A long time ago, poker was a recreational card game for miners in the American West. Today, some players make a living out of their poker skills, winning millions of dollars on organised tournaments worldwide. Poker involves luck to a certain extent, but in order to be successful at this game, you have to have a lot of skill and the nerves of steel. If you’re passionate about poker and want to become a pro, here are some basic tips on where to start.
Practice, and lots of it
All the pros that you see on the ETP tour had to start somewhere. Whether they played online or spent hours with their buddies throwing chips on a kitchen table, all of them played poker for several hundred hours before making it to a live event.
If you have friends who love poker just as much as you do, organise poker nights as frequently as possible. Don’t forget that you can only get better by beating a better opponent, so try to find some experienced poker player and go head to head with him. He may even throw in some tips on how to play.
If you can’t locate people who like playing poker, start your career online. Many apps allow you to play poker with other players, whether it’s for free or real money stakes.
Try playing for real money
While the poker rules stay the same whether you play with fake chips or real money, wagering for actual cash is very different. Big money stakes will make you behave differently, and you might be hesitant to pull an “all-in” when it’s your money on the line. If you want to know how the pros feel, play real money poker.
Know your math
It’s not enough to know the rules of a poker game. The difference between a good and a lousy poker player is the knowledge of math. Poker is full of combinations, chances, and percentages. You should not make a move just based on your own hand. Pay attention to how many guys are in play, when your opponent raises and what is his chip stack, what cards are on the flop, etc. You should also always know your approximate chances of winning a particular hand. Study poker math before anything else.
Work on your poker face
Playing online is more comfortable because nobody can see your facial expressions and body language. If you ever turn pro, all eyes will be on you when you’re about to make a move. Make sure never to give any tells to your opponent. Many players try to hide their faces by wearing glasses, putting on hoodies, and wearing scarfs around their neck so people can’t see their pulse. Every poker player will try to pick up on any small detail, so try to remain calm at all times whether you are bluffing or you have a straight flush.