You could get lucky of course and win a big tournament. But even for a good experienced poker player this would take a lot of short term luck.
But there are several steps that you can take to quickly improve your game and get yourself winning at the lower limits at least. In this article I am going to discuss several of them.
Review Your Play
Some people look at me with a strange face when I tell them that you must review your play in order to get better. How you might ask?
Well, much like a professional athlete reviews the game tape, you need to look over your hand histories. Every time you play a hand of poker online the poker site generates a raw text file called a hand history. You have the option to save these to your hard drive.
You can then use a program like Pokertracker or Hold'em Manager which will turn these files into useful information about yourself and your opponents. They will also allow you to review your hands after you have played them.
The only way that you are going to get better at poker is by learning from your mistakes. When you only ever play the game (and don't review your hands) you aren't giving yourself a real opportunity to analyze why you are taking certain actions.
These programs also allow you to filter for specific scenarios and find the long term profitability of certain plays (e.g. 3Betting with AQ versus just flatting). This takes the guesswork out by giving you the cold hard facts on which plays are more profitable.
So for all of these reasons, at some point early on in your poker career, I recommend at least getting yourself aquainted with one of these poker tracking programs and using them to review your play.
Play Poker Like a Beast
When I first started the main way that I taught myself how to become a winning poker player was through ridiculous amounts of simply playing the game. I am talking 10 or 12 hours every single day.
I didn't have much of a choice back then because training programs and many of the other educational tools that I will mention later on in this article simply did not exist.
Now of course not everybody has this much time to devote to the game. However, even if you work a full time job or go to school full time, you probably have at least a couple free hours each night.
Many people end up wasting this time by watching TV or browsing Facebook. If you want to create a successful side business or income such as by playing poker though, then you are going to need to sacrifice these things.
Consistency is another big key. It is important to try and play every single day if possible. This keeps the game fresh in your mind and allows you to easily recall the key situations that you have been working on lately.
I would recommend doing a session review in Pokertracker either directly before you start playing or directly after as well. Just quickly review about 5 or 10 of the most important hands. This will help keep you up to date on what you need to work on and what is working well.
Find Those Fish!
Forget Pokemon, winning poker players are out finding the fish!
It is really important in today's games that you make sure that you are finding good games to play in. And by that I mean games that are full of recreational players or fish.
I see so many people these days struggling at the lower limits and often it is because they are playing in tough games where they don't have much of an edge.
What I mean by this is that as a relative beginner their skill level is not significantly better than most of their opponents. You win big in the long run in this game when you have a big skill edge over your opponents.
But the great thing with poker is that it is all relative. When I first started playing online 10+ years ago recreational players were not hard to find. They were on pretty much every table.
This helped allow me to win big very frequently even though truthfully, I was pretty bad at the game back then myself. The reason why? A lot of my opponents were really, really bad.
If you put yourself in similar game conditions today then you will get the same results. You don't need to be the greatest poker player on earth in order to crush the micros.
Sometimes You Gotta Work to Find Them
The fish aren't always on every table table though, unless you play live. Online, it definitely takes some effort to find them these days. This is why I recommend playing on the right poker sites for starters.
Some poker rooms are more geared towards the recreational poker player and gamblers in general especially by offering lots of up front bonuses. These are the sites that you want to be playing on.
The sites that you want to avoid are the ones that make it easy to mass multi-table and give big rewards for volume of play. These sites tend to attract more of the tight regulars.
You also need to make sure that you are practing good table selection no matter what poker site you are playing at. Always make sure that there is at least one player at the table who is playing too many hands (40%+) and limping and calling a lot.
Winning Poker Players Study the Game
Lastly, and arguably most importantly today, is to study the game. Sometimes I get a blank face when I say this too.
What do I mean by study the game?
Well, there is an absolute ton of poker educational resources out there these days such as books, video training sites, forums, coaching and more.
None of this stuff was around when I first started playing online poker. I believe if it had of been, then I would have improved my poker game much, much faster.
The reason why is because many of these educational resources allow you to lower the learning curve by getting direct instruction from somebody who has already had big time success in the games that you play in.
I would recommend using a mixture of all of the resources listed below if you are just starting out.
