If you want to try to improve your results start by taking an extra 30 minutes a day and dedicate it to improving your holdem skills. If you want to be a successful bluffer you need to pick your spots carefully and not bluff very often. You're an overall winner at both, but your results are better as a limit player. Texas holdem players who hope to improve their game have questions. Once they start calling more you need to tighten up more and stop bluffing for a while.

Texas HoldEm Poker


How do you know other players are bluffing? Are they showing you their bluffs or are you assuming that they're bluffing? Never assume an opponent is bluffing unless you see the actual cards.

Finally, it's almost certain that you're bluffing too much. The reason we can say it's almost sure is because almost every player bluffs too often. If you want to be a successful bluffer you need to pick your spots carefully and not bluff very often.

If you turn over a winning hand most of the time when an opponent calls you'll find that many of them will start respecting your bets more. When they start folding too much to your bets is when you need to start working in some bluffs. Once they start calling more you need to tighten up more and stop bluffing for a while. It's also important to know your opponent's playing tendencies. Some players simply won't fold for a single or small bet. Once you learn this about an opponent you know to never bluff them, but you also know they'll pay off your better hands every time.

On the other hand, some players are so scared that the fold to any sign of aggression unless they have a strong hand. Against these players you know you can bluff them with a weak hand, but you also know you need to let them lead the betting if possible when you have a strong hand. One last thing that is especially important in no limit Texas holdem is that a larger than normal bet in a bluffing situation often doesn't work as well as a smaller bet.

A smaller bet looks like you're trying to get just a little more form your opponent with a strong hand where an over bet often looks like a bluff.

Of course you still need to know your opponents because some don't think deep enough about the game for this to work. I'm a cash game player and am getting ready to enter my first big multi table Texas holdem tournament. Do you have any advice that can help me?

The first thing you need to understand is the difference between your edge on a series of hands in a cash game and in a tournament.

This is best shown using a couple examples. In a cash game you're able to get all in on a series of four hands. You know from experience that if you can consistently put yourself in these situations that you make money. But for a tournament player you don't have the luxury of buying back in the three out of 10 times you lose the first situation like you do in a cash game.

In a tournament if you get all in with the same four hands and same four chances of winning you'll be knocked out of the tournament a high percentage of the time. The way to quickly determine your chances is convert the percentages to decimals and multiplying them. Convert this back to a percentage, This gives you the percent of time you'll be knocked out, which is This doesn't mean that you don't play your hands with high winning percentages, but you need to try to play them without getting all in.

Sometimes you have to pick up enough small pots to give you enough chips so you can still have chips left over when you lose the hands where you're a favorite.

As you get deeper and deeper into the tournament it becomes harder to avoid all in confrontations unless you're among the chip leaders.

All you can do is play your best hands and understand that sometimes you're going to bust out. But the good news is you can find plenty of tournaments to play and if you consistently play well you'll break through and win more than you lose in the long run. The next thing you need to decide is if you're going to play to get into the money or to win. Most players state they play tournaments to win, but when it gets close to the money bubble they start folding good hands in order to sneak into the money.

You're playing in a big tournament and the final players get paid. But the real money is at the final table. This means you can easily fold every hand until you reach the money. Two players at your table have bigger stacks than you and they are taking turns raising and bullying the table. Most players are folding to their aggression because they want to make the money.

You face a raise from one of the big stacks and have pocket kings. If you get all in against them and lose you miss the money. How are you going to play the hand? What if you have pocket queens, or pocket jacks, or ace king? If you're truly playing to win you need to try to get all in with pocket kings. Only one hand I a favorite against you and if you can double up your average chip stack it puts you in a good position to have the chips needed to win the tournament.

It's not for us to tell you how to play and there's not a right or wrong answer when it comes down to deciding if you want to play for the money or to win. But you do need to think about it before you start playing in tournaments. If you're first goal is to get into the money you might even fold pocket aces in the example above. You also need to think about where you cut off your starting hands in a situation like this one if you're playing strictly to give yourself the best chance to win.

Pocket jacks and ace king are somewhat weak in most cases if you have to risk your tournament life, but only you can make this decision based on what you know about your opponents and the situation. Right after the final player busts out who isn't in the money many of the short stacks start taking risks to either double up or bust out. At this point you can play your best hands and quickly increase your stack size many times. Another thing to remember is that there's no one right way to play in order to win tournaments.

