poker player. The long run is all that matters in poker. And it can be very long!

3. View Each Session as a Chance to Learn and Improve

If you are just starting out in poker, then learning the fundamentals and getting better at poker should be your main goals. Even if your results are not great yet, you can look at your struggles at the micros as a cheap way to further your poker education.

The reason why is because this experience is the only way to really get better. Everybody I know (including myself) who eventually became big winners and/or went pro all started out grinding away at the lower stakes for long hours.

I used to play absurdly long sessions on as many tables as they allowed until I could barely see straight anymore.

Now I don't really recommend this level of maniacal obsession but all of those millions and millions of hands forced my brain to see a lot of the same situations over and over again.

There comes a certain point where even the most stubborn person is going to recognize that they always lose money when they do X. So they will start doing Y instead.

So even though I probably played way too many hands at the micros I got an incredible poker education for a very cheap price. It made me into the poker player (and the author as well) that I am today.

So if you are just starting out in poker don't worry about your results so much right now even if they are not very good yet. And you can look at it as a cheap lesson in how to get better at this game.

And this is why it is really important that you also study your hands away from the table. This is one of the fastest ways to become a winning poker player.

You can also study other good players in a program like Pokertracker and find out what they are doing differently and perhaps better than you.

4. Accept and Embrace Variance

The last, and ultimately most practical way to stop being so results orientated in poker, is to just learn to accept variance (the natural ups and downs) in this game.

Look here's the thing. The fish have to be able to hit their lucky card sometimes or else they would not continue playing this game.

If poker were all skill all the time like in chess for instance, then they would never stand a chance. They would quickly realize that it is their lack of skill that prevented them from winning and they would ultimately quit playing.

But poker's way of throwing them a bone every once in awhile allows them to keep deluding themselves into thinking that they are just the unluckiest poker player on earth. This keeps them depositing again and again which turns into the profit that you ultimately make in this game.

As they often say, "denial runs the entire industry."

Now I know that sometimes it can be very frustrating when they hit their lucky card against you again and again. It seems unfair. Why can't it happen to somebody else?

Well, the thing is, is that it does happen to everybody else over the long run as well. I like to think of it as paying tax for my ability to sit down and make money playing a silly card game on the internet.

Sometimes I have to pay more or less tax than others, but it all evens out in the end. And the bottom line is that I profit in the end.

So really the most healthy way to stop being so results orientated is to just accept that variance is a natural part of the game. And it is a beautiful thing really. It is why there is so much money in poker whereas nobody really gets rich playing chess.

Final Thoughts

Short term results in poker are a blessing and a curse for a lot of people. Because the problem is that you kind of become a slave to them. You get a quick little high when you win and feel depressed when you lose.

But since these results are almost completely meaningless in the grand scheme of things this is really just wasted energy. Poker just doesn't work this way. Poker isn't a short term results game. It takes months and sometimes even years to get your true results.

This is why it is a much better idea to focus on the process rather than the results. Because the truth is that if you play each hand well, you will get rewarded for it in the long run. And furthermore, this is the only thing that you actually have control over anyways.

Hopefully a few of the strategies in this article will help you avoid being so results orientated in the future. Let me know your thoughts below!

Lastly, if you found this post useful, do me a favor and "Like" or "Tweet" it below, thanks!

How to Avoid Being Results Orientated in Poker

Monday, June 19, 2017

3 Mental Barriers That Are Holding You Back in Poker (and how to overcome them)

3 Mental Barriers That Are Holding You Back in Poker (and how to overcome them)

They say that fighting is 90% mental. Well then poker is about as close to 100% mental as you can get. Your success or failure is quite literally all in your head.

But for many poker players there are several mental barriers that hold them back from achieving the kind of success that they deserve in this game.

This is stuff like a lack of confidence in their abilities, putting higher stakes players on a pedestal and creating negative internal dialogue streams when the cards run bad on them.

And the reason that I can speak to these is because I have gone through each one of them myself. They are debilitating and if left unchecked they can sabotage your entire poker career.

So in this article I am going to provide you with some practical and actionable ways to start overcoming these 3 mental barriers that are holding you back at the poker tables.

1. Deep Confidence is Critical

Implementing your strategy at the poker tables (and ultimately turning a profit) is predicated on a deep sense of belief in your own abilities.

I simply do not know anybody who is a big winner, even at the lower stakes, who doesn't have a high opinion of their own poker skills.

Much like in other professional sports a healthy arrogance is actually a good thing. You should absolutely believe that you are the best player at the table each and every time that you sit down.

