I've been a long-term member of Two Plus Two, actually since 2005, making this account three years younger than my PokerStars account 'Skjerv°y'. I learned lots on Two Plus Two and remember consuming every strategy thread I found when I started out here, including those classic NLHE threads.
I started to post in the original PLO forum before the split. The old forum was most like SSPLO is right now, if I remember correctly. This post is called ‘10 points of advice to become a stronger and more successful poker player!
’. It’s my way of marking my 3k milestone post on Two Plus Two and to maybe give back a little, like others did to me when I was less experienced.
Before doing the 10 points of advice I’ll give a piece of general advice that’s not TLDR
Be patient, use your passion to work your ass off, and get as good as you can in this wonderful game.
1) Learning and improving:
Find the study techniques that work best for you:
- Mostly watching videos?
- Writing things down, thinking lots about and analyzing the game instead?
- Participating actively in forums?
- Playing super-focused and learning from other players in your game?
A good start is to join the discussion on relevant forums and catalogize every learning resource out there. Pick the best learning material and commit to studying it. Be persistent and stick to a study schedule. Familiarize yourself with relevant software and learn to use it effectively.
- You want to be consistent and efficient. Your time has value.
- Spending time on developing your game = investing in future earnings. Try to maximize the return on that investment.
Try out things, find out what works, and do it that way. When you plug leaks, work on the biggest ones that you are aware of, because this is what pays off the most. And don’t forget your soft skills weaknesses.
Personally I like to learn in-game, pick up what the best do, try to find out why, and look through hands post-session. Others have different approaches to learning. One player that I remember really opening my eyes and learning lots from was Stinger, when I first tried to break into the $25-$50 games on PokerStars. He was ahead of the field in lots of areas at that time and had a style I could relate to.
2) Structure and planning:
Build a poker routine. Start with something simple and add more as you learn what works and what doesn’t. Set goals, not too close and not too far away. Evaluate your progress when you get there. Learn from the experience and move on. Rinse and repeat.
- Have a schedule for studying and grinding. Focused effort is worth a lot more than random effort.
- Identify the best times to play. Plan your daily routine so that you can put in high volume during those times.
- Documenting things makes progress easier to track.
When doing SNE runs I’ve kept very detailed excel files with goals and and grind routines. These days I have a schedule written down for organizing my work life.
Find a grind buddy or three to discuss with that are ideally stronger players than you, and also try to join private skype strat groups. Follow the trends in the games, news about the poker rooms and economy, and use your network to gather as much information as you can about and around the games.
Join a video coaching site, they are awesome value for money. And they often have free forums as well.
5) Main game:
Make an informed choice of main game. Focus on that game and and take it as far as you can. I believe in specializing. Siteselect and shop around a bit to find out where action is best and most suitable for your skill set. Don’t only explore other sites but also formats of your game, like HU, SNGs and MTTs.
Personally I got into PLO by trying it in Vegas in 2005 with friends for the first time. I did play a mix of that and NLHE for a while, then realized I enjoyed PLO much more and a saw a higher skill-ceiling for me there, compared to the field. It was also more challenging and fun game for me, where I thought the gameplay options were more complex, and I liked that the playing styles and thought processes for the regs were less uniform compared to the 6-max NLHE I grinded at the time.
Don’t autobot, don’t be lazy, and try to focus on all decisions. Turn off facebook, skype, email, msn. Make sure to inform those around you (gf, friends, roommates, family etc) that you do super focused work and can’t be disturbed unless emergency. Use a program like Leechblock if you have problems with focusing on poker, or time management in general.
Personally I always enjoyed and did best playing nights. It’s so quiet and I can be totally in the moment and super-focused on my games without real-life distractions.
Make good financial decisions.
Some do’s and dont’s:
8) Bankroll management:
- Don’t lend out money to people in the poker world, even if they are well known and you can ‘afford’ it.
- Find the best deals for your poker business and career.
- Don’t pay large exchange fees when you move money around.
- Don’t be a ‘real life fish’ with respect to money, even if you have plenty of it.
- Be very careful about who you associate with and do business with. If you swap money, try to get the other person sending first and reference check anyone beforehand.
- Keeping money online comes with risk (sites can shut down, your accounts can get hacked, etc). Don’t take on more risk than you’re prepared to handle. PokerStars and the relaunched Full Tilt Poker are the safest places these days imo, along with the big sportsbooks that also offer poker.
Don’t cash out unless it’s an emergency, to pay taxes, or to support a modest living. Cashing out to splurge is such a bankroll killer. Minimizing spending early in your career will maximize your future income, since you’ll be able to move up so much faster. Use sensible rules for bankroll management, but give yourself allowance to take shots in good games. When you take a shot, have a strategy for it, and a stop-loss limit.
Early in my career I simply picked a monetary number that I needed for my main game (number growing when establishing myself on a new stake), then attacked any game on the next level, rinse and repeat. There are plenty of good resources out there on BRM so I will not rewrite those, just make sure to factor in the game you play and the variance in it. A variance calculator is also a handy tool to get a grasp of how bad things can go.
If you feel your game isn’t going anywhere, try to get coaching somehow.
There are lots of ways to get coaching. It can be paying hourly for it, getting a staking/coaching deal, or doing a profit share deal. It should be a proven winner in the games you want to get coached in, or a strong theoretical or software coach with vouches you really trust.
When you get to higher stakes where the edges are thinner and falling below your A game is costly, you might also want to look into mental/life coaching. Read the relevant literature on the subject of self-coaching well. Jared Tendler is an authority on the mental game of poker and he has worked with many professionals. I highly recommend his books.
Grind buddies can also gain a lot from discussion and self-coaching each other.
Push yourself to improve! Start games and don’t systematically shy away from playing better players. The best never got best by only preying on weaker players. The games are too tough at the top to never face off the toughest opposition on your stakes, if you want to climb out of there for good and be sustainable on higher levels.
Lastly, I recommend this video on TED Talks:
Richard St. John: 8 secrets of success.