The only way to get better at poker is through study, work, and practice.
See if you can answer these 5 insanely difficult poker questions to see where you need to improve your knowledge.
Not all of them have 100% correct answers, but each of them should help you start thinking about poker problems that can help you improve your game.
1 – What Starting Hands Should You Play?
Starting hand selection is one of the toughest things poker players need to learn.
In every position except the blinds pick the top 10 to 20% of the hands and don’t play other hands.
From early position start at 10% and move up to 20% as you go around the table to late position.
2 – How Many Outs Do You Have?
In order to determine how many outs you have you need to make an accurate guess about what your opponent is holding.
If you’re holding an ace and a jack, each of hearts and the board has two hearts and all three cards below a jack how many cards can win the hand for you?
Any of the nine remaining hearts will probably win the hand. Will the three remaining aces help you win? What about the three remaining jacks? Is it possible you have the best hand already?
It’s almost impossible to correctly guess what your opponent holds, but you can often put her on a range of hands.
In this example I’d usually assume I’m behind on the hand and that any of the nine flush cards or three aces would put me ahead. I realize that sometimes a jack would help me and sometimes an ace won’t, so I average them out. Nine plus three gives me 12 outs on the turn and 12 on the river if the turn doesn’t change anything.
Once you know how many outs you have you can make better decisions about calling and betting.
3 – How Big Does Your Bankroll Need To Be To Play $50 Buy In Sit N Go Tournaments?
Bankroll management is always a tough question because different players have different tolerances for risk and different winning percentages.
If you’re not a winning poker player the size of your bankroll doesn’t matter. It won’t be enough.
When you start winning on a consistent basis you can develop an idea of how big your bankroll should be to play at each level.
Using the example in the heading, a good rule of thumb for winning players is 20 times the buy in. You’d need a $1,000 bankroll to play $50 buy in sit n go’s.
In all honesty, most winning single table tournament players only need somewhere around 10 times the buy in to handle swings, but 20 times makes a more comfortable cushion.
4 – Should You Try To Hit A Set?
When you’re playing no limit Texas Hold ‘em one of the challenges is trying to figure out how to play medium and small pocket pairs. You hit a set on the flop roughly one out of every eight times, but occasionally when you hit a set you don’t end up winning the hand.
The good news is when you hit a set it’s usually camouflaged so your opponent has a hard time putting you on a hand.
Usually the question you have to ask is if you think you can get at least eight times the amount of money you have to put in before the flop when you hit your set. When you limp in it can be difficult to build the pot after the flop unless an opponent hits a decent hand also.
The best opportunities are when an aggressive opponent raises before the flop and both you and she have deep stacks. The odds of getting a large win when you hit a set are better.
Another question you have to ask is if you can get away from the hand when you don’t hit a set?
Here’s an example:
An early position player raises and you call from late position with a pair of nines. The flop comes eight, seven, two and your opponent bets.
You have an over pair but the odds of it being good are small. The only hands from early position that you beat at this point are hands like ace king and ace queen. Even against those two hands you have a decent chance of being drawn out on. And you’re probably dominated by a higher pair.
If you can’t lay hands like this down you shouldn’t play them in the first place.
5 – What Does It Take to Be a Winning Poker Player?
This is the hardest question you’ll ever have to answer as a poker player.
It takes such a wide range of skills in combination with the proper mental abilities that many players never get to a point where they can break even; much less actually start making a consistent profit.
Here’s a list of some of the most important things it takes to be a winning poker player:
- Patience – Winning poker players can go hours between winning big pots, but they understand if they remain patient big opportunities will come up.
- Position – A winning poker player has a complete understanding of position and knows how to use it to her advantage in every situation.
- Practice – You must practice all the time and learn from your mistakes.
- Concentrate on what matters – It’s important to focus on making the best play, not on the outcome. If you always make the best play the outcome will take care of itself in the long run.
- Table selection – The more games you can play with poker players who aren’t as good as you the more money you’ll win.
- Don’t over play your bankroll – If you lose your bankroll you won’t be able to play in favorable situations. Always protect it and only risk a small amount in any single game or tournament.
Poker is a challenging game to play well enough to turn a long term profit. A good place to start is understanding the answers to the five questions above. It’s important to think about the game in ways that help you get better. This list should get the wheels turning in your brain and hopefully start you on the correct path to a winning future.