In this blog post, I will share five tips with you that, if applied intelligently, will instantly improve your level of success at the poker table. While you may already implement these tips on a regular basis, it is always beneficial to have the concepts brought back to the front of your consciousness. I hope you find this post to be useful!
1. Think about your opponents’ ranges.
If you routinely put your opponent on one specific hand, you are certainly playing poorly. As a simple example, if a tight player raises from first position, you should not put him squarely on A-A, A-K, or any other hand. Instead, you should put him on a range of hands, perhaps A-A, K-K, Q-Q, J-J, and A-K. You can then narrow that range as the hand progresses. If you put your opponent on one hand right from the start, you will make significant blunders due to simply not assessing each situation properly.
2. Stop continuation betting with 100% of your range.
In my book, Secrets of Professional Tournament Poker, Volume 1 (click here to get the audio-book version for FREE!), I suggest that you continuation bet nearly 100% of the time. While this advice was spot-on a few years ago when people were folding too often, in today’s games, you should tone down your continuation bet percentage a bit. You should usually check when you have absolute trash and the board should be good for your opponent’s range, when you have a marginal made hand that cannot withstand significant pressure, and when you miss in a multiway pot. That being said, I still continuation bet much more often than most players. The next tip allows my bets to stay profitable even with my high continuation bet frequency.
3. Double and triple barrel more often.
In today’s games, most people know to call flop continuation bets with a somewhat wide range of made hands, draws, and the occasional float. They also know to call the turn with any sort of made hand or draw. However, when you fire out a sizable river bet, the typical opponent will usually give you credit for a strong hand. Of course, if your specific opponent calls you down with a junky hand, reverse this advice and “Start value betting relentlessly on all three streets”.
4. Study the players who win in your games.
While most players spend time watching world-class players, either on TV or online, they often fail to understand that individual hands rarely give an accurate picture of a world-class player’s overall game plan. When you see one of these players attempt what appears to be an insane bluff, you must understand that they have a specific image and are attempting the bluff for a specific reason. They are not running the bluff just because they feel like bluffing or because they bluff almost all of the time.
In addition to spending time studying the world-class players, you should also study the best players in the games you play. Every time you sit at the poker table, especially if you are a small or middle stakes player, you will be at the table with players who are better than you. Study the plays they make that allow them to win. Make a point to incorporate those skills into your strategy. Of course, as you move up, you will find that some of the plays that worked in the small stakes games do not work in the higher stakes games. If you find your mind wandering while at the poker table, you are not using your time wisely.
5. Treat yourself like a mental athlete.
It is well known that most world-class athletes eat an almost perfect diet. Since poker is a mental game, you should treat your mind as if it is the body of a world-class athlete, assuming you actually aspire to be great. If you are drinking lots of alcohol, eating lots of unhealthy foods, or doing drugs, you are filling your mind with poison. The sooner you get those substances out of your system, the better.
While there are many other things you should be doing to ensure you are on the road to poker success, I hope you have found these five tips to be helpful. If you enjoyed this article, please share it with your friends. Thank you for reading.