There’s one thing I think every poker player would agree with – the longer you play poker, the more complex it becomes. Like with everything in life, once you finally realize something, it becomes so obvious, like, “duhhh… how the FK did I not see that?”.
There are countless things that you can work on and improve in the game of poker. Even if you think you have an amazing and almost infallible grasp of hand ranges and equity in any given spot in poker, there are tons of things you can work on to improve your gamesmanship (if you play live a lot), your temperament and psychology, your reads, and on and on.
I was recently e-mailed by a poker friend who said he was on a bit of a poker plateau if you will, what I think he should work on. I thought I’d share my response to him here because although there’s a lot of things we could all work on, these struck me as the most important for players who already have a good amount of experience at the game:
- Entitlement Tilt. Jared Tendler speaks about this in his poker books on the Mental Game of Poker. I’ve done a workshop in the past with Jared, and spoken with him about this as well, and I think he undersells how important this is. The thing I hear the most coming out of experienced poker players’ mouths is how bad they are running, and the cards aren’t breaking how they should, and people aren’t folding in the spots they should, and so on. There’s no should’s in life. Poker and your results are happening exactly as they should. What you have to deal with is accepting that. Once you can move from a place of entitlement to acceptance, you’ll be much more clear to have more productive sessions, and not allow that mentality to hang over your head when you’re away from the table. It’s a poison, and quite literally a cancer.
- Never say Never. I hear a lot of poker players analyzing a particular hand using words like never, or won’t ever. Yeah…. remove this one from your vocabulary. After having played for 11 years, I can with great assurance tell you I’ve seen it all. I’ve seen so many never’s and won’t’s actually, “oh yes he/she did!”. Instead use, very unlikely, or not very probable, especially when discussing opponents’ hand range. There’s no problem with weighting your opponent’s hand range to less likely have X or Y holding, but don’t completely exclude it (and yes, for the most part, I’m not talking about saying they have 7-2 sometimes). I’m specifically talking about removing a questionable hand, and this usually applied to tighter players when someone says, well he’s only playing 8% of his range, no way he’ll ever have X hand. MMm… ya, sometimes people change gears.
- Learn something outside of your comfort zone. If you want to improve as a player, then you need to identify the area’s in your game that you’ve avoided examining, and put the work in to become better in those areas. This should be common sense. What’s not necessarily common sense is why you’ve likely avoided those areas to begin with. If you really want to learn about poker, the opponents you’re facing, and how to become a more well-rounded player, then you need to ask yourself why you’ve avoided those areas of your game to begin with. Typically speaking with most players, it’s because it’s an area of poker that pushes them into an uncomfortable place. The great thing about identifying these areas is they typically aren’t difficult to locate because people know when they are uncomfortable. People spend their whole lives trying to be comfortable, so when something does make us uncomfortable, it’s a very foreign, but powerful feeling state. When you locate an area, probe deep on the WHY’s, and WHAT’s of what is making you uncomfortable, and be honest with yourself. The more honest you are, the more you’re going to grow as a poker player and person.
- Database/hand analysis. If you play online, then database analysis is just a mountain of information waiting to give you clues about weaker areas of your game. The thing is, most people don’t utilize that mountain of great and honest data. Typically because they aren’t sure what to do with it, or are intimidated by the insane amounts of stats and filters that you can create to analyze your game. That’s why I recommend Leak Buster to everyone. Not just because Ace Poker Solutions created it, and it’s amazingly awesome of course… but because it genuinely has helped tens of thousands of poker players analyze and understand their games better. We get e-mails literally every day from players all over the world about how much their games improved w/ Leak Buster, or how it’s simplified their database analysis and made them more focused. However you plan to use this data, don’t ignore it. Do something with it because there’s a ton to be learned here.
- Adequate breaks from poker. If you’re grinding away and putting in a high volume of hands, you need to take breaks and get your mind completely off poker. I know there’s some that have a more obsessive personality than others. And for those who do, you need to make an even greater effort to completely unplug. No matter what your mindset is, make sure you’re doing things that are fun, bring you some pleasure and joy, and allow yourself completely unplug.
We’re in the information age, and because of that data, math, facts, stats, etc… are all shared and discussed that much easier. Because of this, the game of poker has really evolved a lot over the last 7-8 years in particular. In order for you to stay ahead of the new information that’s constantly being analyzed and discussed, you need to make a commitment to finding that balance in your own game and life. When you do, you’ll naturally stay ahead of the information curve because you’ll be at the forefront of it before it’s even discussed.
I hope the above list helps, and I wish you much success in your poker game and in life!
What we’re all about at
We offer the highest EV poker software, and training tools available on the net. These are recommended and used by today’s top poker players from the world. We’ve been doing this since 2009 with the emphasis on offering unique and creative poker software that will help any level of poker player be a more thoughtful and successful player at the table. We’d invite you to check these titles out:
PokerZion – Get Started with PokerZion’s Proven Poker Training for $7! From over 12+ years of playing poker, combined with techniques and tactics used to win over $500k+ in cash games, this the most comprehensive structured learning course on no-limit holdem. And it’s only7$! All lessons include a combination of poker training videos, written and audio modules, quizzes and articles. LEARN MORE.
Leak Buster Software – Leak Buster is a poker software that interfaces with your Holdem Manager or PokerTracker database, and extracts key statistics about your play in order to find your largest poker leaks. Its unique scoring algorithm weighs the impact of your leak against average win-rates. And it suggests ways to correct those leaks through the use of videos (over 50) and written modules. LEARN MORE.
DriveHUD – DriveHUD is a poker database and HUD for your online poker play. It overlays a HUD on your online poker tables, and display vital stats about each opponent on your table. It tracks and records all of the hands that you play online. This allows you to review, re-play, filter, graph and analyze all of the hands you’ve played. So you can improve your poker game. LEARN MORE.
Ace Poker Drills – Ace Poker Drills is a poker training software that gives you a “flash card” style training for Odds and Outs, Equity, and Pre-Flop play. The Pre-Flop trainer will help you to easily recognize which hands to play in different positions. Odds and Outs trainer will get you to quickly calculate your odds and outs in various situations. Equity Trainer will quiz you on equity calculations for different hands. Then you can know your equity in any given scenario. LEARN MORE.