I think you’d agree – Texas Hold ‘em poker has a steep learning curve. You’d probably also agree that poker players can easily spend years gaining the kind of experience it takes to be consistently profitable.

What if I told you this wasn’t true?

It turns out even total newcomers to Texas Hold ‘em can learn to increase their profits by following seven simple pieces of advice.

In this post, I’ll outline each of the seven tactics you can use to make more money playing Texas Hold ‘em.

1. Grind at Microstakes Tables

Beating the loose competition in microstakes games is a solid strategy for newcomers to Texas Hold ‘em. Not only do you have a chance to build your bankroll, you’ll get a ton of experience because you’ll play in a lot of hands. Microstakes tables give you the chance to play as loose or tight as you want, try out new strategies, and grind out winning tactics without too much money on the line.

2. Read Poker Books

You can’t get better at anything without doing your homework. For some people, this means practicing, using trainers, downloading software, etc. Those tactics are all well and good, but so much solid strategic content is tucked away in books, you simply have to do some reading if you want to win more money at Texas Hold ‘em.

A short-list of must-own Texas Hold ‘em books follows. Dozens of good books on the subject exist; these are three that I turn to time and again when I want to step up my game.

  • Theory of Poker – To serious poker players, this text is a masterpiece and an indispensable strategic guide rolled in one. For its huge influence, the text David Sklansky gave the world is short and to the point, just 276 pages that contain every fundamental of the game necessary to become a better player. The subtitle, “How to Think Like a Professional Poker Player,” is not really an exaggeration. If you haven’t read this book, you don’t take the game seriously enough.
  • Harrington on Hold ’em – Dan Harrington’s text is currently the best-selling book about poker in history. Harrington was the 1995 WSOP Main Event champion, and he released his book in the mid-2000s when poker was a buzz-word. Harrington worked with a chess grand master and game theorist named Bill Robertie on this book, and the hard mathematic details contains are a big reason I love this book so much.
  • Super/System: A Course in Power Poker – Doyle Brunson’s 1978 tell-all (with the alternate title of How I Won One Million Dollars Playing Poker) is a true classic of the genre. It may not be an accident that the hardcover version of Super/System looks like the family Bible. The book is 600 pages full of all of Brunson’s top poker knowledge. Part strategy book, part narrative about the old days of poker, and part encyclopedia (featuring entries by Chip Reese, Mike Caro, and David Sklansky, among others), Super/System was twenty years ahead of its time, and is still my favorite primer on poker for newcomers.

3. Take Advantage of the Differences between Live and Online Texas Hold ‘em Games

Your strategy for online and live games should be very different.

Find ways in which the games are different and use the online game’s differences to form a strategic attack. In my opinion, the most important difference (strategically) between online and live poker is the shorter session length.

The fact that players move in and out of games really rapidly online is something you can exploit easily. The other guys at the table that move in and out of games all the time are at a disadvantage because they don’t have time to evaluate how you’re playing. Take advantage of that by playing less-deceptively when these frenetic players are around.

You’ll notice that it’s not necessary to switch up your play style when you play online. Live games require a less-straightforward approach. The best newcomers to Texas Hold ‘em start out by playing straightforward, tight poker in order to take advantage of the differences between the online and live game.

4. Learn to Manage Tilt

Tilt is over-aggressive, thoughtless play usually caused by the player’s emotions. Lots of things can cause tilt, from trouble at work, relationship problems, or even environmental factors, like how cold the room in which you’re playing is. Preventing tilt is an important skill if you plan on becoming more profitable. The main danger with tilt is that you’ll blow your bankroll on a stupid decision.

How do you manage tilt? First you have to understand what causes you to experience tilt, then identify triggers that can tilt you off your game, and put a plan in place to react calmly in the presence of those triggers.

5. Start Tracking Your Win Rate

Win rate is defined as the amount of cash you win over a set amount of hours. Thanks to the rise in popularity of poker tracking software, win rate is easier than ever to track.

Why is it important to know your win rate?

Any time you’re tracking your overall performance, you have the opportunity to make improvements.

Let’s say you’ve been playing at $1/$2 tables but you want to make a switch to $2/$4. By tracking your win rate consistently, you can see how the switch to higher stakes affected your profits. The same goes for any comparison – you can track your win rate at Texas Hold ‘em versus, say, Omaha to decide which game you should focus on in order to make more money at the tables.

6. Manage Your Bankroll

Protecting your bankroll might be the most important step on this list. Managing a bankroll means being responsible about your poker play.

Good bankroll management will protect your money from the variance you’ll no doubt experience during your time at the poker tables. Bankroll management is a kind of buffer against bad luck streaks.

Managing your money becomes even more important as you take on a more aggressive strategy. Some poker games allow for even more variance – I’m thinking specifically of multi-table tournaments and 6-max games here.

There is no magic potion against variance in Texas Hold ‘em besides proper bankroll management. Learn to manage your money, and you’ll protect your winnings from the ups and downs every poker player experiences.

7. Learn to Multi-Table in Online Games

Online Texas Hold ‘em games give players the option of playing at multiple tables at the same time. In fact, the only limitations to the number of tables you can play are your stamina and the strength of your Internet connection.

Remember our first tip about grinding in microstakes games? It shouldn’t take much work to get good enough to consistently win money against the loose players in 10c/25c games. But it’s hard to make much money at that rate … or is it?

Instead of playing at a single 10c/25c game, learn to play at five, ten, twenty, or whatever number of tables you can stomach. Combining an ability to multi-table with the ability to consistently win pots in microstakes games is a powerful way to increase your poker income without much of a time or brain investment.

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