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Advice for Playing Poker for a Living

Poker is a lot of fun, and it’s never been more accessible, but when it comes to making a living you’ll be up against a lot of competition. Here are some top tips to help give you the edge.

Keep it Simple

It can be tempting to overdo things in poker, whether that’s bluffing or double-guessing what others might be playing at. Bluffing all the time means that if you get called then you are practically guaranteed to lose (and you will get called, because nobody gets good hands all night long). Similarly, if you have a good hand then raise. This might sound obvious, but overthinking can lead players to avoid this. After all, if people fold you still win the pot, but if they call (and your hand is as good as you think) then you get even more. While poker is complicated as a game, the actual number of player choices are simply to fold, call, or raise. Don’t overthink things.

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Poker’s an alluring draw and has been for centuries, precisely because of the combination of psychological strength and sharp mathematical grasp required to be really successful. You should never play poker when you aren’t mentally switched on 100%. But if you want a more relaxing casino experience then check out the largest database of no deposit casinos which offer great promotions that require no deposit at all. These free spins or free cash bonuses are highly sought after because they reduce the potential outcomes from betting to winning real cash and losing nothing at all. There is usually a withdrawal cap that limits the maximum potential win, but no deposit promos are nevertheless a fantastic deal for players.

Mix It Up

Whether you love to bluff or loathe it, do not be entirely consistent in your approach. Vary things. Players will notice if you always fold and, when called, always have a good or at least passable hand. What this means is that when you do have a great hand you’ll end up making a pittance because every other player will fold, reducing your winnings. Don’t go crazy with this, bluffing constantly with rubbish hands is obviously a route to losing a lot, but avoid becoming predictable. There always has to be at least some doubt as to whether you’re bluffing or not because that will hook players in to see you when they should fold.

Offline and Online Differences

Playing online has made poker more accessible than ever before, for recreational players as well as those aspiring to play the game on a professional basis. While the basics of the game are the same, the differences to playing in the real world are substantial, and if you’re shifting to online play it’s as well to be aware of these from the start and to take things slowly. The absence of background noise and real world atmosphere can be off-putting for some, while it helps others to concentrate.

One of the most obvious differences is the lack of physical presence which also means identifying and assessing body language for tells is impossible (this may change in the future with VR technology). If you’re a player who can’t help but smile with good cards then this is no bad thing, but if you have a sharp eye for psychological tics then moving online will remove this advantage.

Leading on from the lack of physical presence is the much larger pool of potential players, as a table can have individuals scattered across the globe. This means competition at the sharp end can be very tough indeed. It’s advisable to start with the smallest of stakes early on, and, if you decide the online world isn’t for you, that’s ok. Whether real world or online gaming suits you better is entirely subjective, so don’t be afraid to play both, or just the one.

Keep a Tight Rein on your Bankroll

Films just love the poker tournament where players go all in, which can lead to the misconception that this is standard practice and a good idea. Most of the time, it is not. In any given game restricting your potential loss to around 5% of your bankroll is a good idea (there can be exceptions, of course, most obviously when you have the best possible hand and someone else with a very good but inferior hand keeps raising).

Also, keep in mind that purple patches and dry spells are bound to happen and that luck is not some mystical goddess dispensing favors but simply down to chance. Keep a sense of financial discipline, and don’t be discouraged if you get some rough luck because you will also enjoy the rub of the green at times.

And, of course, only ever bet what you can afford to lose.

Don’t Play when Compromised

Because poker is reliant on both a steady head for the odds and psychological balance it’s a very bad idea to try playing it when your head is not in the right space. This can be due to intoxication, of course, (drunks are not renowned for their splendid judgment) but also emotional distress. And the same applies on the other side of the fence. If you’re in a great mood (or even manic) then this can also distort your perception and make you play terribly. On a more mundane level, being very tired can have a dramatic and negative impact on your playing ability. Being disciplined in poker is not just about having the stomach to fold, or the guts to call someone when it’s tempting (but illogical) to back down, it’s also about not playing on those occasions when you are not in the mental shape to do so.

Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover

There are many big-name players in the world, and in your local area (assuming you like to play in person) you will start to recognize faces and which players are more talented. However, sometimes minnows can defeat the big fish (which is inspiring for those yet to feature regularly at top tables). This also means you should not discount or underestimate a player simply because they’re an unknown in a sea of famous faces. The prime example of this is Yorkshire caravan salesman John Hesp who normally plays for £10 a time but went to Las Vegas once and came back with $2.6m.

There are plenty of upsides to playing poker for a living but the most important thing is to keep a level head. Don’t get carried away if things are going well, or despondent if you encounter some bad luck.

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