1 – Read As Much As Possible
I started hanging out at bookstores. A new Barnes & Noble bookstore opened up at my local mall. It had a coffee shop inside, so I started frequenting it on my days off.
It was nice, I could sit down on a nice comfortable couch with a cup of coffee and read. I found lots of books on how to play poker and how to strategize.
Starting over really opened my eyes. I learned games I never heard of before like Texas hold ‘em and Omaha. I learned terms like hole card and blind. None of this was familiar to me.
2 – Watch Television
I fell into a bit of luck when I was learning poker. I got really serious about learning about 2002 or 2003. This was before YouTube or Facebook. We were all still navigating the world of MySpace and internet speeds were too slow to make watching videos online worthwhile.
The luck I fell into happened to come in the form of cable TV.
At the time cable was still about 30 channels for everyone and about ½ of the channels no one really cared about. One of the big channels then was ESPN. This was before they had 15 different streams available of the network. Back then it was one channel. They had 2 feeds, one for the east coast and one for the west coast of the United States.
3 – Play Online
My father was big into sports when I grew up. While I think he knew that I’d never be an athlete, he drilled into me the fact that you can’t get better at anything unless you practice.
As I mentioned, I played a lot of free sites in the late 90s. I rededicated myself to this action when I was relearning poker.
I hit a bit of luck at work. I was part of a customer service team that only had contact with customers through instant messenger. So I didn’t have to worry about customers calling in or them hearing me. I also didn’t have to worry about the volume of calls I was used to.
4 – Play in Person
I love the fact that the internet has given me the ability to play from the comfort of my own home. But playing live and playing on a computer are 2 different animals.
While playing online has its benefits, playing in person provides unique opportunities.
First, you get some the human interaction. You can look at your opponents. You can see their faces when they make bets. You can hear them breathe. You can observe their hand gestures. You can find their “tells”.
I obviously didn’t pick up on any of this in my first in-person game. Nor did I in my first year.
I’d have friendly games at my apartment on Friday nights with friends. I made it a point to alternate the friends I invited so that the cash flow wasn’t a problem for the attendees.
5- Be Mindful of Your Budget
I play to win, but play to win and expecting to win are 2 entirely different things.
Because of this, I always budget money that I can afford to lose.
It took me a while to learn this lesson. I thought that I could make a few bucks here and there playing. But the more I played, the more I realized that there were better players out there. Better players that could beat me. I also realized that some of the not so great players could beat me sometimes too.
6 – The Magic of Video
I’ve been playing now for 20+ years. But I still learn all the time. Whether it’s a new strategy or a new poker variation, I take the time to learn.
One way I do this is to hop onto sites like YouTube, VideoMotion, Metacafe, and Vimeo to watch poker videos.
I can see videos from some of the best of the game like Doyle Brunson, Phil Galfond, Daniel Negreanu, and Doug Polk.
7 – Don’t Get a Big Head
Players in the poker world have some big egos. It seems only fitting. If a player is on a winning streak, then he should have some bragging rights.
By winning all the time, some players avoid the sting of soul-crushing losses. They develop a feeling of invincibility.
But eventually, that invincible feeling becomes their downfall.
Losing allows you to vent held in emotions. It allows a person to look at things in an objective way. It allows time for reflection and to process pain.
Yes, I said pain. Can losing a poker hand be painful? Sure it can.
For example, a loss of $50 may feel like an ant bite. It’s a bit itchy and stays for a few days to remind you that you’ve been bitten. A loss of $50,000 may be more like a knife through the back. You’ll survive. You need to recuperate, and you’ll never be the same.
The feelings of pain and even anguish stimulate your growth as a player and as a person. It allows you to let go of what you think things should be. It makes you more receptive to change.
8 – Taking Notes
I mentioned earlier that I take notes when reading. But I also take notes while playing (when possible). I take notes on the hands I play and what everyone else played.
Once I finished playing for the day, I take all the notes and type them out again on my computer. It was necessary to type the notes while they were still fresh in my mind because some of the notes I take aren’t the most legible. So If I wanted to get them right, I needed to wet them into the computer quickly.
By writing and then typing out what I do, it helps me commit the plays to memory.
To this day I still take notes. I learn something each time. I can see my mistakes if I lose. I can see the mistakes of others if I win. I can see what to do next in a draw.
9 – Learn Strategy
In all the learning that I’ve done: reading, playing, taking notes, watching TV, and watching videos, I made it a point to learn winning strategies for each game.
One of the biggest mistakes beginners make is to walk up to a poker table and just start playing without any type of game strategy.
When you play with no strategy at all, you give your opponents a huge edge over you.
You need to learn tactic and scenarios that teach you what to do in various situations. You need to “know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em” as the old Kenny Rogers song goes.
10 – When It’s All Said and Done, Poker Is Only a Game
I’ve seen some players 온라인카지노 play with the intensity of 20 white-hot suns. I’ve also seen some players pay so laid back that I thought that may have fallen asleep. And then I’ve seen people fall on different points in between these 2 extremes.
The level of intensity that you play with is a personal choice. I fall somewhere towards the more laid back area spectrum.
Don’t misunderstand me, I take the game quite seriously, just not to the point where I want my blood pressure to rise and develop ulcers. My health is too important to me to do that.