If you don't believe this, then find another table where you are!

Here's the thing. You probably know a lot more than you actually think about this game. At the lower stakes in particular, which I focus on in this blog, you will regularly encounter some of the worst poker players in the world.

Believe me when I say that your average player at stakes like NL2, NL5, NL10 (or $1/$2, $2/$5 live) is not very good. Even the so called "good regs" at these limits have massive and glaring leaks in their game.

In fact, they would get eaten alive in minutes if they stepped into any kind of a real poker game at higher limits.

So just by the fact that you are reading this blog tells me that you have more than a passing interest in getting better at poker. You may have read some books or watch training videos as well.

This means that you are probably far better than the majority of your competition at the lower stakes already. And yes, even if your results do not prove it yet.

It is always important to remember that it can take an insanely long time in poker for your true results to show themselves. Variance can be totally insane in this game.

I am talking 100k hands or more in some cases. This can amount to months of play online or even a year if you play live. Poker is the exact opposite of a get rich quick scheme.

But the only thing that is going to see your through it all is a rock solid belief in your own abilities. Keep putting in the hours studying poker and improving your game away from the tables.

However, also remember that your opponents at the lower stakes honestly aren't very good and you probably know a lot more about this game than most of them already.

Now go play like that and fear no one at these stakes!

2. High Stakes Pros Are Humans Too

Another mental barrier that a lot of lower stakes players have is putting higher stakes players on a pedestal and giving them an almost godlike status. As if they are super human geniuses or something.

Most sports out there require a lifetime of practice in order to be the best. They also require significant natural physical and mental talents as well.

It doesn't matter how many hours a day you shoot hoops, you probably aren't gonna learn how to nail a jump shot like Steph Curry any time soon. Similarly, no matter how much you work on your chess game, you probably aren't going to win a game against Magnus Carlsen...ever.

But in poker we see massive superstars come out of nowhere all the time in a much shorter period of time, often 5 years or less. And while they might have a little bit higher intelligence than the average person, they typically don't appear to be gifted in any major way.

Some recent names like Dan Colman and Fedor Holz are great examples of this. Both have won over 20 million dollars playing poker in just the past few years alone.
3 poker mental barriers
Dan Colman outlasted Daniel Negreanu to win the One Drop tournament for 15 Million Dollars
Image Courtesy: Las Vegas Review-Journal

Now yes, most if it came through big tournament wins. And did they run insanely good at many key moments along the way? Yes, and they wouldn't deny it themselves.

But both of these players are also often regarded by other pros as being some of the best players on the planet today. In other words, their luckbox helped them but their own skill level would have brought them significant success in this game on it's own.

There are countless other examples in the online poker world but the names and results are a lot less well known so I won't bother rattling them off here.

The real point here is that rising to the very top in poker does not require any kind of special godlike abilities. You can be the next huge name that everyone is talking about too if you want it bad enough.

While you should always be well bankrolled for any games that you are playing in, it is very important to aggressively take shots and move up the limits as well.

This is the only way to really get better. And you are going to have to learn how to beat the best in order to become the best anyways.

Dan Colman has stated in interviews on several occasions that he accelerated his learning big time by consistently challenging (and often losing against) some of the best heads up no limit players in the world online.

Secondly, if you want to reach the top in poker, then you need to fully devote yourself to it.
This means putting in way more hours to mastering this game than the average person is willing.

As I talked about in my recent 10 years as a poker pro post for my first several years all I did was eat, sleep and breathe this game. I literally did nothing else.

This is why I was able to create the kind of results at the lower limits that were well beyond what most people thought was possible.

In fact people used to ask me all the time at the poker tables if I even sleep or if I am some sort of a robot. I would usually reply in binary code "Affirmative, I Am Robot 01001101100."

But seriously, these were the best compliments that I could possibly receive. It meant that not only was I outworking everybody else but that people were actually noticing it too.

Put in mediocre effort and get mediocre results. Put in exceptional effort and get exceptional results.

3. Master Your Thoughts, Master the Game

Poker is a very simple game. In the long run everybody gets dealt the same amount of good hands and bad hands.

Anybody can play well when god-mode is activated. When you always have AA, a set or the nut straight everybody looks like a genius.

Real champions are made when you run your KK into AA for the 3rd time in a row, you get shown a higher flush once again and so on.

Most people create a series of negative inner thoughts when this kind of stuff happens. They convince themselves that it always happens to them, that they are cursed and the unluckiest poker player on earth.

