I was talking with a friend yesterday – one that doesn’t play poker – and I found myself having to defend my losing some 50 tournaments since my last big win. I had to explain my 156% ROI, and lecture on how the long term is what’s important. You see – I won $25,000 playing online poker last year, by playing mostly $10-$30 tournaments, but all she saw was the fact that I lost $540 back in a month.
Having this conversation made me realize that her erroneous outlook is actually all too common, especially among amateur players. And when I say amateur, believe it or not, I’m probably talking to you. I don’t care how much you think you play better than your opponents. If you belittle other players, or even think less of them because they played something like 64s for a 3x BB raise – I’m not going to make it easy on you, I’m going to expose the names and shame you.
This is especially true for players in the U.K. The unfortunate thing is that the cards they play, don’t necessarily indicative of how they would play in a live game. This is probably because a lot of players – especially tourists – don’t really know how to play online.
In this article, I’m going to try and teach you, the amateur poker player, all about what it takes to win at poker.
- You have to be patient.
For example – one of my favorite players is Phil Helmuth. He’s had 8 WSOP bracelets, and has made a hobby out of being patient. He gets sucked out on by opponents, yet he patiently waits for his strong hand to take them to the cleaners. Once you’re in the hand, you have to bet it accordingly – and take it to the cleaners.
Emotions can be a poker players biggest enemy (or friend, or foe). You should generally move past what you would consider to be “stupid” calls or bets. Instead, you need to wait for a hand better than yours to get your chips into the pot. Besides, that’s what Phil does.
Of course, there are thousands of poker strategies, but if you know the difference between ” Stupid Play” and ” Stupid People” – you’re probably a better poker player than most of them.
- You have to be willing to lose sometimes and know that you will take a loss when you need to.
Sure – I know that Daniel Negreanu likes to call players with trash and chips and chasing straights and flushes – but you better believe the guy takes a loss when he misses. It’s the nature of the game – you are going to lose some nights. Maybe even a few dozens. It’s part of the game. Accept it and move on to the next hand.
It’s possible to get lucky and win a small amount. It’s possible to lose a lot. But if you’re going to be a consistent winner, you have to be willing to lose and to be able to handle the losses. You can’t be in a hurry or you’ll never get anywhere.
- If you’re going to play, you have to pay to play.
This is the cash you need to get in the game. Own it… or earn it. It might sound like a Greek philosophy, but a courage to take on board the gold. Poker requires both attributes – courage to face your fears and fear to take the gold.
I’m not going to try and convince you that cash only players can win money in poker. You know the numbers and numbers are against you when you’re playing with cash. But, if you’re playing with the correct strategy, most likely you’re going to win money. You just have to earn it.
If you’re going to play online poker, you know that it costs money to be online. It’s a cost that the house has to pay and a cost that the player doesn’t have to pay – since the cash value is locked up until the hand is over. Being online requires a small cost to operate the game. Players aren’t forced to be online, they choose to be. Keep this in mind when you’re building your poker bankroll and choose the option that will allow you to be more cost savvy when you’re building your bankroll.