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1. Work on Your Mental Game

Emotions are not your friend at the poker table, and you must do everything you can to control them. Of course, it is quite easy to control your emotions if you run well. However, it’s a whole different story if things don’t go your way.

Strong Mental Play Is Important

Your goal is to keep your poker strategy consistent even when things don't go the way you want them to. It is one of the most important things that sets professional poker players apart from the rest. The best poker players like Daniel Negreanu or Phil Ivey have mastered this skill and never lose their cool. There are a number of things you can do to be and stay mentally strong:

Do Not Start a Session if You Are Feeling Down

Feeling good about yourself when playing is one of the first and most important poker tips to know. This sounds quite obvious, but many players often forget about this. If you start a game when you are tired, angry, or hungry, it will negatively affect your game. It is almost impossible to properly consider your choices and to play your “A” game if you don’t start your session with a good mindset. And that's why you shouldn't start playing when you're in this state.

Know When to Stop

To stop playing at the right time is important. This is because staying in a game for too long reduces your ability to concentrate, which in turn can cost you a large chunk of your bankroll. There are plenty of players who have lost much more money than they should because they don't stop playing in time. So be wary when you start making bad choices because it signals that you have been playing for too long.

Probably one of the biggest problems is getting on “tilt”, which happens for a number of reasons. Tilt can be triggered by getting a bad beat, not getting good cards for a long period of time, or even getting bluffed from a pot by an opponent. Learn to recognize your emotions so that you know when to take a break before it is too late.

Furthermore, if you catch yourself thinking about other things that are not related to poker, you will get yourself in trouble. So, make sure you don't get distracted. Focus on the game, pay more attention to the opponents and observe the table. If you notice that you are not in control of your emotions or if you feel distracted - take a break or stop playing. It is the wisest choice you can make and an important part of how to win poker.

2: Bankroll Management

One of the most commonly used poker terms is bankroll management. However, the majority of poker players do not take the time or care to fully understand this concept, and that can lead to poor results. Without implementing the right poker bankroll management strategy, we can almost guarantee you will go broke at some point in your poker career. That's why it's important that you spend some extra time building an efficient strategy to keep yourself from getting into unpleasant situations. First, you need to understand the role of variance in poker.

It's no surprise that variance is dependent on your edge over the stakes you are playing in. If you keep beating your opponents consistently, you are less likely to experience any nasty drops in your bankroll and huge downswings. But, if you can't do this, it can look ugly.

Separate Bankroll for Poker

Many beginning poker players do not understand the importance of creating a separate bankroll for poker. It creates additional obstacles in your way to success. Therefore, if you are committed to spending a specific amount on poker, deposit it and don't think about it as if it were your own money.

Think about it as if it were chips, and you have less pressure to win. That way you can focus more on what matters: learning the game and making the right choices. Knowing that you are not using the money you actually need for rent or to buy food allows you to keep your life in order. If you then have a bad session at poker, you can better control your emotions, and that is your direct path to success.

Build Your Bankroll

Even if you've had a good session and won money, you shouldn't want to pay out all of your winnings at once. Instead, you can try to build your bankroll or go for a higher limit. This way you can make up for some future sessions where you might not be as lucky and can climb up the stakes organically. This is how to win poker! Slow and steady wins the race.

Moving up the Stakes

As you can imagine, different strategies are required for different games, and you will not always have the right solution for all possible scenarios. You need fewer buy-ins for cash games than, for example, tournaments with more players. You also need less money in Texas Hold'em than in Pot Limit Omaha. These are just a few examples.

Furthermore, you should consider determining your level of play. It is a determining factor for how much money you need to play a specific game. If you are much better than your opponents, you can implement an aggressive bankroll strategy and crank up the pace a bit more than you normally would.

However, if you are not really ahead of your opponents, then you need a bigger bankroll to justify playing at these stakes and keep it safe. We recommend that if you are playing cash games, keep at least 100 buy-ins in your bankroll to make up for the variance of the game. If you drop more than 20% of your bankroll you should consider moving down the stakes. However, if you are running well and increase your bankroll by a similar amount, it can be a good idea to take a shot at the next higher stake. Just make sure to return to your original stake if you drop too many buy-ins.

3. Adjusting Your Strategy Against Other Players

It is important that you know how to adjust yourself against different players. Don't always stick to your original strategy. If you want to find out how to become a professional poker player, some of the following tips are insanely important. However, this is easier said than done and will need a lot of work and consistent practice. Many of the following concepts are quite complex so we will keep it brief to give you a good overview of what’s important.

