How to be a winning poker player

10 tips for long-term profitability

winning poker player


Implementing any single one of these techniques will improve your play and profitability, implement about half of them and you will be ahead of 99% of poker players. Implement all of them and you will make a long-term, consistent profit as a winning poker player!

Play, analyze, study, repeat

Play, analyze, study, repeat is the essential grind you must undertake for thousands of hours over multiple years in order to become a winning poker player.

There are no shortcuts, you have to have discipline and put in the work. The work is to play a lot of poker, analyze your own and your opponent’s hand histories, and study poker. That is how to improve your profitability.

For analysis of online play use poker tracking software. For analysis of the live play, you have to diligently keep your own records with detailed notes.

For study; read poker books, listen to poker podcasts, participate in poker forums, watch poker training videos and discuss poker with high-level players in real life and online.

Be process-oriented, not results-oriented

Variance is a beast. In the short term, you can do everything right, play optimally, get unlucky and lose. You can also donk it up and win. However in the long run doing everything right and playing well will result in profit and donking will result in loss.

To develop and follow a process that will allow you to play well. Do not concentrate on short-term results.

Manage your bankroll

Keep your poker roll separate from your life roll.

Play at small enough stakes that your bankroll can withstand long downswings. For online poker, this is roughly

  • Heads up and sit & goes: 40 buyins.
  • Cash games: 100 buyins.
  • Multi-table tournaments: 150 buyins.

Slightly less for live poker because results tend to be more consistent with less variance in live poker compared to online poker.

Remove emotion

Don’t play on tilt. In fact, limit all on-table emotions. If you get sucked out of the bubble or finish 2nd or whatever frustrating spot you find yourself in on the table, don’t make it emotional, don’t have an emotional response.

With variance, all those things will happen to all poker players. What you can do is analyse your play and study poker to make those things happen less often (but they will never be eliminated entirely).

Optimize game and table selection

To improve your game you should challenge yourself by playing hard tables sometimes.

However, when it comes to maximizing your profitability as a working professional, you need to make the effort to find the easiest games possible with stake sizes that match your bankroll.

Try all poker variants, not just Texas Holdem

Even if you mostly want to be a Holdem pro; learning other poker games will improve your play in general, deepen your understanding of poker, widen your earning potential and add more fun and variety to your work.

You will be better at some poker variants than others, you don’t know which variants you are better at until you try them.

The decision of which variants to try partly depends on which games have enough liquidity where you play, but you should be looking at

  • Hold’em: No limit, fixed limit and pot limit.
  • Pot limit Omaha: High/low, 5 card and 5 card high/low.
  • Stud: Fixed limit.
  • Chinese: Pot limit.
  • Draw: Fixed limit.
  • Short Deck: No limit.
  • Mixed: HORSE, 8-Game, 11-Game and Lowball.

Try live and online poker

You will either be better at live poker or online poker, you don’t know which you are better at until you try both.

In any case, if you want to be an online poker pro then live poker will improve your online play. Likewise, if you want to be a live poker pro then online poker will improve your live play. At least try both.

Try Heads up displays

Heads up displays (HUDs) are software that shows you and your opponents’ playing stats on the poker table. For example, this allows you to quickly see how aggressive or conservative opponents are without having to remember all their previous hands.

The vast majority of winning online poker players use HUDs and they are bundled together with the best poker tracking software.

Try poker coaches

Most winning poker players use or have used coaches, you should at least try getting coached if you are serious about improving your play.

Be mentally and physically healthy

Better mental and physical health will result in better poker performance. Worse mental and physical health will result in worse poker performance. That means mental and physical health are important to your poker career.

  • Take breaks often; don’t grind so hard you burn out.
  • Don’t abuse substances.
  • Create and maintain deep and healthy relationships with people in real life.
  • Eat well and exercise.

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