Winning at Poker

by Mario Alfonsi  |  Published on May 23, 2017  |  Updated on May 23, 2017

It’s been said many times that Texas Holdem poker is one of the easiest games there is to learn in the world. In fact, many a player sat down at a table, without a clue, and 30 minutes later, they were playing, betting, and even raking in some pots.It’s also been said that the game takes a life-time to learn. I can’t say that I agree with that 100% however, there are many subtleties to beating the game in each form, at every level.

Starting a Poker Bankroll

The first thing you’re going to want to consider on your path to becoming a winning poker player is … the money. How much money are you going to dedicate to this game? Casino game players tend to give themselves a budget. A slots player would tell themselves something to the effect of “Well I can afford to spend $50 of my social security check every month on slots”.When that $50 is gone, they’re done playing slots for the month, or perhaps they’re going to hawk their televisions for cash, borrow some gambling money from their kids, or lie to themselves and dip into their savings, who knows how slots players think, we’re however, going to do something entirely different.First you’re going to decide just like the slots player, how much you can afford to dedicate to the game of poker. Let’s say you’re a starving college student that opts to use his financial aid on poker games instead of books and food. You might only be able to start your roll with $100.That’s fine actually, if you bust out of the game though, we all know that you’re not getting another $100 until next season.With that in mind, you’re going to read up on bankroll strategy, and build a strong management plan for that roll of yours. Here’s a tip to get you started, never play more than 1/20th of your roll at any one time.

Charting your progress as a Winning Poker Player

It’s easy to feel like you’re a winner at the tables. This is largely because of the nature of the game. Poker isn’t like athletics. If you’re on a high school football team for instance, and you suck, you’ll likely never see a minute of game-time, however, let’s say you live in a small rural town. Your team never wins. You never catch a ball, or throw one anywhere near other players. You are always caught when you run, and you trip over you own feet.You practice and you practice, but even your mom can’t throw a ball you can catch.It’s pretty likely that the other guys tell you you suck, high school football players are all nice and honest like that. You know you suck.Poker’s not like that. The people that can plainly see that you suck aren’t going to tell you. In fact, they’re going to sympathize with you, saying things like “Golly that sure was a bad beat!” and “Man that was a bad beat! How could you have known he had aces!” You’re not going to count on the sharks at the table to tell you you’re a winning player though. Nope, you’re going to do something entirely different. You’re going to chart your winnings, or losses, whichever the case may be.

Creating a Poker Spreadsheet

If you’re not sure how to create a poker spreadsheet, we’ve provided you with a barebones basic sheet to start you out, this will at the very least at least get you doing the math, keeping track of how much you’re winning compared to how much you’re losing. It’s okay to see some red finishes, especially at cash game poker. But over time, say 3-6 months, you want to be seeing green.

Becoming a Winning Player

Remember we’ve decided that poker is NOT like high school football, or running track. You might not be a natural born sprinter, and you might not be a natural born poker player, but there’s good news. You can improve, and you can teach yourself the skills required to become a winning poker player.As you chart your progress using your excel worksheet, and learn to add to the sheet so that you have any information that you need to improve right in front of you, you can begin to learn exactly what you do wrong. In fact, there is poker tracking software there that will do it for you, it will even tell you which hands you tend to leak the most money with.

Poker Tracking Software

  1. Poker Tracker
  2. Poker Office
  3. The Sit n Go Wizard
  4. Table Shark

As you learn where your leaks are, you can start learning ways to improve them, ways to improve your game, and become that winning poker player.Remember, you don’t have to start out with the ability to beat Phil Ivey at the table, you have to start out with the ability to find the weakest player at the table, and find out as quickly as possible, how to begin taking advantage of that knowledge. You also have to know when you are the weakest guy at the table, and go find a new table! At the casino late at night getting your ass handed to you? Come back tomorrow when the tourists are out!I remember one session when the table I played at was emptied so that it was only me and one other player left. When playing against a lone opponent like this you have to play very loose and aggressive compared to a full table game, because if you play a normal tight game the blinds will eat you alive. So I started to raise and re-raise with a lot of hands. My opponent was playing too tight, so he paid off well by giving up his blinds, and when he raised, I knew he had a good hand so I never had to pay him off.After a while he started berating me in the chat window: “I guess you’re one of those guys who always re-raises”, “too bad I can’t catch anything or you’d be broke in five minutes”, and so on. He kept playing badly though, so I didn’t mind. After a while he left the table, broke, with one last insult: “dude, go fuck yourself”So, why am I telling you this story? Because it’s very relevant to winning at poker. The main reason the villain in this situation lost his money wasn’t really a result of his bad strategy, or bad luck. It was his ego.If he had a more modest attitude, he would not have gotten into this situation in the first place. He would have realized that he couldn’t handle the changed table dynamics and left the table. Instead, he focused on ridiculing his opponent and inflating his own self-image.Being humble, modest, and rational at the table is one of the most important poker skills any player could have. Once you’ve mastered that, you can build on it, learning tips and tricks that will help you in build a solid game. Never should you find yourself telling an opponent that they played a hand horribly, that they suck, or that they can’t play poker. Let them get online read poker strategy articles, and do their own homework. In the meantime, you did yours, so now you just have to sit back, play the game, and yes, take a few bad beats.Never take to heart the crap the other players spew, they’re not on your side anyway. Do listen however. If a player is talking constantly about the crap cards other players are playing, they’re telling you their poker strategy.In every opponent you should see a challenge, not a stupid moron. This is, in essence, what makes me a winning player. It is the reason I know what parts of the game I need to improve, and it helps me to get out of the situations I can’t handle. Without this asset, I would be just another angry loser.When you sit down at a poker table, do it with the intention to maximize your winning expectations, not your ego. Have a certain level of courtesy at the tables and make sure not to do things which will be – to your game, such as drinking while you are playing or playing in sessions which are too long and you lose interest in playing. The more you can consistently play your A game, the best chance you will have of winning at poker.