Learn Poker from the Pros: 7 tips to becoming a successful player

Dennis  «Dennis_Stets» 
05 Mar 2024
Holdem Coaching
05 Mar 2024

Before you start playing online poker, there is a certain algorithm of actions that will allow beginners to properly start their career. Studying the basics of poker, combinations, strategy, video lessons, choosing a poker room — all these are key components for the right start.

But there’s no guarantee that a player will be able to apply the knowledge gained in practice. For this there is a faster and more effective way for a beginner — advanced poker training with the help of a professional. From this topic you’ll learn about the pros and cons of such an approach and what’s good in it.

Prelude before you start learn pro poker

At the beginning of your journey, you can choose or combine two things. It is self-learning or studying with a professional player (poker coach). In both cases, first of all you still need to familiarize yourself with the basics and main rules of Texas Hold'em. 

Poker players again are divided into two types in their approach to lessons from trainers. The first is sure: it is impossible to do something without a coach. They tend to think only a good specialist is able to teach the right strategy. Books and video lectures in this case will not help. 

The second category prefers not to spend money on a coach when they can analyze the playing hands, read helpful materials and change the tactics of the game only on their own. Experienced regs agree with «both worlds», but clarify next: a player needs to find the right moment to switch to a coach.

At the early stages of training there’s no point in studying with a teacher. 

Because of the beginner's low level of training, the coach will only be able to describe the basic strategy, bankroll management rules, etc. A lot of useful content can be found for free on the Internet, so the need for a mentor is lost.

For most players who start playing poker at low limits, a coach is not required.

The strategies and nuances described in best poker books and articles will do their best. At the start, the coach will not give the student any special knowledge that he wouldn’t have found on his own.

The advice of the «guru» will be appropriate at mid / high limits. It’s when strong top regs appear at the tables. There's a high possibility that in many situations it will be really hard to get an advantage. In this case, the coach will analyze the student's strategy. He will point out all the mistakes and explain why this or that move is wrong / in what situation it is necessary to act differently. 

Like it or not, the professional teacher will not help people who are sensitive to criticism. In such cases it will be better to study alone.

#1: Basic theory

As we have already mentioned above, you can learn the basics yourself without the help of a professional. You can find all the information you need on the internet, particularly on poker training site and YouTube. Long story short, here’s what you have to do:

  1. The player pays for mandatory bets until the cards are dealt;
  2. When dealt, all participants receive two closed cards each;
  3. The dealer places three cards in the center of the table, face down.

Considering the pocket cards and the open cards, lying in the center of the table, the player can either leave the game or raise the bet. If he folds, he loses the mandatory bet. After that the dealer adds one more card to the three open cards. Only five cards can participate in a winning combination out of two cards in the player's hand and five cards in common on the board.

By evaluating the cards, the poker player can decide whether to play further or leave the game. As we mentioned, after the last dealt card, one or more players, who are in the game, make the most winning combination of seven cards (two pocket cards and five community cards). Then he compares the higher cards of remaining opponents.

The player turns over his pocket cards in order to be able to determine the owner of the strongest hand at the table. The player wins automatically if the opponents have no winning combination. Then the pot automatically goes to the player and the new hand is played out.

As in any game that is new to you, you should start by learning the rules.

Full information about the most widespread direction, Texas Hold'em, can be obtained separately at this link. It won't take much time to learn the basic rules and combinations. As soon as you get the theoretical knowledge, go straight to practice. This will help you understand certain psychological aspects of the game, self-control, bankroll management, etc. Also at the start, check out the next tips.

#2: Strategic aspects

Now a couple of words about strategy — just because it’s equally important. At first it is advisable to try to play with only strong hands. The ability to determine when to fold at the start or to continue playing is one of the main skills of a successful pro poker player. 

You can find a lot of useful information in articles on the theory of starting hands, but you can «acquire» this skill only after many years of practice. In order not to overload your head with unnecessary information, let's mention the basic criteria for starting hands strategy:

  1. Study popular pocket card combinations to make strong and winning hands;
  2. Act carefully and do not make hasty decisions — this is called the tight style of play;
  3. Don’t hesitate to fold hands that have no future prospects. Statistics show that pros play their starting hands 20-30% of the time.

It’s extremely important to be able to assess the situation at the table. Many opponents, especially beginners, make a number of mistakes. For example, one of the most common leaks is all-in preflop. Here, an aggressive player who is in late position will make a huge bet (overbet), while the opponents will make several bets, hoping that some of them will make a fold and open up a chance to take at least a small pot.

Controlling the situation is the right way to increase your bankroll.

During the game you are increasingly finding complex and confusing actions from your opponents negatively affecting your bankroll, and change tables as soon as possible. Good news is that in online poker this will take a minute a day (table select).

Very often at the table you can meet poker sharks — MTT regulars, who get profit at the expense of weak players (fish). Watch them — it’s better for you to make a so-called black list. There will always be someone who will play better than you. Anyways, if you constantly improve your skill / level of play, you will meet such opponents much less often.

We recommend starting with micro or low limits at chosen poker rooms.