You can see people ranting and raving about it on literally any poker forum or in any casino. This game can turn many otherwise completely rational and calm people into unhinged mouth-foaming crazies.

I know this because I have been driven to the edges of sanity by this game on countless occasions myself!

Something that you will eventually have to learn though is that this game doesn't care about your temper tantrums, your feelings and it doesn't owe you a thing either.

Each hand is an independent event and just because you have run your KK into AA 3 times in a row doesn't mean that it can't happen for the 4th time or even the 5th.

The odds of someone else having AA when you get KK are still the exact same every single time, around 3% at a 6 handed table and 4% in a full ring game.

It does not matter one bit what happened in previous hands. This is a new hand, and although it is extremely rare, that 3% or 4% chance will always be there.

The real point here though is that you cannot control any of this. If you play enough hands of poker then absolutely absurd statistical abnormalities will happen to you. The only thing that you can actually control is how you react to it.

Look, nobody is perfect. However, it is very important to constantly observe and monitor your inner thoughts at the poker tables when this happens.

Sit out an orbit or two if you need to and just passively and non-judgementally listen to what you are telling yourself. Eckhart Tolle suggests the exact same thing in one of my favorite books, The Power of Now.

If what you observe is a constant series of negative inner dialogue, then it is probably a good idea to step away from the poker tables and assess why it is that you are thinking like this.

Because this negative self talk often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy for many people. Once they have convinced themselves that the whole world is conspiring against them, they start playing poorly, which creates bad results and only further reinforces their beliefs.

You can't possibly expect to achieve real success in poker until you learn to cut through all of the BS and start seeing the game in it's true form.

Each hand represents an opportunity for you to play your best poker. World class poker players don't let poor results in previous hands affect their play in the current hand.

Don't allow your own mind to sabotage your results in this game.

Final Thoughts

Poker is mental warfare. Those who consistently think better, tend to achieve better results. Most people put up all these mental barriers though that thwart their progress in a huge way. It is absolutely vital that you learn to free your mind from all of this nonsense that is holding you back.

Yes you are good enough to beat the lower limits at the very least. Yes you can even achieve phenomenal results in this game as well with the right amount of effort and a stronger will to succeed.

And finally, you can overcome the stream of negativity that destroys so many others in this game when the cards go bad on them.

You can learn to see each poker hand for what it is and stop poisoning your mind with negative inner self talk when the results don't go your way.

Because truthfully, no individual poker hand actually matters anyways. Neither does 10 hands, 100 hands or even 1000 hands.

We play this game for the longterm which means months, years and even decades of play. Only your results after this amount of time really matter.

Every time you sit down to play poker you have a choice about how you are going to react to all of the short term madness that can happen in this game. You can either let it bury you or make you stronger.

Let me know in the comments below what mental barriers hold you back at the poker tables. And make sure to grab a copy of my free poker ebook below for more on my complete strategy.

Lastly, if you found this article helpful, do me a quick favor and give it a "Like" or a "Tweet" below. Thanks!

Poker mental game mistakes

Sunday, June 4, 2017

10 Fatal Micro Limit Mistakes Standing Between You and Your First 1k Bankroll

micro stakes poker mistakes
Poker is not really that difficult of a game when you really break it down. This is especially the case at the micro stakes which have some of the worst players in the world.

So it is always a bit surprising to me why so many people have trouble beating even the very lowest limits online. By this I mean stakes like NL2, NL5 and NL10.

By the time you graduate from these limits you should be able to build up a 1k bankroll. This is a huge and important milestone that allows you to comfortably move up to higher stakes and start making some real money in this game.

I think the biggest reason why many people do not reach this level though is because of a few fundamental mistakes. They actually end up shooting themselves in the foot and sabotaging their own results in most cases.

So in this article I am going to discuss 10 fatal mistakes that I frequently see people making at the micros and how to fix them.

So let's get started!

1. Too Aggressive

5 or 10 years ago it used to be the exact opposite. Most people were way too passive. Now I regularly see people with stats at the lower limits that are frankly just way too aggressive.

By this I mean a 3Bet% of 10 or more, CBet% of 60% or 70% on all postflop streets and so on.

Basically what they have done is taken the totally true advice to "be aggressive" in poker overboard. Way, way overboard.

Sure, this kind of maniacal aggression is going to give you a spectacular red line. But having great non-showdown winnings is NOT the key to success at these stakes.

You can't run over a bunch of calling station regs and fun players. These players do not like to fold so your betting/raising range still needs to be for value a large amount of the time.

