Five Tips for Poker Success

top 5In 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.

downloadIn 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.

12 Comments

  • Jack says:

    Thank you for your tips. I came accross your blog about a week ago and have already read one of your books and are halfway through another.
    When you began your career how did you fund your buyins? Did you start off small and build up, is playing too small a stake a bad thing as the people just shove in all every hand which isn’t very productive for learning. Finally the money I make, should I be investing it all back into the game while I am starting out or take some profit. Thanks to you I won about £75 in a couple of home tournaments I hosted, I know it’s not much at the moment but it’s a good start!

    • I started playing poker when I was 17 years old. I deposited $50 online and played $.25/$.50 limit hold’em and slowly worked my way up. I strongly suggest you take things slow and realize you don’t have to try to get rich super fast. Good luck!

  • Justin Mcpeake says:

    Amazing tips. In the article its very true you cant always play your hand play your opponents ranges and as the hand progresses figure out there true holdings. Whats a good top for sniffing out a bluff from opponents? Thanks Jonathan I have purchased your newest book and have seen better and positive results Cheers and Goodluck Justin Mcpeake

    • You will rarely be able to “know” your opponent is bluffing if they play well. However, when someone takes a line that doesn’t make sense based on how they should play most of their range, it usually indicates your opponent has an abnormally strong or weak hand. Some people only take odd lines with the nuts and others only take them with their bluffs. Also, there are times when your opponent should only play a few nut hands in a specific way, but it is difficult for them to have those nut hands based on their ranges on earlier streets. This means they are more likely to have bluffs. I hope you enjoy my new book!

  • Viktor says:

    Nice tips

    I think especially 4) is very interesting.

    There is A LOT of free info to be gained. The hard part is how to process it AND apply to one´s game though. / furthermore can be tough to avoid misinterpretation..

  • Kris says:

    Thank you Jonathan. I have a problem with brain wander and putting opponents on a range of hands . I do much better at this when I’m not in the hand just observing. These are the two biggest leaks in my game.

  • Jason Beyer says:

    If your playing online in a 6max NL .25/.50 cash game, how many BB per hour can you expect to make ?

    • It depends entirely on your skill level. If you have to ask the question, it implies that you have not played much online cash to begin with, which makes me think that if you jump in, you will likely be a losing or break even player. That said, the biggest winners win at about 10bb/100, although it can be higher if you table select diligently.

  • Having a mental edge is definitely important. Envisioning success is one of the first things you have to do before you sit down at the table.

  • Josephb06@eircom.net says:

    Your new book is excellent it’s a breath of fresh air have you any final table strategy u can share

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