When I started my professional poker career back in 2008, games were extremely easy and if you knew how to click “raise” and then c-bet on the flop, you were literally printing money.
The reality is that those days are long gone and you need to accept it. It's not as easy as it was and will never be. To be honest, I think there is a lot of good stuff going on in the poker world — you just have to put in more effort to see it.
Sure enough, if you want to be a winning player you have to work on your game. It is not enough to raise and c-bet like it was before. Now you really need to evaluate more things when making a decision. You need to learn how to balance your ranges versus tougher opponents.
However, even that is not enough to reach success. In addition to this, you must learn how to exploit weaker players and that will be a deciding factor are you going to stay ahead of your competition. This is the only way to be crushing your games and not to be hanging around barely breaking even.
My approach helped many players, including myself. Therefore, now I am going to show you how to proceed in the most efficient way!
Evaluation of your game
This is the first and most important step — to evaluate your game. As ridiculous as it sounds, many players miss it. They do not want to spend time analyzing their game, studying different lines or doing anything else. If you are one of those players, you have two options — change the way you approach poker, or slowly fall behind everyone else.
If you want to get the best out of your game, you can get help from a professional. However, you can do it yourself if you are up to the task.
You can filter out almost any spot that you can think of and compare your stats versus winning players. You can do that using any tracking software, but most popular ones are Hold'em Manager 2 and PokerTracker 4. I am sure you have one of these, so you can start by filtering out spots where you lose most money and move forward covering every part of your game.
After spending some time analyzing your stats, you should make a list of your mistakes. If you are honest with yourself, the list is likely to be quite big. Therefore, do not make yet another mistake by trying to cover everything at once. That is never a good idea.
When you finish the list, you have to go back and upgrade it. What I mean by that is that you should prioritize your mistakes. List it from the biggest, one that cost you the most money, to the smallest and proceed with it. I highly recommend fixing one thing at a time.
For instance, if you struggle with preflop strategy or any part of it, fix that first. I see many players missing this step and complicating their lives. However, if you are making mistakes preflop, it is close to impossible to be very efficient postflop, so naturally, preflop is the spot to start.
If you are not defending your blinds enough of the time (a very common mistake), you can filter out spots where you fold and find more hands with which to defend. You can also filter out winning players and see what hands they are defending in this spot.
Moreover, you can analyze the stats of your opponents and see how much they are folding from late positions vs. three-betting, and if they are folding a lot, you should add more hands to your three-betting range. This way you will learn population tendencies for your games — that is something you really want to know in order to exploit your opponents.
Every single spot can be analyzed in a similar way, be it preflop or postflop.
When you know your mistakes, you need to fix them. This is not as easy as it sounds, but if you put in enough effort you can do everything yourself. Every mistake can be fixed in a different way.
- For some hands, you can post hands on a forum to get advice about them.
- For others, you can watch a strategy video covering similar spots or read an article or two.
- For your biggest leaks that give you the most trouble, you can consider getting help from a friend or even hiring a coach to help you work on fixing that specific area.
You have many options, so choose what works best in every case. However, if this is too much to cover by yourself, you can get more info how to cover every step of the way and how to win at poker!
Playing vs. different opponents
You need to learn how to recognize different players and, obviously, how to play differently against them. You can get a lot of help from your HUD (Heads-Up Display), so make sure to have the most relevant stats at a glance. You do not want to be scrolling around numerous pop-ups while playing in order to find what you need. Make those stats available and easy to locate — make your HUD color-coded, for starters.
It makes no sense to balance your ranges vs. weaker players, so instead of that attack their mistakes. As soon as you spot any weakness in an opponent — attack it! For example...
- If your opponent is not folding to three-bets, remove your bluffs and add more value hands in your three-betting range and you will own him.
- If he is folding too much to c-bets, bet every air hand in your range.
- If he is calling a lot on flop and turn, but folding too much on the river, three-barrel him constantly.
There are many spots like these, so be sure to recognize them and put as much pressure on your opponents as you can.
How does that help?
In quite a few ways. First, you need to answer a question. Are you ready to put some time into studying and improving your game? Hopefully you are, because this is the only way to win. If the answer is yes, finding your mistakes and concentrating on fixing them one by one should be your next step. This will take you quite far!
When you fix those mistakes, you start to build a fundamental strategy with which you can take advantage of weaker players and exploit them like crazy. Follow these steps and you will be winning for years to come!
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