Since the poker craze started many of us have fantasized or thought about how cool it would be to become a Poker Pro. Being realistic to yourself is the first step to eventual success; and even if you don’t become the next Johnny Chan or Chris Moneymaker you can still become a good poker player with a rewarding experience and some extra cash in your pocket.
Since the majority of ‘semi-pros’ make their poker livings online, that’s the area I’ll focus on for this article. I personally think if your making even a partial income through online poker you are in fact a ‘pro’ in many aspects. My experience with online poker was a wild ride and still continues to be. I only play No-Limit Texas Hold Em and to quote the movie Rounders- “In No Limit not only can you watch a man lose all his chips in a single hand, but his mind along with it”.
I got my start playing a few small cash games at college with friends, losing to my one friend quite often. Sometimes by playing in this site Off and on I dabbled in online poker to brush up on my skills and have some fun. I’ve also played in small tournaments, my largest in person one being with over 150 people. One day I decided to take the financial plunge and play for cash online. Within a few hours my initial bankroll quadrupled; I felt I was playing excellent poker with some added luck of course. I of course hit a bad beat and my bankroll dwindled; within a week I lost not only my initial bankroll but more then I would’ve liked to from my financial portfolio.
So here’s a few tips from my real world experience and I think advice others would support as well especially relevant in online poker.
– Most poker sites will let you set a deposit limit; Full Tilt where I play was nice enough to set the minimum limit after my string of bad beats which protects me from letting my emotions get the best of me.
– Make sure your bankroll is enough to pad your playing for a while. Always do the max buy in at a table (advice I didn’t heed early on) so you can survive the blinds and the swings inevitable in this game. Don’t feel weird taking 20 bucks into an online table that is 5cent/10cent blinds; pots can easily reach a nice chunk of money since it is no limit.
– Never be blinded by your own hand. The movie Rounders makes this point clear; Mike was so focused on his full house that he had Teddy KGB on a Flush; he lost 30k because Teddy had a higher full house. It may only be a movie, but its easy to be blinded by your hand and assume that you have it won. You need confidence in your hand so you play like its the best, but always consider a higher hand could be there and your opponents betting may give you some hints.
– Raise if you’re late action; early action betting risks you losing your bet because 2 seats down someone could be holding the hole cards. Especially risky pre-flop.
– Make notes; Full Tilt allows you to make tabbed notes on each player; sometimes this can mean the difference between taking down a pot and losing all your money.
– Play sober and alert. This is an obvious one; I lost my initial buy in and let my emotions charge me up to buy back in. For some people this becomes a battle to regain lost money which means you’ll be chasing far off straight draws; going all in with the lower pocket pair, and ignoring the signs of a higher hand at the table. Set a limit or walk away after a bad beat for a few days.
You might be asking why after a string of bad beats and lost money I’d be back on the game? To be honest I enjoy online poker and I enjoy Texas Hold Em; I enjoy playing it and watching it. I became re-inspired by pro Chris Fergason (Who actually plays freerolls with regulars on Full Tilt).
Chris told on a challenge; turn 1 dollar on Full Tilt Poker into 30 thousand dollars in 3 months time. Now this is a millionaire, WSOP winner playing with 1 dollar to start. This means he played at the lowest limit possible, I believe 2 cent/4 cent blinds. Hes used to betting hundreds and thousands on a single hand and here he is playing at a table where if the pot reached 5 bucks it was big. Through patience, bankroll management, and excellent playing he turned 1 dollar into 30 thousand in 3 months.
His next challenge he has decided will be to turn ZERO dollars into 25 thousand in 3 months. He will do this by winning a free roll and moving from there.
I have begun playing online again, I play free rolls when I have the time. Places 1st-27th get paid with prizes ranging from 15 dollars to 2 dollars which if managed properly can grow over time. Also I am in the USA so it is getting harder for me to deposit money into the game, my goal is to place in at least one free roll and begin a drive to grow my bankroll. I believe it will increase my skills and my patience.
So go and play some cards, and don’t forget to have fun!