Three Vital Keys To Success In Poker
By Jim Grass
I came into the game back in '99, at 51 years of age. Having never played poker, and after watching the movie Rounders, I realized I had to do much more than I had ever dreamed of to comprehend all the facets of this very complex game. Yet through it all, I realized that acquiring knowledge, a "feel," as well as exercising solid judgement, would propel me toward reaching my goals much more quickly.
Many say the key to success in this game is discipline, but I for one disagree most adamantly. This should prove itself as we go along. Discipline arises from the solid foundation of the key elements I am about to discuss, due to the fact that you raise your awareness immensely. The three vital points for success as you aspire to climb the ranks are these:
1) The State of Solid Poker Knowledge
This is acquired through deep study of the best literature available and inquiring as to the "whys" and "whens" and "hows" of such concepts, strategies and or tactics.
Having quality knowledgeable players to fall back on is one major advantage over most players when you're in doubt; it's such a valuable asset. Read the forums, ask questions, and above all else find out who the better players are in the forum for your given type of poker. As well, go back to your books and see if there are related topics.
By thorough comprehension of position, odds, betting, raising, semi-bluffing, etc., you put yourself above the "seat-of-his-pants" middle limit player. They get by much more on gut and experience than intelligent analysis and maximizing or minimizing a given situation.
There's much debate as to the percentage of high level players out there, and I must agree with the experts that the percentage is quite low, which favours those with the arsenal to conquer. I believe once you get beyond the 20-40 level you'll be in against the very good thinkers in the game today.
Good poker skills make the basic decisions easier and simpler with greater end results at the close of the session, week, month or year. In any situation you will have greater confidence and discipline in how to deal with all circumstances.
I actually sit down with my books, chips and a deck of cards to role-play an example given in the book so that it's reinforced in in my memory. Additionally, I have a huge marker board on one wall that I use when I read to jot down key points and then dissect them all into memory.
Finally I use a tape player to record key points for reinforcement and play them when I`m at work, walking or during any leisure activity.
Reading is for me not the best tool to become an improved player. For me, visual aids increase my comprehension.
No one should fear the poker literature out today for improving the game beyond positive returns for your play. Quite frankly, many of these very books that propel one to excel sit and collect dust on most bookshelves. They usually don't put enough focus into the study of said material. This is good for us solid, studious players.
2 ) Exercising Good, Consistent Judgement in your Poker Decisions
Your quality of play involves solid judgement. All the knowledge in the world is nothing without sound judgement. Being the most disciplined and knowledgeable player alive doesn't compensate for poor judgement. Experience is the absolute route to winning play through constant decision making in the heat of battle.
You're at the river and between two players holding the nuts. You know the guy ahead is a calling station and the player behind is super aggressive. But you don't want to lose the first guy cause you`ll gain extra bets if he checks, which is certain. Then you check as well and then when the aggressive player bets and the first guy calls you pop the pot. Now you`ve gained extra bets rather than 2 if you had bet and the aggressor raised, making the first player fold.
As you see, every step is thought out and a strategy and or tactic utilized that optimizes my win, depending on the situation I am facing. There were and are many steps that went into the decision and without knowledge and sound judgement, I could likely have missed bets. We all know that all plays are not agreed upon by everyone. But you make each decision on review to the best of your ability and that's the key.
3) Fine Tuning your Feel
Absolutely every great player must excel in this category. This is one of the most vital keys that make great players rise above the good players. It's that sense of knowing even though your're getting humongous pot odds and you've got one bet to call, and you're sitting there with the nut flush and get raised on the end in stud and you're getting 20-1 on your call. The better player knows innately he's beat by the full house.
The best players in the world fold without hesitation when they feel they`re beat. That one last bet to call is one saved earned bet that accumulates into hundreds of dollars -- even thousands over the years.
Even players with many years under their belt haven`t developed their feel. I believe it's a focus issue. Awareness is subject to being focused and or sensitive to a situation. So work on your card sense and you`ll have a solid, well-rounded poker arsenal. I also wish to state that in my opinion short games offer the ideal situation to develop feel and or card sense.
So there you have it in a nutshell. For those aspiring players, I think this will prove most insightful:
Remember to analyse after each session where you went right, as well as wrong, and WHY.
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