If you find yourself trying to win every pot at these stakes then you are very likely hurting your results in a big way. Patience and understanding when to give up is one of the biggest lessons to learn at the micros.

2. Play Machines

Many people these days also get far too wrapped up in trying to outplay the other regs, especially the aggressive ones that give them the most trouble.

This is a serious mistake because these are the players who are likely to be the most skilled. Therefore, even if you do manage to outplay them, your edge is going to be very small.

Put more precisely, these aren't the players who you make the money off of in this game. The bad regs and the recreational players will be where the large majority of your profits come from.

So don't be a play machine with the better regs. Yes, they can be annoying with their constant 3Bets etc. If they get on your direct left, just leave the table. There are so many other tables to choose from at these limits.

Keep your focus squarely on the players who you have a huge edge against, the bad regs and the recs in particular. Don't waste your time fighting ego wars with the best players at the table.

3. Shark Tank

And speaking of good poker players this is probably one of the biggest reasons why many people fail to ever get their first 1k bankroll and move up.

That is, they only play with the solid regs!

They neglect table selection so much that they almost always play in the worst games available at these limits. This is an absolutely fatal blow to your poker win-rate.

As I talk about all the time on this blog and elsewhere, game selection is arguably one of the most important keys to success in poker these days no matter what stakes that you play.

This means playing at the right poker sites and the right tables. It also means getting the right seat against the fun players as well (on their left).

Check out my comprehensive guide to game selection for much more on all of this.

4. Tilt Too Easily

Tilt is another huge mistake that hurts countless micro limit poker players. What I mean by this is that they allow routine variance to affect them more than it should. This translates into poor play at the poker tables.

They end up throwing away literally all of their profit by playing too many hands, making wild tilt inspired bluffs, and bad call downs every time the cards go sour on them.

One of the biggest differences between high stakes poker players and low stakes poker players really just comes down to the ability to control their emotions better in the heat of the moment.

Bad beats and coolers are going to happen in this game. And sometimes you will catch several in a row and this can even last for weeks or months sometimes.

If tilt is a major problem for you, it is important to create strategies to control your emotions better at the poker tables and set clear rules for when to quit if you are running terrible.

5. Missing Value Bets

Missing value bets (especially on the river) is an absolutely huge mistake and can literally be the difference between a winning and a losing poker player.

Like I mentioned before, many players at these stakes (even some regs) are calling stations. This means that they have a hard time folding anything. They are also often deeply suspicious that everyone is always bluffing them.

So you should of course be ramming and jamming your big hands down their throats like I talk about at length in my first book, Crushing the Microstakes.

But you should also be getting thin value with all sorts of other hands like:
  • Middle pair
  • Bottom pair
  • Ace high

Yes, you can even bet ace high for value on some boards against the fun players in particular and get paid off at these limits!

If you have any kind of a hand on the end, before hitting that check button always ask yourself if there is any way that this person can call you.

And maybe you only bet 30% of the pot. It doesn't have to be huge. In fact it should be small if you don't think that they have much of a hand.

These little value bets can add up in a huge way! Don't pass them over like so many others do at these stakes.

6. Playing Too Robotic

Poker is a game that is played between people. And no two poker tables are the same. Therefore, a different strategy is always required depending on who is seated there.

This is why following some chart or cookie cutter strategy for what hands to play, when to bet, raise etc. can only take you so far in this game.

As I will be discussing in much more detail in my forthcoming new book, you need to be creating custom ranges in all situations. Your preflop opening ranges are one of them.

What I mean by this is that you need to check what types of players are left to act before choosing which hands to raise with. There is a different strategy required if it is good regs, bad regs or recs.

Many people do not do this. So for instance they will steal way too much against the strong regs who in turn will simply 3Bet the crap out of them.

This is a huge waste of money that could have been avoided by recognizing who is left to act and increasing their open raise standards instead.

It is ok to play according to a set plan, charts etc. especially when you are first starting out in poker. It makes things much easier.

But if you want to take your game to the next level then you need to make sure that you are making adjustments based on who is actually seated at the table.

7. Rakeback and Bonuses

One of the primary ways that I used to grow my bankroll early on in my poker career was to take advantage of rakeback and deposit bonuses in particular.

Most people know that the rake is notoriously high at the micros in relation to your table winnings. This means that you should make sure that you are shopping around for the best rakeback and bonus deals.

Every site has a different system in place. Some sites offer high rakeback but you have to play a lot in order to get the real rewards. This is why it is important to read the fine print.