You have to find the style that fits with your abilities and work to improve it at all times. It seems like when I watch Texas holdem on television that there's a great deal of action, but when I play I get bored because it takes so long between good hands.

What's the deal with this? Remember our advice from the first question when you start saying that something seems to be happening? The problem with this situation is you don't get to see all of the hands when watching Texas holdem tournaments on television. They film a bunch of footage and then edit it all of the boring hands, so you only see the action hands.

The ESPN coverage of the World Series of Poker only consists of a few hours and the tournament lasts several days, with hundreds of tables running at the same time during the early rounds. The next issue is you say you get bored. This is a dangerous thing for a holdem player. When poker players get bored they tend to play too many hands. This leads to playing hands that are weaker than your opponents, reducing your overall chances of winning.

You should never get bored while playing holdem. If you aren't involved in the hand you need to be watching and collecting information about all of your opponents. Watch what hands they end up showing down and how they play in every situation. Do they only raise with their best hands or do they mix it up?

Do they bluff too much? Are they tight or loose? Every little bit you can learn about how someone plays is an extra chance you have to make money from them in a later hand. Winning Texas holdem players seek and use every little advantage they can possibly find.

A single big hand can be the difference between a winning and losing session, so knowing a single thing about and opponent can be the difference between being a winning and losing player. I want to be a professional poker player.

What advice can you offer me? The jump from a recreational or part time poker player to a full time pro is a huge one. It requires a change in focus, dedication, time, mental attitude, and lifestyle. No matter how good your results have been playing part time, if you're not completely ready you run a high risk of failure.

Let's talk about the financial considerations of becoming a professional Texas holdem player before moving on. You need to have at least six months worth of living expenses in reserve before making the jump, and a year's worth is better. This needs to be completely separate from your bankroll. Your bankroll needs to be a minimum of 30 buy in's if you play no limit and big blinds if you play limit.

Twice this amount is much better. This may seem like its overly cautious, but when you're a pro you have no life line of a job to replace money when you have a bad streak. And never make the mistake of thinking you won't have a bad streak. Every poker player has ups and downs. You never should use your living expense fund for poker and you should never use your bankroll for anything but poker.

Set a regular time to look at your progress and take profit from your bankroll as it grows. The best system in our opinion is as follows. We recommend this system because your goal should be to grow both your living expense account and your bankroll. At the ends of every month look at the amount of your bankroll in comparison to the previous month. If you're down then do nothing except look for holes in your game and improve them.

If you're up for the month split the amount you're up and put half in your living expenses account and leave half in your bankroll. Over time you should be making enough to extend your living expenses beyond a year and keep them there and steadily increase your bankroll.

Your bankroll is your life so you must protect it in every way possible. Notice that even though you've had three winning months and a break even month your living expense account hasn't grown. At this point you need to decide if you continue with the current plan or start building your expense account. But once you do that the money is gone forever from your bankroll, so make sure you think it through.

This system is designed so you never have to worry about money while playing. If you worry about your finances while playing you're not going to be focused on what you need to do to win.

Before making the switch you need to ask yourself a question. Have you played enough, and tracked all of your play long enough, to know for a fact that you're a winning long term player? Most players make assumptions instead of tracking everything. The next area you need to think about is your goals. You need to have a goal beyond growing your expense account and bankroll. You need to have specific goals every month and year for how much you want to win.

When you combine your goals with tracking your results you learn how much you need to play and at what level. You play limit Texas holdem and are able to win on average one big blind per hour.

At this rate you need to play hours during the month. This works out to roughly 35 hours per week. This also tells you that if you want to make more you either need to win more per hour or play more hours. Winning more per hour can be accomplished by increasing your rate of big blind wins per hour or play a higher limit with the same big blind wins per hour.

Playing this way becomes a grind, which many players realize is as bad as or worse than having a regular job. This requires a mental toughness and dedication that many players simply don't have for the long term. Consider this before making the switch to full time play. Finally you need the support of your family and everyone else in your life. This is often overlooked, but if you have relationships of any kind with a non-poker player they have to understand how you make money.

One way to still have a relationship and be a professional player is to schedule a day or two completely off every week. This is good for both your relationship and your mental health. Playing poker seven days a week is a form of torture for most players. Winning players travel to where the best games are located and play when these games are available. This means if a game you can beat is two hours away and starts at midnight and runs for 18 hours you need to be able to be rested before the game, be in good enough health to play, and have the understanding and support from everyone in your life to be able to do it on a regular basis.

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