How to Get Better at Poker

Poker players strive to get better all the time.  This is as true for experienced and professional players as it is for new players.  It’s like musicians practicing scales every day or baseball players taking grounders every day.  Here are a few tips for how to get better at poker.

Understand Rake

This is a purely technical aspect of poker, especially online poker.  The poker room provides the venue for players to play poker.  Juicy Stakes attracts players from all over the world.  You might be playing at 6:00 pm and one of your opponents might be playing at 6:00 am!

We provide the infrastructure for the games we offer.  In order to cover costs and turn a small profit, we take a small amount from every pot.  This is called the rake.  We also provide a handy rake calculator so you can always know how much we will take from the pot you are fighting to win.

It doesn’t happen often but it can be that the rake itself might determine whether you stay in a hand against a player who may be bluffing.  If the rake is going to be a large part of the pot, it could be wise simply to fold.  However, one of the hidden secrets of the rake calculator is that the rake has a maximum.  There are many pots in which the rake tops off while the pot continues to grow.

By staying in these hands if you think your primary opponent is either bluffing outright or has a weak hand, you can confidently stay in the hand knowing that the rake won’t continue to cut into your win once the rake has reached its limit.

Study Your Opponents

We say this often but it bears repeating often as well.  Even experienced and professional players sometimes fall into the habit of thinking about their own cards and don’t examine the actions of their opponents.  Professional players don’t fall into this trap often but it is human nature to get tired, to lose one’s concentration, and to let one’s mind drift away from the task at hand which is to pay close attention to everything the opponents do or say.

Everyone at the table is a potential opponent.  It could be a very long time until you go head to head with one of the others at the table and if you have been studying her or him, you will have an edge in the complicated analyses that players have to go through to help them decide what to do going forward.

Use Your Free Time Wisely

In this context, free time is the time between hands that you play.  Most players fold before the flop more than 50% of their hands.  This is a very good idea since most hands are just not worth staying in.

This is a complicated subject in its own right and deserves some attention in a future article.  The point here is that new players tend to drift off into their private imagination during the hands that they are not playing.  This represents a lot of empty free time.  Instead of drifting off, use the free time that you don’t need to analyze your own hand to analyze your opponents’ actions, hand, behavior, and comments.

No detail is too small to be potentially important.  We also are aware that no one can process many thousands of tiny details quickly.

Set up Mental Categories and Patterns

Many people write about how to best keep track of important details.  We have seen poetical candidates speak for a long time without a full script.  Of course, candidates have to answer impromptu questions immediately.

Having a well-rehearsed set of categories and patterns in mind allows poker players to fit every nuance into its pattern thereby making the details easier to remember and process when you need to do so.

Play Playable Hands

This sounds so simple.  Still, there is a very fine line between a hand that is borderline but you feel that in the current context you can play it while in a different context, you would not play the exact same hand.

Position plays a big role here.  Once again, position is a big subject that deserves a couple of future articles.  For our purposes here, you will become a better poker player if you contextualize hands as a function of position, the players in the game, and many other factors.

One big area of disagreement is when a player limps into a hand.  This might be a player in early position pre-flop simply calling the big blind or it could be the big blind calling a raise.  There is far too much contempt for limpers out there.  In fact, the very term “limp in” is a negative term that we wish to critique here.

Staying in a hand when it is cheap to do so is a very sound tactic in many hands.  A lot depends on the opponents and on your position.  A lot also depends on your hand.  While you might fold a hand with very long straight chances, you might stay in on a hand with long flushing chances.

Take Care of Your Body

You need to eat, hydrate, sleep, and use the bathroom!  Once again, many players feel that this is a given but there are a lot of players who continue playing when they are hungry.  This leads to anxious decision making.  It causes players to play out of sync with themselves.

A lot of players also play on when they are tired.  This, too, is a big mistake as being tired inevitably leads to faulty analyses and poor bets.

It’s amazing how many payers don’t drink enough water while they play.  The best rule of thumb for staying properly hydrate is to take one swallow of water every ten to fifteen minutes.  This is much better than chugging down a liter of water once and hour.  Your body needs the water on a continuing basis and one swallow per quarter hour is usually enough to keep players healthily hydrated.

Use the bathroom when you have to do so.  If you want to need the bathroom less often, stay away from all caffeinated drinks.  These include coffee, tea, cola drinks, and even green tea.  Green tea is very healthy and has very little caffeine but you can drink it when you aren’t playing.

Do we have to say that you should never drink anything alcoholic while you’re playing poker?

Take Care of Your Emotions

If you get angry or overly frustrated at poker, it might very well be that poker is not your game.  It might be that you would be better off playing video poker instead of table poker.  At any rate, staying on an even keel even in the face of a devastating bad beat is the hallmark of the advanced poker player!

A lot of players have to work on keeping their emotions under control.  If you are one of those players, then you need to work on keeping your emotions under control.

Take Care of Your Money

The money you bring to the poker table represents a financial investment.  You might profit in the next couple of hours or you might lose.  Whichever outcome comes about, you need to know why that outcome came about.

Investors in any financial market can be divided into two categories.  Of course, investors can be divided in many ways but for our purposes here, we will suffice with the two categories that relate to poker best: these investors who know why the market moved up or down and those investors who don’t.

The same is true in poker. 

Recognize the Essential Complexity of Poker

This is both a tip and the start of our conclusion.  Poker is a hard game to master.  It often seems that you stare at your cards and don’t really have any idea what is going on around the table.

Recognizing the essential complexity of the game is a big step toward committing yourself to improving in all the areas we covered here and in the many areas we didn’t have room to cover as well.

Juicy Stakes Poker is a great poker room.  We draw on players from literally everywhere.  You can play many different variations of poker at stakes that range from low to high and everything in between.

We invite everyone who has not yet joined us to do so NOW!

PLAY NOW!