#3: Search for additional materials

Live and learn! This saying is perfect if you are looking for a place to study how to play poker. So here's a short list of ways to raise your skills — of course, by yourself:

  • Follow the streams of famous personalities on Twitch / YouTube.
  • Read articles on the internet: poker school, strategy, etc.
  • Enroll in training lessons (paid or free poker course).
  • Tighten up your English level.
  • Watch poker videos.

#4: Get poker software

As soon as you feel that you have moved to a higher level, as evidenced by your earnings, you can start using various kinds of poker software. For the convenience of collecting and analyzing statistics, using poker calculators, monitoring the progress of the game, as well as scanning poker tables, there is a whole range of useful tools.

We recommend paying attention to the following software:

Don't forget that most of the mentioned software is paid, but as in the case with many programs, the developers give you a free trial version. How cool is that?

Top-10 poker software in 2024

#5: Analyze your game

As in chess or any intellectual game, analysis of made mistakes is the most effective method of working and improving on your game. You can do this either on your own or by using the special software we talked about a few seconds earlier. 

For example, gathering statistics for the past week: how many hands you played and how many of them you won (winrate), the total time amount of poker sessions, whether your style is aggressive or more tight. After those steps you can draw parallels with the stats of more successful regulars. All of these recommendations apply to different limits — from low and up.

If you play micro limits for money or for free, then you will be able to play and win against a predominantly weak field without any poker software. Nevertheless, no one has canceled the individual analysis.

In total, we recommend allocating about 50% of your playing time to analysis + discipline / self-development. 

Analyze the most difficult hands, post them on specialized forums and discuss with other players. Also work on psychology, learn to control your emotions and improve your overall understanding of the game.

#6: Search for coach & like-minded people

Unlike offline poker, its online version repeatedly has problems with socialization. Obviously, this is due to the frequent time spent in front of the computer. You can solve this aspect through:

  1. Socializing on poker forums and sites.
  2. Correspondence in social networks.
  3. Video conferencing in chat rooms.

The presence of nice interlocutors increases not only the emotional state, but also the skill. In addition, learning through this type of communication will be much faster and more effective than reading the same training articles and other material on your own.

Definitely your like-minded person can become a poker coach. But even this should be approached with the utmost responsibility. Avoid teachers who tell you how to act, but do not explain why you should choose this particular move (in a particular hand). Otherwise you will not understand the meaning of the studied strategy, and just memorize the sequence of actions. Ask on poker forums about the structure of the lessons of the chosen mentor.

Do not judge the level of material by the price per hour of training.

Many good teachers charge inexpensively for useful advice, while others put a huge price tag for nothing. Also before choosing a trainer, think about what kind of lessons you need. Is it to break down strategy, ask for advice on a certain limit or format, or analyzing hands? Many players hire coaches just for one lesson, which is enough for them to analyze hands on their own. Of course, this is not enough.

#7: More & more practice

A teacher cannot replace the experience of playing online poker. It’s impossible to become a strong poker pro without practice. Therefore, lessons should not be too frequent, taking away time from practice. For a strong mid-limit grinder, one practice session per week is enough to improve the level of play. For poker sharks, who are satisfied with the strategy, but want to be aware of new moves and traps of their opponents, two or three lessons a year will be more than enough.

Most coaches describe how the future lesson will go.

But if he or she doesn't tell you the plan, find five controversial hands that you want to show the teacher. This way you will be prepared for the lesson and have something to discuss.

You don't have to stop at one coach. With several teachers, you can see poker from different angles. If one «guru» specializes in SnG, poker tournaments, and another teaches high limits cash game classes, you don't need to go to only one of them. But don't surround yourself with teachers either — sometimes it’s much better to be on your own.

When an individual works on improving his poker game, he blames only himself for strategy mistakes. A lost session is a reason to reconsider complex hands and attitude to profitable moves.

Many players who choose poker training with the help of a coach think that lessons are a panacea for all ills. During the upstreak, they are only convinced that the teacher described the right strategy, which does not need to change. But when downswing comes, the poker player doesn't even think about reconsidering the usefulness of the lessons. Instead, he looks for mistakes among the correct actions, and the downswing is prolonged.

Conclusion: Why you should learn poker from the pros

Choosing an approach to learn poker from the pros can be the right and only solution for beginner or advanced players. But in poker there is only one indicator of skill — high ROI / rising charts. But it is impossible to show only a stable plus game for the whole career of a poker player. Sometimes the graph will fail and rise sharply. In poker short-term jumps are called upstreaks / downswings.

A player, who began to lead sharply after changing the strategy on the advice of the coach, may think: he has become a strong opponent at the table. The same danger lies in training books and articles. When the upstreak ends and a series of losses begins, the poker player continues to believe in the absolute truthfulness of the new material.

Students who believe in trainers can be harmed by lessons — in case they do not treat upstreaks critically and are not able to revise a previously winning strategy. The opposite is also true: there is no need to blame the teacher for failures if a downstreak occurs after applying his advice. The best way out is to follow the coach's recommendations without stopping to analyze the hands by yourself. You look for a one? Check the newest list of best tutors on Getcoach platform. But always remember: only you can make it to the top in 2024 and start to play poker like a pro!

There are no comments here yet, you can be the first!