STARTING FROM SCRATCH: LEARNING TO PLAY ONLINE POKER CASH GAMES (PART 2)
Now that you have your online poker site set up and your software ready for tracking, it’s time to play. Here are some tips for you when you are first getting started:
- Have a clear routine for your playing schedule- have a set time when you are going to play, be sure to take adequate breaks, and be sure to have a clear process for playing (more below).
- ‘Warm up’ to the tables and review some hands or watch some poker videos to get your mind thinking about poker before you start to play
- Don’t play more than 2 tables to start. Slowly add tables as you become more comfortable.
- Consciously think about every single decision that you make. Verbalizing your thought process is a great way to bridge your unconscious thought process and your conscious thought process- many players can analyze hands very well off the table but their thought process breaks down when playing. Don’t be like this- have a clear, concise reason for doing every single action and understand why you are doing it.
- Remember your long term poker goals- you might hit a downswing and it could be hard, but remember to keep focused and keep a schedule of consistent playing.
- Sample sizes do matter. A large amount of variance can occur in small hand samples and it is sometimes hard to determine if you are running bad or playing bad.
- Be sure to continue studying and learning. Do not stop and spend all of your hours playing.
Expanding Your Study Habits
After playing a good amount and tracking your stats (and results) and building your fundamentals, you are ready to expand your study habits and poker learning software. Just as you worked hard before, you will need to continue your poker education and utilizing poker software as much as you can.
Here is a list of the next step in your poker software:
Poker Snowie (https://www.pokersnowie.com/): Poker Snowie is a quasi GTO program that allows you to both play against the program (heads up) and then get your analysis after this. Furthermore, you can have snowie analyze your play as well.
Flopzilla (http://www.flopzilla.com): From the site: Flopzilla is a poker calculator that has been designed to let you quickly and easily figure out how a range hits a board.
Just enter a preflop range and a board and Flopzilla will work out for you how often that range hits hands like top pair, middle pair, a flushdraw, a gutshot, etc. Flopzilla is nice because it gives you more of a visual representation of hand strength distribution.
Pro Poker Tools (http://www.propokertools.com/simulations) : Best used for PLO, this hand calculator is very good, with a variety of syntaxes.
After these two programs (in addition to the programs listed in Part 1 with Equilab and Holdem Manager and Poker Tracker), the next step for software are expensive (and arguably the most useful) programs such as PIOsolver, Simple Postflop, Odds Oracle (PLO) and others. These are intense software programs that you should not consider until you are playing at least 50NL on PokerStars or 100NL on other sites.
Make Short Term Goals
Once you have a better idea of what you are doing and you are at least breaking even at microstakes, you can make short term goals for yourself. Some potential goals could be:
- A bankroll goal (achieve x amount in y amount of time).
- A hand goal (play x amount in y amount of time).
- A study goal (learn x number of concepts in y amount of time).
- Take a shot at a higher game (but be sure to set some parameters for yourself).
- Learn a new game or format.
Goals are very important in life and they are even more important when playing poker. It is easy to get stagnant and complacent while playing poker and to just cruise when you are running well or not motivated. As with any self employed job, you only get paid as hard as you work, and poker goals will keep you focused. It is important to keep adding and editing your poker goals throughout your career.
Try Live Poker
At this stage of your poker career, it is a bit early to be branching off into different games (in my opinion). You should be playing at least small stakes (50NL or 50 PLO online) before making the transition to mixing and playing both games in my opinion (I know that I said you should move over to PLO once you hit 10NL, but I meant more from a full time move, not mixing or playing both formats). Mixing both formats requires having good poker fundamentals that are applicable to all poker games (aggression, hand reading, etc).
All that being said, you CAN expand to playing some live poker in the specific format that you are focused on. Live poker is an entirely new environment and playing style but it is almost always easier than online. The games are much softer and the opponents are much worse. Live poker will enable you to use all of the training that you have gained online and apply them to easier games. In most live poker games, 1/2NL (200$ buy in) is softer than 25NL online. The potential for earning more money is larger in live games (generally) if you can deal with all of the other elements involved (being at the casino, commuting, very slow and low hand count, etc).
You may find that you want to play more live poker and transition to a live professional- there is not anything wrong with that and it is a natural transition for many players. With that said, you should still play online poker in order to grow as a player and continue learning.
Online poker is the best way to improve at poker, period. If you are playing poker in a serious manner and want to improve in the fastest possible way, online poker is essential in that process. These two articles should give you an excellent path towards success if you follow the instructions and work hard.