Tips for Real Money Poker Players
Real money poker is a tough game, especially when you first start playing. Experience helps, but without some guidance, that early experience can be painful and expensive. Here are five tips that can help make you a better real money poker player and help avoid some of the more costly mistakes most new players make.
Practice Bankroll Management
One of the most important, yet underrated, skills for a real money poker player is that of bankroll management. More poker careers have been ruined by poor bankroll management skills than anything else – no matter how good you are at the table, if you don’t manage your money correctly, you’ll never be successful in the long run.
After a good run, many players are tempted to move up in stakes well before they – or their bankrolls – are ready to handle the new game. It’s important to always evaluate the games you choose to play not only based on your ability to beat those games, but with the size of your bankroll in mind. If you find yourself in the midst of a huge downswing that has done a lot of damage to your bankroll, you might have to think about moving down a level. Real money poker players can’t afford to let their egos get in the way of good decision making, and that’s just as true away from the table as in the middle of a game. For more information, read our page on bankroll management.
Know Your Opponents
No single strategy will be correct for all situations and all players. In real money poker, your opponents are going to vary their strategies and tactics far more than in play money games, meaning that you’ll need to do the same.
However, if you’re just starting out in real money poker and playing at relatively low limits, there are a few things you can expect. Your opponents will tend to call your bets too often, meaning that you should be betting with hands that have value, rather than making bluffs. When you do have good hands, don’t be afraid to play them aggressively; if the other players are usually going to call, you’re better off simply betting and getting calls rather than trying to make sophisticated plays. Of course, individual players will vary, and you’ll need to make adjustments for those players who don’t fit this mold.
Keep Your Cool
When you’re playing poker for real money, tensions can run high. If you’re playing the low limit games we’ve been talking about, those players who call all the time will sometimes catch the right cards and win with hands that had no business still being around on the river.
When this happens, it can be hard to keep an even temper, but real money players can’t afford to let their emotions get in the way of good play. Remind yourself that in the long run, your good play will pay off. If you are going on tilt, it may be best to take a break rather than continuing to play while angry.
Don’t Tap the Glass
On a similar note, when other players make obvious mistakes that cost you money, don’t tell them that! In real money poker, you make money because other players are making mistakes – you want to be playing against bad players. Even worse, if you berate other players at the table (either in online poker or at a casino), the game will tend to get more serious, which means tighter play. It’s better to keep a casual, conversational atmosphere that promotes loose play from your opponents.
Being a real money poker player is just like anything else: if you want to keep improving, you’ll need to keep working on your game. There’s no shortage of great instructional material, including books, videos, websites and much more. We even have some of our own strategy articles right here to help players who play poker for real money hone their skills.
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