Bonuses can be even more helpful at these limits though. Many sites will offer first time deposit bonuses of $500, $1000 or even more.

Once again though, it is very important to check the fine print. Find out exactly what you need to do in order to clear it. Calculate how much you plan to play and at what stakes and then you can figure out if it works for you.

I have already made a list of not only some of the softest poker rooms on the internet but those which offer some of the best bonuses as well. You can find that here.

8. Missing the Great Play

If we are talking about pure poker strategy, then there is pretty much always one clear best play available in every situation. I call this the great play. 

Then there are a bunch of 2nd and 3rd best decisions available after this. The main difference between the biggest winners and everybody else is that they find (and make) the great play much more consistently.

The idea is this. In key situations at the poker tables you should consider the effectiveness of every option, not just the first one that comes to your mind.

Many newer players for instance will always re-raise preflop with a strong hand like QQ because they have the 3rd best hand in the game after all.

But while this is often the mathematically correct play, it is not always the great play. And what this ultimately means is that it is not the most profitable play.

Versus an opponent who folds to 3Bets way too much for instance, it is a better idea to just flat with a hand as strong as this. This is because there is much more long term expected value (EV) in seeing a flop versus a weaker hand than by just forcing them to fold preflop.

When important hands arise, always consider all of your options. Sometimes the best play is not always the obvious one.

9. Session Review

It is really vital that newer players in particular regularly review their poker sessions. Because how can you expect to learn from your mistakes if you don't even know what they are in the first place?

The great thing about modern tracking programs like Pokertracker or Hold'em Manager is that you can review all your hands and also filter for the exact profitability of any situation as well.

This means that you can drill down to a situation as specific as AK out of position facing a raise. You can then see if you are winning or losing in this spot. If you are losing, then you can review all hands in this spot and find ways to fix your leaks and improve.

During the early stages of my poker career this is how I made most of my progress. Not only did I review my key hands after each session, but if I felt like I was having trouble in a particular spot, then I would filter for it and analyze it until I found the answer.

10. Cashing Out Too Much

The last mistake that micro stakes players make is cashing out too much. I know because I used to do this way too much myself!

It really is pretty simple after all. How can you expect to grow your bankroll to one thousand dollars and beyond if you are taking out a couple hundred or more every few weeks?

The answer is that unless you are some kind of phenom who crushes the games beyond belief, you can't. You will constantly remain at the lower limits until you stop withdrawing from your bankroll so much.

This is why I always suggest separating your life bankroll from your poker bankroll. Unless you are a professional (which in most cases you shouldn't be at NL2, NL5 or NL10), then you should basically never touch your poker funds.

Once you get established at higher limits, then you can begin taking out small amounts to reward yourself or pay bills. But as long as you are at one of the bottom three limits, it is by far the best policy to simply never touch your bankroll and just let it grow.

Final Thoughts

Moving up the micro stakes ladder and beyond is not a walk in the park in today's games. But it isn't impossibly difficult either.

For most people though, they are actually their own worst enemies. That is, they continually make fundamental mistakes at the poker tables which prevent them from achieving the success which is easily within their grasp.

Hopefully a few of the ideas in this article will help you plug some of these leaks, make your first 1k at the micros, and move beyond!

Let me know in the comments below what you think are the biggest mistakes that low limit poker players make.

If you want to know the strategy that I used to create some of the highest winnings in online poker history at the micros, grab a copy of my free ebook.

If you found this article helpful, do me a favor and give it a "Like" or a "Tweet" below. Thanks!

microstakes poker mistakes

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Best Time to Play Poker (A Data Driven Answer)

What is the best time to play poker?
A question that I get asked a lot is what is the best time to play poker. More specifically the right time of the day and the best days of the week.

And this is an important question because in my experience there definitely are certain times when the games are simply better (i.e. more fish). Therefore if you play more during these times, this will undoubtedly have a positive impact on your win-rate.

In this article I am going to tell you what the best times to play poker are as well as the top days of the week and months of the year as well.

1. Play More When Most People Play Poker

First things first in order to determine what the best hours of the day to play are, all you really have to do is look at where the majority of poker players come from.

It is just a simple fact that the more people who are online and playing poker, the better chance that you will have of finding the recreational players.

These are the people who play the game for fun, also called the fish. They don't really care about improving, they lose their money at lightning speed and they bankroll the entire industry.

If you want to know how to spot the fish easier make sure to check out my article on the top 5 signs of bad poker players. 

