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Fedor Holz Gives You Eight Tips to Become a Better Poker Player

Fedor Holz
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  • Fedor Holz shares eight tips to help poker players improve their games.

  • Fedor Holz with useful poker advice about bankroll, taking breaks, checking your ego, and more.

Fedor Holz is, without a doubt, one of the best poker players in the world. While he isn't as active as he once was, he's still regarded by his peers as pretty close to the perfect poker player.

Holz recently had the people of Skrill over to his apartment in Vienna in order to talk with them about his poker life while also discussing some of the positives of the online money processor. Along the way, Holz offered some worthwhile tips for upcoming poker players, and after having a chance to read the full transcript we've distilled the best tips below. If you want to see the whole video, visit skrill.com/poker.

1. Surround Yourself With Others

Calling poker a sport is stretching it for some, although some do like to categorize it under the heading of "mind sports." Whatever your opinion is, you'll have a hard time finding many people describe poker as a team sport. In most cases, poker is you against the world. You're the one who has to make decisions at the tables, and you're also the one responsible for dealing with the outcomes.

"There are a lot of people that are better at specific things than I am. And I just want to learn from all of them."

Still, Holz points out how in poker it is important to surround yourself with others, and not just for the social interaction. Holz believes doing so is crucial to becoming a better player.

"My advice for someone just starting to play poker would be to try to get out there and find people that are like-minded; in a similar spot, maybe a little better than you," says Holz.

Holz is the highest on the German all-time money list. But there are a lot more bright minds there, and he knows them all. And while they benefit from his extensive knowledge, he benefits from them tremendously as well. "There are a lot of people that are better at specific things than I am," he says, "and I just want to learn from all of them."

"My close friends, my poker friends, my network; they have been of so much help to me," Holz continues. "Some of the things I've learned from them over the years have been so valuable I can't even go into detail. It's just been really a very mutually beneficial relationship, and I think we're all very grateful that we met and connected in such an intense way."

Fedor Holz Gives You Eight Tips to Become a Better Poker Player 101
Fedor Holz and friends

2. Become a Better Loser

Poker is a game of variance. If you do everything wrong, you can still win. But the reverse is just as true — you can do everything right and still lose. If you play hundreds of hands well, you hopefully win more money than you lose. But losing is part of the game, and even the game's greatest players lose all the time.

"I really believe that this is one of the most underrated things that people don't work on: being better losers," Holz says. "Really constantly understanding that losing is just part of the game. I think really dealing with losing all the time is one of the key things in poker."

Holz has enjoyed his share of winning streaks, but he has seen some cold runs as well. "I mean, I've lost hundreds of thousands of times in my career as a player, and you have to train this, you have to get better at it, and it's gonna be more and more important every time you play because you lose more and more. The key is to win more often than you lose."

The fact is, having a good understanding of the fundamentals of the game is a big part of being able to deal with downswings. "Having the right mindset is the key to it because it's basically having this routine of when I lose, I have to inject logic again and tell myself it's part of the game," explains Holz.

3. Practice Good Bankroll Management

Win a tournament, and you'll probably feel like you're on top of the world. But even if you've won a tournament and feel like you crushed the entire field, getting too confident might be dangerous. You might feel like you should be playing higher stakes than you currently are because you soul read every other player at the table, but registering bigger buy-ins than your bankroll can take is a dangerous thing to do.

"You can be so good at poker, but if you're not disciplined at the table and off the table, you'll never make it."

"Find the right stakes for you," Holz said. "Don't play higher than your bankroll allows you, set certain limits."

Even the best players take hits. Even the best players can go on long stretches of not cashing. If you end up broke when that happens, you haven't practiced proper bankroll management.

"You can be so good at poker, but if you're not disciplined at the table and off the table, you'll never make it."

4. Reflect Constantly

"My advice for someone starting out online would specifically be to get as much reflection in as you can," maintains Holz. "I think, especially in poker, there's so much information that you can misinterpret. How good you run is such a big fallacy, you misinterpret all that information because there's so much luck in there, you need such a big sample size."

Getting a grip on what a decent sample size is from which to judge your results is part of becoming a better poker player. When you start out, you might judge yourself by every outcome, while later in your journey you might only look at datasets representing weeks' worth of playing, or even longer.