Exploiting Weaker Players

Let's assume you have a good understanding of game theory. When you encounter weaker players that you have played before, you can exploit them. It is of course a dream scenario to play against a weaker field. Especially if you know who they are and what mistakes you can expect from them.

It is not always wise to suddenly play more or fewer hands against these types of players. Instead, focus on the opponent's weaknesses and punish them for them. See some examples below:

  • Your opponent bets too much: Weak players can make two kinds of mistakes. One type of player is betting too much or too often. The other kind of player only bets money with a made hand. So, let's start with the first kind of player. If an opponent bets too much or too often, you should raise it as a bluff, and only call with a strong hand.
  • Your opponent folds too many bets: You need to adjust your strategy and start bluffing more if you miss the flop. It can also be a good idea to check your strong hands on the flop to trap the opponent later. However, be careful with this. You might lose out on some value if you are trapping your opponents too often or in the wrong spots.

You can think about many scenarios for exploiting your opponents, and it is important to know how to do that effectively.

Stats Are Important

In poker, you must gobble up all the information you can get and apply it while playing. If you play online poker you should install poker software such as PokerTracker or Hold'em Manager to get important information. Today, most serious players use this type of software, and it is best to start using it yourself. The above-mentioned software costs around €100, but this is an investment that pays for itself in no time.

The software gives you more information in the form of statistics. For example, you can see how many hands your opponents play, how often they c-bet the flop, or whether they often bluff or not. That's why it's important that you use a powerful resource for your own benefit. Having a good HUD (heads-up display) is essential. This shows you all the statistics in real-time and continues to provide them as more hands have been played. At the end of playing sessions, you can review and analyze all hands. In addition, if you meet the same poker players at the table, it could be to your advantage. That’s because you have already obtained information about how they act at the table.

4. Keep Improving Your Poker Game

Probably one of the most important poker tips you will get is improving your poker game. The games are getting harder every day, and it will never be as easy as before. This doesn't mean that poker is unbeatable, it means that players who aren't able to put any energy or time into it will fall behind the rest.

Therefore, if you want to stay ahead of the competition, you need to constantly improve your poker game. Try to find ways to do this best. Fortunately, there are plenty of options available on the internet.

Watch Other Good Poker Players Play

Today it is quite easy to find good poker players who show their poker skills to people all over the world via live streams. A well-known streaming platform is Twitch. Find a streamer that is a winning player, and try to learn how to play poker from them. If you are unsure what players to watch you can always sort the streams by viewers. Usually, the best players have the biggest audience. One of the top streamers we can recommend is Lex Veldhuis. Lex is a famous Dutch poker pro who has been crushing the highest stakes consistently for over a decade. He can certainly teach you how to win poker. 

However, if you have problems with a specific part of your game, it is difficult to fix these weaknesses by looking at other players. For example, a player may be playing with much higher limits than you can afford. This means that their strategy might not always work on the limits you are playing.

Analyze Your Poker Game

Occasionally, you should take a step back to see what mistakes you make so that you can fix them in the future. This does require you to stay away from the poker tables for a while, but it is definitely worth trying.

You can use your poker tracking software to look into your stats to find spots where you are losing money. You can apply different filters for different situations. To start with, you could for example have a look at all of your biggest posts that you’ve lost and see if you could have played the hand better. Maybe you notice that you are 3betting too much. Or maybe you gave your opponents too many free cards while trying to trap them.

How to Win Poker - FAQ & Glossary

What Is Raking in Poker?

All poker sites charge a fee for each pot played. Usually, a small percentage of the pot up to a maximum amount is taken by the site in order to make a profit. This only applies to cash games. In tournaments, the rake is already included in the buy-in. 

What Is Straddling in Poker?

A player can opt to put in double the big blind before the hand is dealt. We call this a straddle. It is obviously not a profitable play as you put in money without knowing your cards. Many players like to do it anyway in order to increase the size of the pot or simply out of boredom. 

What Is 3betting in Poker?

3betting is simply when you are re-raising a player that already raised the pot previously. If there is another re-raise on top of that it would be called a 4bet.

How Much Do Professional Poker Players Make?

How much professional poker players make highly depends on the player. The best of the best can easily make more than a million euros a year. However, there are also players playing poker for a living who end up with winnings that are more comparable to the salary a regular job would offer.

Andreas Schmidt
Andreas Schmidt
Last Update: 13 Mar 2023
Andreas is our go-to guy for anything related to poker or in-depth guides. He's not only a former professional poker player, but he's also been working within the iGaming industry itself since 2014. Casino, Poker and Sports Betting are his main areas of expertise, in addition to anything and everything related to payment processes at online casinos.

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