10 years ago I would have said that poker books were mostly a waste of time. Most of the titles back then were written by aging live pros who had little to no experience with the modern game online.
That has all changed in recent years though with tons of new titles on the market from experienced online pros.
Most poker books of course are not free but they are rarely expensive either. And for the amount of information that you get, they are actually an absolute steal.
For total beginners or anyone struggling at the lowest stakes I would recommend starting out with my first book, Crushing the Microstakes. CTM provides you with the complete strategy for how to start winning big at the lowest limits.
As mentioned though, there have been tons of other good titles released in recent years by online poker players like myself who have the experience and results in these games.
I would recommend simply heading over to Amazon.com and searching for "poker books" for a good idea of what other material is out there.
2. Video Training Sites
I highly recommend getting a subscription at a video training site as well. There is nothing better than seeing a winning player make decisions in a video format and discuss the reasoning behind them.
There are tons of good training sites out there but I would recommend two for people who are just starting out or struggling at the micros.
Deucescracked.com probably has the best selection of up to date training video content available of any site that I have seen especially for the lower limits. Their membership prices are also very low and they have a free trial of course.
The other site that I would recommend is DragTheBar.com which is mostly free these days. I am actually an (inactive) coach there myself and have made close to 100 videos for this site in the past.
DragTheBar is still a good training site overall but it can't really compete with some of the bigger sites like Deucescracked these days in terms of up to date quality instruction.
It should also be mentioned that there is a good deal of free video content that you can find on places like Youtube or Twitch these days. Here is my Youtube Channel by the way.
The problem with Youtube and Twitch sometimes though is that you don't always know who you are getting advice from. Because after all, anyone can toss up a video or a stream on either of these platforms.
However, I would still recommend checking them out in addition to a training site subscription.
With poker forums there are tons of them and they are almost always free. TwoPlusTwo.com is the biggest one of them all and many of the top players in the world post there.
However, it is also notoriously known to be full of know-it-all kids who won't hesitate to rip into you with nasty comments if you ask what they deem to be a "stupid question."
This is why I would actually recommend another larger poker forum Cardschat.com over it. Cardschat is a much more welcoming environment for beginners especially.
Even though the level of poker advice might not always be quite as good as TwoPlusTwo, the nastiness is far less common and the sense of community is much better.
You might not know it but I also have a poker forum myself on this very website that you are reading right now!
It is of course nowhere near as active as the other ones mentioned above but there are plenty of regular contributors and I pop in there all the time myself to comment on hands and questions as well.
It is always free and no nasty comments I promise. I will just ban them! :)
Lastly, coaching is probably the best overall option that there is in order to get good at poker really fast. There is nothing that can compare to the one on one personal interaction with a good winning poker player.
They can dissect your game specifically and make custom recommendations. They can also watch you play and comment in real time on the actions that you are taking. The best coaches in fact will press you on why you are making certain plays and suggest a better line when necessary.
The biggest impediment with coaching though of course is the price tag. There are many different reasons why coaching is not cheap and some of the best online coaches charge hundreds or even thousands per hour.
However, in order to find a good coach at the lower stakes you don't need to shell out this kind of money. There are many coaches these days who work with students at the micros for much less than this.
I have already written a big article before about how to hire the right poker coach. I would recommend checking that out for more info on this.
Unfortunately there really is no super fast way to become a winning poker player. It takes time and a lot of effort. However, it certainly doesn't need to take you years or even months to start crushing the lower limits.
Firstly, I would absolutely recommend reviewing your own play by getting started with a tracking program. How can you learn from your mistakes if you don't study them?
Secondly, you must play a lot. And I truly mean a lot. All of the best players who I know have played millions and millions of hands of poker. This is not a coincidence.
Lastly, you need to make sure that you are playing in soft poker games by picking the right poker sites and table selecting well.
You should also be spending plenty of time studying the game to improve your overall skills. This should involve a mix of reading books, watching training videos, posting on forums and maybe even hiring a coach.
The bottom line is that if you put the effort into this game, then you will be rewarded with success in the end. There is no ultra quick way to get there though.
But if you follow some of the advice above, then you will be able to push your learning curve along much faster.
Let me know below some of the ways that you have used to become a winning poker player. Do you have any suggestions that were not mentioned in this article to improve your poker game?
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