Saturday, November 05, 2005

7 Steps to Being a Better Poker Player

...and possibly a better all-around person. Of course we make no money-back guarantees, but take this general advice from someone who's been there-done that and regretted a lot of it. So, in the fashion of every book on the shelf of Borders and Barnes with Nobles all around the country, here is a very basic list of the top 7 things I believe are essential to "making it" at poker, while at the same time holding onto your bowels.

#7 - Play within your budget

'Duh' you say? 'No shit, Sherlock' I here. But it's easier to say that you need to play within your budget than to, say, actually DO IT. The standard circulating around for limit poker play used to be 300 big bets. Well that was in the old days when men were men, players carried Colt .45s everywhere, and you could only sit at one table at a time. For today's internetphile, playing online can mean multitabling 2, 4, even 8 tables at once if not more. Obviously, you're going to need a bigger bankroll to be able to play so many tables, as well as have the funds to back up any downswings you are bound to incur. People now recommend 500 big bets as a good bubble, and I would tend to agree. For No Limit the general rule is 20-25 buy-ins, but obviously if you multi-table I would think 35-40 would be better. Use your own judgement. Playing in tournaments, you'll need to double the amount of buy-ins (if you play routinely at the same level) to be able to stave off the inevitable cold streak that's bound to plague you. That's just the way the game works, and you HAVE to be ready for it to happen because it happens to everyone.

The real underlying meaning behind playing within your budget is the cornerstone of what they tell anyone foolish enough to gamble (and poker is gambling, no matter what you want to believe); you must be psychologically and financially willing to lose what you are playing with. That means boys and girls, don't take out a home equity line of credit to play in the $1000 NL Hold em Game or that great $300/600 game with the one armed man and the guy who wears an eyepatch. Sure, it may be the softest game this side of John Kerry's forehead, but you simply CANNOT afford to play in that game because you cannot afford to LOSE in that game. And you will likely lose, don't even dilute yourself into thinking your going to go on a great run and be up $15,000 4 hours from now. More than likely you'll be only slightly ahead, if not breaking even or holding your head over a toilet. If you like to fantasize about dellusions of grandeur, buy a lotto ticket and a box of magnums.

Now if you want to take a shot at the $10,000 World Series Main event, have some fun, and consider $10,000 the price for great entertainment and thrilling competition with some of the world's best, then thats the attitude you need to have, and I wish you good luck. If you cannot afford to not cash, you shouldn't be playing, plain and simple. People don't need to be told that, but somehow they forget that they can't really afford to play in the $10/$20 Limit HL game. Do you have $6000 purely disposable? If not, scale down big boy.

Now, this message is not meant to deter people from taking shots at higher stakes and bigger games. By all means, the higher the level the tougher the challenge and the bigger the rewards. But you must be READY to accept the consequence of your actions. It was a hard lesson I had to learn, flushing nearly all of the $8000 I had made in a couple of days, playing above my head, both financially and skill-wise. The poker gods were not to blame, my snoring roommate was not to blame, my blurry vision wasn't to blame. I was, and Party Poker was not going to bring my money back because I made a mistake.

For every person who took a big risk and made it (i.e. Johnny Chan), there are countless others who were just a little less skilled and just a little less lucky who wound up in the red (i.e. your neighbor, your mail man, and the waiter who just creamed your cream of mushroom). They either swore off poker because of it or ruined their lives trying to "get even". Don't gamble with what you can't afford to lose.

Next time --> Oh Come on, Just Admit it


At 3:49 AM, Anonymous Gaming Software said...

I agree we have to make a budget or limitation to the money you will spend in playing after all its gambling - strategies, luck, taking risks!


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