That doesn't mean you can't think about a single hand; in fact, it's essential to do exactly that as well. Reflecting on your play is an integral part of becoming a better poker player. "Really question yourself, question other people, but also get into the exchange," says Holz. "Go to forums, talk to people, build this network."

"I think that six opinions are mostly better than one opinion. So really, if you want to know something about a hand, just send it to five people and see how they respond. And then you'll get a feeling of what's the right direction."

Holz went on to explain how he, especially in his early days, had 10 people he would discuss topics with and to whom he would send hands.

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5. Treat Yourself Well

Playing your weekly home game and deciding not to drink that night is one thing, but if you make poker your profession, there's more to it. "I think mental and physical condition are extremely important," Holz says. "Treat yourself well; work out, eat well."

If you're playing some great poker, you're not alone. There are plenty of others on the same level at your stakes. What can set you apart, though, are other things surrounding your play at the table. If you're able to play your best game for longer periods of time than your equally talented peers, you're going to make more money. So search for parts of your life where you can do better. Because a sound mind and body help you become the better player.

"Sleep is probably one of the most underrated things out there as well," Holz continues. Indeed, getting enough sleep isn't always easy. You might just run deep in a tournament which results in going to bed well after the time you usually hit the hay. Realizing what your sleep pattern looks like and how it affects your play is a first step in creating the most favorable circumstances in which to play.

"It's tough; it's not an easy challenge," says Holz. "You always finish at different times; you have to stay up long sometimes. I don't know how many times I stayed up past 6 a.m. and played. There's been tons of nights where you just go to bed really late, and then you wake up very late, and you feel like you kind of lost some of the day, but then again, you know it's just you have to accept it as an alternative lifestyle, and it's just part of the whole thing."

"So sleep is super important. I would always recommend to max out your sleep, don't set an alarm. But also get going; don't stay in bed and [instead] do something. Just sleep and when you feel good, get up and get going."

6. Leave Your Ego at the Door

Ego is a big part of the game. In fact, it's part of every game people play competitively. If you want to win — and that's a pretty basic condition for making it in poker — ego automatically comes into play. But having too big an ego can be a burden, and can even make it harder for you to make optimal decisions.

"Oh, ego is a big part of the game. Because it's so much about winning or losing, you have to get rid of your ego in some way," Holz says. "I didn't get rid of it," he admits, "[but I'm] constantly training to focus on the game and not focus on rivalries or other players."

Fedor Holz Gives You Eight Tips to Become a Better Poker Player 103

7. Shut Yourself Down

Poker can be exciting, especially when you're doing well. It can be non-stop, too. With online poker sites you can log on and play tournaments and cash games any time of the day. And with more and more live events on offer, you could go from one to another without getting back home.

"I think a big mistake a lot of players make is that they never have these moments of shutting themselves off from poker."

Still, Holz says, it's important to not have poker on your mind 24/7. "Shutting myself off is very important to me," he says. "I think a big mistake a lot of players make is that they never have these moments of shutting themselves off from poker."

Holz announced his retirement from poker some while back, only to cherry pick tournaments afterwards and crush them. "I think it really refreshes your mind to take a break. Think about something completely different, don't think about it at all. Then go back to playing and really get that passion again, really enjoy the game again."

8. Get Some Fresh Air

If you do well in a decent-sized tournament, you might end up playing all day. There aren't many other games or jobs you can have that involves you sitting at a table for 12 hours. In poker, though, it's all too common to find yourself sitting down the entire day.

According to Holz, using your breaks is crucial. "Breaks are very important," he insists. "Get some fresh air."

Holz mainly drinks water and has some snacks ready when he plays, but he also uses the breaks to get away from the game for a bit. "We always did some push-ups, just to get your blood flowing. Also, stretching is very important. Really get off the chair and do something."

Playing poker online for hours at a time can be strenuous not just on your body, but on your mind as well. You can feel a bit isolated, as you can't just walk away at any time since new hands are constantly dealt. Keeping in contact with others can help you keep your sanity, which is obviously a wise thing to do.

"Have some connection to other people," advises Holz. "Some kind of way of communicating with someone else, so you don't feel like you're locked into this."

If you want to see the whole video, visit skrill.com/poker.

Fedor Holz Gives You Eight Tips to Become a Better Poker Player 104

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