Mike Sexton, the gymnast turned paratrooper turned poker pro coined the phrase that Texas holdem is a game that takes five minutes to learn and a lifetime to master. In fairness, his comments can apply to practically any variation of poker.
So if you feel that your poker started off in leaps and bounds but is seeming to stagnate and not get any better, don’t be downhearted.
Here, we will explore some foolproof tips provided by some of the best poker players around that are guaranteed to sharpen up your game.
1. Go over the basics
Back in the pre-internet days, someone might learn poker by taking one of the great poker tomes from the library and reading it from cover to cover. These days, information is bountiful online.
Sometimes, you can get too much of a good thing, and it’s easy to get distracted by exciting topics like bluffing strategy. That’s not going to help if you’ve made basic mathematical errors in assessing the relative strength of your starting hand.
If you think you’ve got a solid grounding already, try explaining poker to someone who knows nothing – you might just surprise yourself by the gaps in your own knowledge that show up.
2. Listen to the experts
We’ve already mentioned that there are more resources around than there used to be for learning poker. Make use of them all.
For example, there are several great poker podcasts that you can listen to in bed or maybe while you are in the car.
Often you can learn as much from listening in on people chatting informally as you can from spending hours poring over text books.
3. Get a tracker
Information is power, and a surefire way of improving your game is understanding your own strengths and weaknesses.
A good poker tracker will help you to zero in on what matters and to focus your poker research and practice in the areas that will yield the biggest improvements.
There are dozens of different poker tracker apps out there for iOS and Android so we will avoid going into too much detail here, but keep in mind that most of them are free and the rest are inexpensive, so you could always try a few out to decide which is most helpful to you.
4. Play more and lose more
Poker is considered a sport by many. How do you suppose Tom Brady or Lewis Hamilton or Tiger Woods got so good? Sure they trained and they studied, but they honed their skill and became the best in their sport by playing football or racing the car or hitting the ball.
The best way to get better at poker is by playing poker and learning from each game. That leads us on to the final tip, which is that you don’t learn so much when you are the best player at the table.
If you pitch yourself against superior players, you might encounter some extra pain in the wallet, but your game will thank you for the investment in the long term.