I used to lose a lot of money playing poker. Finally, I had had enough, got serious and took the steps necessary to become a better player. Here are the 12 steps I took to become a better than average poker player.
1. Admit that you are not as good as you think you are. Also admit that poker is a form of gambling. The latter is much easier to admit than the former, but both are important facts to face.
2. STOP watching poker on T.V. They rarely layout the entire scenario therefore you are not really learning anything useful most of the time. Besides, the pros know a lot more about what they are doing than you do, and unless they stop tape and explain their reasoning behind every move, you cannot obtain a clear enough picture to learn anything.
3. Read Slanskyís book on low stakes limit holdem and Harringtonís books on tournament play. Super-system is better than nothing, but these other books will change your game for the better if you apply their principles.
4. Start a bankroll and learn how to manage it. Tell yourself that if you get rolled youíre done with poker for x amount of time and be disciplined enough to follow your own rules.
6. Learn patience. If you have to fold for a half hour so be it. If folding is correct in a given situation then you must fold even if itís the 20th time in a row you had to do so.
7. Never put more than 10% of your bankroll at risk at one time. This means playing micro stakes if need be.
8. Playing lower stakes does not mean playing more loose or widening your range of hand requirements. If you put $10 down at a $.05/$.10 game then play the same as if you put $10,000 down at a $50/$100 table. If you are thinking correctly in terms of your bankroll, this should not be a problem.
9. Know when to walk away. Set a stop loss before you ever sit down. If you lose x amount itís time to go. Also, if the table suddenly shifts and everybody is playing pretty solid itís time to go. This is especially true if you are up. The prior table conditions are likely a large part of your success. If you just have to stay then at least sit out for bit and take a breather. Get in the right mindset for tougher opposition.
10. In live play (not online I mean), donít be a cocky jerk. Spend more time studying your opponents and less time shuffling chips and talking about your latest big cash in a tournament. Do you really want respect? I always fumble my chips and ask the dealer questions like, ďSo how much can I bet here?0Ē If I win I act embarrassed or say, ďyes!Ē to myself like itís the first pot I ever won. Laugh if you want, but when youíre sitting across from me with top/top and put me on top/week kicker instead of the set Iím about to break you with, who gets to laugh now?
11. Never criticize someone for making a bad call and beating you. In fact let him/her believe that he/she just outplayed you badly. It would be like owning a store and chastising your customer for buying way too much stuff they donít need. You are taking money out of your pocket by teaching them how to be more thrifty. You want them to continue playing badly because that bad call made 100 times pays you big.
12. Study your hand history. Chart it out and see where you are losing the most money. Fix it. This sounds tedious because it is, but if you want to maximize your earning potential, youíll do it.
Hope this helps somebody. I still struggle to barely break even, but I cash more and more frequently and have more winning sessions than ever. Maybe I'm way off and I just got llucky, but this is how I got better.