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Improving Your Poker Play

Learn to Play Better Poker

Introduction

You have learned the rules of poker and have tried your hand at play money or low limit real money. Maybe you are holding your own or even losing a little. Now you want to improve your play and become a regular winning poker player. This article will give an overview of the tools that can help you improve your poker game and some suggested resources.

Play and analyse

It may sound like a cliché, but nothing beats experience combined with an honest analysis of your game. Play as much as you can, but always review and analyse your play. Could you have played a hand differently to win more money or lose less? Which of your opponents are solid and which are playing worthless hands? These are just some questions you should be asking yourself.

Suggestions:
See our poker room reviews to find an online poker room to play at.

Books

Poker books provide a valuable source of information. There are many poker books out there, of varying quality. I recommend that rather than buying many books and only skimming over them once or twice, that it is better to buy a few high quality books and really study them. You will find that as you play more and read the books a second or third time you will pick up concepts and strategies that you had previously missed.

Suggestions:
Winning Low-Limit Hold'em (Lee Jones) - An easy to read book that provides a winning strategy specifically tailored for low-limit games.

Small Stakes Hold'em: Winning Big With Expert Play (Ed Miller, David Sklansky, Mason Malmuth) - An excellent book explaining how to beat low limit Hold'em games. This book offers intelligent, no-frills advice for the aspiring poker player.

Hold'Em Poker for Advanced Players (David Sklansky, Mason Malmuth) - This book is a must for serious hold'em players who have mastered the low level games and are looking to move to higher limits.

Software

Poker playing software has advanced considerably over the last few years. Although not up to the standard of world-class chess or backgammon playing software, poker software gives a level of play equivalent to a poker player who is well above an average skill level. This allows for a much more realistic "free" playing experience than the often ridiculous play at online play money poker tables.

Suggestions:

Turbo series by Wilson software - Available now for over a decade, the Wilson Turbo series was the first poker software of a decent standard that was available to the general public. Over the years the playing strength has improved considerably and there is a product for almost any game type - Hold'em, Omaha, 7 Card Stud in either cash game or tournament format.

Record Keeping

Record keeping is essential if you want to become a winning poker player. Records will give you the information that you need to analyse your win rates, discover weaknesses in your game, and also to give a realistic assessment of how you are doing. Without record keeping you will only be guessing as to how well you are playing and weaknesses in your game may cause you to lose money indefinitely.

Although there are many excellent commercial products out there for record keeping, beginner players may find an Excel spreadsheet an excellent free option. I have constructed a basic spreadsheet that you can download for free here.

Suggestions:
Poker Tracker - Derives data from the hand history records available from online poker rooms. Provides detailed statistics on you and your opponents in almost every aspect of play plus the ability to replay each hand.

Poker Office - Similar to Poker Tracker but also has the ability to track your play in real time as you are playing.

Hand HQ - A service that can provide millions of hand histories from the leading online poker rooms. This can provide valuble information for those wanting to do deeper research into a particular poker game.

Conclusion

Taking the step from a competent poker player to a regular winning poker player takes some work and dedication. Although you might not see the results at first, persistence and hard work does really pay off.