While people like to debate about which country has the worst poker players the truth is that you have good players and bad players in every part of the world. So your best bet to find more of the bad ones is to simply log on when most people are playing.

So where do most online poker players come from?

Well, since most poker sites are private companies and don't release this kind of data, it can be difficult to know for sure.

However, my website (the one that you are reading right now) receives a large amount of traffic from all over the world from people looking to improve their poker game at the micro stakes.

So by reviewing my Google Analytics data this gives a pretty good indication of where most online poker players come from.

Here is a snapshot of the top 10 countries to visit this website in the past year:

The right time to play poker

With the U.S., Canada and Brazil all in the top 5 this represents a significant chunk of poker players who all come from similar timezones. They also represent about 25% of my overall traffic.

However, the U.K. and European countries actually make up a substantially bigger portion of my overall traffic and the online poker industry as a whole these days.

In fact, if I had included the top 25 or top 50 traffic sources to this website you would see a lot more European timezone countries.

So what is missing from this list? Well that's easy, Asia. There is only one country in the top 10 (Australia) that is in the Asian timezones.

Since I live in Asia myself, I also know for a fact that online poker traffic is the absolute worst during the prime-time hours here. This is why I tend to play super early in the morning or very late at night.

So the key takeaway is this:

If you want to play online poker when there is the most traffic then I would suggest playing when it is late afternoon and evening in Europe. This is the best time to play.

Prime-time hours in the North American timezones are not quite as good but they are decent overall. Avoid prime-time hours in Asia, it's the nut low time to play poker.

2. Play Less on Weekdays, More on the Weekends

My second tip on the best times to play poker is to play more on the weekends. And seriously, it isn't even close.

The absolute worst thing you can do is sit down on a Monday or Tuesday and expect there to be tons of great action going on.

The reason why is simple. People aren't in a gambling mood on these days of the week. They are back at work, they are in "get stuff done" mode. They aren't kicking back, having a few, and trying their hand at a little online poker.

The weekends are a whole different story. I have literally made a career out of ditching my friends on many Friday and Saturday nights in order to chase the maniacs around. Often they will play deep into the night and the games can get very crazy.

I would not be surprised if my win-rate is at least a full point or two higher when playing on a Saturday night compared to a Monday morning.

So the key takeaway here is to try and play the most on the weekends if possible. This is when most people are off from work and playing online poker.

This is also when they are more likely to be in a gambling mood and therefore the action tends to be a lot better in both cash games and tournaments.

3. Play More During the Holidays and Start of the Year

Online poker also has reasonably well defined seasonal trends in regards to how many people are playing. There are good times of the year to play poker and not as good.

The best time of the year to play online poker in my experience is always during the holidays and the first couple months of the year. The data clearly supports this as well.

As PocketFives reports there is a 20% drop in online poker traffic during the summer months compared to the winter months.
What is the Best Time to Play Poker?
And the reasons for this are pretty simple. Most people playing online poker come from North America or Europe. The weather is typically pretty bad during the winter months so people are more likely to log onto a poker site and get their gamble on.

In the summer months though the weather is great in these countries. Being from Canada I know that you look forward to July, August and September in particular all year. The last thing most people want to do during these months is be cooped up indoors all day playing some card game.

The other thing that I have noticed is that the action tends to get a lot better around the holidays as well, particularly Christmas and New Years.

A lot of people have time off from work during these periods. They are also in spend money mode and they are in a festive mood and ready to gamble as well.

The early months of the year are when gyms around the world do some of their best business of the year. And the same is true for online poker.

The reason why is all the New Years resolutioners who have made their plans to start getting into shape or beating online poker.

So if you want to enjoy the highest amount of traffic and game selection in online poker the first few months of the year are also a great time to play more.

Final Thoughts

The best time to play poker is something that people have long debated. The truth though is that it will only have a marginal impact on your chances of success in poker.

In fact, if you play at the micros (NL50 and below online) where there are almost always plenty of tables available, it really doesn't matter that much when you choose to play. There are always good games going on.

Things like having the right strategy and knowing how to control your emotions when the cards turn against you are actually far more important to your poker results.

However, you can give yourself a small advantage by focusing more on playing poker at the right times. This is especially the case as you move up and play higher stakes where less games are running.

If you want to improve your chances of succeeding in poker even more, then you should also play at the right poker sites which have the most fish.

Let me know in the comments below what you think is the best time to play poker.

If you found this article helpful, do me a favor and give it a "Like" or a "Tweet" below. Thanks!

Best times to play poker