Becoming a Better Poker Player Part 2: Intermediates and Advanced Players
by Daniel Johnson of Predictem.com
Once you have played poker for a while and understand the basics of the game, some books and articles won't be enough to continue your development as a player. Some players will be content with their abilities and with the stakes they play, but others will want more opportunities to make money and more challenges. Gaining more experience will always make you better, but you should become more immersed in the game and the culture of poker to learn how players think and stay current with trends of which games are hot and moves that players use.
One way to do this is join an online forum. Poker forums not only provide great information on strategy, bankroll management and game selection, but also open the door to a poker community where you can bounce ideas and theories off other players as well as ask specific questions to a knowledgeable group. Many of these players are not pros, but in general, forum members are more experienced and advanced players. If they participate frequently with posts, articles and questions, then that means they are more immersed and experienced in that culture. These are good people to learn from. Trust me, there will be some things that come up on the forums that you haven't thought of and if you contribute time and effort into reading and understanding how other players think you can only benefit from it.
Learning from better players, by discussing hands and from playing against them, is a great way to improve at the game. Another thing that I strongly recommend players do is watch training videos. These are videos where professionals record themselves playing a session and then discuss each hand to the audience as they go along. These videos give people an insight into the thinking behind each play and show players what factors they should consider when they play each hand during a session. Cardrunners.com and Deepstacks.com are just a couple examples of these types of training sites. The sites often do require a membership fee, but also usually offer free trials and discounts.
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It might not be profitable at first, but to become a better player you also need to challenge yourself against formidable opponents. It's true that you can make good money staying at a level and a game that you know you can beat, but that won't necessarily make you a better player. If you challenge yourself by selecting tougher games, in time you will learn how to beat those games and make more money in the long run.
Another good thing to do is to watch a higher stakes game you want to play in for a while before you try it out. Observe how people play at the level and you will be able to pick up on some of the moves that they use. Then by the time you decide to move up in stakes you already have some idea of what to expect.
Game selection usually means finding games you can beat, but in terms of trying to drastically improve your game in a short time, one great way is to find tough games that will get you thinking outside of the box. You don't have to choose games that are overly difficult, just ones that are a bit of a step up from your normal game. And don't make the jump up in stakes from your regular game until you've proven you can beat it, just try it out for a while, learn what you can and move back down if you have to.
Making the transition from a novice to an intermediate or advanced skill level requires time and attention. You need the time to put in, not only the hours on the felt, but also the hours in studying other games and participating in forums. And you need the attention to stay focused and to keep learning. Average players only do enough to remain average. If you want to be more, you need to truly immerse yourself in the game. Loving poker really helps you do this because then it's not a chore, but rather a passion. But don't forget, it does take work. Poker is not as easy way to make money, but it can be a fun way if you are willing to make the necessary adjustments and take strides out of mediocrity with increased knowledge and a humble, but confident attitude.
Part I of this article can be found here: Becoming a Better Poker Player.
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