10 Vital NL Hold'em Tips
Note: This article was written for the eBook that players receive when they sign up for my Texas Hold'em strategy newsletter. The reason I have posted the article on this site is so that the article can get indexed by Google, helping to prevent others from reproducing my work and claiming it as their own.
I had hoped that you wouldn't find this article, which is the reason why I have placed it in the "archives" section. Nonetheless, I hope that you sign up for the monthly strategy newsletter anyway!
1) Don’t play on tilt.
No seriously, don’t ever f***ing play on tilt.
You can get as pissed off as you like when you run in to those bad beats, but be sure to never play another hand when you know you’re on tilt.
There is nothing more detrimental to your bankroll and win rate than tilt.
It’s no fun having to spend a week grinding it out just to compensate for the 2 hours you played whilst on tilt. Either stop yourself from playing when you are on tilt or don’t expect to win money from the game.
2) Play within your bankroll.
- Have at least 20 buy-ins for cash games.
- Have at least 40 buy-ins for SNGs.
Bankroll management is so unbelievably straightforward it’s actually an incredibly boring tip, yet many players always seem to find a way to avoid sticking to the rules.
Learn how to manage your money first then move on to strategy.
All of the strategy in the world isn’t going to help you to consistently win money from NL Hold’em if you can’t play within your limits at all times.
3) Get rakeback.
A number of popular rooms such as Full Tilt and Cake Poker offer around 30% of your rake back to you if you sign up to these rooms through a site like ThePokerBank.
Because of the fact that rakeback is a little hidden, many new players to online poker continue to play for some time without getting around 30% of their rakeback, which can prove to be incredibly beneficial to a growing bankroll.
Rakeback is perfectly legitimate, and the sooner you sign up for a rakeback deal the better. You’d be a fool to miss out on extra earnings to help build your bankroll.
4) Stop clicking buttons and start thinking.
We’re all guilty of playing on auto-pilot at times, especially when we’re multi-tabling. However, nothing is going to force you in to more of a plateau than playing without using your head.
Ask yourself this question at every single opportunity:
Why am I making this play?
If you can’t confidently justify a particular action then you really need to reconsider whether it’s the best possible play. The more you think the more money you will win. Poker is a thinking man’s game at the end of the day, get used to it.
This is a bit of an obscure tip, but honestly exercise is great for your poker mentality. I know a lot of you reading this article will shrug this tip off and think “whatever”, but trust me on this one.
The more I exercise the better I feel about myself. The better I feel about myself the more confident I become. The more confident I become the more my overall poker game improves.
If you’re not at least trying to keep in shape your mind will fatigue and you game will suffer.
What’s the worst that can happen anyway? You end up healthier and gain a greater sense of well-being? Imagine that.
6) Take breaks.
There is nothing bad about taking breaks. However, forcing yourself to play when you feel like shit on the other hand is pretty bad.
- Take short breaks when you feel as though you’re playing on tilt or if you’ve lost enough money to feel a little uncomfortable about continuing to play.
- Take longer breaks when you’re on a bigger than usual downswing and feel as though there is nothing you can do to win money.
Breaks are vital to keeping your game fresh. You can play as much or as little poker as you like.
The beauty of poker is that you get to choose when you play, so avoid feeling compelled to play when you don’t feel up to it.
7) You only need to think 1 level above your opponent.
Or in other words, avoid “fancy play syndrome”.
Basically, if your opponent is a total idiot that only thinks about the strength of the cards they are holding, you do not need to worry about what they think you think they are holding and try all sorts of fancy and advanced plays.
All you need to do to beat them is bet your good hands and fold your weak hands to their bets. There’s nothing exciting about this strategy, but it’s all you need to do to win money from them.
It’s all about multiple level thinking at the end of the day. You only need to think 1 level above a player to beat them. Not 2 or 3 levels above because that’s just overkill and it will cost you money.
8) Get involved in forums. Actually create threads too.
Just as learning a language is difficult if you’re doing it on your own, learning how to develop a winning poker strategy is ambitious and problematic if you don’t have anyone to discuss the game with.
Unfortunately, your Grandmother is unlikely to share the same passion for the game as you do, and dare I say it there’s also a slim chance that she possesses enough skill to be able to give solid advice and helpful criticism to help your game develop.
The easiest way to communicate with a bunch of other passionate, winning players is through online forums.
If you’re not getting involved in discussions on poker strategy forums you are cutting yourself off from one of the most valuable methods of improving your game.
9) Don’t feel compelled to play a certain way.
The chances are that if you feel really uncomfortable doing something, it’s going to prove to be unprofitable over the long run.
There’s nothing wrong with stepping out of your comfort zone to try new things and to accustom yourself to unfamiliar strategy at times, but there’s no need to consistently force yourself to play in a certain way because you saw it in a forum thread or in a video.
If you greatly dislike raising a hand like AJo in MP, just fold it instead. If you’re sitting with AKo and there has been a raise and a reraise before you pre, if you feel uncomfortable about playing on with the hand just fold.
Wait until you have more experience and knowledge of the game before you intentionally put yourself in to tricky and marginal +EV spots.
Never force yourself to play a certain way because you feel you have to. There’s no shame in cautious play if you’re new to the game.
10) Stop reading, start learning.
Out of all the people that read these tips, I’ll go ahead and say that at least 90% will not learn anything from them or use them to improve their game.
It’s a fact of life that people would rather read about and plan something rather than go ahead and do it.
There is so much information out there that there is no reason why you can’t develop in to a successful online poker player and potentially make a good living from the game.
Average players will finish reading this article, close the pdf viewer and do nothing more. Winning players will remember every single point, including the rakeback tip at the start of this guide and head straight to a top rakeback room like Full Tilt and start grinding it out.
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