October 2009 article contest Winner
Most poker players from the beginning free online poker player upward wants to improve his or her poker skills, be able to read the cards and odds better, bluff like a pro and so on. But many players don’t pay anywhere near enough attention to the types of games they are applying those skills to. This often overlooked factor can have a huge impact on success of failure.
For example, there’s an old story about a poker pro who was the sixth best player in the world but never made any money. That was because he chose to only play against the top five best players in the world. The moral of the story is that you make money when you possess a clear edge over your opponents.
Don’t be overconfident
Everyone wants to be the best and play the best. It’s a matter of pride. However, unless your name is Phil Ivey, you probably won’t have an advantage over every opponent in every game. It’s also important to recognize that even the top poker pros will sometimes step down a level and play lesser competition because it’s more profitable.
If you can’t beat players at lower level cash games, you shouldn’t try to play at higher level cash games. You’re going to go broke trying. Start out on free texas hold em games if you need to and work up from there.
This is true with online games as well as live card rooms. A great example I have of picking the right room is a time a few years ago when I found myself in a small resort hotel casino. The players there were pretty loose and passive and as a result with more aggressive play I was able to hammer them with larger bets that they were comfortable with and as a result doubled my money in 2 hours without even winning a pot simply by getting paid off for OK strength hands.
I also remember one time when I played for five hours in a $1/2 no-limit hold’em game at a five-star hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. I barely broke even. The players were tight and aggressive and played back at me when I tried to put a move on them. I knew afterward that I picked the wrong table.
What kind of game to look for
The first thing to keep in mind is your bankroll. If you can’t afford to play $5/10 live or $.50/1 online, then you shouldn’t do it. You should move down to a more affordable level even free poker if necessary.
The second thing that you must be honest about is your skill level. You should ask: Can I beat the level that I’m playing? If the answer is “no,” then you should move down. Start with free texas holdem poker games if you need to, for beginners or anyone learning or practicing new techniques micro or free poker is a great way to get going.
Once you’ve decided the level you can beat, you then need to be choosy about the particular table you want to sit at. Ideally, you want to play at a table where you see players making a lot of fundamental errors like playing too many hands or playing too passively. A loose and passive table is probably the most profitable table. A loose game will allow you to win big pots because players will call you down with weak hands, and a passive game affords you the opportunity to hit your draws cheaply and bully your opposition.
It’s not always possible to find a passive loose table when you need it. But with a bit of surveillance you should be able to work out if a game is at a level you can compete strongly and win at. Yes, it’s good to be a good player but poker is about winning so it’s no good to be a good player beat by better players, instead aim to be a good winning player! So practise the game selection process first, look at micro and free poker online sites and work up from there.