Do you have an edge over your opponents? It takes more than that. In order to win over time, you don’t just have to play better than your opponent’s; you have to have an edge large enough to cover your playing costs too. The house rake and tokes significantly cuts into your win.
Generally speaking, the smaller the game, the higher the costs in edge terms, so you need a larger overall edge to beat the game. Let’s define some of the basics you need to learn to put you on the right path to winning at poker.
It’s of foremost importance to play in games with inferior opponents. Be realistic! Most players put themselves further ahead of the pack than they truly are. Plus, they devalue their opponents’ game more than they should. If you’re playing in a small to medium size game with standard playing costs, it takes a significant edge percentage to overcome your costs. So, just being slightly better isn’t enough. You need to be a lot better.
You’ll need to know poker odds. How hands fair against each other and against ranges. There are many computer programs available that provide this nature of information. Doug Hull’s Poker Workbook for Math Geeks is a good learning tool and I use Flopzilla for a range analysis computer program, though there are many others out there. Anyone with reasonable math skills can learn poker math basics.
You need to be more strategically skilled than your competition. Some players quantify this simply by having stronger hand selection than their opponents. But, it’s MUCH more than that. A weaker hand than your opponent, played well, will often have better value than a poorly played stronger hand. Getting the right value out of your holding is of great importance. This requires a lot of knowledge and it’s a never-ending learning path. The good news is there are many good books and videos available. Sklansky’s No-Limit Hold’em; Theory and Practice is a good foundation read and the RunItOnce.com website is a treasure trough of information. Study them.
You need to develop superior hand-reading skills. That way you’ll have a better feel for whether you’re ahead or behind, be able to assess your value of aggression, bet-size correctly, fold accurately, bluff correctly, etc. This skill is developed by creating a systemic thought train and focusing on what’s going on around you. Compartmentalize and categorize. Don’t over-think. Keep it simple until your habituate your thought process; then grow it from there.
Do this, and you’ll develop a competitive advantage. And when you’ve got that, the chips will roll your way!